How local communities can benefit from EV growth

How local communities can benefit from EV growth

If we really want people to buy plug-in vehicles, there's a lot communities can do to make it much more attractive. 

A tool from U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab is designed to help local and regional leaders prepare for widespread use of PEVs.

"The nationwide deployment of electric vehicles is a revolution in transportation," says NREL engineer Mike Simpson, who led the tool's development. "There's a significant amount of thought and effort involved in shepherding these new technologies into our communities, and the Energy Department saw a real need to provide local and regional leaders with some interactive blueprints."

California is expected to dominate the market through 2020 because it's home to four of the biggest metropolitan areas that are supportive of plug-ins. 

San Francisco is a prime example. Since 2011 a CEO-level "EV Strategic Council" has been working to make it the "EV Capital of the U.S." Its target is to have 100,000 electric vehicles in the Bay Area by 2015.

The Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Scorecard walks users through a variety of issues including permitting and inspection processes for charging stations, incentives and promotions, education and outreach, coordination with utilities, likely PEV adoption rates and long-range infrastructure planning.

Within each topic, community representatives answer a series of multiple-choice questions related to their level of preparation. Communities receive scores for each topic, ranging from "Needs Improvement" to "Excellent."

The tool then provides customized recommendations, resources and case studies to help communities raise their scores within each topic. A community's scores and recommendations are private and cannot be viewed by other users of the tool.

"The PEV scorecard helps communities see the forest and the trees in terms of PEV deployment," says NREL's Simpson. "They can get a big-picture assessment of how ready they are, and then drill down to the finer points to find out how to improve."

Ready, Set, Charge, California! identifies these steps as critical to supporting the mainstreaming of plug-ins:

  • Easy availability of chargers for homes.
  • Installing charging equipment in apartment buildings.
  • Developing comprehensive regional charging networks.
  • Integrating plug-ins into regional transportation systems, buildings and energy grids.
  • Accelerating adoption by individuals, fleets and car-sharing organizations by setting fleet targets and through incentives like preferred parking.

Regulations can be as simple as including EVs in minimum parking requirements for buildings, requiring sufficient space in the electrical room for EV charging equipment, and encouraging homes to be "pre-wired" for EV and solar charging readiness.

Here's the website for the PEV Readiness Scorecard. 

Photo of charging stations provided by Serenethos via Shutterstock.