Electric car charging gets a $120M push in California

Updated: California Governor Jerry Brown, and California’s utility regulator, have just announced that a decade-old claim with a partner predecessor of NRG Energy, Dynegy, over power contracts during the state’s energy crisis, will turn into a $120 million settlement fund to invest in building out an electric car charging network in California. One hundred million dollars of the fund will be spent on installing 200 public fast-charging stations, and 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, L.A. and San Diego County; the remaining $20 million of the fund will go to “ratepayer relief,” or reducing consumer energy bills.
At the same time Governor Brown, who spoke this morning at the Wall Street Journal’s Eco:nomics conference, also signed an executive order calling for a path to get 1.5 million “zero-emission vehicles” on California’s roads by 2025. The executive order set targets for:

NRG Energy's eVgo Network at a Best Buy

  • By 2015, all major cities in California will have adequate infrastructure and be “zero-emission vehicle ready.”
  • By 2020, the state will have established adequate infrastructure to support 1 million zero-emission vehicles in California.
  • By 2025, there will be 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California.
  • By 2050, virtually all personal transportation in the State will be based on zero-emission vehicles, and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector will be reduced by 80 percent below 1990 levels.

It’s a pretty creative use of funds from a major energy problem in the state’s history. Dynegy had an Enron-style energy trading platform and was one of the companies that was involved in California’s energy crisis. NRG, in a statement, explains the relationship with Dynergy as this: a subsidiary of Dynegy, was a co-owner with NRG of power generating plants, which are currently owned by NRG in California. “NRG assumed full responsibility for resolving this matter in 2006 when NRG acquired Dynegy’s 50 percent interest in the assets.”
California Public Utility Commission Commissioner Mike Florio described the settlement fund in a statement as: “In one stroke it closes out an unfortunate chapter in our history and propels us down the road to a clean transportation future.”
The fund is one of the better outcomes of such a settlement for NRG Energy, which has been building out its first electric vehicle charging network in Dallas, Texas, called eVgo. NRG says it has come to an agreement with the CPUC to build the California electric car charging network over the next four years. Like its charging station in Dallas, the charging network will be based on a monthly subscription.
Image of Governor Brown at the Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference, 2012, and eVgo network in Dallas, Calif.