By Matt Heitner
PG&E today (Sept. 19) announced a new pilot program in partnership with Valley Clean Air Now (Valley CAN) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 684 and 100 to provide free electrical panel upgrades to encourage electric vehicle ownership in low-income, underserved communities.
The PG&E Corporation Foundation will provide $75,000 in shareholder funds to cover the cost of upgrading home service panels — a commonly cited obstacle to electric vehicle adoption. IBEW Local 684 and 100 members will perform the site surveys, planning and panel installation for customers who qualify for the program.
Valley CAN, a nonprofit organization committed to improving air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley, already provides up to $9,500 for local low-income homeowners to trade in their older vehicles for a used plug-in EV. Doing so is part of their ongoing participation in the California Air Resources Board’s Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program Plus-Up program, an initiative funded with revenue from California’s Cap-and-Trade program.
“PG&E is reducing barriers to zero-emission transportation in disadvantaged communities by giving low-income customers free home infrastructure improvements they need to install electric vehicle chargers. PG&E is making a real difference with this pilot,” said Tom Knox, the clean air group’s executive director.
PG&E’s Melissa Lavinson said electric vehicles and the home electrical panel upgrades that may be need to charge them are often beyond the reach of individuals and families living in disadvantaged communities.
“PG&E is partnering to overcome these financial barriers so that all of our customers can afford clean energy options,” said Lavinson, PG&E’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of federal affairs and policy. “This pilot with Valley CAN and the IBEW Local 684 and 100 will help us better understand how we can assist Central Valley residents.”
To support job creation and capacity building, the IBEW will encourage participating local contractors to complete certification in the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program to increase the pool of trained and qualified electric vehicle equipment installers in the San Joaquin Valley, and IBEW members will then complete the panel upgrades for program participants.
“This is an innovative approach to creating clean-energy options for disadvantaged communities, while also using organized labor to provide training, quality control and good paying jobs,” said Bobby Stutzman, business manager for the IBEW Local 684.
Additionally, all car owners in the pilot program will immediately be eligible for PG&E’s Clean Fuel Rebate, which provides customers with a $500 one-time rebate for their use of electricity as a clean transportation fuel.
PG&E’s commitment to electric vehicles
PG&E’s announcement is part of the company’s commitment as a founding member of EV100, a new initiative launched today by The Climate Group at Climate Week NYC to encourage business commitments to electric transportation across the globe. Joining EV100 reinforces PG&E’s ongoing work to make electric vehicle ownership both easy and affordable for our customers, further electrify our own vehicle fleet as options become available and expand access to electric vehicle charging for both employees and customers.
For example, as part of the EV Charge Network program, PG&E will build up to 7,500 electric vehicle charging stations at multi-unit dwellings and workplaces across Northern and Central California, with a minimum of 15 percent of the chargers located in disadvantaged communities. Additionally, PG&E has installed about 500 charging units for employees at its facilities to date.
PG&E also offers resources to help customers driving electric vehicles learn more and determine which rate makes sense for them. On PG&E’s residential electric vehicle rate plans, customers pay the equivalent of $1.20 per gallon to charge their vehicle overnight.
PG&E also operates one of the cleanest transportation fleets in the energy industry, with nearly 1,600 vehicles that are electric-based ― ranging from passenger vehicles to pioneering hybrid-electric bucket trucks that reduce idling at the job site and reduce fuel use, emissions and vehicle noise.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.