Mar 13, 2024 - Climate

The costs of charging an electric vehicle in California

Average EV charging station prices, January 2024
Data: Stable Auto; Note: Does not include Tesla charging stations; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

As San Francisco works toward becoming a net-zero emissions city by 2040 and the state plans to ban the sales of new gasoline-fueled vehicles in 2035, the cost of charging electric vehicles is increasing.

Why it matters: Fossil fuels from transportation are one of the biggest drivers of emissions in the city, accounting for 44% of San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to city data, but the growing cost of charging electric vehicles could prove to be a hindrance to adoption.

The big picture: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. increased rates by 20% this year and state regulators are considering additional rate increases for PG&E, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • That's increased EV charging costs, resulting in just $41 in savings for Tesla drivers over the cost of gasoline per about 500 miles, compared to inflation-adjusted savings of about $59 in 2022.

What they're saying: "We're discouraging people from doing something we really need them to do," Severin Borenstein, an economist and professor at UC Berkeley's Energy Institute at Haas, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

By the numbers: At a public charging station in California, it costs an average of $0.50 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to charge an electric car at a public charging station in California, according to data gathered by Stable Auto, an EV charger software developer.

  • That's compared to the national average of $0.45 per kWh.

Context: Charging networks such as Electrify America, EVgo and ChargePoint consider a host of factors in setting their charging price — not least the local electricity rate.

  • Cheap electricity in America's Midwest, for example, may explain the discounts in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and Kansas, which aren't exactly hotbeds of EV adoption.

What we're watching: Whether the San Francisco Bay Area continues to lead the national shift to EVs amid these price hikes.


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