- California regulators last week approved first-of-its-kind submetering technology protocols that would essentially allow EV owners to meter their vehicles’ energy use separately from their main utility meter.
- The decision allows owners of electric vehicles and electric buses and trucks to avoid installing an additional meter to measure their vehicle’s electricity usage, removing a key barrier to EV adoption statewide.
- The CPUC’s decision is the culmination of a decade of efforts to develop submetering capabilities and standardize communications protocols, President Alice Reynolds said at a meeting Thursday. “We really hope to build on efforts to accelerate customers and give them greater control over how and when they charge their vehicle, and allow customers to better manage their demand and demand for electric vehicles specific tariffs,” she said.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and vehicle electrification is a critical component of the state’s decarbonization efforts. In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, passed an executive order that aims for all new passenger vehicle sales in the state to be zero-emissions by 2035. Currently, over 16% of passenger cars sold in California are electric, and the state accounts for nearly half of EV sales nationwide.
Sub-metering basically allows EV customers to avoid installing a separate meter to measure their car’s electricity use, CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said at an agency voting meeting on Thursday. This is important because electric vehicles in California are subject to special tariff structures that make off-peak charging cheaper.
“Right now, you can charge your car for half to a third of the cost of filling up the gas tank, even before the rise in gas prices in recent months,” Rechtschaffen said. “But EV tariffs often don’t work for an entire home or business – so most EV drivers today don’t choose these EV-specific tariffs.”
EV-specific tariffs can drastically reduce the cost of owning an electric car, but many customers are reluctant to purchase an additional electric meter, which CPUC said is a barrier to EV adoption statewide.
“This technology is a way out,” said Rechtschaffen.
This is one of the CPUC’s decisions, which may seem technical and challenging but promises far-reaching implications, Rechtschaffen said, adding: “This makes us the first state in the country to allow EV owners to meter the electricity consumption of their car.” regardless of their main utility meter.”
In addition, the decision, approved by California regulators, establishes communication protocols for EV chargers that Rechtschaffen says will help enable vehicle grid integration. Vehicle-grid integration refers to “a whole set of measures that determine when and how people charge their cars – at what time, at what level, how much power is sent back, and the aim is to Minimizing impact on the grid as well as maximizing consumer benefit, lowering the cost to them or allowing them to get paid for sending power back to the grid,” he said.
Vehicle-grid integration becomes especially important as California ramps up its streets with more electric vehicles, creating the potential for grid overload. Earlier this year, Pacific Gas & Electric and General Motors announced a pilot to test bi-directional charging — essentially to allow customers to export power from their vehicles — which could help EVs become an on-demand home power source will.