Southern California Edison has a plan to jolt the region’s heavy transport industry.

The utility put forward a proposal last week to invest $570 million in charging infrastructure for electric vehicles between 2019 to 2023, mostly for medium and heavy vehicle chargers, which are used to juice buses, trucks, forklifts, and other off-road industrial vehicles.

Should its plan be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, local electric vehicle manufacturers as well as vendors and service providers are poised to see a big boost in business.

“We look at this as kind of a game-changer,” said Zach Kahn, director of government relations at BYD Motors Inc., a downtown subsidiary of Chinese electric bus and truck manufacturer BYD Auto Co. Ltd. “This will really drive demand for our buses and trucks.”

In 2013, BYD Motors opened a North American electric bus manufacturing plant, which employs about 400 workers, in Lancaster.

The impact of the subsidies would likely echo a boost to business that light electric-vehicle charging companies felt after Rosemead-based Edison last year launched a $22 million pilot program, dubbed Charge Ready, to install 1,500 charging stations in residential and commercial properties throughout Southern California.

“When the program was launched, and the funding was made available, many of (Edison’s) customers came to us looking for a solution,” said Jordan Ramer, chief executive of EV Connect, an El Segundo vendor of charging stations. “We’ve seen an over 50 percent boost in customer inquiries and sales in the Southern California area.”

The bulk of Edison’s proposal – as much as $550 million – will be focused on building charging infrastructure for heavy vehicles. The utility plans to allocate about $70 million of that to reimburse customers, such as businesses and transit agencies, for buying the equipment. Charging stations for heavy vehicles can cost up to $10,000 apiece. Edison has yet to determine its reimbursement rates. The remaining $480 million would be spent to upgrade grid infrastructure to support greater charging demand.

Edison has also proposed spending $19.5 million on other initiatives, such as the installation of additional light electric-vehicle chargers, five fast-charging station clusters in urban areas, and monetary rewards for rideshare drivers who use electric vehicles.

The utility plans to pay for the infrastructure spending by increasing electricity bills by up to 0.4 percent over a five-year period.

The initiative would like give the heavy-duty electric-vehicle industry in Southern California a rolling start, said BYD Motors’ Kahn.


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