The same predicament faces all countries and states aiming for a zero-emission vehicle future and sets a cautionary tone to Australia’s modest inroads into powering EVs.
At the heart of the Californian issue is the state’s governor Gavin Newsom last week signing an executive order that kick-starts the sale of only zero-emission passenger vehicles from 2035. It applies only to new vehicles and residents can, of course, keep their internal-combustion engined (ICE) vehicles.
But, in an article in Forbes magazine written by policy analyst Amanda Myers, there comes a warning that while citizens can buy new EVs, few will be able to have the ability to recharge them.
Forbes said that: “few people in apartments or condominiums can access EV charging.
“Roughly 90 per cent of California’s chargers are located at homes overall, but as few as 18 per cent are located at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs). Nearly 50 per cent of Californians live in MUDs, meaning the state urgently needs policies to scale EV charging access to all residents.
“Existing MUDs present unique EV charging challenges,” the article said.
“Electrical upgrades at older MUDs can be costly, especially when they require trenching to lay wiring.
“Installing EV charging at existing MUDs can also trigger building code requirements in ways unrelated to EV charging, making a project financially infeasible, while utility interconnection approval can add cost and hassle.
“In addition, property owners often get little to no return on EV charging investments, even if they are low cost, because those who pay utility bills are different from those who make capital investments.”
It said that many MUDs had assigned parking, making equal charging challenging and expensive without installing chargers at each parking bay.
Installing charging infrastructure in common areas or shared parking may be easier, but is less reliable if chargers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, it said.
“Where space is limited, charging spaces might compete with parking spaces, partly because California differentiates parking spaces from charging spaces.
“As the state’s vehicle fleet converts to electric, this will become a larger sticking point as chargers are required in more spaces.”
The article said that despite growing awareness of the need to serve MUD populations, consumer interest remains relatively low, and customers rarely consider the possibility of EV ownership without ready charging access.
“Other building improvements or repairs may also be higher priorities for residents or building managers, including those that save money, increase comfort, or improve indoor air quality.
“With limited budgets, EV chargers likely fall lower on the list of priority improvements.”
On the positive side, the article said that energy suppliers were central to accelerating the highly electrified future.
“To support charging access, utilities need to identify and invest in locations that readily support charging capability.
“Utilities, policymakers, and the private sector must work hand-in-hand with MUD residents to provide equitable and affordable charging solutions.
“By tackling the challenge of MUD charging access, especially those in disadvantaged communities, California can ensure equal climate action benefits for all its residents.”
California is on track to reach the 100 per cent light-duty zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales target in 2035. It will have nine-million passenger battery electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
“These ZEVs will cumulatively reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 42 million metric tons by 2030, with even larger climate benefits as the state reaches the 100 per cent sales target in 2035, setting the path to a 100 per cent ZEV fleet by 2050,” it said.
“Transportation electrification is also a vital public health protection; a recent American Lung Association report found $US22 billion ($A31b) in annual public health benefits via widespread transportation electrification across California.”
By Neil Dowling