Californis Energy Commission OKs $1.9B for EV Charging Stations

The California Energy Commission (CEC) on Feb. 14 approved $1.9 billion to expand the state’s network of charging and refueling infrastructure for zero-emission cars, trucks and buses. The funding will create the most extensive charging and hydrogen refueling network in the country, say officials. 

The state funding comes from the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program and will be spent over the next four years, with at least 50 percent targeted to benefit priority populations. The money is part of the $48 billion dollar California Climate Commitment, which includes more than $10 billion for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and infrastructure. 

“We need to make sure that this is zero emission refueling infrastructure for everybody,” said CEC’s Lead Commissioner for Transportation Patty Monahan in a statement. “By investing a bulk of funds to benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities, the state is making sure communities most in need have better access to chargers and less pollution from trucks and buses.” 

In 2023, 25 percent of new cars sold in California were zero-emission. Officials say this new funding will create 40,000 new chargers statewide, adding to nearly 94,000 public and shared private chargers currently installed in the state. Combined with previous funding, the CEC the state hopes to reach a goal of 250,000 chargers in the next few years. This is in addition to private installations and home chargers.

The $1.9 billion in funds will become available over the next four years and distributed to projects through competitive grants. Projects include direct incentive and rebate programs for businesses, non-profit organizations, tribes and public agencies.

First created in 2007, the Clean Transportation Program is one of the first transportation-focused funding efforts established to help advance the state’s climate change policies. It is funded by vehicle and vessel registration, vehicle identification plates, and smog abatement fees. To date, $1.8 billion has been invested in projects supporting ZEV infrastructure, alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. This includes nearly 24,500 EV chargers installed or planned and funding for 96 public hydrogen fueling stations, of which 61 are open today.

The program also formed the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project to provide streamlined incentives for EV chargers, and awarded $100 million to 120 projects for truck and bus charging and refueling through the Energy Infrastructure Incentives for Zero-Emission Commercial Vehicles Project. Additionally, it provided funding to California public school districts for electric school bus charging.

The CEC on February 14 also approved the second Assembly Bill 2127 Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Assessment. The assessment projects how much publicly available charging infrastructure is needed to meet demand. Results show that in 2030, 7.1 million EVs will need 1 million chargers, and 155,000 electric trucks and buses will need 114,500 chargers.

The agency projects that by 2035 California will have 15.2 million EVs requiring 2.1 million chargers, and 377,000 electric trucks and buses will need 264,000 chargers.

All this new funding should help lay groundwork for the visionary West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, an ongoing, collaborative effort between 16 utilities to support the development of electric vehicle charging facilities along I-5, from San Diego to British Columbia, for heavy- and medium-duty freight haulers and delivery trucks.

Beginning with an initial June 2020 report outlining conceptual charging sites, the West Coast utilities are currently conducting grid readiness assessments in preparation for infrastructure installations and upgrades that will support vehicle charging capacities of at least 3.5 megawatts with potential for further upgrades to create even higher-power sites. 

The utilities involved in this initiative are San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Public Power Authority, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Northern California Power Agency, City of Redding, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, Clark Public Utilities, Cowlitz Co PUD, Lewis Co PUD, Tacoma Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, Snohomish PUD, and BC Hydro.