Technical Report, August 24, 2023 - 

 

Overview

The Public Advocates Office at the California Public Utilities Commission has undertaken a study of the costs of upgrading the distribution grids of the three largest investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) to meet California’s transportation electrification goals. Our results indicate that the total cost of upgrading the IOUs’ distribution grids by 2035 will be approximately $26 billion.  This is about half of the cost identified by a similar recent study, the Electrification Impacts Study Part 1 (EIS), conducted by Kevala, a consultant engaged by the California Public Utilities Commission. 

California’s goal that all new light-duty vehicles sold be electric by 2035 drives the need to plan for distribution system upgrades and their attendant costs in a manner that is thoughtful, careful, and comprehensive.  Building electrification and medium-duty and heavy-duty fleet electrification amplify this need.  The need for careful distribution system planning is the basis for our Distribution Grid Electrification Model (DGEM).  In addition to providing climate and other environmental benefits, electrification could put downward pressure on electric rates by increasing electricity sales.  As the cost of providing electric service – including the costs to upgrade the system – are recovered across more units of electricity sold, electrification may cause downward pressure on electricity rates across California.  However, this scenario is contingent upon myriad factors, including planning and forecasting to avoid overbuilding grid infrastructure and whether ratepayers pay for costs beyond their traditional responsibilities.

We look forward to the continuing public discourse on how to best plan for and implement the state’s transportation electrification goal.  In particular, we view all feedback on the DGEM as a crucial part in ensuring that our study efforts are in furtherance of the state’s goals.

Please see the links below to read more about our findings:

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