by Judith Balmin, Greg Bonett, and Megan Kirkeby
For full report click here.
In fall 2011, our team was invited by the Luskin Center for Innovation, an environmental sustainability research center at UCLA, to identify barriers to electric vehicle charging access in multifamily housing and to evaluate policy options to address these barriers. Our project builds on previous Luskin Center work that highlights the importance of at-home charging capability in the decision to purchase an EV and the substantial barriers to charging in many multifamily settings.
Government bodies at every level have taken action toward transitioning a significant fraction of the personal vehicle fleet to Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs), including direct support of home charging. These policies are part of an effort to achieve socially sanctioned and legally mandated public health, greenhouse gas reduction, and energy independence goals, and are designed to act in conjunction with environmental policies that would to increase the cost of emissions.
This report is important, because despite the strong initial efforts to spur adoption of electric vehicles and installation of complementary charging infrastructure, a key segment has been left out: residents of multifamily housing.
Our work identifies barriers and evaluates existing policies supporting home EV charging installations. We recommend policy options to address challenges to charging in multifamily housing in the City of Los Angeles.
Through this process we identified the most significant barriers as:
Difficult negotiations between building management and residents about approval of installations. Disagreements can arise when there are legal restrictions or a general unwillingness to allow switching of parking spaces to accommodate a less costly installation. Further, parties may be uncertain about who should assume responsibility for electrical upgrades, maintenance and decommissioning of the equipment.
Physical limitations more common in large and older buildings, such as inadequate electrical capacity, and substantial distance between electrical panel and designated parking.
Restrictive subsidies and regulations have slowed or prevented installations. For example, subsidies are not accessible to landlords or Homeowners Associations (HOAs) who would like to make charging stations available to their residents. These parties may be better positioned to benefit from lower costs through economies of scale from multiple charging station installations. The main at-home charging subsidies, such as LADWP’s Charge Up L.A.! rebate program, are only available to drivers who own or lease the electric vehicle.
Our research into the existing policies and barriers enabled us to create policy options that would help increase installations of charging infrastructure in multifamily housing. Many of these ideas apply to any organization trying to create multifamily-oriented at-home charging support programs.
We divided our proposed policies into three categories.
Tier 1 should be implemented immediately—they perform well across our evaluative criteria. We anticipate they will produce substantial benefits, are not very costly, and other uncertainties are minimal. Included are: Partially subsidizing installations for non-EV drivers, which opens the subsidy up to an entirely new market, has a high potential for learning and network gains since building managers can use their experience with all residents and possibly other properties, and it will require little administrative cost since it is an expansion of an existing program. Subsidizing Level 1 installations in multifamily housing, which will subsidize charging equipment in cases where there is not adequate electrical capacity for a Level 2 charger—increasing charging access. Create a detailed guide, which will, at a low cost, reduce time spent by EVSE adopters.
Tier 2 policies are also recommended, but they do not perform as strongly under our criteria.
Included are: Provide a mediator for difficult negotiations, create an online registry of EV-ready buildings to increase the value of installed EVSE for building management, partially subsidize assessments to identify low-cost installs, and uncouple the value of the subsidy from the cost of EVSE to create incentives to lower installation costs.
Tier 3 policies are promising, but require more research and input from experts, these include: Establishing a demand factor for EVSE to potentially better utilize existing capacity, revisiting the Green Building Code to potentially increase requirement or add flexibility, starting a dialogue to potentially expand S.B. 209/880 to renters.