Some California elected officials have long been pushing electric vehicle (EV) usage as a “silver bullet” solution to addressing climate change.
Which is why Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest executive order that bans the production of new gas and diesel cars by 2035 came as a little surprise to most.
While this may be a noble goal, there are obvious hurdles that the state will have to overcome in order to meet it, mainly expanding the availability of EV charging stations.
Unfortunately, the current approach that California is taking to expand the construction of EV chargers is ineffective, and negatively impacts working-class Californians.
In August, the California Public Utility Commission approved the largest utility program ever to construct additional EV charging stations. The commission approved $437 million to go to the Southern California Edison utility company to build “thousands” of chargers, and that is in addition to hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been approved for the utilities in previous years.
But, there are multiple problems with using the “utility model” to construct EV chargers.
First, it allows big utility companies to increase the monthly bills on their current ratepayers in order to fund the chargers. And while Newsom might envision a future with solely EVs on the road, as it stands today, only 5% of cars in California are EVs. This means that 95% of Californians would get absolutely no use out of the EV chargers, despite having to pay more each month on their electricity bill.
And given that EVs are more expensive to buy compared to gas-powered vehicles, lower-income Golden State residents are even less likely to drive EVs, so they would be disproportionately negatively affected by the unexpected increase in their monthly utility bill.