April 18, 2011
Los Angeles' Sets the Stage for Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Los Angeles, California, is once again helping lead the nation's deployment of plug-in vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) infrastructure.
Los Angeles' Plug-In Vehicle Evolution
In 1990, California passed the nation's first Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, putting it at the forefront of that decade's deployment of plug-in vehicles, such as the General Motors EV-1, Toyota RAV4-EV, and Honda EV-Plus. Although many vehicles from this generation were discontinued in the early 2000s, California's vision helped set the stage for today's plug-in vehicle rollouts.
As California's largest city, Los Angeles was a leader in deploying the previous generation of plug-in vehicles and is committed to leading the next generation as well. Los Angeles is a huge vehicle market: home to 4 million people, with one of the nation's highest per-capita car-ownership rates. A municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), serves the city's electric needs, and permitting in the utility's service area is done entirely by the city's Department of Building and Safety—both of these factors facilitate plug-in vehicle and EVSE deployment.
LADWP is leading Los Angeles' plug-in vehicle efforts. As part of its Electric Vehicle Program, LADWP is helping to upgrade 350 publicly accessible charging stations and plans to add new charging stations based on public interest. It is promoting off-peak residential charging by offering discounted off-peak electric rates to plug-in vehicle owners. It also helped streamline the EVSE permitting and installation process (see section below) and is providing subsidies of up to $2,000 for each of 5,000 residential customers who agree to have their charging data collected. It is upgrading its electric distribution system to address the potential impacts of plug-in vehicle charging. In addition, it is expanding its own plug-in vehicle fleet and helping other city departments do the same.
The efforts don't stop at the city's borders. LADWP initiated the Southern California Regional Plug-In Electric Vehicle Plan (SoCal EV) to foster collaboration among governments, utilities, automakers, businesses, and other southern California stakeholders in support of establishing plug-in vehicle infrastructure. SoCal EV has the following objectives:
- Educate stakeholders about the benefits of plug-in vehicles and how to become ready for them
- Prepare southern California to be a major plug-in vehicle market
- Collaborate on EVSE infrastructure deployment
- Work with stakeholders to incentivize plug-in vehicles and infrastructure
- Streamline the EVSE permitting and installation process
- Adapt local codes and standards to encourage plug-in vehicle deployment
- Develop a customer service process that can support large-scale plug-in vehicle deployment
- Collaborate on fleet-acquisition plans.
National plug-in vehicle programs are focusing on Los Angeles as well. With support from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ECOtality (EV Project) and Coulomb Technologies (ChargePoint America) are deploying thousands of publicly accessible and residential EVSE stations in select locations nationwide to serve the first owners of new plug-in vehicles. The goals of these projects are to analyze this first wave of plug-in vehicles and infrastructure and facilitate the transition to large-scale, nationwide deployment. Los Angeles is participating in both of these programs.
Los Angeles' EVSE Permitting and Installation Process
Los Angeles applied its existing online Express Permit system to EVSE installations (see flow chart at the right). The system enables standard EVSE customers to receive a permit automatically/instantaneously and start using their EVSE immediately after installation. Inspection follows within 24 hours; a separate EVSE inspection division created within the Department of Building and Safety helps ensure this rapid turnaround. All of Los Angeles falls under the Department of Building and Safety's jurisdiction, which gives customers and their contractors a consistent process throughout the city.
In addition to home-based EVSE for many plug-in vehicle buyers, about 1,550 publicly available Level 2 charging stations and 110 fast-charging stations will be installed in the Los Angeles–San Diego area as part of the EV Project. LADWP is working with automakers to identify areas of high plug-in vehicle demand precisely so appropriate grid capacity can be maintained. In addition, it is working with EVSE providers to evaluate the interaction of EVSE with utility meters and enable time-of-use pricing.
EVSE provider EV Connect and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority are collaborating on a pilot project to analyze the integration of plug-in vehicles and infrastructure with a public transit network. Also under consideration are incentives such as HOV lane access and free parking for plug-in vehicles. As a sign of Los Angeles' leadership in the plug-in vehicle arena, Chinese plug-in vehicle manufacturer BYD is locating its North American headquarters in the city.
California provides incentives for plug-in vehicles and EVSE. See California Incentives and Laws on the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center.