Commissioners act to expand L.A.’s car and truck charging network to meet the needs of the city’s electric vehicle future after hearing from EV industry leaders, and local and state officials on best practices to encourage L.A. motorists to drive electric by 2030.
LOS ANGELES (October 7, 2021)–The City of Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners has approved a special electric vehicle (EV) commercial charging rate to speed expansion of publicly available, fast vehicle charging stations in its 469 square-mile service territory in recognition of the growing significance that personal and commercial vehicle transportation electrification will play in the global fight against climate change and local fight for improved community and regional air quality as Los Angeles endeavors to achieve a 100% zero-carbon energy future.
The Board’s action on September 28, 2021 followed extensive public hearing testimony from high profile EV industry leaders Tesla, EVgo and Electrify America, and local and state officials on the concrete steps that are needed to enable the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) transportation electrification efforts to swiftly expand the department’s EV fast-charging footprint.
LADWP is spearheading the city’s efforts to achieve state and local transportation electrification goals to dramatically decrease statewide greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of air Angelenos breathe. LADWP staff updated the Board of Commissioners on EV-related customer rebate programs, equity initiatives, and efforts to streamline departmental processes for the approval, installation, and interconnection of new EV charging stations.
Board of Commissioners President Cynthia McClain-Hill said, “We can see the EV future in our rearview mirrors and it’s coming up fast. L.A. must be ready and that means we must ensure that there’s a fast-charging infrastructure that’s built to meet the need of everyday motorists and business commercial fleets. Some say, we have less than a decade to get this job done. Our public hearing with EV industry leaders was an incredible opportunity for us to gain from a deep-dive, holistic review of the state of LADWP’s transportation electrification initiatives; to understand our successes and pain-points, and to comprehend what needs to happen, and when, to dramatically decarbonize our local transportation sector through the broad use of EVs.”
“When we look at the overall goals related to climate change and air quality improvement, you see the inter-relationship between energy demand and our capability or lack of it to achieve a 100% zero-carbon future for Los Angeles. It’s incredibly important to focus our actions in a very intentional way to achieve that zero-carbon target,” Board President McClain-Hill said.
Following the testimony from industry leaders and LADWP staff reports, Board President McClain-Hill offered a series of motions aimed at improving oversight and accountability of LADWP’s EV initiatives, streamlining EV charger deployment, and exploring possible new incentives to install more EV chargers, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The motions, which will be considered for adoption at the Board’s next meeting, also call for evaluating necessary upgrades of the local distribution system, improving rebate processing times, improving coordination with other agencies involved in EV charger installations, and increasing staff levels to accommodate the growing workload more efficiently.
By approving the new commercial charging rate, the Board authorized the use of pilot five-year agreements for a special electric rate for commercial EV charging. The goal is to encourage rapid expansion of EV charging infrastructure in publicly accessible locations—such as shopping malls, parks, libraries, public or commercial parking lots, or curbside chargers—and to spur greater electrification of regional bus fleets, commercial transport trucks and other commercial vehicles. The five-year agreements will also be available to businesses for employee parking lots and for multi-family housing, such as apartments, condominiums or public housing, where property owners could install charging stations used by residents.
Ann Santilli, LADWP’s Chief Financial Officer, said the commercial EV charging rate agreements are designed to shift a portion of commercial rates called “demand charges” to reflect the actual hours when the EV chargers are being used.
“We listened to the industry and recognized there was a need for a rate structure customized for the way people use public and commercially operated EV chargers, rather than the one-size fits all commercial rates we use now,” Santilli said.
The commercial EV charging rate has two options. Both are designed to incentivize charging during daylight hours to take advantage of excess solar power. Expanding the use of excess solar power is a key strategy to helping LADWP achieve its aggressive goal to supply power that is 100% carbon-free by 2035.
“This is a win-win for the EV industry, EV drivers and the utility,” said Reiko Kerr, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Power Engineering, Planning and Technical Services. “As we expand renewable energy, and particularly solar power, we need to shift energy use to periods when solar panels are producing the most electricity. This helps create a demand for solar while it’s being generated.”
During the special session, the Board heard testimony from three of the nation’s largest companies that provide high-powered, publicly accessible charging stations, known as “DC fast chargers,” so that EV drivers can fully charge a vehicle in less than an hour.
Representatives from Electrify America, EVgo and Tesla pointed out challenges that have contributed to building fewer fast-charging stations in LADWP’s service territory than other nearby areas. Among their chief concerns was the lack of a special rate structure for commercial EV charging.
Matthew Nelson, Director of Government Affairs for Electrify America, said the new rate structure introduced Tuesday is “a huge step in the right direction,” and noted it will lower the operating costs of commercial charging stations in LADWP’s service territory.
Adam Mohabbat, Market Development Manager at EVgo, said: “We are very pleased to see the special commercial EV rate being introduced and considered by the Board today. It will bring the Department in line with other large utilities in the state and establish LADWP as a leader among publicly owned utilities.”
LADWP staff offered several presentations on multiple initiatives to achieve local and state goals for expanding EV infrastructure throughout its service territory as well as increase accessibility to public chargers in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
Mark Wenzel, Advanced Vehicle Infrastructure Manager of the California Energy Commission (CEC), described the State of California’s goals for 1.2 million charging stations by 2030 and that 100 percent of all new passenger vehicle sales would be zero-carbon vehicles by 2035. He added that equity is an essential element to achieving these goals.
To address EV industry concerns, LADWP continues efforts to streamline and expedite interconnecting charging stations with the electric grid, speed up the application process, improve communications with customers, and effectively collaborate with other City departments that are involved in inspecting and approving new charging infrastructure.