Calif. settlement will fund car charging network

Mar 23, 2012

(AP) -- An energy company accused of artificially inflating the cost of electricity, leading to California's power crisis a decade ago, agreed to pay a $120 million settlement that will fund 10,000 electric car charging stations across the state, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday.

The money from NRG Energy Inc. will help California try to turn a black mark on its past power management into an attempt at future energy efficiency.

"This is a truly creative deal that offers tremendous value for California utility customers," said Mike Florio, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission, which negotiated the settlement. "In one stroke, it closes out an unfortunate chapter in our history and propels us down the road to a clean transportation future."

Brown also signed an executive order setting goals to have 1.5 million vehicles with no tailpipe emissions on California's roads by 2025, and aiming for virtually every vehicle on the road to be emission-free by 2050.

The $120 million settlement, to be paid over four years, stems from decade-old claims against NRG and Dynegy Inc., which co-owned plants that generated California power at the time. NRG assumed full responsibility in 2006 when it bought Dynegy's half of the assets, and the settlement resolves the litigation, NRG said in a statement.

California officials claimed that during 2000 and 2001, the state overpaid nearly $9 billion to companies that artificially raised prices by withholding energy supplies, driving up rates and causing the notorious rolling blackouts that left power customers sporadically in the dark.

Other companies involved in the crisis included Enron Corp., Williams Companies Inc., Duke Energy Corp. and Mirant Corp. Most reached settlements with the state several years ago.

Simon Mui, a scientist who works on electric vehicle issues for the National Resources Defense Council, called the plan "great news, particularly given where the funds came from."

"What better way to spend it?" Mui said in a phone interview. "This came from the electricity price shocks, and now we're using it to help the gasoline price shocks."

Some $100 million of the money from NRG will fund at least 200 public fast-charging stations, and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles basin and San Diego County, the governor said.

"With this agreement, the people of California will gain a charging infrastructure ready to support their current and future fleet of electric vehicles," David Crane, CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based NRG, said in a written statement, "and we will be helping the state meet its clean car goals."

The other $20 million will go toward reducing rates for utility customers, Brown said.

Explore further: Are electric cars greener? Depends on where you live

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chicago EV Charging Station Powered by Wind

Feb 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The "Windy City" is about to make use of that natural source of power, thanks to the addition of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Last year, Chicago offered the first solar powered charging station, in an effort to cre ...

EV fueling stations now on Google Maps

Mar 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Having an electric can can be a challenge for the owners. Unless you have spent a fair amount of time doing the research and making calls, getting your charge on when you are away from home ...

Recommended for you

Are electric cars greener? Depends on where you live

8 hours ago

Long thought a thing of the future, electric cars are becoming mainstream. Sales in the United States of plug-in, electric vehicles nearly doubled last year. Credible forecasts see the number rising within ...

Building a better battery

10 hours ago

Imagine an electric car with the range of a Tesla Model S - 265 miles - but at one-fifth the $70,000 price of the luxury sedan. Or a battery able to provide many times more energy than today's technology ...

Researchers find way to turn sawdust into gasoline

14 hours ago

Researchers at KU Leuven's Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose ...

Nanodot team aims to charge phones in less than a minute

19 hours ago

The world of smartphone users, which is a very large base indeed, is ripe for better battery solutions and an Israel-based company has an attractive solution in store, in the form of nanodot batteries that ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

al79905
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2012
In California we overpaid $9-billion dollars for electricity and settled for $120-million. That looks like a huge failure to me. I want the $9-billion back.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.