By Damon Lavrinc, October 1, 2013
California has more electric vehicles per capita than any other state
in the nation, in part because policymakers seem to love them. Gov.
Jerry Brown recently signed a whole sheaf of bills intended to hasten
their adoption, and the city of Palo Alto — home to Tesla Motors — will
require every new home to be wired for EV charging hardware.
The Palo Alto city council voted 9-0 in favor of a proposal that
would require new single-family homes to come pre-wired for an EV
charging station. It’s a nominal requirement, considering most homes
already are wired for a 220-volt line — which is needed for a so-called
Level 2 charging station that can charge most cars in about eight hours —
because that’s the voltage needed to power a washer and dryer.
The decision came
own to money (and politics, natch), with an eye
toward “future-proofing” new homes for EVs. It costs just $200 to wire a
new home for an EV charger, but can cost upward of $1,000 to retrofit
an existing home. That’s on top of the cost of the charging station,
which can run anywhere from $600 to $2,000. Not that it really matters
to Palo Alto residents — the average home cost is $1.5 million.
“The thing that caught me is how simple and easy and fairly
inexpensive it is to rough-in the wiring,” Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd told the San Jose Mercury News.
Monday’s vote was followed by the governor’s signing six bills to commemorate National Plug In Day
on Saturday, part of California’s ongoing campaign to get 1.5 million
EVs on the road by 2025. California has long led the nation in promoting
the development and adoption of electric vehicles through the Zero
Emissions Vehicle Program, which aims to have new cars emit 34 percent
fewer global warming gases, 75 percent fewer smog emissions, save
consumers over $6,000 over the life of the car, and bring more efficient
vehicles — from hybrids electrics to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — to
To that end, the legislature approved, and Brown signed, a cadre of bills meant to further spur the use of EVs. Assembly Bill 1092
requires state agencies to set standards to instal charging outlets in
apartment and commercial buildings. The bill aims to address one of the
biggest hurdles for city dwellers who want to go electric, since it’s
hard (and dangerous) to run a 100-foot cable out your window to charge
your EV on the street.
Bills AB 266 and SB 286
extend the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane sticker program through
2019, giving drivers access to carpool lanes no matter how many people
are in the car. AB 266 allows 40,000 vehicles that are ultra-low
emission plug-in hybrids and even hydrogen-fueled vehicles with internal
combustion engines to receive a green sticker, while AB 286 extends the
eligibility of pure zero-emission vehicles — those powered by battery
electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or natural gas — to receive a white
sticker for HOV lane access.
provides $2 billion to fund a range of environmental initiatives,
including $20 million to build 100 hydrogen fueling stations and a “Cash
for Clunkers”-style program that allows low-income vehicle owners to
trade in their gas guzzler for a $2,500 incentive. SB 359
funds four programs that encourage green vehicle purchases, including
$20 million for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, $10 million in
incentives for hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses, and $8 million
for the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program.
The final bill, SB 454,
could have the most impact on current EV drivers, requiring all
charging station providers to allow any vehicle to plug in and pay with a
credit card. Currently, several charging station companies require
users to be registered, pay a monthly fee, or both to access their
network of stations. SB 454 would eliminate that requirement, making
charging stations more like gas stations by allowing anyone to top off
using a standard method of payment.