The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) released two reports assessing the readiness of two different areas of California—the San Diego and the Central Valley regions—for the widespread use of electric vehicles. The reports show a wide difference in preparedness between the two.
During 2012, CCSE conducted research to evaluate the current readiness for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the Central Valley and San Diego regions and identified areas for improvement. The reports are part of efforts by the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish regional planning for PEVs and the required transportation infrastructure.
Funding comes from DOE’s Clean Cities Program, designed to assist the development of alternative fuel technologies, leading to decreased greenhouse gas emissions and reduced petroleum use in the transportation sector. The grant also included support for PEV community readiness reports for Los Angeles, Sacramento, the Bay Area and Central Coast.
The CCSE reports address specific needs for PEVs, such as parking regulations, building codes, and permitting and inspection processes for installing electric vehicle chargers, and recommend next steps municipalities can take to become more PEV ready. There are currently about 20,000 PEVs on California roadways, according to transportation experts at CCSE.
The San Diego PEV readiness assessment finds that the region is at the leading edge of PEV adoption and support with about 20% of California’s PEV sales and the nation’s largest all-electric car-sharing program. Largely due to being part of the national EV Project since 2009, the San Diego region has about 2,000 privately owned PEVs supported by some 300 public and 700 residential charging stations.
Among the 19 jurisdictions in the San Diego region, the City of San Diego has developed a technical policy for assuring accessibility to EV chargers, and the City of Oceanside has established a residential charging permitting guideline. Other cities and the county are addressing such issues on various levels.
In the Central Valley, adoption of PEVs has been slow, with only one percent of the state’s PEVs and very limited charging infrastructure. However, the report shows a slight upward trend in PEV sales in the region since mid-2012 due to budding consumer interest and newly available PEVs.
Among the Central Valley jurisdictions that participated in the survey, none has established codes or regulations for PEVs or charging infrastructure. Only about 5% have considered such issues because of limited staff resources and lack of public demand.
A distinct benefit of PEV ownership in the Central Valley is the availability of incentives from the San Jose Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD). Under its Drive Clean Rebate Program, residents and business owners who purchase eligible vehicles receive incentives of $2,500 to $3,000. This is in addition to $2,500 from the statewide Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Tax-exempt institutions in the Central Valley can obtain up to $100,000 for purchasing alternative fuel vehicles, including PEVs, from the district’s Public Benefit Grant Program.
CCSE is funded by the California Energy Commission to continue PEV readiness efforts in the Central Valley and San Diego regions during 2013.
In the Central Valley, CCSE and SJVAPCD will establish a regional PEV coordinating council with representatives from local governments, public agencies, utilities, industry and the nonprofit sector. The council will develop a PEV readiness plan that identifies, reduces and resolves barriers to the widespread deployment of private and public charging stations.
In San Diego, CCSE and the San Diego Association of Governments will continue their efforts working with local municipalities to implement coherent codes, policies and regulations for PEVs and related infrastructure. They established a regional working group of PEV stakeholders in March 2012.
The two reports offer a range of recommendations in both regions for furthering PEV adoption and infrastructure support as well as public agency education and consumer outreach.