City governments have always played an important role in the growth of new technology, such as Wi-Fi networks, renewable power, energy efficiency and LEDs. Another new technology, electric vehicles (EVs), is experiencing world-wide growth, and cities are helping to fuel the trend.
According to a new study by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), cities across the globe are adopting innovative approaches to support the rapid expansion of EVs.
Titled, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” the study notes the number of EVs on America’s streets is at an all-time high. Sales of EVs increased by 38 percent in 2016 and again by 32 percent in 2017.
This rapid growth of EVs poses both challenges and opportunities for cities. EVs can help cities reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions, but city governments must first provide EV owners with ample access to charging stations.
The good news, according to the study, is cities are accepting that challenge.
The study explains that there are three levels of charging stations. Level 1, or slow charging stations, are from a standard wall outlet. Level 2 chargers are two to six times faster than Level 1 chargers and require special installation. Level 3, or DC fast-charging stations, can add 100 miles or more of range in an hour of charging and are only compatible with EVs, not plug-in hybrids.
According to MASSPIRG, cities are adopting innovative policies to increase the availability of all three types of chargers. The policies are increasing EV charging stations on residential streets and are making off-street charging stations in places like garages and parking much more accessible. City policies increase the availability of EV charging in the workplace, and they are boosting the presence of charging stations in public spaces.
The study notes a number of government entities, such as Santa Barbara County and the city of Sacramento, both in California, as well as Colorado’s Regional Air Quality Council, and the states of Delaware and New Jersey, all offer rebates for the installation of EV chargers.
Some cities have adopted policies that provide parking preferences, such as free parking or no-wait lists for city parking permits, to EV owners.
The city of Los Angeles has 1,500 charging points, and it offers $500 rebates for the installation of residential charging stations. The city’s Department of Water and Power also offers reduced rates for EV charging.
All of this is good news for cities. According to the study, as many as 20 percent of new cars could be electric by the year 2030.