Later this year, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) intends to issue a proposed decision addressing whether one-way managed or controlled charging of electric vehicles (often referred to as “V1G”) will be eligible for future energy storage solicitations. Parties to the energy storage proceeding will have at least one more opportunity to convince the CPUC that V1G chargers are now ready for utility-scale deployment in California.

Background

In the fall of 2013, the CPUC approved a framework for the California investor-owned utilities’ first procurement of energy storage resources. The utilities were directed to begin procuring a combined target of over 1,300 megawatts of energy storage by 2020. To avoid picking early winners and to encourage innovation in the energy technology space, the CPUC broadly defined the types of energy storage technologies that were eligible to bid into the utility’s solicitations.

One of the technologies that was not eligible in the first round of utility solicitations was V1G chargers. V1G chargers manage energy consumption by controlling when and how quickly electric vehicles take power from the energy grid (i.e., V1G chargers can shift power consumption to the middle of the day and the early morning, when there is more renewable energy on the grid but less demand for it).

In its 2014 decision approving the utility’s first round of storage solicitations, the CPUC acknowledged that electric vehicles have an important role to play in advancing California’s energy storage policies, but declined to include V1G as an eligible storage technology. The CPUC committed to further monitor the evolution of V1G chargers and re-visit whether such technologies would be eligible for future storage solicitations. In contrast, the CPUC decided that bi-directional “V2G” vehicle chargers - which can charge from, and also discharge to, the grid - were eligible to compete in the storage solicitation.

The demand for, and interest in, V1G chargers has increased dramatically since the first round of utility storage solicitations in 2014. And it now appears that the CPUC may be poised to allow controlled charging applications to bid into the next rounds of utility storage procurement. In January 2016, the CPUC issued a Scoping Memo in the energy storage proceeding that asked parties to comment on what new information and/or evolving circumstances exist such that the CPUC should revisit its previous exclusion of V1G chargers. In response, a wide range of parties, including both environmental groups and the utilities, filed comments asking the CPUC to deem V1G chargers eligible to compete in future energy storage solicitations. The CPUC intends to rule on the issue in late 2016.