The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a settlement agreement that will bring to California a statewide network of charging stations for electric vehicles, including at least 200 public fast-charging stations and the infrastructure for 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 diverse locations across the state.
The settlement, originally announced on March 23, 2012, resolves 10-year-old claims against subsidiaries of Dynegy Inc., including its power marketer and three power plant subsidiaries, then co-owned with NRG Energy Inc., for costs of long-term power contracts signed in March 2001. The portfolio of power plants is currently wholly owned by NRG.
Under the settlement, NRG will pay to install a minimum of 200 fast charging “Freedom Stations” - 110 in the Los Angeles Basin; 55 in the San Francisco Bay Area; 15 in the San Joaquin Valley; and 20 in San Diego County - that will be available for use by anyone with an electric vehicle for a minimum five year period. NRG will install 20 percent of these stations in low income areas.
NRG will also install infrastructure for plug-in units, or “make-readies”, at multi-family housing, workplaces, and public interest sites, which will over time support the installation of Level 1 and Level 2 chargers from all charging companies. Further, to meet the CPUC’s goal of ensuring that the electric vehicle charging infrastructure is available to Californians of all income levels, NRG will ensure that mixed-income housing locations are identified, evaluated, and pursued for the make-readies.
Other provisions of the settlement intended to support the roll out of electric vehicles and expand their availability include:
In consultation with The Greenlining Institute, NRG will pay an additional $4 million to support low income car-sharing, workforce training, and related programs;
NRG is required to spend $5 million to collaborate with researchers and stakeholders on technical demonstration projects that will test new charging and related technologies;
NRG will solicit competitive bids for third-party services and equipment, and will provide preferences for employees that are graduates of pre-apprenticeship training programs applicable to the trade or trades to be performed, as well as provide preferences for hiring and retaining employees from the historically disadvantaged or underrepresented classes, including women, minorities, and disabled veterans; and,
The fast-charging stations will be compatible with electric vehicles on the market today as well as new models to be introduced beginning next year. Initially they will all have a CHAdeMO charger and a SAE Level II unit; they will be upgraded to accommodate the forthcoming SAE (Combo) DC standard within six months of when chargers using that standard become commercially available.
“The lack of recharging infrastructure and the concern about the range of electric cars have been identified as a barrier for the proliferation of electric vehicles. This settlement creates that needed infrastructure, which will open the market to many electric vehicle stakeholders,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. “Devoting one-quarter of the total settlement value to electric vehicle charging infrastructure is a strong, creative idea that will bring California incalculable public benefits.”
Said Commissioner Mark J. Ferron, “The settlement, in combination with the earlier settlement Dynegy reached with the state in 2004, brings closure to our case against Dynegy for its role in the energy crisis of 2000-2001. In total, Dynegy together with NRG will have returned to the people of California more than $400 million in consideration. Of this total amount, three-fourths, or $300 million, will be paid in the form of cash to offset the electric bills of customers in California. The remainder, more than $100 million, will be paid by NRG in the form of electric vehicle charging equipment. This will bring cleaner air, local jobs, and a much needed jump-start on what we expect will be an industry of the future.”
“This settlement captures significant value for California under circumstances where contentious and expensive litigation would otherwise have continued for many years and with uncertain results,” said CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio. “The CPUC is committed to ensuring that the settlement not only makes electric vehicle infrastructure available to Californians of all income levels, but that it also creates job opportunities for California’s diverse communities.”