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Just installed my HPWC and it's running great but PG&E made this whole process painful

Just installed my HPWC and it's running great but PG&E made this whole process painful

From start to finish the whole process too 4.5 months with my fabulous electrician (Irish Electric in San Jose) chasing after PG&E the entire way. But at least I'm charging at just under 60 miles/hr!

AmpedRealtor | August 6, 2013

Can you give us more details? In particular, what role did PG&E play?

When I had my HPWC installed, it simply required the addition of a new breaker plus running appropriate gauge of wire from the panel to the HPWC location. In my case, that was right through the wall to the other side. Did you require new electric service?

coreenbooth | August 6, 2013

Yes. I had already maxed out my old panel. I had a new meter installed to take advantage of their best EV rate and I had a 100A circuit put in to charge as fast as I could. PG&E required a $1000 'engineering advance' to upgrade my service, two rounds of paperwork ( each taking about 1 month to process) before they even stepped foot on the property. I had asked my electrician to do all the coordination. He was a very good sport given the delays.

joehuber | August 6, 2013

Curious what PG&E (far side of the meter) has to do with your HPWC (your side of the meter)?

Did you have to upgrade your service drop from PG&E to support the HPWC? What parts of the process did PG&E make painful?

coreenbooth | August 6, 2013

And did I mention that they wouldn't start sending the first round of paperwork until 3weeks after they cashed my check to 'verify that I had made my payment'.

shs | August 6, 2013

In our case, PG&E were not involved in the installation of the 14-50 as it is really not much different than an outlet for a dryer, welder or table saw. Where PG&E does get involved is when you apply for an EV rate schedule for your service. Then they do a load analysis.

As the PG&E engineer I spoke to mentioned, it is not just whether the service in your house can handle the load, as your electrician will determine that, but rather can the transformer that supplies your house and garage handle the load. In particular their transformer-loading model is based on heavy usage during the afternoon and evening but depends on the transformer cooling down overnight. If there are too many EVs charging at night in a neighborhood on one transformer, then that could be a problem and a reason to upgrade the transformer. So it is the timing of the EV load as well as the overall load that counts.

Brian H | August 6, 2013

Now bump it up to 80 with the touchscreen. The fuses may or may not blow.

earlyretirement | August 6, 2013

I'm with SDGE in San Diego and I looked into getting a 2nd dedicated meter with special EV rates but what I've found is NO electricians are really interested in it for whatever reasons.

I had one electrician tell me he would look into the process of what is all involved but that was a week ago. I'm about ready to just give up and do it when the process is easier and electricians actually want to do it.

earlyretirement | August 6, 2013

For anyone interested in San Diego - http://www.sdge.com/clean-energy/residential/choose-your-best-rate-option

I'd love if someone went through the process in San Diego adding this dedicated 2nd meter. I asked around but I couldn't find anyone that went through it.

Zelaza | August 6, 2013

shs wrote:
" In particular their transformer-loading model is based on heavy usage during the afternoon and evening but depends on the transformer cooling down overnight. If there are too many EVs charging at night in a neighborhood on one transformer, then that could be a problem and a reason to upgrade the transformer. "

Here is an article from a few years back discussing this issue:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/advanced-cars/speed-bumps-ahead-for-...

bradslee | August 6, 2013

In Northern California, one of the incentives that an EV owner can seek is to request PG&E to set the home electricity use at the lowest rate called schedule E9 rate which is only available to EV owners at home. It takes up to several months for PG&E to verify and process.

Bob W | August 6, 2013

I guess the process changed. Back in December, PG&E just asked me when I was getting the car, and my new E-9A rate went into effect just a day or two later, all done over the phone once the transformer technician gave his approval. I plan to stick with E-9A as long as I can, since its replacement, schedule EV-A, will cost me more than E-9A.

I looked into E-9B (separate metering for the vehicle), but the cost to do it ($3,000 to run a new line to the street and install a 2nd meter) seemed prohibitive; it just wouldn't pay for itself in the savings I'd receive.

PG&E could solve the overnight charging problem (not that I'm convinced it's a problem) by staggering the cheapest rate periods, house by house.

coreenbooth | August 6, 2013

And to add a bit more detail - yes, the second meter is set for E-9 rate. But the fact that it took months before anyone even reviewed anything technical was ridiculous. I was lucky my electrician knew about the e-9 rate nd really facilitated that for me.

shs | August 6, 2013

The engineer I spoke with thought that in general lots of EVs charging was not a problem and that the grid could handle it. And for the time being, if the analysis suggests that the transformer in a particular neighborhood was overloaded, then PG&E would upgrade or up-size that transformer without any charge to the customer. He didn't think that the speed bumps referenced above were a significant problem for increased EV market penetration.

Kleist | August 6, 2013

When I contacted PG&E about upgrading my 100A service for the EV thinking of getting a HPWC they were very supportive "we'll do whatever it takes" and next day the engineer was out at my house and we discussed the options. After having the car for 5 month the 30A dryer plug is more then sufficient for me. Switching to EV-A was painless on the phone and he just wanted to have some info including my charging station ( I am planning to get a 14-50 outlet just for convenience )

Musterion | August 7, 2013

@coreenbooth, you are apparently on the E-9B rate and experienced the bureaucracy involved in any new electrical service with hardware invoked (new construction is even worse). However that's a great rate and separate service if your house loads on the other meter are mainly on peak times and can't be shifted.

@bradslee, E9 is now closed to new customers and replaced by EV-A and EV-B. You are grandfathered in for limited time but eventually will be forced to switch.