Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced approval of $738 million worth of projects for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in California. In today’s article, we briefly look at the projects that are being funded and compare this with the state-of-play in Australia for subsidised EV.
By Dr Drew Donnelly, Regulatory Specialist, Compliance Quarter
The CPUC approval
CPUC approved funding for the following projects:
- San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Residential Charging Program ($137 million): This provides rebates for residential customers to install home charging stations;
- SDG&E’s Residential Grid Integrated Rate: This would offer customer participating in the program above the option to enrol in an EV-only electricity rate that varies hourly based on day-ahead forecasts;
- Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Direct Current Fast Charging Make-Ready Program ($22 million). This would install ‘make-ready’ infrastructure at 52 sites supporting fast charging stations. ‘Make Ready’ infrastructure consists of the essential wiring and electrical apparatus for connecting charging stations to the grid;
- PG&E’s FleetReady Program ($236 million): PG&E will install the ‘make-ready’ infrastructure for at least 700 sites to support the electrification of at least 6,500 medium- or heavy-duty vehicles.
- Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Medium- and Heavy-Duty Infrastructure Program ($343 million), This will install the make-ready infrastructure in a minimum of 870 sites to support the electrification of at least 8,490 medium- or heavy-duty vehicles.
- SCE’s Commercial Electric Vehicle Rate Design (no incremental costs): SCE will establish three new time-of-use rates for commercial customers with EV.
Of course, the overall goal of these measures is to move California towards a smaller carbon footprint in accordance with the 2015 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act – Electric Vehicle subsidies are one way to do this. This legislation sets emissions reduction goals for California for 2030 and beyond with related responsibilities for state regulators such as CPUC. But more specifically, these measures are targeted at:
- A recognition of the importance of ‘fast-charging’, which can charge EV in 20-30 minutes;
- A recognition of the pollution caused by diesel vehicles and a consequent emphasis on subsidies for medium and heavy-use vehicles;
- A recognition of inequality concerns with 25 per cent of the fast chargers to be placed in disadvantaged areas.
Australian Government Support for EV & Electric Vehicle subsidies
In Australia, there has been limited Government strategic support for EV at both the Commonwealth and State/Territory levels. Initiatives that have been implemented over the last year, at the Commonwealth level, include:
- the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) announcement of funding for a public participation program by Evenergi with the goal of increasing the amount of EV on Australia’s roads and boosting home solar and storage units. 
- the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) $100 million support through Macquarie Leasing to achieve a 7 per cent discount on financing for electric vehicles.
The only significant strategic direction for Electric Vehicle subsidies at the state/territory level has been in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Earlier this year the ACT released its Transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan 2018–21. In this, the ACT sets out its support for EV in the ACT including:
- No stamp duty on zero-emissions vehicle purchases;
- A 20 per cent discount on zero-emissions annual vehicle registration;
- Purchase of EV for the ACT government fleet.
Victoria has also introduced a registration discount for hybrid vehicles.
It remains to be seen whether Commonwealth or State/Territory Government will introduce funding for significant EV infrastructure projects in the future.
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