PG&E is starting the Empower EV and Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger pilot programs.  -  Photo: PG&E/Work Truck

PG&E is starting the Empower EV and Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger pilot programs.

Photo: PG&E/Work Truck

In support of California’s vehicle electrification and climate action goals, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is offering two new programs designed to improve access to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure for customers in underserved communities.

The Empower EV and Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger pilot programs provide no-cost EV charging infrastructure and resources to help address the costs of installing chargers at single-family homes, multifamily housing units, nonprofit organizations and small businesses throughout low- and moderate-income communities in PG&E’s service area.    

Based on a recent study that analyzed data from the California Energy Commission, the limited expansion of EVs among underserved populations can be attributed to several factors.

These include high upfront vehicle costs, a scarcity of charging options for renters, and insufficient access to public charging stations in low-income and rural areas.

It is essential to tackle these challenges, given California Governor Gavin Newsom's executive order, which mandates that all new passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

Empower EV Pilot Program

The Empower EV program offers income-eligible customers up to $2,500 in incentives to help cover the cost of installing EV-charging equipment at their single-family residences.

PG&E plans to provide a free Level 2 charger, valued at $500, to approximately 2,000 customers who meet eligibility requirements. PG&E will also cover up to $2,000 per eligible household for panel upgrades completed by the program’s approved electrician. Up to 800 eligible households may qualify for financial assistance with panel upgrades.

To participate in the Empower EV program, customers are required to verify income eligibility and show that they have purchased or leased an EV within the six months prior to applying.

Pilot participants will be automatically enrolled in PG&E’s Home Charging EV2-A Time-of-Use rate plan and must remain on the rate for a minimum of six billing cycles. Customers enrolled in the rate plan and the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program will save an additional 20% or more each month on their energy bills.

Empower EV is implemented through GRID Alternatives, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that installs renewable energy projects that serve economic and environmental justice communities.

Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger Program

Through the Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger Program, PG&E plans to install approximately 2,000 Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers at 450 multifamily housing units, nonprofit organizations and small businesses in select communities. For qualified customers, the charging units will be installed at no cost to property owners and the program covers two years of networking and software fees.

The Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger Program — part of the White House EV Acceleration Challenge to support the nationwide transition to electric vehicles — is being implemented by Ecology Action, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit that collaborates with companies on local programs to reduce transportation-sector emissions.

PG&E’s Clean Energy Transportation Initiatives

In PG&E's service area, nearly 500,000 EVs have been sold, accounting for approximately one in seven EVs nationwide. In 2022, around one in four new vehicles purchased in PG&E territory were EVs, making up 22.7% of total new vehicle sales.

To achieve their 2030 targets, as outlined in the Climate Strategy Report released the previous year, PG&E is taking steps to enhance the grid's capacity to support at least 3 million EVs. This involves accommodating approximately 12,000 GWh of EV-related electric load while ensuring safety and efficiency.

Furthermore, PG&E aims to enable 2 million of these EVs to engage in vehicle-grid integration applications. This strategic move will make EVs a pivotal aspect of electric reliability and climate resilience for PG&E's customers at large.

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