Assessing the Readiness of Electric Infrastructure in Disadvantaged Communities for Electric Vehicle Charging

Research Team: Scott Moura (lead), Duncan Callaway, Marta Gonzalez, and Tugba Ozturk

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: California’s Advanced Clean Cars II regulation requires all new passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in California be zero-emission by 2035. Achieving this ambitious target requires broad electric vehicle (EV) adoption throughout the state, including in disadvantaged communities (DACs) and communities where many people live in multi-family housing, also called “multi-unit dwellings” or MUDs. However, achieving significant penetration of EVs in these communities is challenging for many technical, financial, regulatory and behavioral reasons. For example, DACs and MUDs often lack the necessary electrical infrastructure for EV charging. Residents in MUDs may not have access to charging outlets the way people in single family houses do. Also, long charging times, especially when multiple residents need to charge simultaneously, can also be problematic. Also, upgrading existing infrastructure for charging can be costly, and distributing these expenses among residents, property owners, and utilities is complex and can lead to conflicts. In addition, existing regulations may not provide clear guidance for installing chargers in DACs and MUDs, leading to uncertainty and permit delays. And lastly, the general lack of awareness and education about EVs contributes to perceived risks and hinders adoption. Managing charging etiquette and ensuring fair access can also be difficult.

Project Description: This project focuses on evaluating the readiness of grid infrastructure in DACs to support the transition to EVs. To achieve this goal, the researchers will first use novel, geospatial data to predict mobility patterns, and thus EV charging needs, in DACs. This will be an improvement upon existing charging predictions, which reference early EV adopters who tend to have higher incomes than DAC residents and own single family homes, rather than live in MUDs. The project will also investigate how these mobility patterns affect different charging policies, such as daytime versus nighttime charging. Second, the researchers will use detailed models that pull in utility data to assess the readiness of the electric grid. Many existing studies do not adequately consider both behind-the-meter and front-of-the-meter constraints like upgrades to transformers and substations. These upgrades can incur substantial costs if not carefully coordinated. Ultimately, this project will provide actionable insights into infrastructure investment requirements, utility rate structures, and charging control strategies to enable deep EV penetration in California.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $100,000