Bringing car charging to apartments is not without challenges

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To make electric vehicles more accessible to all Californians, home charging must extend beyond new single-family developments in a neglected area – apartment buildings.

This, of course, will require significant changes to building codes, public incentives and commitments from building owners.

“There is no quick fix, and there are several issues in every installation that we need to address,” said Mark Wenzel, director of the Office of Light Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Analysis at California. Energy Commission, during a round table on Wednesday on the challenges related to access to charging in collective housing. The panel was part of a one-day virtual summit hosted by Veloz, a California-based electric vehicle advocacy group, to focus on electric vehicle charging barriers.


“The challenge is that there are so many challenges,” Wenzel added, as speakers ticked off a litany of hurdles ranging from cost, power supply limitations in existing buildings, to site-specific issues with assigned parking spaces, garages and surface lots or How to connect a charger to an apartment’s electric meter.

These are the problems usually encountered when considering adding EV chargers to apartments already built. Another challenge is simply the inertia of the code, said Sven Thesen, founder and co-director of the EV Charging Access for All coalition.

California building codes require new single-family homes to be “electric vehicle compatible,” Thesen said. However, only 40% of multi-family homes need to meet the same level of access to charging, he added.

“We have to go 100 percent. And it’s the inertia of the code influenced by outside political entities, ”said Thesen, who added that at a minimum, each parking spot should be wired for low-power level 1 load, so that residents can reasonably benefit from about eight hours or more of charge. all night long, getting them ready for a morning commute.

“Home charging is almost always the cheapest, most convenient, reliable and network-friendly option. So we need to make this available as widely as possible, ”said Wenzel.

Additionally, if California is serious about expanding electric vehicle adoption to all demographic groups, public charging will need to be more available, officials said.

“If home charging is only for those who live in single-family homes and have the capital to build their own infrastructure, then we will not meet our equity goals,” said Wenzel.

The state’s own modeling shows California needs 1.2 million chargers to support 8 million light EV cars and trucks, with 157,000 chargers needed to support 180,000 medium and heavy EVs. ‘by 2030, said Patricia Monahan, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, during the summit.

Today, California has just over 76,000 public and private shared chargers in operation. About a million electric cars have been sold in California since 2011, making the Golden State the country’s largest electric vehicle market.

“Our analysis shows that we have a big gap in the ZEV infrastructure. And we really need to step up to meet our state goals, ”Monahan said.

Access to charging must be extended to all sectors – shared high-speed charging at home, in the workplace and in public, said Analisa Bevan, zero-emission infrastructure specialist at the California Air Resources Board.

“I think we can’t lose sight of the need for public charging as well, especially in places where we can serve residents who simply don’t have a home solution, and provide range safety for journeys. longer, ”she said. noted. “There has to be a balance, where we make sure you’re sure you can take that long trip across the state, or up and down the state.”

This year, California approved a $ 3.9 billion program to expand the use of electric vehicles over the next three years. The package includes $ 900 million to develop charging infrastructure, as well as $ 250 million to boost ZEV manufacturing in the state. California is also expected to receive around $ 360 million from the recently passed federal infrastructure program to expand electric vehicle charging.

“This is the largest amount of funding for zero emission vehicle infrastructure by a state. So this is really a historic investment, ”said Monahan.

The funding will help the state meet its 2025 EV infrastructure goals, which aim to have 250,000 shared public and private chargers and 200 hydrogen refueling stations installed in the state over the next few years.

Likewise, the California Air Resources Board has $ 525 million in clean car rebates for the next three years. $ 150 million is also available under the Clean cars 4 All program, which provides up to $ 9,500 to help “Income Eligible Califorians” purchase a new or used zero-emission vehicle.

“We don’t have all the answers,” Monahan said. “We need to be innovative and enterprising because we are making sure this is a transition that works for all Californians.”


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