Over the past few years, electric trucks have dominated the headlines in the fleet industry.
With more and more electric vehicle technology entering the truck market, it seems that electrification will be the future of fleet. But introducing
new options is one thing — getting fleets to use them is another. Adopting electric vehicles requires an investment in infrastructure.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) hopes to ease some of that burden on fleets, with several initiatives in the works to support
electric vehicle adoption and lower the price tag associated with electric vehicles.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the state agency that regulates privately owned utility companies. In January 2018, the regulatory body approved $41 million in funding for electric vehicle charging pilots proposed by the state’s three major electric utility companies: PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric.
Of PG&E’s four one-year pilot projects that were approved, three may affect the way electric vehicles are charged in the medium- and heavy-duty segment.
In one pilot, the utility plans to tackle idling. Ari Vanrenen, a principal communications representative for PG&E, noted that some of the company’s fleet customers leave vehicles idling due to heating or cooling.
Two other pilots may not involve truck fleets directly, but the findings may benefit these fleets in the future: PG&E will partner with one transit agency to figure out how the agency could leverage smart charging and battery storage to lower operating costs, and it will test an incentive structure that allows school bus fleets to charge electric vehicles during the day when there is an abundance of solar power available on
the electrical grid.
Because these pilot programs were recently approved, the details are still being discussed. As of now, the utility plans to choose one company or
agency for each pilot, but may add others to the pilots if budget permits.
In January 2017, PG&E submitted a five-year proposal that would help to expand electrification for fleets with medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
This may include school buses, transit agencies, and delivery fleets.
Under this proposal, PG&E would build out the infrastructure required to bring energy from the electrical grid to a vehicle charger. This recharging infrastructure is considered one of the most expensive aspects of electrical vehicle adoption, and would lower the barrier to entry for fleets interested in electrification.
“The idea of our program is to electrify these kind of vehicles to help address air pollution issues in California and support the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation,” Vanrenen said.
In addition to electrical infrastructure, PG&E would recommend additional incentives for electrifying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in disadvantaged communities, as well as school and transit buses.
Change Starts Within
PG&E’s new and proposed projects would make a huge impact on communities. But the utility has also made strides in electrifying its own fleet.
The utility has 1,600 electrified units in its fleet, including hybrid-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and battery-electric vehicles.
In 2016, the utility saved 10,000 metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions and over one million gallons of fuel, or about $3.8 million in fuel costs.