To support regional and statewide goals to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from tailpipes, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) will launch a major effort to help electrify large vehicles and industrial equipment, revving up zero-emission transportation beyond passenger vehicles.
Today, SDG&E received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to build charging infrastructure for a minimum of 3,000 plug-in medium-duty and heavy-duty (MD/HD) electric vehicles and equipment, including transit buses, school buses, delivery trucks, and forklifts. This initiative also supports the electrification of refrigerated semi-truck trailers, which are vital for transporting perishable goods.
“Imagine a future where zero-emission trucks carry produce and merchandise to your local stores and zero-emission school buses pick up and drop off your children,” said Estela de Llanos, vice president of clean transportation, sustainability and chief environmental officer at SDG&E. “With this new initiative, our region is headed to a new phase of the clean transportation movement.”
Currently, the vast majority of EV charging infrastructure in the region is built for passenger cars. SDG&E’s new program will be the first large-scale program of its kind in the region to build chargers for local businesses and public agencies looking to transition to zero-emission transportation. The program, that will be implemented over five years, will also help stimulate a new economic sector that’s emerging to support the installation and maintenance of charging equipment.
Part of this approval is a new innovative technology where buses can provide energy back to the grid. The vehicle-to-grid pilot for electric school buses Large batteries on school buses will soak up electrons from the grid when energy is plentiful—such as during the day when there is abundant solar power—and discharge the energy when there is high demand on the power grid.
The service areas of SDG&E, San Diego and southern Orange County, 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 and the Port of San Diego. These vehicles range in weight from 6,000 pounds to more than 33,000 pounds. In California, heavy-duty 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 state’s transportation sector also accounts for more than 40 percent of all GHGs, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). There is a statewide mandate to reduce GHGs by 40 percent below the 1990 level by 2030.
To clean up the air in areas suffering from the highest levels of pollution, socio-economic distress, and health impacts, 30 percent of the charging equipment installed through the MD/HD program will be targeted at vehicles and equipment that are based in those areas.
“Electrifying heavy-duty trucking in the border region and across San Diego County can help to improve the air that our communities breathe,” said David Flores, community development director of Casa Familiar, an organization devoted to protecting the quality of life for the border communities of San Ysidro and beyond. “SDG&E’s program is an important step for cleaner air.”
When local EV drivers plug in their vehicles, they are charging with some of the cleanest energy in America because around 45 percent of the electricity SDG&E delivers to homes and businesses comes from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. That is more than four times higher than the national average of about 10 percent.
SDG&E’s MD/HD program was developed under the Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act, Senate Bill 350 (SB 350), which recognizes that widespread transportation electrification is required to meet the state’s goals to reduce GHGs.
To support the adoption of MD/HD electric vehicles and equipment, SDG&E also recently filed an application with the CPUC for permission to create a new optional electricity pricing plan that would increase the price competitiveness of electricity as a transportation fuel for businesses that make the switch to electrically powered equipment.
The MD/HD program builds on SDG&E’s clean transportation initiatives. Under the Power Your Drive program, SDG&E has installed around 3,000 chargers at apartments, condo complexes and workplaces. As part of separate pilot programs, SDG&E is also installing charging equipment for electric delivery vehicles and shuttles, ground support equipment at the San Diego International Airport, and trucks, forklifts and other equipment at the Port of San Diego.