California Approves Submetering Technology

EV owners can now measure their car’s energy usage and charge them during off-peak times to save money.

August 10, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—California will now allow electric vehicle (EV) owners the ability to measure their vehicles’ energy usage separately from their main utility meter, reports Utility Dive. The protocol is a first-of-its-kind on submetering technology and took a decade to develop and standardize.

“We really are hoping to build on efforts to accelerate and facilitate greater customer control over how and when they charge their vehicle, and enable customers to better manage their demand and to benefit from electric vehicle-specific rates,” California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds said at a meeting last week.

The move is significant, as EVs in California are subject to special rate structures, and it can be cheaper for EV owners to charge their vehicles during off-peak hours. CPCU said that utilizing EV-specific rates can drastically reduce the cost of owning an EV, but many Californians did not want to purchase an additional utility-grade meter, creating an additional barrier to EV adoption.

In 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom passed an executive order aiming to have all new passenger vehicle sales in the state be zero-emission by 2035. Currently, over 16% of passenger cars sold in California are electric, and the state represents nearly half of EV sales across the country.

“This makes us the first state in the country to allow EV owners to measure the electricity use of their car independently from their main utility meter,” CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said at the meeting.

Also, the protocol includes communication that will help enable vehicle-grid integration. Vehicle-grid integration is “a whole suite of actions that shape when and how people charge their car— what time, what level, how much power is sent back, and the goal is to both minimize the impacts on the grid and maximize consumer benefits, reduce the cost for them or allow them to get paid for sending power back to the grid,” Rechtschaffen said.

A recent Convenience Matters podcast episode discusses if an electric vehicle future is possible. Also, the NACS EV Charging Calculator allows retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.