For full report click here.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the state agency that regulates investor-owned electric utilities, comprising about 80% of California's electricity service.1 The CPUC has authority to determine a wide range of electricity-sector policies, such as setting all electricity rates and metering regulations for regulated utilities. The CPUC has a mandate to ensure that customers have consistent access to safe and reliable electricity service at reasonable rates while protecting customers and the environment.
Auto manufacturers have announced that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles may be commercially available in 2010.2 Hybrid vehicles are very popular in California. In 2007, over 26% of new hybrid vehicles in the country were registered in California.3 If plug-in electric vehicles become popular in California, the increased electricity demand could overwhelm state electricity supply capacity. Insufficient capacity could lead to substantial increases in electricity rates and rolling blackouts, similar to the situation during the 2001 electricity crisis.
To address responsibly the potential increase in electric demand, my primary contact at the CPUC, Judith IklÃ©, has requested information about potential plug-in vehicle electricity demand levels over the next 20 years and policy recommendations to help the state absorb the increased demand in ways that meet California's public policy goals. These goals include reducing energy costs for residents, increasing the supply of renewable energy to the grid, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
This report provides data and policy recommendations to inform and advise CPUC decision makers. The recommendations focus on meeting the needs of customers who will be able to park their plug-in electric vehicle(s) in a location with access to their household electricity service. The report also discusses, to a lesser extent, ways for the CPUC and other entities to address the needs of plug-in vehicle drivers who are unable to connect to their household electricity service.
The report contains the following findings:
As indicated by the title of this document, "Five Birds with One Stone," the report shows that plug-in electric vehicle travel can have five major benefits for California:
To achieve these benefits for California in ways that are consistent with the CPUC's mission, the report provides the following recommendations for the CPUC:
1 Statistics for 2007 from the California Energy Consumption Database, Energy Consumption Data Management System, California Energy Commission, http://www.ecdms.energy.ca.gov/Elecbyutil.asp , accessed February 2, 2009.
2 Ben Stewart, "2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Prototype: Next-Gen Test Drive," Popular Mechanics, October 22, 2007, http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4227944.html accessed January 30, 2009.
3 Associated Press, "Hybrid Sales, Led by Prius, up 38 Percent," April 21, 2008,
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24230209/ , accessed March 3, 2009.
4 Cf. Appendix Table AT8 Row (G).
5 Cf. Appendix Table AT7 Row (H).
6 Cf. Appendix Table AT6.
7 Cf. Appendix Tables AT1 and AT6.