Plugging Away: How to Boost Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
California will need widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles in order to achieve the state’s environmental and energy goals. Governor Brown set a goal of reaching 1.5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on California’s roadways by 2025, and as of June 2017, Californians were driving almost 300,000 electric vehicles.
Achieving the state’s electric vehicle goals will require a significant boost to charging infrastructure. This need is particularly acute for residents who do not live in single family detached homes, where more than 80 percent of current electric vehicle owners reside. Overall, approximately 40 percent of Californians live in multi-unit dwellings (with even higher percentages in the state’s urban areas), such as apartments, townhouses, and condominiums, with impeded or no access to charging.
This infrastructure deployment is unlikely to occur without policy action. Charging stations and installation and maintenance typically entail high costs, with often uncertain revenues from various potential sources, which deters investment. For example, a recent California Energy Commission charging program found that a dual standard fast charger, coupled with a single “Level 2” (240 volt) charger and additional stub, averaged $135,000 in equipment costs. Even the total costs of installing “make-ready” infrastructure, which covers all the electrical wiring needed to support a customer-purchased charger, for Level 2 charging (including customer rebates for the charging stations) were at $13,734 per port and $219,424 per site with 16 ports on average, as Southern California Edison recently found.
To address these costs and spur the needed investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, UC Berkeley and UCLA Schools of Law convened experts from the private and public sectors for two separate discussions in June 2016 at UCLA Law and November 2016 at Berkeley Law (all participants are listed in the appendix). The first convening focused on general barriers and solutions to increasing charging deployment, while the second covered the specific topic of reforming commercial electricity rates to boost the infrastructure. This report is informed by both discussions, offering a vision for deployment and commercial electricity rate reform and identifying the top barriers and solutions to electric vehicle charging in California.