Improving Electric Vehicle Charger Deployment in Lower-Income Communities

Research Team: Ethan Elkind (lead), Shruti Sarode, Katie Segal, Maia Baltzley, and Louise Bedsworth

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: The lack of convenient, accessible, and affordable charging access is a major barrier for lower-income residents who wish to purchase or lease an electric vehicle (EV). Many of these residents are renters or live in multi-unit dwellings, where they may not have a dedicated parking space to charge a vehicle or ability to install higher-powered Level 2 (240V) chargers on the property Meanwhile, the state suffers from an inequitable distribution of EVs, which are critical to meeting long-term climate goals. Remedying these problems will require the state to develop inclusive processes and implementation plans for installing EV infrastructure in lower-income communities, which face barriers such as onerous permitting requirements, lack of a willing site host, expensive electrical upgrades, and lack of likely revenue to justify the investment. Local leaders will therefore need state and industry support to address these challenges, such as improved business models, expanded industry investment, and targeted state subsidies.

Project Description: In this project, Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) will lead an inclusive planning process for EV charging deployment in a city in California with a high proportion of lower-income residents. First, CLEE will identify a key representative lower-income city, such as Fresno, Oakland, or a tribal community, based on a combination of demographic and geographic factors. CLEE will then work with experts, such as academics at the UC Davis Plug-In Vehicle Research Center and industry leaders at utilities and charging companies, to develop requirements for charging locations, as well as the projected need for chargers through 2035 (the date California has set to phase out internal combustion engine vehicle sales), including type, number and general location. CLEE will then convene local stakeholders and charging experts to evaluate the specific implementation barriers to optimal EV charger deployment within the community and make recommendations to overcome them. CLEE will also conduct additional outreach as needed to better understand community concerns. This project will inform a statewide program for boosting EV charging infrastructure in other communities, through an inclusive outreach process, mapping efforts, and stakeholder-based discussions of needs and solutions to meet them.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $49,980