California’s great electric vehicle charging build-out

Author: K athie Fehrenbacher  Published: 

Electrify America EV charging infrastructure

California, the state with the most EVs on its roads in the U.S., might finally get the infrastructure it will need to charge the coming wave of zero emissions vehicles.

On Wednesday afternoon, Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America released the details of its plans to spend $200 million more deploying electric vehicle charging stations and educating the public around EV options. The company, created as part of a settlement after VW was caught cheating on its diesel vehicle emissions tests, intends to spend $2 billion over 10 years to promote EV adoption around the U.S.

The latest program, “Cycle 2,” will seek to deploy mostly fast charging stations (DC) in metro areas up and down California, including around Riverside, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, San Diego and Santa Rosa. Electrify America’s “Cycle 1,” of investments, is already going towards installing about 2,000 chargers in many of these regions, at close to 500 sites.

The new funding includes two particularly important aspects that represent broader trends in the growing market around EV charging infrastructure. First, Electrify America will allocate a portion of its funding for charging infrastructure for fleets, including at transit bus depots, as well as for ride-hailing and other mobility programs encouraging EV adoption.

Secondly, Electrify America says that 35 percent of these next investments will be focused on low income and disadvantaged communities. The California Air Resources Board suggested this allocation, and CARB and the Environmental Protection Agency review Electrify America’s investment plans (CARB still needs to review the Cycle 2 plan before it’s deployed).

On a phone briefing, Electrify America COO Brendan Jones noted that by 2020, 80 percent of the electric vehicles in California will be driving on the streets of the chosen key metropolitan areas. Many fast DC chargers that will be deployed along highways, at retail outlets or nearby apartment complexes, will be able to charge EVs with “20 miles per minute,” noted Jones.

Electrify America, of course, isn’t the only company focused on EV charging. Utilities and charging providers have been investing heavily in building out charging infrastructure across certain regions around the United States, but particularly in California. California now has around 450,000 EVs.

One in 10 vehicles sold in California has a plug, said Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Colin Mckerracher recently. That’s compared to one in 40 vehicles in the rest of the United States. California has a plan to reach 1.5 million zero emissions vehicles by 2025 and 5 million by 2030.

This summer, California energy regulators — the California Public Utility Commission, or CPUC —approved a portfolio of EV charging projects worth $738 million for California’s investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). Those programs will build chargers for both passenger and commercial vehicles, and are some of the largest uses of public funding for utility EV charging infrastructure to date.

Meanwhile, companies such as Tesla, ChargePoint, EVgo and Greenlots are focused on offering charging options for residential customers, commercial fleets and retail shoppers. And retailers themselves are getting in on the action — Walmart is rolling out fast electric vehicle chargers at 100 locations across 34 states by the summer of 2019.

If you’re interested in EV infrastructure, we’re delving into this topic a variety of ways at our VERGE conference in two weeks in Oakland, California. We’ll feature speakers such as:

  • CEC’s Janea Scott
  • Greenlots CEO Brett Hauser
  • EVgo’s CEO Cathy Zoi
  • Electrify America’s Wayne Killen
  • Southern California Edison’s Laura Renger
  • Volta’s CEO Scott Mercer
  • BYD’s President Stella Li
  • Con Edison’s Stuart Nachmias
  • PG&E’s Stephanie Greene
  • Greenlining’s Joel Espino
  • And many more!

We’ll also have Bolt EVs to ride and drive in and charging infrastructure to charge up your EV by a couple companies. The conference will be powered by a microgrid that uses solar panels on the roof of the Golden State Warriors’ stadium. Don’t miss it.

SunPower becomes biggest US solar panel builder with SolarWorld purchase

  • SunPower completed its acquisition of SolarWorld Americas’ assets Monday, increasing the company’s solar panel manufacturing capacity in the U.S.
  • SolarWorld’s
    • In September, the U.S. Trade Representative announced tariff exclusions for a slew of solar module components, which analysts said directly favored SunPower’s solar module manufacturing operations in Mexico.

    Hillsboro, Oregon facility will convert to manufacture SunPower’s 19% efficiency panels, P-Series, with shipments expected to begin by the first quarter of 2019. Hillsboro employees will continue producing SolarWorld Americas’ product during the coming months, as part of the transition.The acquisition of SolarWorld Americas, the subsidiary of a German company and one of the two petitioners that sought tariffs on imported solar panels, makes SunPower the largest panel manufacturer in the U.S.

    SunPower promised investments in domestic manufacturing earlier this year when it announced its intention to purchase SolarWorld.

    “Even though SunPower’s Mexican-made modules have received an exemption from the Section 201 tariff, it is still useful for the company to have domestic manufacturing capacity, especially as it acquired SolarWorld for pennies on the dollar,” Pavel Molchanov, senior vice president and equity research analyst at Raymond James & Associates, told Utility Dive.

    The price to purchase SolarWorld assets was not disclosed.

    SunPower had anticipated manufacturing retrofits would be necessary for the upcoming P-Series production, alongside factory improvements. It has already began to move relevant equipment to Hillsboro, according to its press statement.

    The investment in domestic solar manufacturing comes less than a year after the Trump administration imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. First Solar announced construction in June on a northwestern Ohio manufacturing facility expected to be operational in late 2019. First Solar is currently the largest solar panel manufacturer in the country. The company had cited higher solar demand and changes in the corporate tax rate as reasons for its expansion.

    While the tariffs have led to an immediate growth in domestic solar manufacturing capacity, the shift could continue without a significant boostto job creation due to increasing automation in the sector, Bloomberg has reported.

Proposed Pepco substation highlights DC’s grid modernization battle

The proposal has been met with backlash as environmentalists and residents argue there is a more sustainable approach to updating the grid.

A substation proposed by Pepco has become a focal point of the grid modernization debate in Washington, D.C. and could be the turning point in how the nation’s capital handles its electric power.

The proposal comes as the grid modernization debate is heating up across the country and for the district could also lead to a first-of-its-kind independent regulatory body that would take over some utility planning functions.

“One of the big questions is what role the utility will play,” Karl Rabago, an energy consultant hired to support some of the environmental groups active in the case, told Utility Dive. Utilities have immense market power, but “will they be able to get out of the way to allow an independent process to move forward?”

Modernizing D.C.’s grid

Pepco’s application to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission (DC PSC) for its Capital Grid project includes the refurbishment of three existing substations and the building of a new substation in the district’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood at a total cost of $851 million, including work in Maryland.

On a separate track, the DC PSC is in the midst of a process aimed at modernizing the District’s grid. The goal of the process, Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS), is to increase sustainability for consumers and make the energy delivery system more reliable, efficient, cost effective and interactive.

“One of the big questions is what role the utility will play. … Will they be able to get out of the way to allow an independent process to move forward?”

Karl Rabago


The MEDSIS process arose as a response to protests over another Pepco substation. In 2014, the Sierra Club asked the PSC to consider non-wires alternatives to large utility investments, but the commission declined to do that during an ongoing ratemaking proceeding with Pepco. In 2015, DC Climate Action and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission pushed the PSC to consider non-wires alternatives to Pepco’s proposed Waterfront substation in the Buzzard Point section of the District.

The PSC declined to take up that request as part of the substation approval process but said it would open a docket to establish a working group that could address “in a more global way the future outlook for energy growth,” including the feasibility of more energy storage and increased generation distribution.

Meanwhile, the PSC approved — and Pepco built — the Waterfront substation, while the MEDSIS process led to the creation of working groups to study the issues, resolutions to define the terms of the debate and the hiring of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) as a consultant on the process.

With the MEDSIS process still under way, Pepco in May 2017 filed with the PSC for approval of more substation investments as part of its Capital Grid project.

Noting that the district is experiencing its highest population growth in four decades, Pepco said the Capital Grid project will “address current and future energy needs,” help build grid resilience to withstand and recover from events such as severe storms, and help the District reach its goal of generating half its electricity from renewable sources by 2032.

The Capital Grid project, however, is receiving pushback from environmental advocates, local residents and even the district’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE).

Power Africa Releases 2018 Annual Report


Published: Power Africa; Date Wed, Oct 03, 2018 4:44 am

Power Africa is excited to announce the release of its 2018 Annual Report — this year, in video format — click here or on the image above to watch it now!
The highlights? Since 2014, Power Africa has supported 117 transactions that have reached financial close. Those 117 transactions will generate over 9,500 megawatts(MW) of new, more reliable electricity. More than 57 million people in sub-Saharan Africa now have access to electricity that did not prior to 2014, thanks to the 12.5 million new home and business connections facilitated by Power Africa support. To read more, click here.