Palo Alto looking to become an EV leader

by Ernie Hernandez on September 22, 2013

240-volt outlet

City to consider requiring EV infrastructure in new residential construction

According to Palo Alto Online three members of the Palo Alto city council, including the mayor and vice mayor, stated in a memo that they are in favor of moving toward requiring new residential construction to install electric vehicle (EV) friendly infrastructure. Basically, this just means installing a 240-volt outlet in the garage. According to a local EV advocate it is much less expensive to build the equipment in than to retrofit later. City resident Sven Thesen has installed a curb-side charging station at his home. According to Thesen “It costs about $200 to make a house EV-ready and anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to retrofit later on.” When one considers that an electrical service panel is often installed on an external garage wall it is easy to see that the cost of installation of a 240-volt breaker and outlet is fairly inexpensive when compared to the cost of doing the installation later. The city is also looking into streamlining the permitting and inspection process to retrofit EV charging stations into existing homes. As we have written before (found here), the EV residential infrastructure permitting process is being streamlined and improved all over. This serves to improve processing time and reduce costs.

In addition, the city is proposing that new hotel construction also provides EV charging capabilities, with the possibility that this requirement could extend to existing hotels. Palo Alto sees itself as a forward looking EV friendly city. With the nearby Google headquarters in the adjacent Mountain View community, Palo Alto likely wants to make sure that all of those highly paid Googlers have no interest in looking elsewhere for housing.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John P September 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm

This is interesting. I work for a company in Palo Alto and we are installing trickle chargers (phase 1) and quick chargers (phase 2). The permitting process for the trickle chargers took over 14 months and every time we met with the city, they came up with new requirements all of which cost more than our original budget. In a “come to Jesus” meeting, there were more than 16 department managers discussing what we needed to get the permitting process moving. Some of the participants didn’t know what the others were requesting. Hope the process goes better for the residential and hotel process otherwise nothing will be build.
John P.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) September 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Hey John, Thanks for the feedback. Our recent article about the SoCal Edison (SCE) study (found here) showed that communities and utilities are starting to figure out that the process needs to be streamlined. If you think about it, this whole EV thing is a fairly new (and for communities and utilities – different) animal. To call the experience that you and your company went through teething pains is being kind. SCE and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) have both worked with cities that offer their services, and all of these processes have been significantly improved over the last three years. You can be thankful that your company is forward thinking enough to consider offering this benefit to their employees, and that they are persistent enough to overcome the obstacles presented. It is companies like yours and utilities like SCE, SDG&E and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) that work through this process that will benefit all of those to follow.

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