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PG&E to install 7,500 electric car charging stations for apartments, offices

San Francisco Chronicle, 17 January 2018
Apartment dwellers who would like to buy an electric car often can’t, for a simple reason: They have no place to charge. Even if their building has parking — a big “if” in San Francisco — their landlord may be reluctant to let them install an electricity-guzzling charger on the building’s account. Beginning Wednesday, a new Pacific Gas and Electric Co. program will try to solve that problem, although the solution won’t work for everyone.

The utility, California’s largest, will install 7,500 chargers at apartment buildings, condominiums and workplaces across Northern and Central California. The work, which begins this quarter, will continue through 2020. The $130 million budget for the EV Charge Network program will be drawn from the utility bills of PG&E customers, adding about 22 cents per month.

More than 500 businesses and building owners have already expressed interest, according to PG&E.

Participating building owners can choose the chargers they want installed, working from a list of qualified vendors. They can also choose whether to own the chargers or let PG&E own them. The utility will offset a portion of the chargers’ costs as well as pay for and install all the necessary wiring to connect the chargers to the electricity grid.

And in an effort to make electric vehicle ownership viable for more people, at least 15 percent of the chargers will be installed in economically disadvantaged communities.

The program has limitations. For example, individual renters can’t participate. They would need to persuade their building’s owner to do so.

And building owners must make at least 10 adjoining parking spots available for chargers. That would effectively disqualify many San Francisco apartment or condominium buildings that don’t even have 10 parking spaces.

PG&E spokeswoman Ari Vanrenen said that the 10-space minimum makes the installation of infrastructure — from the transformer to the chargers — more economical, thereby enabling PG&E to install the maximum number of chargers.

“Less chargers at a site means that this work gets more expensive,” she said. “We want to make sure we make the most of the program and get the most chargers out there” to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.