A barrier to EV adoption is lack of education about the convenience and affordability of electric cars. Visuals educate immediately. Spotting EV chargers at schools, parks, and beaches is a significant way many people are alerted to EVs becoming affordable, reliable, and mainstream.
Chris King, Chief Policy Officer of Siemens eMobility, recently published a blog post titled, “California Utilities to invest $54 million in EV chargers at schools, parks and beaches.” Here are some excerpts of it:
“[The California] Public Utilities Commission added to these [EV infrastructure] programs by approving an additional $54 million for PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and Liberty Utilities to invest in chargers in visible, underserved segments: schools, parks, and beaches.
“The approval and implementation of these investments continues the CPUC’s efforts to meet the clean energy and widespread transportation electrification goals established by the legislature in Senate Bill 350 and Assembly Bills 1082 and 1083. The utilities will deploy charging infrastructure at city and county parks, state parks and beaches, school facilities, and educational institutions. According to the CPUC, ‘This decision is another step forward in ensuring California meets its clean air and greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2030 and beyond.’
“The target locations are long-dwell sites, and most of the chargers will be Level 2 chargers typically operating at 7.2 kW—but the door is open for some DCFC as well. The utilities will own the make-ready infrastructure and, except for Liberty Utilities, offer customer choice for ownership of the chargers – utility owned or site-host ownership. …
“The table below summarizes the approved programs and budgets, in millions of dollars. [These are based on the final proposed decision issued November 7, 2019 and are subject to change in the final adopted decision.]”
Chris King answers some questions in a brief interview with CleanTechnica about this news and related matters. Read on for questions and answers in this interview.
CK | Chris King, Chief Policy Officer of Siemens eMobility
CS | Cynthia Shahan for CleanTechnica.
CS: Perceived range anxiety is a primary barrier to break. Often times it is not an actual problem, but rather a perceived problem for non-EV drivers. The decision to try the EV system separates the adventurer from the less-adventurous, fear-based person. How can we address that issue other than how you are doing so (by increasing chargers in highly visible spots)?
CK: We are rapidly transitioning from 70-mile range EVs to 200 miles and above, which covers the vast majority of trips; in fact, we drive an average of only 30-40 miles per day. If you have home or workplace charging – “long-dwell” sites – you’ll access public charging primarily for road trips. However, apartment dwellers and most renters without workplace charging need public chargers, including in urban and semi-urban areas.
The best way to build confidence in public chargers is to have open access via universal payment. Such charging should be as easy to pay for as gasoline, allowing drivers to use credit and debit cards. I don’t need to download an app and register my personal information when I buy gasoline, why should I have to for fueling my EV? For those considering an EV, it’s essential to have such a seamless consumer experience for the transition from gas to electric fueling.
CS: Do you think the charging locations at schools and parks will alert many that people of varying income classes can now afford EVs, especially when considering the used EV market? Do you have other ideas of how to bring more awareness of EVs’ cost competitiveness.?
CK: The visibility of these chargers at schools, parks, and beaches will show that EVs are mainstream. On cars.com, you can do a search now for EVs only, and you’ll see used ones showing up for under $7,000. When you factor in fuel savings of 50 to 75% – depending on your local utility rates – that’s a great deal. Utilities and others are helping to educate people about these economics with web calculators that compare Total Cost of Ownership for ICE vehicles with EVs in under a minute. Here are some good ones: https://plugstar.com/, https://afdc.energy.gov/calc/ and https://www.sdge.com/ev-compare. Another good idea we’ve seen is a subscription service. Xcel Energy in Minnesota will deliver you all the off-peak electricity you need for your EV, plus provide and install a Level 2 charger in your home, for a flat fee of about $43/month. That compares to typical gas bills of $150-200.
CS: When using level 2 chargers, not blocking EV chargers and EV etiquette are essential. Many places have signs that say “EV Charging Only.” What other possibility is there to create an understanding of proper EV etiquette?
CK: States such as Oregon have laws imposing fines for this situation. A more effective idea for some situations – for example, workplaces – is to assess parking fees once refuelling is completed, with the fees increasing as time goes on. Some companies have apps at their work campuses to text and notify drivers. Parks and airports are tougher since you can’t just get a text message and go move your car. In this case, there should be an indicator on the charger that lights up when recharging is completed, with a sign or notification that other EV drivers then have the right to remove the connector and use it themselves. Ideally, drivers would be able to choose: pay parking fees after refuelling or get a text to come move their car.