By Rachel Rockwell
On December 21, 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued D.20-12-029 to implement SB 676 (Bradford) (Chapter 484, Statutes of 2019) and promote vehicle grid integration (VGI) strategies as part of its ongoing rulemaking proceeding, (R.) 18-12-006. [see 25:1 CRLR 265]. The governor signed SB 676 on October 2, 2019, which requires the CPUC to “maximize the use of feasible and cost-effective electric vehicle (EV) grid integration” by January 1, 2030. Prior to enactment of the bill, the CPUC authorized a Scoping Ruling on April 13, 2017, in a companion proceeding charged with implementing SB 350 (de León) (Chapter 547, Statutes of 2015) to, among other things, create a VGI working group (VGI WG) to identify recommendations for further EV integration into the grid.
On July 20, 2020, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an email ruling seeking party comment on issues related to VGI to assist the Commission in fulfilling its obligations under SB 676. The ruling included a final report created by the VGI WG, given to the parties to further inform their recommendations. The report described strategies and recommendations for furthering EV integration generally and provided specific recommendations for following the expectations of SB 676. The December 2020 decision is based on party comments from the email ruling and the contents of the VGI WG final report.
The December 2020 decision modified the definition of VGI to better embody cost-effectiveness, safety, and reliability, among other things. The decision also adopted strategies from the VGI WG final report to help meet the January 1, 2030, deadline. These policies include: funding and launching data programs, studies, and task forces to transform the VGI market; accelerating the use of EVs for public safety power shut-off resiliency and backup; funding activities to accelerate commercialization; and enhancing coordination and consistency between agencies and state goals. In its decision, the CPUC also adopted other policies to equitably distribute the benefits of VGI and SB 676 to various disadvantaged communities throughout California, as well as to support the Commission’s own Environmental and Social Justice (ESJ) Action Plan. For example, the decision requires large electrical corporations to document in future applications for transportation electrification effective strategies for engaging with community-based organizations to seek their advice on program design and implementation to prioritize low-income and disadvantaged communities.