Frequently asked questions
Making the decision to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) can seem daunting. There is a lot to consider. From the mechanics of electric vehicles to their environmental benefits. We are here for you as your trusted EV resource. We’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about EVs.
A plug-in electric vehicle is a vehicle that can be plugged into an electrical outlet or a charging device to recharge its battery. There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles. One is battery electric vehicles, which run only on electricity. The other is a plug-in hybrid, which runs mainly or solely on electricity until the battery is depleted and then is powered by gas/diesel.
Similar to selecting a gasoline-powered car, choosing the electric vehicle that’s best for you depends on a number of different factors including your driving habits and personal preference. Here are some factors to consider:
- Total Range: How far will you travel? The total range of current electric vehicles vary greatly.
Additional considerations are how far your daily commute is, your typical weekend travel, and how often you use your vehicle for extended trips.
- Gasoline Use: How much gasoline do you want to use? The battery capacity of an electric vehicle determines how far you can go without using a drop of gasoline.
- Charging: Where will you charge? Where you drive and how you'll charge your vehicle can help you decide which electric vehicle will meet your needs.
If your daily commute is less than 40 miles, many electric vehicles—hybrid or battery electric—will be able to handle your daily driving without the need for gas. If you want the ability to drive much farther, several battery electric vehicles can travel 100 to 200+ miles on a charge. If you need to drive farther without charging, consider an extended-range hybrid.
- Insurance Costs: Recommend receiving quotes for vehicle insurance from multiple companies to compare the option that best fits your needs and driver history.
The purchase price of electric vehicles (EVs) can vary widely, like gas-powered vehicles, based on make, model, year, type of vehicle, and market segment (mass market, luxury, etc.). EV prices are also driven by battery size, which is the largest single cost in the vehicle. As the price of batteries continue to decrease, EVs will begin to reach price parity, a price that sets two items equal in value to one another, with a comparable gas-powered car.
Today’s EV market offers battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models at different price points. Although the upfront cost of an EV can be more expensive compared to a similar gas-powered vehicle, when you look at the total ownership over the vehicle’s lifetime, EVs can be less costly to own. Factoring in the purchase price, fueling costs, and maintenance costs, EV owners can save a significant amount over their vehicle’s lifetime.
Plug-in electric vehicles typically have a lower total cost of ownership and, in particular, lower maintenance costs. This is because they have fewer moving parts, reduced oil changes (or none for a full electric), and fewer brake jobs—battery regeneration absorbs most of the energy. Hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go 100,000 miles before receiving a brake job.
The upfront costs of EVs can be more expensive compared to a similar gas-powered vehicle; however, when looking at the total ownership of the vehicle’s lifetime, EVs are less costly to own. EVs can cost 10% to 40% more to purchase, but when drivers factor in the purchase price, fueling costs, and maintenance costs the total ownership savings received across the EV’s lifetime ranges from $6,000 to $10,000.
The exact amount of savings depends on a range of factors, such as the price difference between the EV model and its comparable gas-powered model, electric service rates, access to charging, insurance costs, maintenance, and incentives.
To discover potential total ownership savings, use our EV savings calculator.
If you are looking at purchasing a used EV, it may be hard to tell how much charge the battery holds depending on the vehicle’s display of charge information. Here are a few things you can do to check the battery’s charge:
- The car keeps a wealth of data about its charging and driving history, which can be accessed by plugging a tool into the onboard diagnostics port. A service technician should be able to do this. You can pay to have this service done or request the report if the seller has already performed the test.
- Ask the seller to charge the battery to 100% before you arrive so you can tell what the maximum range is.
- Do some research into the vehicle online, which should tell you the vehicle’s original range. You can also use a free tool from Geotab to estimate how much battery degradation, the reduction of energy a battery can store or the amount of power it delivers, you might see from a car of the same model and year – Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation Tool
An EV’s battery is similar to an engine in a gas-powered vehicle. The expected lifetime of an EV is estimated to be up 200,000 miles. Once a battery has exceeded its life expectancy, it will probably be recycled. Currently, PG&E and others are researching second-life applications.
Benefits of electric vehicles
Yes, public charging stations are located in supermarket parking lots, city garages, gas stations and many other locations across the country. Some public charging stations are free and others require a fee or membership.
Electric vehicles reduce the amount of gasoline we burn and are less costly to maintain, among many other benefits:
- Reduced Operating Emissions: The emissions associated with the electric drivetrain of plug-in electric vehicles come from power plants generating electricity to charge the batteries and not from tailpipe emissions. Additionally, from well to wheel, electric vehicles emit significantly less carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with internal combustion vehicles. CO2 is the principal gas associated with global warming.
- Water Quality Preservation: Decreased use of petroleum gasoline and motor oil means fewer spills and pollution to oceans, rivers and ground water.
- Reduced Noise: In addition to being cleaner, electric vehicles are quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, resulting in less noise pollution.
Additionally, a significant portion of the electricity PG&E provides comes from sources that are either renewable or emit no greenhouse gases. That’s why by choosing to drive an electric vehicle, you are helping to reduce pollution.
Calculate the environmental benefits of an electric vehicle. Select a specific car using our EV Savings Calculator.
Laws and Incentives: California has adopted several laws to accommodate the use of plug-in electric vehicles, including the qualification of select plug-in electric vehicles to use the HOV lane. View the qualifying vehicles for clean air vehicle decals.
Safety: Many electric vehicles receive top National Highway Safety Traffic Administration safety ratings.
To date, findings have shown that several electric vehicle features maximize safety. For example, electric vehicles tend to have a lower center of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over, electric vehicles have less potential for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of electric vehicles enhance vehicle safety in a collision.
Learn about more benefits and incentives. Use our EV Savings Calculator.
Lower Operational Costs: The estimated cost of electricity needed to power a plug-in electric vehicle is about one-third of the cost of gasoline.
Lower Maintenance Costs: The electrical components of plug-in electric vehicles require little to no regular maintenance due to far less moving parts. In hybrids, this leads to less wear and tear of gasoline components.
Rebates & Tax Credits: Many government agencies and local and regional entities offer rebates and tax credits, up to $7,500, to encourage the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles.
There are certain behaviors that can impact an EV’s battery health and may cause it to lose its range or degrade faster.
Here are few examples along with tips on how to pro-long your EV’s battery health:
- Overcharging: Don’t overcharge or fully deplete your EVs charge. EVs are installed with battery management systems that help them avoid being charged or discharged at extreme states. Ideally, you want to keep your charge between 20-80% and only charge it fully for long distance trips.
- Temperature: EV batteries have a built-in temperature control system, but you should try to minimize exposure to extreme heat while your car is parked. Try to find a shaded spot or garage to park on hot days.
- Fast charging: Limit use of fast chargers. It’s best to avoid solely relying on fast chargers to keep your EV charged, because as they press a lot of electric current into your EV battery in a short amount of time. This stresses the battery and degrades its quality faster over time. Try to use a Level 1 or Level 2 charger whenever you can for a slower charge.
EV battery issues are luckily rare. EV batteries are designed with various modules which make them safer and easier to switch out if an issue does occur. If a failure occurs under the warranty and the warranty has not been voided, then the automaker is responsible for fixing or replacing the battery. In California, EV batteries (plus related powertrain or drive systems like the electric motor) must be warranted for 10 years/150k miles, whichever comes first. Be sure to check your vehicle’s owner's manual for specific warranty coverage.
If a vehicle is older than 10 years or the vehicle is involved in an accident, the owner (or insurance) would need to pay for a battery replacement. Battery costs depend on the automaker and battery size but can be a costly fix – they are the most important part of the EV. The biggest factor of battery price is the cost per kWh. The range for this cost is between $100 to $300 per kWh, depending on the manufacturer.
Rates and costs
Yes, you have the option to switch to one of PG&E's other rates including, E-1, tiered, time-of-use rate (E-TOU), E-ELEC, and elect to add on the separately metered EV rate plan, EV-B.
PG&E's electric vehicle (EV) rate applies to all PG&E customers who have a currently registered battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) charged via a charging outlet at the customer’s residence. PG&E's EV rate is not available to customers with a conventional hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), low-speed electric vehicle, or electrically powered motorcycles or bicycles.
Electricity used when charging an EV at home will appear as a charge in your monthly utility bill. If your place of employment has a charging station, ask your employer how the electricity from the charger is billed. For public charging stations, the price of electricity will vary by each charging network provider.
Once you have created an account and added your preferred payment method, you can charge your EV using the network provider’s charging stations and pay for the used electricity after unplugging your EV. Charging network providers offer drivers the option to either pay for a monthly subscription fee for a reduced kWh rate or pay for the provider’s current kWh rate after each charging session.
For Tesla owners – you have the option to use a public Tesla charging station. Be sure to look up any nearby chargers using Tesla’s charging station map. Tesla drivers also have the option to use other charging network providers’ chargers with a Tesla plug adapter. You will need to create an account with a network provider.
For other EV owners – you have the option to use any non-Tesla public charging station. To use a public charger, you will need to create an account with a charging network provider either online or by downloading their mobile app. Be sure to choose a network provider that best fits your driving needs. When making your decision, you should consider your daily commute route, places you go during the weekends, and any extended road trips.
The U.S. Energy Department has created a metric to help current and potential EV drivers better understand the cost of driving an EV called the eGallon. The eGallon represents the cost of driving an electric vehicle (EV) the same distance as a similar, gas-powered vehicle could travel on one (1) gallon of gasoline. On PG&E's EV-2A rate, during off-peak hours electricity costs the equivalent of around $2.14 per eGallon.
Increased EV adoption and charging can actually help lower the cost of electricity for all. This is because the fixed costs associated with upgrading and maintaining the electrical grid can be spread across the added electrical usage, which will help lower the cost of electricity for all customers using the grid. This is particularly true when EV drivers enroll in a time-of-use (TOU) rate and charge their vehicle during off-peak hours.
800% of baseline EV rate eligibility requirement
As of July 1, 2019, PG&E's EV rates are subject to a new usage requirement. Customers on an EV rate cannot have annual usage of more than 8 times (800%) of annual baseline allowance for their area. Customers who exceed and have been on the rate at least 12 months are subject to be moved to the Time of Use (Peak Pricing 5-8 p.m. Weekdays) TOU-D rate plan.
EV-A & EV-B
- The Tiered rate (E-1) baseline allowance is used to calculate baseline
Home Charging EV2-A
- Time-of-Use (Peak Pricing 4–9 p.m. Every Day) is used to calculate baseline
Customers will receive an alert letter every month in which their cumulative usage (up to 12 months) exceeds 800% of their cumulative baseline allowance. Depending on a customer's usage and how long they've been on the rate, customers could reduce usage to below 800% of baseline and remain on the rate.
If a customer exceeds 800% of baseline and has been on the rate 12 months or longer, they will be removed from the EV rate after they receive at least one alert and placed on the Time of Use (Peak Pricing 5-8 p.m. Weekdays) TOU-D rate.
Customers who are removed from their EV rate due to exceeding 800% of baseline can return to an EV rate 12 months after being removed.
The new rate will be effective the first day of the next billing cycle. Customers can expect to receive their first billing statement 2-3 months from when the final transition notification is received.
Usage beyond 800% of baseline is unlikely to be related to EV charging. The baseline allowance was designed to account for an average household usage and two electric vehicles, with each vehicle accounting for approximately 100% of baseline. Additional baseline allowance is not granted based on number of EVs or specific climate zones.
Reducing energy usage at home with changes in behavior or adopting energy efficiency upgrades.
Customers can visit these resource pages for tips and tools to reduce usage:
Customers can also charge away from home, at public stations or at their workplace, to reduce energy consumption at home.
Home charging EV2-A rate plan
The Home Charging EV2-A rate was developed to encourage conservation and for the benefit of EV charging. The extended Time of Use hours take advantage of low-cost energy costs when demand is lowest and also take advantage of renewable energy available in the middle of the day.
Like EV-A, Home Charging EV2-A applies to whole home energy usage, including electric vehicle and/or battery charging.
Home Charging EV2-A
- Summer season is June 1 - September 30
- Winter season is October 1 - May 31.
- Summer season is May 1 - October 31
- Winter season is November 1 - April 30
Battery storage-only customers who have applied for interconnection and received Permission to Operate (PTO) may be eligible for enrollment on the Home Charging EV2-A rate. Customers may need to provide information on battery storage capacity upon enrollment in the rate.
The EV-A rate closed to new enrollments on July 1, 2019. Customers currently on EV-A will be transitioned to EV2-A based on their NEM legacy status.
The EV-A rate closed to new enrollments on July 1, 2019. Customers on the EV-A rate are automatically transitioned to the EV2-A on a rolling basis.
Transitions are scheduled based on each customer’s last billed date, and the new rate is effective on the first date of the following bill cycle.
For more information on how to find your bill cycle date on your PG&E bill please refer to the 2021 meter reading schedule (PDF).
If you received a notice of an upcoming transition to the EV2-A rate you can use the meter read date along with the transition schedule information below to determine an approximate start date on the new rate. Please note that meter read dates can vary between two days before and two days after the posted dates.
- Week 1: Meter read dates 6/1 - 6/7 will be transitioned on 6/10
- Week 2: Meter read dates 7/8 – 6/14 will be transitioned on 6/17
- Week 3: Meter read dates 6/15 – 6/21 will be transitioned on 6/24
- Week 4: Meter read dates 6/22 – 6/30 will be transitioned on 7/1
Example: Customer is on meter read schedule "Y" and their meter is read on 6/22. This date is included in the transition schedule for week 4 with the transition date happening on 7/1. The rate effective date will be back-dated to coincide with the start of the customer’s next bill cycle, 6/23. EV chargers should be reprogrammed to start charging at 12 a.m. instead of 11 p.m. on 6/23 to be aligned with off-peak hours of their new rate Home Charging EV2-A.
Charging and installation
Level 2 charging stations are four times faster than Level 1 and can provide about 25 miles per hour of charge. Level 2 stations require a professionally installed 240-volt outlet on a dedicated circuit, in contrast to a Level 1 charger which uses a standard 120-volt outlet. If you’d like one installed in your home, contact a licensed electrician to get an estimate and to determine if a permit is required.
Level 2 might be the right choice if you drive a battery EV as these cars have larger batteries that require longer charging times. Drivers with longer commutes or who want a faster charge or a longer electric driving range should also consider choosing a Level 2 charging station.
If an electrician determines your electrical panel does not have the capacity for a Level 2 charging station and you are unable to upgrade your panel at the time, you can request to have a 120-volt grounded wall outlet installed at an accessible location for Level 1 charging.
On average, the cost of a Level 2 charging station ranges from $500 - $700. A charger may cost more or less depending on key features such as portability, amperage, and WiFi capability.
- Choosing Amps: To determine how much power will flow to your car, multiply the Volts by the Amps and divide by 1,000 (Amps x Volts/1,000).
- For example, a 240-V Level 2 charging station with a 30-amp rating will supply 7.2 kWs (30 x 240 /1,000). After one hour of charging, your EV will add 7.2kW X 1 hr = 7.2 kWh of energy to your vehicle.
- To calculate how long it will take to charge the entire capacity of the battery, refer to the manufacturer documents to determine the battery capacity of your EV.
- Example based on an all-electric model:
- EV battery capacity – 42kWh
- EV charger energy delivery – 7.2kW
- Total hours to charge = EV battery capacity / EV charger energy delivery = hours
- 42kWh / 7.2kW = 5.83 hours
- Consider portability: Decide if you want a hard-wired and permanently-mounted charger, or a portable unit that simply plugs into a 240-volt outlet and will hang on the wall. Portable chargers allow you to take the charger with you if you move.
- Cord length: Determine where your charger will be located. Note that the further the charger is from your home's utility panel, the more costly the installation. Measure the distance from where your car will be parked to your charger location to determine the required cable length. Cables range from 12 to 25 feet.
- Smart connectivity: Smart chargers connect to your WiFi and allow you to program charging from your phone and monitor your charging habits. However, most EV drivers now have the ability to control charging through their car's own app.
Work with your electrical contractor to evaluate your home's wiring, electrical outlets and other hardware that can support the charging requirements of your new electric vehicle.
Your dealer may offer a home assessment as part of the electric vehicle purchase price. Some automakers offer a consultation with an electrical contractor as part of the electric vehicle purchase.
Note: PG&E can only perform work outside the home at your meter/electrical panel location to enable the necessary utility service to the house.
Total cost varies depending on current electrical design, local code requirements, the rate and charging options you choose and other factors. Potential costs include the following:
- Charging equipment installation: This cost can be provided by your licensed electrical contractor. Typical costs for installing a Level 2 charger range from $400 to $1,200 excluding charger cost.
- Second electrical meter installation: You'll need to budget for the installation of a second electrical meter and service panel if you decide to switch to PG&E's EV-B pricing plan. This allows your home's electric load to be measured on the existing meter while a second meter and dedicated breaker is used to measure your electric vehicle’s energy usage. PG&E charges a one-time $100 fee to residential customers for any new meter installation—in addition to any service upgrade costs.
- Electrical panel upgrade: This applies to customers who choose the faster charging Level 2 option, which utilizes 208-240 volts. This adds significant load to your electrical panel, resulting in an electrical panel upgrade. The upgrade cost can be provided by a licensed electrical contractor.
- Utility service upgrade: Your home may require utility electrical system upgrades in order to charge the vehicle and/or accommodate a second meter. This cost can be determined by PG&E after an on-site assessment.
When you get close to buying an EV and have determined you want or need a Level 2 charger, contact a certified electrician to perform an electrical assessment. The electrician will help determine if you need your electrical panel upgraded.
After an electrician confirms if you need a panel upgrade and you have chosen which EV charging station is right for you, contact PG&E to submit a "change of service" application.
- Applications can be completed through the Customer Service Call Center at 1-877-743-7782 or "Your Projects"
- You will need to include the following information in your application:
- Rate option: Choose the residential rate you'll use to charge your EV
- Charging level: Will you use a Level 1 or Level 2 charging station
- Charging load: Load amount from your EV supply equipment (EVSE). This is based on the charging system's voltage and amperage. An electrician can help you determine this information.
- Panel upgrade: Does the dedicated circuit require a panel upgrade.
- If the electrician has determined a panel upgrade is needed, this application will help PG&E's Express Connections handle the process
- Turnaround time for completed panel upgrades is dependent on the customers, who will be asked to provide pictures of the project area
- Note: It may take up-to 3 weeks for Express Connections to provide a response to the application
- Continue to check the status of your application through the "Your Projects" portal
If you're Moving: If you move to another residence you will need to contact us and follow the process for getting your new home ready for your electric vehicle.
If you're Purchasing a second vehicle: Please contact us if you are considering purchasing a second vehicle so that we can evaluate the utility side of your service to ensure you have adequate capacity to charge both vehicles. You may want to hire your own qualified electrical contractor to evaluate your load capacity, including accommodating your new Level I and Level 2 charging requirements.
If you no longer own an electric vehicle: If you no longer require the electric vehicle rate, please call us to request that the electric vehicle service be turned off. There is no charge for disconnecting the EV-B meter panel or cancelling the rate.
Only a power outage or failure to pay your electric bill will interrupt vehicle charging without your permission.
Customers can be compensated for exporting electricity back to the grid at certain times through PG&E’s Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) Pilots which are open for enrollment. Customers can find more information about eligible V2X technology and the enrollment process on the V2X Pilot website.
If your vehicle is capable of charging at 110 volts, you will be able to plug your vehicle into any standard outlet for charging while away from home (assuming you can get permission to plug your vehicle from the outlet owner).
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have gasoline engines, so you can always buy gasoline as you ordinarily do to extend the range of your vehicle.
With battery electric vehicles, to avoid inconveniences you will want to fully charge your vehicle before you leave home, especially if the round trip you are taking is close to the range of the vehicle. If the trip is longer than the range of the vehicle you will need to plan where you will be able to recharge your vehicle.
Solar power and electric vehicles
NEM customers are eligible for legacy treatment and can remain on the EV rate for up to five years based on their Permission to Operate (PTO) date or EV-A enrollment date. Please refer to the table below for an example schedule.
[insert table] NEM1 Transition Examples
PTO Date: Prior to 11/30/14
Allowance on EV-A rate: No legacy treatment
PTO Date: 12/1/14 - 11/30/15
Allowance on EV-A rate: November 2020
PTO Date: 12/1/15 - 11/30/16
Allowance on EV-A rate: November 2021
PTO Date: 12/1/16 - 11/30/17
Allowance on EV-A rate: November 2022
[Insert table] NEM 2 Transition Examples
NEM 2.0 Active Date: 12/16/16 - 11/30/17
Allowance on EV-A: November 2022
NEM 2.0 Active Date: 12/1/17 - 11/30/18
Allowance on EV-A: November 2023
NEM 2.0 Active Date: 12/1/18 - 11/30/19
Allowance on EV-A: November 2024
NEM 2.0 Active Date: 12/1/19 - 10/31/20
Allowance on EV-A: November 2025
PG&E customers who have a solar generating system and an electric vehicle are eligible to enroll in the electric vehicle rates EV2-A and EV-B.
The electricity generated from a solar generating system could help offset the costs of electricity used to charge an electric vehicle. The net effect of the solar generating system will depend on the system's efficiency, the weather, the amount of energy used to charge the vehicle and other factors.
Charging an electric vehicle will not impact your solar power agreement as long as there are no changes to your solar generating system. To make changes to your solar generating system, please work with your contractor and apply via the ACE-IT interconnection portal.
If you already have installed a solar generating system and have received a rebate for the system, you are eligible to receive a new rebate for any additional solar panels that are added to the system. The rebate will be directly proportional to the size of the new installation.
Note: PG&E will not energize a new service until the completed work passes inspection and PG&E has been notified of such by the city or county.
Go solar without installing panels
Purchase solar electricity generated within California without needing to install private rooftop solar panels.
More EV resources
Buy the most suitable EV
The EV market is growing every day. Find the right EV for you and your family.
Enroll in an EV rate plan
Learn more about our residential EV rates and the rate that best fits your needs by using the EV Savings Calculator’s Rate Comparison Tool.
Is an EV right for you?
Use the following tool to learn more about EVs, their incentives and where to charge them: