At one time in the early part of the 20th century, in the US, there were gas-powered vehicles being used, but no drive-in gas stations existed. People with cars got their gas at general stores, hardware stores, or pharmacies, out of barrels. The first drive-in gas station was made operational in 1913. (Depending on what sources you use, there might have been prior to that operating in 1905.) The point is, there was a time when there were no drive-in gas stations. Despite this deficiency, the number of gas-powered vehicles grew because they provided benefits over using horses, carts, and wagons.
Today, critics of electric vehicles say there aren’t enough public EV chargers, which is true, but that situation is changing. (It also must be pointed out that with EVs, most charging takes place at home, which is impossible for a gas-powered vehicle.) We are just at the beginning of a growing EV trend, so we have time to install far more EV chargers. In fact, we have the ability to install EV chargers much faster than might be assumed.
For example, in April 2022, the California Energy Commission offered $23 million dollars to a variety of organizations, such as businesses and public entities, to install approximately 5,000 public EV chargers in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. (These four counties have almost 18 million residents.)
Peter Colwell, Senior Manager, EV Infrastructure Initiatives at the Center for Sustainable Energy, answered some questions about the EV charger funding for CleanTechnica.
What are some of the key gaps in electric vehicle (EV) charging opportunities available to Southern California EV drivers?
While California is on track to meet its 2025 state goal of deploying 240,000 Level 2 chargers and 10,000 DC fast chargers by 2025, the Energy Commission expects that there will be a shortfall for the number of chargers needed by 2030, including a gap of 869,000 L2 chargers and 26,000 DCFC. Specific county-level estimates of expected charger needs are provided in the Energy Commission’s AB 2127 EV Charging Infrastructure Assessment. The commission’s SB 1000 Assessment also evaluates disparities in charger deployment across parameters like geography and income.
To address this shortfall, California has committed significant investments toward building out ZEV infrastructure. Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2022 budget proposal includes approximately $900 million over four years to fund Energy Commission light-duty ZEV infrastructure initiatives. This proposal will complement other funding sources, including the approximately $383 million in federal funding that California will receive through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as the over $1 billion in ratepayer funding that has been authorized by the CPUC to support the investor-owned utilities’ transportation electrification programs.
The opening of CALeVIP’s Southern California L2 Incentive Project illustrates the increasing desire of business, nonprofits, government agencies and others to install EV charging. When we launched on April 5, we received applications approaching a total of $80 million in one day even though only $23 million in funding is available. We are now processing the applications and will be making as many awards as funding permits over the next couple of months.
To date, CALeVIP’s 13 projects have issued over $200 million with an additional $40 million from community partners. All but two projects continue to take applications as funds become available when projects drop out or cancel.
As for the gaps, CALeVIP specifically targets charger installations in disadvantaged and low-income communities throughout the state. Because of the greater preponderance of multifamily residences in these areas, we are specifically working with affordable housing property owners and EV charging suppliers to let them know about the incentives.
What are some examples of public entities that are eligible for the incentives? Could they be universities or colleges? Churches?
Yes, universities, colleges and churches can apply — all nonprofits and public agencies. We’re offering incentives that greatly reduce or entirely cover the costs for such charger installations.
- Be a business, nonprofit organization, California Native American Tribe listed with the Native American Heritage Commission or a public or government entity based in California or operate as a California-based affiliate.
- Must have a valid California Business License, except public agencies (e.g., municipalities) and Joint Powers Authority agencies.
By offering incentives to businesses, is the intention that they would install public chargers for their customers, employees, or both?
Chargers supply both a convenience to shoppers, constituents and visitors who drive electric cars to a location and might stay a bit longer to charge up and a benefit to employees who may or may not have charging access at their homes or need to top off during the day.
For multifamily residential buildings, is it the building owners who would apply for the EV charger installation incentives?
Yes, typically it is the owner of multifamily properties that applies, however, with the owner’s permission a contactor or group of tenants can apply – as long the charging equipment and site meet all program requirements and are openly accessible. Chargers at multi-unit housing must be shared use for the complex and not dedicated to specific tenants or housing units.
Is the reason for including incentives for low-income and disadvantaged communities that they currently are lacking public EV chargers?
A goal of CALeVIP is that at least 50% of incentives to low-income and/or disadvantaged communities.
California currently has an EV charging equity gap with people in low-income and disadvantaged communities who are often more exposed and vulnerable to air pollution. Many people in these neighborhoods live in multifamily housing and as a result have fewer opportunities to charge an EV. CALeVIP funding gives greater accessibility to charging, which when installed, will increase the likelihood of higher EV adoption rates. In addition, many urban areas need more charging to catch up with higher EV adoption already underway.
Part of the purpose for CALeVIP is to overcome discrepancies in charging opportunities and to encourage properties in low-income and disadvantaged communities to install EV charging, by lessening the burden with substantial funding that lower costs. For these communities to really become part of the evolution to EV adoption, they need to have the supporting infrastructure in their neighborhoods, where people live, work and shop.
By incentivizing the buildout of charging infrastructure in low-income and disadvantaged communities, it supports the purchasing of EVs, which is the critical element in reducing air pollutants and improving public health.
About how many EV chargers are there currently in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties?
These numbers are from the Energy Commission’s Zero Emission Vehicle and Infrastructure Statistics – EV Chargers website.
L2 & DC Fast Chargers CEC data as of December 31, 2021:
- LA – 20,950; 40% public, 60% shared private (19,632 are L2)
- Orange – 5,852; 56% public, 44% shared private (5,295 are L2)
- Riverside – 1,548; 87% public, 13% shared private (1,167 are L2)
- San Bernardino – 1,367; 70% public, 30% shared private (977 are L2)
- 4 county total: 29,717 (27,071 are L2)
- Statewide total: 79,023; 45% public, 55% shared private (71,236 are L2)
- Statewide goal: 240,000 Level 2 chargers and 10,000 fast chargers by 2025
- As many as 1.2 million chargers of both types by 2030
CALeVIP data and rebate statistics are available at CALeVIP Rebate Statistics Dashboard.
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