PUC releases highly anticipated ruling for government-run alternatives to SDG&E, other investor-owned utilities

The state released Wednesday a long-anticipated blueprint for ensuring ratepayers aren’t unfairly burdened with rising electricity bills as the popularity soars of a government-run alternative to investor-owned utilities.

Lobbyists for San Diego Gas & Electric’s parent company, Sempra Energy, have repeatedly argued that adoption of the public-energy program, known as community choice aggregation, could pose significant financial risks to cities, as well as residents and businesses.

Supporters of community choice said that those concerns were no longer valid given the proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission, which will be up for adoption next month.

“It’s a huge win because now we can feel confident that we can bring the benefits of choice to San Diego families,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign. “It’s one of those rare times when local government can have a positive impact on the fixed expenses that we all have.”

By comparison, lobbyists working with Sempra to challenge the adoption of community choice in San Diego County released a statement Thursday that said the commission’s proposal could likely make adoption of community choice “riskier and more costly.”

“A critical question we’ve been asking is how much will a government-controlled energy program – or Community Choice Aggregation – cost hard-working San Diegans? The fact is that no one knows,” said Tony Manolatos, spokesman for the Clear the Air Coalition, which pairs Sempra lobbyists with some of the region’s most powerful groups, from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce to the Downtown San Diego Partnership to the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Specifically, the commission’s proposal would refine how utilities are compensated for customers who join a community choice program — overhauling a highly technical formula for calculating the so-called exit fee, also known as the power charge indifference adjustment.

Under community choice, an electrical utility, such as SDG&E, continues to operate the electrical grid and charge for delivering power.

However, once a program is approved, elected officials assume control of the buying and selling of electricity for customers in their jurisdiction — inking new contracts for everything from natural gas to wind and solar power.

The Legislature has maintained that ratepayers are automatically enrolled in a community choice program once it’s formed, despite numerous attempts by utilities to change the state rule. Consumers can choose to opt out if they prefer the rates of their local utility company.

Community choice programs pay the exit fee to their local utility on behalf of households and businesses that join the government-run operation. This is to ensure that customers who remain with a utility don’t end up paying higher rates as a result of long-term investments by the utility, most notably for contracts with power providers.

The commission said last year that it planned to tweak the formula after utilities and community-choice advocates all complained about its methodology. The commission is expected to vote on the proposal on Thursday, Sept. 13.

SDG&E spokeswoman Helen Gao said the company would continue to push for changes to the proposed fee structure in the run-up to the decision in order to “address deficiencies” that run afoul of state rules.

“For example, there are proposed protections for community choice aggregation programs that could increase costs for customers who choose to remain with their traditional utility,” Gao said in an email. “We will continue to work with the commission to ensure that California is in compliance with the law, and importantly that all customers are treated equally.”

The outcome of this week’s proposed ruling has been the subject of much debate, especially in the city of San Diego, as elected officials weigh adoption of community choice to help meet a local pledge to dramatically slash greenhouse gases in coming decades.

The city is expected to vote on whether to adopt community choice by the end of the year as part of its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. SDG&E is offering a competing proposal, but so far details have been scant on how its program would work.

Supporters of community choice said that an annual cap on adjustments to the fee outlined in the new proposal should provide financial assurances for cities such as San Diego that are considering the program.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office did not respond by press time.

“Now that the state issues are resolved, we are confident that the mayor will do the right thing and bring this opportunity forward to City Council for a vote.” Captrez said.

In the last decade, local governments from Marin to Los Angeles County to Solana Beach have embraced the model as a way to boost investments in green power, as well as create competition for investor-owned utilities.

Currently, SDG&E, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric together buy and sell roughly 75 percent of the state’s electricity. Their collective share could plunge to just 10 percent within the next five years, with community choice programs accounting for most of the shift, according to the state’s most aggressive forecast.

 

Supporters of government alternative to SDG&E claim victory in highly-anticipated PUC ruling, by Joshua Emerson Smith, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 2, 2018.

Alternative Energy Program Could Help State’s Utilities Meet Renewable Goals 10 Years Early

A new report looks at the impact alternative energy programs — called community choice aggregation — will have on California’s power grid. The analysis was made by researchers from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and funded by the non-partisan think tank, Next 10.

The report found that if the current rate of expansion of community choice aggregation continues alternative energy programs could end up serving a majority of California’s power consumers within the next decade.

The city of San Diego is in the process of considering community choice aggregation which would take the purchasing power away from SDG&E and give it to the city. If San Diego goes with community choice the city would assume the authority for deciding what energy sources to buy, but it would still use SDG&E’s power grid and electric bills would still come from SDG&E.

J.R. DeShazo, a co-author of the report, said he was surprised to find that the growth of community choice aggregation in California has led investor-owned utilities to have a larger percentage of renewable energy. The larger percentage positions the utilities to meet the state’s 50 percent renewable energy goal a decade ahead of the 2030 deadline.

“As CCAs have grown rapidly over the last three or four years what (the investor-owned utilities) have discovered is that they’re going to have many fewer customers but they still have contracts for a lot of renewable energy and so the percentage of renewable energy per customer has skyrocketed,” DeShazo said.

DeShazo joins Midday Edition with more on the impact of community choice on California’s power grid.

Click here to listen to full story.

Alternative Energy Program Could Help State’s Utilities Meet Renewable Goals 10 Years Early, By Maureen Cavanaugh and Megan Burke, KPBS, August 2, 2018.

Powering up by the beach? SDG&E looks to expand locations for electric vehicle charging stations

In a push to encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, San Diego Gas & Electric wants to spend $18.8 million to install about 340 charging stations in approximately 50 sites, including schools, parks and even beaches.

“Our goal is to remove barriers for our customers when choosing an electric vehicle and incorporate charging into everyday life,” Caroline Winn, SDG&E chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Imagine the convenience of having your car recharged while you enjoy a hike in a park, take a walk on the beach, or watch your children’s athletic event at their school.”

SDG&E filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this week, asking the regulator to approve two pilot programs — one for schools and one for parks and beaches.

The schools pilot program calls for installing 196 EV charging stations at 30 locations at an estimated cost of $9.9 million.

The parks and beaches pilot program, estimated at $8.9 million, would see 140 charging facilities erected at 12 state parks and beaches and 10 city and county parks. The pilot programs would be funded by SDG&E ratepayers.

Two different types of chargers would be installed: Level 2 chargers (208 to 240 volts) that provide up to 10-20 miles of range per hour of charging and DC Fast chargers (480 volts) that provide about 20-30 miles for every 15 minutes.

The exact locations are still to be determined but SDG&E wants to put a priority on placing chargers in lower-income communities that suffer from high levels of air pollution.

Recent legislation passed in Sacramento wants to make sure that poorer areas are not left behind when it comes to EV infrastructure projects and in its application to the CPUC, SDG&E plans on placing all of the chargers in city and country parks in communities designated as economically disadvantaged.

Transportation accounts for the largest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in California — 41 percent, according to the state’s Air Resources Board. The percentage is even higher in San Diego — 54 percent.

The two pilot programs are part of a much larger effort by SDG&E and the other investor-owned utilities to expand the number of charging stations across California.

Two months ago, the CPUC approved $776.5 million to fund and evaluate EV projectssubmitted by the power companies. The amount is considered the largest single investment by any state to promote electric cars.

SDG&E’s portion came to $137 million and included providing rebates for customers to install up to 60,000 charging stations in homes for what is called the “Residential Charging Program.”

A separate program, known as “Power Your Drive,” installs charging stations in apartment/condominium complexes and workplaces. Established in 2016, the program has so far put in place more than 800 chargers with another 150 under construction.

By the middle of 2019, SDG&E expects to have 3,000 chargers installed in its service territory that encompasses San Diego County and southern Orange County.

The utility has also filed a proposal with the CPUC to install charging stations for heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks and forklifts, at locations such as the Port of San Diego and San Diego International Airport.

 

Powering up by the beach? SDG&E looks to expand locations for electric vehicle charging stations, by Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 1, 2018.

Community Energy Programs Are Accountable in Ways Investor-Owned Utilities Are Not

California has become a world leader on climate change, and local communities are joining in the call to create a carbon-free environment. One of the tools communities have to achieve our ambitious climate goals is creating locally run, greener electricity providers to offer an alternative to large investor-owned utilities. Communities across the state are jumping at the opportunity, known as community choice aggregation, to design and provide clean energy programs that meet the unique needs of their region.

Solana Beach has recently joined this localized movement, building on the achievements of the many cities and counties in the state that have launched CCA programs in their communities over the last decade. This localized energy competition is new to Solana Beach, and, as a result, there has been some confusion and misinformation spread by those who might be afraid of change. I would like to help clear that up.

Solana Energy Alliance was created by the community, for the community. SEA, which began serving customers on June 1, procures both clean and renewable electricity on behalf of its customers. SEA’s primary product, SEA Choice, comes from 50 percent renewable and 75 percent greenhouse gas-free sources. By contrast, San Diego Gas & Electric’s energy supply is 43 percent renewable.

CCA is a key measure in Solana Beach’s Climate Action Plan, delivering nearly half of the targeted electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions reductions. And for the first time, customers in the community now have a choice in who provides their power. They can stick with the new locally focused electricity provider or return to SDG&E. To have this option is significant and should not be understated.

Unlike SDG&E, which is motivated by shareholder interests, SEA is a not-for-profit energy provider accountable to the residents and businesses of Solana Beach. As a result, excess revenue will be reinvested back into the local economy, through on-bill savings and community programs. This ensures net revenues remain in the local community and continue to benefit local customers. In 2018, CCA customers in California will save more than $90 million per year combined on their energy bills compared with their investor-owned utility counterparts, according to California Community Choice Association members’ projections.

Although community choice aggregation is new to San Diego County, CCAs have built a strong track record of providing and generating new clean, reliable energy at competitive rates to the customers they serve. There are currently 18 CCAs in operation throughout California and this year they will serve over 2.5 million customer accounts.

CCAs were enabled by the California Legislature in the wake of the 2001 energy crisis, allowing local communities to take control of the energy they buy and to address constraints on competition that contributed to the crisis. Highly-regulated, locally controlled CCAs were designed to make energy markets less risky, protect ratepayers and infuse competition into the markets. Today they are performing as intended.

Previously, the investor-owned utilities monopolies in communities meant consumers had no choice in their energy supply. Now, CCAs are giving communities like Solana Beach the tools they need to reduce their carbon footprint by offering reliable, renewable energy supply that meets the energy needs of consumers without driving up energy bills.

While SEA is locally operated, it works in partnership with SDG&E, which continues to provide all electric delivery, billing and power line maintenance while SEA secures its own energy sources. SDG&E charges SEA customers what’s known as an “exit fee” on an ongoing basis to recover costs associated with its old power contracts. The California Community Choice Association is working to adjust that fee and lower costs for all consumers and will find out later this summer if the state will find a solution that is good for all.

Because CCAs are formed locally and are overseen by elected public officials, they offer a level of transparency, accountability and accessibility that does not exist with investor-owned utilities. Decisions about electricity choices, such as renewable power content and rates, are made by the local community.

Unlike the rates of the investor-owned utilities, which are set by the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco, SEA rates are set at Solana Beach City Hall. The public is welcome to attend the rate-setting meetings and participate in the process. Because rates are set by the Solana Beach City Council, customers have a steady, predictable energy bill.

As California continues to lead in innovative and carbon-reducing renewable energies, CCAs like SEA are vital to achieving local and state energy goals by providing customers the same reliability and affordability of traditional energy sources but with more green, carbon-free power sources.

Beth Vaughan is the executive director of the California Community Choice Association, based in Concord.

 

Community Energy Programs Are Accountable in Ways Investor-Owned Utilities Are Not, by Beth Vaughan, Voice of San Diego, July 23, 2018. 

Vista moving forward with climate plan

Vista is finalizing a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from projected growth in the city, and expects to put it before the council early next year.

City planners held the last in a series of six workshops on the climate plan on Thursday, presenting the plan to community members.

About half of the city’s emissions come from cars and trucks, and nearly a third are generated by energy use, according to the plan. Although the city is on track to cut emissions through increased use of solar and other renewable energy in coming years, greenhouse gases will rise again as the city’s population increases.

“In the long-term, we’re going to see problems or rising emissions levels as a result of growth,” said John Conley, community development director for the city.

California law calls for local governments to bring greenhouse emissions down to 1990 levels by the year 2020, and to reduce those by an additional 40 percent by 2030, and by another 80 percent by 2050. However, Conley said, those milestones represent state goals, and the city isn’t required to meet them.

“The state doesn’t mandate anything,” he said. “These are targets…. We don’t get into trouble if we don’t do it. There’s no penalty.”

However, Vista must consider climate action measures as part of the environmental review for its updated general plan, Conley said.

Other cities in the county, including San Diego, Chula Vista, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and La Mesa, have already adopted climate plans. A county plan to reduce greenhouse emissions was revamped after environmental groups challenged it in court, arguing that the plan didn’t detail how the county would realize emissions reductions.

Although some jurisdictions have called for 100 percent renewable energy use by mid-century, Conley said Vista isn’t aiming for that.

“At the staff level we’re not recommending for 100 percent clean energy, because we don’t think that’s attainable at this point,” he said.

Resident Diana Nygaard, with the conservation group “Preserve Calavera,” said staking out a goal of 100 percent clean energy can help move the needle toward that objective, even if it isn’t possible now.

“It really provides a policy framework that would guide a lot of decisions that come to our council,” she said. “It’s not a mandate, but it helps encourage more positive action.”

Some participants at Thursday’s meeting said they believe that Vista needs to be more proactive about climate change.

“Our quality of life depends on our ability to respond to climate change,” said resident Nikki Leeds.

Ana Ardon, a community organizer with the National Latino Research Council, who is working with north Vista neighborhoods in the city’s election district one, said the plan should consider social and environmental justice for those areas. For instance, she said, residents in that area need more urban trees, and better pedestrian access.

In addition to the climate workshops held in June and July, the city has posted an online survey that will be open until the end of the month where residents can vote on the emissions reduction measures that they think are most important.

Among the top options are joining a community choice energy program to purchase renewable energy; planting trees to increase urban forest canopy, provide shade and filter carbon; and adding more energy-saving options for public transit, bikes and pedestrians.

Other measures on the table are hiring city staff to implement the plan, improving energy efficiency in existing buildings, adding electric vehicle charging stations, investing in small-scale renewable energy and increasing water efficiency, recycling and composting.

 

Vista moving forward with climate plan, by Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 20, 2018.

SDG&E counter proposal to public-energy alternative still incomplete as elected officials call for vote

City officials said at a public hearing Thursday that they are continuing to work with San Diego Gas & Electric to overhaul the utility’s proposal for getting San Diego to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 — a target mandated by the city’s ambitious climate action plan.

That frustrated some elected officials who are anxious to vote on whether to adopt the utility’s blueprint or embrace a government-run power program known as community choice aggregation.

If the city adopts community choice, SDG&E will continue to deliver energy to residents, but elected officials would control the buying and selling of power. Customers can opt out of the program to receive the utility’s rates.

“We have a plan in place that we want to execute on, and we cannot wait around forever if this continues to be pushed and pushed and pushed,” Councilman David Alvarez said at Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Environment Committee.

Last summer, an independent review of community choice found the program, as compared to SDG&E, would deliver more green energy to San Diegans while costing residents and businesses less over time.

Then in June, the city’s Sustainable Energy Advisory Board issued a harsh review of SDG&E’s plan, saying the investor owned utility’s pitch “lacked sufficient detail.”

So far the utility has laid out a rough sketch for a “tariff” program that would charge ratepayers the cost of delivering increasingly more renewable energy over time.

The utility has signaled it will issue a more detailed blueprint in August.

“Because our proposed program would be a new utility offering, the first of its kind, we must continue to work through the details of both the regulatory framework and the city’s legal and administrative requirements,” Vanesa Mapula Garcia, public affairs manager for San Diego Gas & Electric, said at the meeting.

At the same time, Councilwoman Georgette Gomez questioned whether the city should be spending resources to help SDG&E iron out its proposal. “How much time are you spending on trying to define what San Diego Gas & Election wants you to consider?” she asked staff.

The city first became interested in community choice several year ago while drafting its climate plan. Since then cities all over California looking to green up their power grids have adopted the alternative energy program, most recently Solana Beach and Los Angeles County.

“We’re looking at how to get to 100 percent, but equally as important is what is the cost to the city, what is the cost to ratepayers?” Cody Hooven, the city’s chief sustainability officer, said at Thursday’s hearing.

In the last year, shareholders of SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, have formed a lobbying group that has argued fluctuating state regulation make it impossible to know for sure whether community choice will be cheaper than the utility’s proposed tariff program.

Utilities and advocates of community choice all over the state have been anxiously waiting for the state Public Utilities Commission to overhaul a so-called exit fee. The charge is paid by community choice programs to compensate utilities for the energy contracts they have signed on behalf of ratepayers who subsequently get enrolled in the government program.

The commission has said it will issue a preliminary ruling adjusting the fee by the end of this month.

 

SDG&E counter proposal to public-energy alternative still incomplete as elected officials call for vote, by Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 12, 2018.

Fearing climate change, experts in San Diego warn U.S. nuclear industry faces collapse

The United States is on the verge of losing more than half of its low-carbon energy as the fight against climate change reaches a critical point — a reality the country hasn’t fully grappled with.

That’s according to findings recently published by researchers at UC San DiegoHarvard University and Carnegie Mellon University in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper — “U.S. nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge” — paints a picture of an industry on the verge of collapse. Facing economic competition from cheap natural gas, the country’s aging fleet of nuclear power plants, the authors warn, could see a significant number of retirements in coming years.

“We’re asleep at the wheel on a very dangerous highway,” said Ahmed Abdulla, co-author and fellow at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy. “We really need to open our eyes and study the situation.”

The country now has a choice to abandon nuclear power altogether or embrace the next generation of smaller, more cost-effective reactors, according to the report.

However, the researchers argue, the second option is very unlikely as it would require accelerating the regulatory review process and a sizable infusion of public cash.

“It’s really surprising that one of our best weapons in our fight against climate change is at risk of utter collapse because of the economic and political challenges and not the technical ones,” Abdulla said.

While it might be a longshot, the promise of nuclear power has captured the imagination of many younger academics in recent years.

More students are pursuing nuclear engineering degrees than at any time since the early 1980s, with graduation rates in the field tripling between 2001 and 2015, according to survey data from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.

“Where else are you going to get a job where you can tell your grandkids that you saved the world?” said Per Peterson, a professor in UC Berkeley’s department of nuclear engineering. “They don’t think they’re going to get rich.”

Still, environmental organizations have remained largely skeptical about the value of nuclear energy, given ongoing anxieties about safety as well as cost. While advocacy groups have expressed concerns about replacing phased-out nuclear plants with fossil fuels, many would rather focus on supporting renewable sources.

“The danger is that the amount of subsidy that nuclear would require would suck all the energy out of supporting the other renewables,” said Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“There’s almost nothing that can be done to make nuclear a significant contributor in the next few decades, even if you throw billions of dollars at it,” he said. “The people who promote nuclear power have tunnel vision.”

Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California, echoed those general concerns.

“Nuclear power in its current form has been an incredibility expensive way to boil water,” he said. “If you’re really trying to decarbonize our grid, we would rather spend those billions on efficiency, conservation and renewables.”

Nuclear energy constitutes roughly 20 percent of nation’s energy supply, compared to about 17 percent for all renewables combined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wind and solar, for example, make up about 7.6 percent of the country’s power portfolio.

While aggressive efforts continue to develop batteries for storing intermittent sources of electricity from solar and wind, utilities in recent years have embraced natural gas for consistent, baseload energy. The fossil fuel now represents nearly 32 percent of all the energy produced in the U.S.

Given recent trends, nuclear industry scientists question whether renewables will be able to offset the losses from retiring nuclear plants in time to stave off the worst consequences of climate change.

“The reality is you cannot actually replace 20 percent of the need with wind and solar, unless you want to wallpaper every square inch of many states,” said Christina Back, vice president of nuclear technologies and materials at General Atomics. “It’s not efficient enough.”

Back said that given the right support from the federal government, the current fleet of nuclear reactors can, in many cases, be retrofitted to improve safety and lifespan, while smaller, more cost-effective plants can be rolled out within the next decade to provide baseload energy.

“This is a situation like NASA when you’re putting someone on the moon where the government needs to recognize the long-term benefit and investment that’s required and help support that,” she said. “This is where political will matters.”

The paper also suggested that many in the public don’t take nuclear energy seriously because they don’t realize the urgency of the situation. Specifically, the research points to the need to aggressively decarbonize the energy sector by mid-century because carbon dioxide emitted today will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, baking in the effects of global warming for generations to come.

If the country is going to embrace nuclear energy, it should do so as quickly as possible to help stave off the impacts of climate change, said George Tynan, associate dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

“You realize that we’re almost out of time because of the development timescales,” he said. “If new nuclear technologies are going to have a material impact on carbon emission in the midcentury then they have to be demonstrated in the marketplace in the next decade or so.”

 

Fearing climate change, experts in San Diego warn U.S. nuclear industry faces collapse, by Joshua Emerson Smith, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 7, 2018.

Electric vehicle customers getting $500 credit from SDG&E

About 15,000 San Diego Gas & Electric customers who drive electric vehicles (EVs) are getting $500 credits on their utility bill.

The drivers signed up for the Electric Vehicle Climate Credit, funded by the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program overseen by the California Air Resources Board. The program is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the adoption of plug-in vehicles around the state.

This marks the second year that qualified SDG&E customers have received the credit. Last year, about 7,000 EV drivers received $200 each. The credits jumped to $500 this year, largely because of a spike in revenue generated from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program.

The program is funded by payments made by the state’s greenhouse gas emitters, such as power plants, that are required to buy carbon pollution permits at the cap-and-trade auctions run by the Air Resources Board.

Transportation is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 37 percent of total emissions, according to estimates by the Air Resources Board.

SDG&E officials said the company started applying the $500 credits to customers’ bills in mid-June and expects to complete the process by early August.

There are more than 29,000 EVs registered in SDG&E’s service territory. Customers who received the $500 credit had to sign up for the program by May 31.

As for next year, it has not been determined whether the EV Climate Credit will be in effect in its current form. This fall, the Air Resources Board is expected to consider modifying the program and may consider developing new EV incentives.

Electric vehicle customers getting $500 credit from SDG&E, by Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2018.

More EV charging stations come to Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — As electric vehicles and hybrids become more popular, cities continue to invest in infrastructure, notably charging stations.

Last week, the city of Carlsbad added three locations for EV drivers to charge their batteries. Motorists can now charge at Stagecoach Community Park, Pine Park and a city-owned parking lot on State Street between Oak Avenue and Carlsbad Village Drive.

In total, the city now has four EV charging locations. Alga Norte Park was the first, and has a total of 16 charging portals, and there are 10 at Stagecoach.

More importantly, though, the EV additions are complementing the city’s push to reduce greenhouse gasses as part of its Climate Action Plan.

“Emissions from gas and diesel vehicles account for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in Carlsbad,” said Mike Grim, who administers Carlsbad’s Climate Action Plan. “Every mile you can travel in an electric vehicle, carpooling and even biking and walking, adds up to a marked improvement in our air quality and progress in meeting our Climate Action Plan goals.”

The plan calls for increasing the amount of zero-emissions vehicle miles traveled in Carlsbad from 15 percent to 25 percent by 2035, according to the city.

As for the city-owned EV stations, they use the ChargePoint network and charge a fee of $0.35/kWh.

Looking forward, though, the city is analyzing other locations to add more EV stations. According to the city, a 2015 Center for Sustainable Energy infrastructure assessment found other city-owned sites with potential include The Shoppes at Carlsbad parking lot, City Hall, the Cole and Dove libraries and the Faraday Administration Center.

The Stagecoach and State Street locations were chosen because existing electrical service capacity made these sites the most feasible.

Meanwhile, EVGO Services LLC, a division of NRG, is under a legal mandate to build out California’s electrical vehicle charging system infrastructure in workplace and public facilities statewide, at no cost to the public agencies or property owners. The city entered into an agreement with EVGO Services in July 2016 to install the base units for the new charging stations at the State Street and Stagecoach Park locations. The city then contracted with ChargePoint to provide the charging terminals.

The Pine Avenue Community Park location just underwent major improvements, including a new community center and gardens. According to Grim, when the city builds new facilities it’s become routine to work in as many environmental sustainability features as possible. In addition to the charging stations, the new Pine Avenue Community Center has solar power, natural lighting, smart lights and temperature controls, and even a water bottle filling station that tells you how many plastic bottles you save with each refill.

 

More EV charging stations come to Carlsbad, by Steve Puterski, The Coast News Group, July 5, 2018.

Uber Drivers in San Diego Offered Incentives to Use Electric Vehicles

The giant rideshare firm Uber announced Tuesday that San Diego will be one of seven cities where drivers will be given an incentive to drive electric vehicles.

The EV Champions program is rolling out here and in Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle after successful pilots in Pittsburgh and Portland.

“The aim of the EV Champions Initiative is to increase access to clean electric mobility for the driver-partners and riders who use Uber,” said Adam Gromis, Uber’s global lead on sustainability and environmental impact. “We anticipate this initiative will facilitate at least 5 million Uber EV rides over the next year.”

In San Diego, Uber will be providing a $1 per trip incentive for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In addition, Uber will add charging stations at its San Diego hub.

“We applaud Uber’s efforts to expand awareness of electric cars through rideshare,” said Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America, a national association representing EV drivers. “EVs provide cleaner air, energy independence, and lower total cost of ownership when factoring incentives. This program will give more people the opportunity to hear the many benefits of electric cars from the drivers who know it best.”

Uber Drivers in San Diego Offered Incentives to Use Electric Vehicles, by Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, June 19, 2018.