Investigating the Direct and Indirect Costs of Grid Updates Related to Transportation Electrification on Disadvantaged Communities

Research Team: Alan Jenn (lead), Scott Hardman, Aaron Rabinowitz, and Yanning Li

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: The shift to electric vehicles brings distinct challenges to disadvantaged communities (DACs) in various ways, ranging from incentives and infrastructure access to emissions reductions and the resulting public health impact. Concerning electric vehicle charging, many residents of these communities will not have traditional home charging available to them because they don’t have garages or off-street parking. This is especially true for multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) where parking isn't guaranteed, which increases the need for public or shared charging facilities. Given the higher residential density in these buildings, grid upgrades may be needed to meet charging demand, resulting in elevated direct costs. Additionally, the indirect costs, like increased electricity rates to fund infrastructure for statewide electrification, place a disproportionate burden on these communities.

Project Description: This project will employ a comprehensive approach to assess vehicle electrification in DACs. The researchers will analyze the costs of grid upgrades and EV charging infrastructure deployment across California, and will examine both direct benefits to DAC populations and indirect infrastructure costs. Detailed case studies on multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) and residences lacking easy charging access will provide insights into their unique challenges. At a broader scale, researchers will estimate distribution system upgrade costs using existing data on capacity requirements and hardware expenses. They will also assess the cost impact on DAC residents if these expenses were spread across the entire population, resulting in increased rates. The project will conclude with policy recommendations to mitigate these costs, including strategies to expedite grid upgrades in DACs, income-based cost mitigation measures, and additional incentive support.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $60,000