A decade-old energy dispute will soon be providing California drivers with fast-charging stations for their electric cars. Last Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission announced a settlement with NRG Energy. As part of the agreement, NRG will build 200 fee-based public fast-charging stations around the San Francisco Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin, and San Diego County. It will also wire 10,000 parking spaces for fee-based charging at apartment complexes, large work sites, and universities or other civic sites. The investment, estimated at $100 million, will take place over the next four years.
The deal resolves litigation that dates back to the turn of the millennium. California officials alleged that NRG and Dynegy, whose assets are now owned by NRG, overcharged the state for power during the energy crisis in 2000 and 2001. In addition to building the stations, NRG will provide more infrastructure support and training, and will give $20 million to the Public Utility Commission. NRG will still be making some money from the deal — as far as we can see, it will still be collecting the fees it charges for using the charging stations. For California, however, it's a step towards making electric vehicles a viable transportation option.