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Edison wants to use $570 million to electrify trucks, ports, buses and ride-
In a move signaling its commitment to electric-powered transit, Southern California Edison filed a plan with state regulators Friday that would fund the installation of charging stations for plug-in electric buses, trucks, cargo equipment and ride-sharing fleets.

SCE’s plans for growing mostly its commercial electric vehicle customer base would cost about $570 million spread over five years for construction and programs, said Laura Renger, SCE’s principal manager of air and climate policy from its Rosemead headquarters.

The plan for investing heavily in electric charging stations as a way to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions needs approval from the California Public Utilities Commission and is not expected to be heard until 2018. If approved, Edison hopes to roll out the five-year program in 2019, she said.

Commercial customers that want to swap out trucks, forklifts and buses burning highly polluting diesel fuel for those powered by electric motors using on-board batteries need electric charging stations on site. Without this infrastructure, they face a chicken-and-egg syndrome trying to decide what to buy first, the EV or the charger.

“We found our (commercial) customers are interested but part of what is holding them back is not having the charging infrastructure,” Renger said.
 
Article Commentary - A Step Further...
There are unusually close ties between transportation and energy: the cars and truck that travel over the highways and bridges we design are powered by gas or diesel, or increasingly, electric; crude oil and coal are fundamental cargo categories for our clients in freight rail; the tax revenue funding the Highway Trust Fund are drawn directly from the fuel we all pump into our vehicles; our clients in aviation, seagoing, trucking, and mass transit ever have their carbon footprint in mind, the output of most versions of power generation.

Here we see another overlap: as electric powered vehicles integrate into the larger economy, it is essential that an electric charging infrastructure be in place. The quickest review in our minds reveals just how many gas stations there are in the world in their tens of thousands. That level of saturation doesn’t necessarily have to be duplicated, but there has to be a robust system of charging stations in place to assure commercial and citizen drivers that they’ll never get stranded.

It is common that electric utilities will present to the state commission their plans for capital investment, for good reason: that same commission will need to approve the necessary rate hike. Power utilities are funded by their rates, those rates are approved by the state, and any additional investment requires additional funding.

It is often described as a ‘chicken and egg’ problem, this business of developing, siting, and powering charging stations. Fleet owners will shy away from purchasing electric vehicles of every sort unless they are assured of a dependable charging infrastructure. Power providers are reluctant to make the investment in that infrastructure until they are assured of a solid base of customers. In this case the fine utility has the wind at its back; the state, California, has very aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals in mind, those goals won’t be met unless transportation is addressed in a forceful manner, and happily the utility commission is likely on board with the state goals.

The reader will note that the targeted modes – buses, trucks, heavy equipment at the ports, and ride share vehicles – are distinctly in the ‘fleet’ category. This is not unusual.

Fleets are powerful advancers of new technology or new practices, for several reasons. The rollout can be centrally managed. The workforce actually works for you, the decision-maker, and need not be won over one at a time with a good deal of uncertainty attached to the process. There may be volume discounts involved in the purchase of a number of vehicles at one time.

The public is wedded to their cars and this is a society that has been catering to the car for almost a hundred years. Converting people to new methods is very time consuming and it is almost impossible for a company to survive waiting for enough "first users" to make these offerings viable. This is generally where the public sector or some kind of fleet application comes in.

The municipal fleet or even a private fleet of electric cars will overcome some of the most important critiques. The range and need to charge will be less of an issue in government employ. The public will see the vehicle and get used to it. If there are issues and shortcomings they will be addressed by the fleets and will not affect the consumer opinion of the concept. The technology is obviously viable and the vehicles could be operating more commonly now. To get past the acceptance hurdle these cars will have to start to be ubiquitous. -- lsm 
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News in Motion is an e-newsletter keeping you current on news and trends in the transportation industry.