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A new California rule could pave the way for more affordable—and more efficient—EV charging.

As reported by Canary Media (via ChargedEVs), the California Public Utilities Commission recently approved a new rule requiring the state’s three largest utilities to let EV chargers measure the amount of energy they’re using.

Many home chargers already have metering capability, but without the requirement to use it utilities were forcing customers to install separate meters at their own expense. In addition to being redundant, this could cost up to $2,000, according to a figure quoted by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the state’s largest utility.

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So while California has required time-of-use rates that could incentivize EV owners to charge during off-peak times, that has been cost-prohibitive to some homeowners until now. But with chargers showing how much power is being used in real time, customers can take advantage of those time-of-use rates without having to spend extra money on a second meter.

The potential benefits aren’t just financial. Time-of-use charging is a key technology that will help enable the increased electricity load from EVs to make the grid cleaner, not dirtier. The decision will also help prevent grid concerns, such as what California has faced this weekend, because incentivized off-peak charging will help reduce the load on the grid.

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And, as the percentage of EVs in the fleet ramps up, and as public charging becomes more widely available, it could be argued that smart charging is more important than fast charging.

By charging slowly, outside of peak hours, EV drivers still get the energy they need with fewer necessary upgrades to grid infrastructure. With the new rule in place, California could soon tap into smart charging’s true potential.

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