Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced a new pilot program in partnership with Valley Clean Air Now and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 684 and 100 to provide free electrical panel upgrades to encourage electric vehicle ownership in low-income, underserved communities.

The PG&E Corporation Foundation will provide $75,000 in shareholder funds to cover the cost of upgrading home service panels — a commonly cited obstacle to EV adoption. IBEW Local 684 and 100 members will perform the site surveys, planning and panel installation for customers who qualify for the program.

Valley CAN, a nonprofit organization committed to improving air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley, already provides up to $9,500 for local low-income homeowners to trade in their older vehicles for a used plug-in EV. Doing so is part of their ongoing participation in the California Air Resources Board’s Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program Plus-Up program, an initiative funded with revenue from California’s Cap-and-Trade program.

“Electric vehicles — and the home electrical panel upgrades that may be needed to charge them—are often beyond the reach of individuals and families living in disadvantaged communities. PG&E is partnering to overcome these financial barriers so that all of our customers can afford clean energy options. This pilot with Valley CAN and the IBEW Local 684 and 100 will help us better understand how we can assist Central Valley residents,” said Melissa Lavinson, PG&E’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of federal affairs and policy.

“PG&E is reducing barriers to zero-emission transportation in disadvantaged communities by giving low-income customers free home infrastructure improvements they need to install electric vehicle chargers. PG&E is making a real difference with this pilot,” said Tom Knox, executive director, Valley CAN.

To support job creation and capacity building, the IBEW will encourage participating local contractors to complete certification in the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program to increase the pool of trained and qualified EV equipment installers in the San Joaquin Valley, and IBEW members will then complete the panel upgrades for program participants.

“This is an innovative approach to creating clean-energy options for disadvantaged communities, while also using organized labor to provide training, quality control and good paying jobs,” said Bobby Stutzman, Business Manager for the IBEW Local 684.

Additionally, all car owners in the pilot program will immediately be eligible for PG&E’s Clean Fuel Rebate, which provides customers with a $500 one-time rebate for their use of electricity as a clean transportation fuel.

PG&E’s announcement is part of the company’s commitment as a founding member of EV100, a new initiative launched by The Climate Group at Climate Week NYC to encourage business commitments to electric transportation across the globe. Joining EV100 reinforces PG&E’s ongoing work to make EV ownership both easy and affordable for our customers, further electrify our own vehicle fleet as options become available and expand access to EV charging for both employees and customers.

For example, through the EV Charge Network program, PG&E will build up to 7,500 EV charging stations at multi-unit dwellings and workplaces across Northern and Central California, with a minimum of 15 percent of the chargers located in disadvantaged communities. Additionally, PG&E has installed about 500 charging units for employees at our facilities to date.

PG&E also offers resources to help customers driving EVs learn more and determine which rate makes sense for them. On PG&E’s residential EV rate plans, customers pay the equivalent of $1.20 per gallon to charge their vehicle overnight.