California has become the first state to introduce submetering technology to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles

Brief description of the dive:

  • California regulators last week approved first-of-its-kind protocols for submeter technology, which would essentially allow electric car owners to measure their cars’ energy consumption separately from the main meter..
  • With this decision, owners of electric cars, as well as electric buses and trucks, will be able to avoid installing an additional meter to measure the electricity their vehicle consumes, removing a major obstacle to the adoption of electric vehicles throughout the state.
  • The CPUC’s decision is the culmination of a decade of efforts to develop submetering capabilities and standardize communications protocols, President Alice Reynolds said at a meeting Thursday. “We really hope to make it faster and easier for customers to have more control over how and when they charge their car, and to enable customers to better manage their demand and benefit from EV tariffs,” she said..

Dive Insight:

The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and vehicle electrification is a critical component of the state’s decarbonization efforts. In 2020, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, passed an executive order aimed at making all new passenger car sales in the state zero-emission by 2035. Currently, more than 16% of passenger cars sold in California are electric, and the state represents nearly half of all EV sales nationwide.

CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtshaffen said at the agency’s voting meeting Thursday. This is important because in California EVs are subject to special rate structures that make it easier to charge during off-peak hours.

“Right now, you can charge your car anywhere from one-half to one-third of what it would cost to fill up a tank of gas, and that’s actually even before gas prices have gone up in the last few months,” Rechtshaffen said. “But EV tariffs often don’t work for an entire home or business, so most EV drivers today don’t opt ​​for these special tariffs.”

Specific rates for electric vehicles can significantly reduce the cost of owning an electric vehicle, but many customers are unwilling to purchase an additional meter, which is an obstacle to the adoption of electric vehicles statewide, according to the CPUC.

“This technology is a way around that,” Rechtshaffen said.

It’s one of the decisions the CPUC made that may seem technical and complicated, but promises far-reaching consequences, Rechtshaffen said, adding that “this makes us the first state in the country to allow EV owners to measure their vehicles’ electricity consumption. car regardless of their main meter”.

In addition, the solution approved by California regulators defines communication protocols for electric vehicle chargers, which Rechtshaffen said will help ensure the vehicle’s integration into the grid. Vehicle and grid integration refers to “the whole set of actions that determine when and how people charge their cars—when, at what level, how much energy is returned, and the goal is to minimize the impact on the grid and maximize consumer benefits, reduce for them the cost or allow them to get paid for feeding electricity back into the grid,” he said.

The integration of vehicles and the electric grid will become especially important as California adds more electric vehicles to its roads, creating the potential to overload the grid. Earlier this year, Pacific Gas & Electric and General Motors announced a pilot test of bidirectional charging — essentially allowing customers to export electricity from their vehicles — that could help EVs become an on-demand home energy source.

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