California’s three largest utilities have filed proposals with the state’s public utilities commission that would allocate up to $1 billion in new spending to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” The proposals are about more than adding charging stations for light duty cars and trucks. California wants to remove as many diesel powered vehicles from its roadways as possible, so the proposals also target “medium and heavy-duty” vehicles. That includes trucks, buses, forklifts, port equipment, and any other devices involved in freight operations. A large percentage of the consumer goods Americans buy enter the country through ports in California.
The proposals are in response to a state law authored by Senate President Kevin De León that makes replacing oil as the dominant transportation fuel within the state a priority for the electric industry. Doing so will reduce dependence on oil, improve air quality, increase access to vehicles with no tailpipe emissions, and slash carbon pollution from within the state.
The largest proposal comes from Southern California Edison. It wants to invest $573 million to create the infrastructure needed to electrify the entire freight handling system at the Port of Long Beach. Containers unloaded there are towed by drayage tractors to inland distribution centers where they are loaded on trains and tractor trailers to be distributed throughout the nation. The transportation corridor between the ports and the warehouses has some of the worst air pollution in the country. The plan would electrify freight handling equipment in warehouses as well as the gantry cranes in the port that load and unload container ships.
Infrastructure for school buses, public transportation buses, and other medium and heavy duty vehicles not involved in freight handing would be part of the plan as well, including the thousands of trash hauling trucks in use in the area. $19 million would be used to encourage ride hailing drivers for Lyft and Uber to use electric vehicles. In addition, adding charging equipment for people living in multi-family condo and apartment complexes would be on offer.
San Diego Gas & Electric proposes spending $225 million to add 90,000 home chargers in its service area. Participating customers will be required to sign up for a dynamic electricity rate that reflects wholesale energy prices. The plan would encourage customers to charge their cars, and do their laundry, when there is an abundance of solar or wind energy available. $18 million will go to electrify ground support vehicles at local airports and install EV chargers in airport parking lots.
The money for all this will come from surcharges on utility bills submitted by all three companies to their subscribers. The PUC must now determine if the proposals are fair to individual rate payers as well as the population of the state taken as a whole. California has been far more active at promoting an emissions-free lifestyle than any other US state and intends to continue down the zero emissions future it has set its sights on.