SDG&E proposes charging infrastructure for heavy-duty EV trucks

Written By: Jen Neville
February 16, 2018

With school and transit buses, trucks and other medium/heavy-duty equipment generating the bulk of the most harmful air pollutants in the region, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is proposing a new solution.

Under a proposal submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), SDG&E is seeking approval to build charging infrastructure to enable about 3,000 medium/heavy-duty vehicles to go electric. To clean up the air in areas suffering from the highest levels of tailpipe emissions, 40 percent of the installations would be targeted for vehicles and equipment that are based in or travel through disadvantaged communities. Overall, the program is set to help local, regional and statewide government meet climate action goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new proposal comes on the heels of SDG&E receiving unanimous support and approval from the CPUC on Jan. 11 to proceed with several pilot projects to install charging stations at the Port of San Diego, San Diego International Airport, Park & Ride lots, shuttle hubs and delivery fleet hubs. “We are building momentum to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable future, as businesses, local government agencies and everyday citizens embrace ambitious climate goals to clean up transportation,” Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s chief operating officer, said. We live in an exciting time because technological barriers are disappearing, and it’s now feasible for vehicles and equipment that transport people and goods to be powered by new electricity and natural gas engine technology, which is much cleaner than conventional gasoline and diesel engine technology.

If approved by the CPUC, the new proposal would enable a much wider deployment of charging stations in the region, which is home to more than 103,000 Class 2 through Class 8 commercial vehicles, including trucks that operate around the congested ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. These vehicles range in weight from 6,000 pounds to more than 33,000 pounds. In California, Class 2–8 vehicles produce more particulate matter than all of the state’s power plants combined and can cause or worsen asthma and other health conditions. The application would also support the electrification of forklifts and refrigerated semi-truck trailers, which are vital for moving and delivering perishable goods.

If approved by the CPUC, the program would be implemented over five years and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42,000 metric tons per year, equivalent to avoiding the use of more than 4.7 million gallons of gasoline. SDG&E’s proposal was developed under Senate Bill 350 (SB 350), which recognizes that widespread transportation electrification is required to meet the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

A cutting-edge element of the proposal is an electric school bus pilot. Under the pilot, bus batteries would charge when energy is plentiful—such as during the day when there is abundant solar power—and discharge the energy when there is a high demand on the power grid. Organizations offering support for this proposal include the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, UC San Diego, Amazon, North County Transit District, Sierra Club, Ace Parking, Sysco and the San Diego Air Pollution Control District. 

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