In 2015, the STA received a grant from the California Energy Commission to conduct the Solano Electric Vehicle (EV) Transition Program. This program seeks to identify and overcome barriers to the deployment of electric vehicles in Solano County through public outreach and education, a streamlined permit process for installing charging stations, and an analysis of future charging station needs throughout the county. The goal is to help make it easier for those who want to own an electric vehicle to find resources and places to charge. On April 11, 2018, the STA Board adopted the Solano EV Program Final Report.
Solano Electric Vehicle Transition Program
The Solano Transportation Authority (STA) has developed a new county-wide initiative, the Solano Electric Vehicle Transition Program. This program was created to identify barriers to the deployment of public and private plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging station infrastructure within Solano County, and to provide a comprehensive approach to reducing such barriers through effective outreach, education, and infrastructure development to prepare for future demand.
Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) are designed to plug into the electric grid to be powered or fueled by electricity recharging a lithium-ion battery.
There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles: Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). PHEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and can be recharged with Level 1-2 Chargers. BEVs are fully powered by the rechargeable battery, can use any charger type, and typically have a higher electric mile range than PHEVs.
In a recent survey, STA asked Solano commuters what words came to mind when they thought of EVs. Many commuters brought up the environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles. Even though many EV models are offered on affordable lease programs, many commuters feel that EVs are relatively expensive. They are also concerned with the range of EVs, even though many plug-in models are hybrids that also have a gasoline engine, which helps eliminate concerns about range. Additionally, new full-electric models come with increasingly long range options—for example, the Chevy Bolt has a range of over 200 miles.
Just a decade ago, fully electric vehicles for everyday driving were little more than a novel idea. Today, they’re a reality, and while EVs are not yet mainstream, they could be – for at least 42 percent of American households. That’s the conclusion of a survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union.
Could an EV fit into your lifestyle? Aside from the obvious desire to save money on fuel and reduce your family’s carbon footprint, what other factors might indicate an EV is right for you?
Take a look at the criteria the Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union evaluated to come to their conclusion:
- Do you have access to a charging station? According to the survey, 56 percent of American households do.
- Do you drive fewer than 60 miles a day during the week? That’s the typical range of an EV on a single charge. Sixty-nine percent of American drivers don’t go that far.
- Do you typically carry fewer than four passengers? We’ve all seen traffic jams composed of cars with only a single occupant – the driver – so it’s no surprise that 95 percent of motorists carry fewer than four people.
- You never haul a heavy load. Most of us (79 percent) don’t.
If these characteristics apply to your driving habits, an EV may fit into your lifestyle. Still, EVs currently have sticker prices significantly higher than traditional gas-powered vehicles, so it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to completely give up your traditional car. Maybe this last fact from the survey will tip the scales for you:
It costs about $421 a year to operate a fully electric vehicle, and about $1,500 for a gas-powered one.
Faced with that kind of potential savings, you may well decide an EV fits perfectly into your lifestyle.
WHAT’S THE COST TO BUY?
Base prices range from $21,750 for the Smart Electric Drive to more than $125,000 for a high-performance Tesla Model S. In some cases, that’s thousands more than similarly-sized gas-powered cars. But electric cars (excluding low-speed neighborhood vehicles) are eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax credit to offset the extra cost. Additional city and state tax credits are available in California that can make the costs of electric cars very compelling, especially for consumers with a home solar system.
The most popular electric and plug-in cars are sticker priced at $26,000 to $32,000 before the tax credit. Leases are available for as little as $170 a month (after you sign the tax credit over to the leasing company).
Plug-in hybrids are sticker priced between $30,000 and $75,000, but they have been advertised with lease deals as low as $170 a month.
WHAT’S THE COST TO DRIVE?
We’ve seen pure-electric cars return a little over 3 miles per kilowatt-hour, which gives them a cost to drive of about 3.5 cents per mile (for the Nissan Leaf). For comparison, the 32-mpg Toyota Corolla costs about 12 cents per mile.
Electric cars also require no oil changes and minimal maintenance. Low operating costs should offset the cost of buying in just the first year for a Nissan Leaf, for example.
WHAT INCENTIVES ARE AVAILABLE?
There are many federal, state, and local incentives being offered right now that can reduce the cost of buying an electric vehicle. Tax credits and rebates can be combined and are not necessarily baked-in to the purchase price of a vehicle at the dealership, so some additional paperwork is needed.
- Federal Plug-in Electric Vehicle Tax Credit: The federal tax credit is valued at up to $7,500 and is linked to the capacity of the battery in the vehicle. Battery electric vehicles, for instance, generally qualify for the full $7,500 incentive, whereas plug-in hybrids generally qualify for less.
- California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program: The state’s rebate program provides $1,500 and $2,500 toward the purchase or lease of a new PEV, depending on the vehicle type. High-income earners (single filers making more than $250,000 and joint filers making more than $500,000) are ineligible for the program. Furthermore, the rebate is increased by $1,500 for households with income less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
- California electric vehicle drivers can save on insurance discounts. Farmers Insurance provides a discount of up to 10 percent on all major insurance coverage for PEV owners, while AAA offers up to a 5 percent discount.
Electric vehicles respond immediately, delivering instant torque and acceleration. Consumers have positive reports regarding electric vehicle handling and acceleration. You will not have to sacrifice performance for efficiency when you choose to drive electric.
Electric vehicles get safety ratings at least as good, if not better, than their gasoline counterparts. In most configurations, the battery packs are located beneath the vehicle, creating a lower center of gravity and safer handling.
Telematics let you communicate with your electric vehicle remotely, whenever, wherever. You can schedule when your vehicle starts charging to take advantage of reduced energy rates and ask it to warm the cabin before you leave.
Everyone knows electric cars are cleaner than gasoline vehicles—but just how much cleaner?
This video explores the global warming emissions of EVs on a lifecycle basis, from the manufacturing of their batteries to their ultimate disposal or reuse.
Growing as rapidly alongside the Electric Vehicle market is the Electric Vehicle Charging Station industry.
Charging Stations come in two classes – residential or commercial. Residential charging stations are built for single family homes. They don’t have much technology, but they do provide the electricity that is needed to recharge your vehicle. Residential charging stations can easily be purchased at big retail locations.
Commercial stations are more sophisticated, both in terms of hardware and software. They are built for commercial applications such as at the mall, at your office, at the grocery store, in a public parking garage, etc. Commercial stations go through intense laboratory testing to ensure that they meet all electrical codes and guidelines. In addition, commercial stations usually come equipped with smart software that will allow the station owner to manage usage. Through this software, station owners can run sustainability reports, bill their EV drivers, monitor electricity usage and more.
The California Building Code differentiates between electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and defines them as follows:
Electric vehicle charging station: One or more spaces intended for charging electric vehicles
Electric vehicle supply equipment: The conductors, including the ungrounded, grounded, and equipment grounding conductors and the electric vehicle connectors, attachment plugs and all other fittings, devices, power outlets, or apparatus installed specifically for the purpose of transferring energy between the premises wiring and the electric vehicle.
LEVELS OF CHARGING
There are three main levels of charging an electric vehicle.
Level I – Level I refers to the standard 110VAC outlets that you have in your home. This is a very basic charge for an electric vehicle and will take much longer to recharge. For example, recharging a 100% Nissan Leaf with a Level I EV charger will take approximately 20 hours from empty to full. Recharging a Chevy Volt, which goes 40 miles on electricity and then switches to a small gas engine, will take approximately 5 – 6 hours to recharge from empty to full.
Level II (Residential) – Level II residential charging stations push energy at 240Volts and 30Amps. This is equivalent to a typical home washer or dryer. Level II residential stations are typically built for single family home garages where there is one dedicated user. You can even easily purchase a Level II residential charging station at large hardware stores for around $500 – $1,000.
PG&E provides a checklist of steps that should be taken when installing Level 2 charging equipment.
Level II (Commercial) – Level II Commercial stations have really emerged as the industry standard for charging vehicles when not at home. They deliver the same 240Volts and 30Amps as the residential stations, however, the real value comes in when the commercial stations are smart-networked. This means that the station is connected to software that makes it easy for a building owner to manage their stations, see how many EV drivers have used the stations, run sustainability reports, bill for electricity usage and more. To recharge a 100% Nissan Leaf with a Level II commercial charging station would take approximately 5-6 hours from empty to full and a Chevy Volt approximately 3 – 4 hours. For this reason, Level II commercial stations are an ideal fit, both in charging time and affordability for commercial applications.
DC Fast Charging – With ranges from 200 to 600 VDC, DC Fast Charging stations can recharge an electric vehicle in as little as 30 minutes. This is a fantastic solution for charging on the go. However, the major setback for DC Fast Charging is that there is not one standard plug for all EVs. In the US, there are two competing standards, CHAdeMO and SAE. Additionally, the DC Fast Charging port is not offered on any plug-in EV, like the Chevy Volt or Ford Fusion. In addition, owning and managing a DC Fast Charging station is incredibly expensive, sometimes upwards of $50,000 or more. Your building also has to be well equipped to handle such an electric load capacity. You will typically find DC Fast Charging stations purchased by your state government along interstate highways.
Map & Locations
To find charging stations in Solano County, please search the map below:
Download our Permitting and Inspection Checklist
A key step in the installation of EV charging equipment is obtaining city or county permits and passing inspection. Some Bay Area local governments have issued a large number of EV charging equipment permits in recent years while others have limited or no experience with these types of projects. Because the infrastructure has been expanding rapidly, there are many opportunities to streamline permitting and inspection procedures and harmonize processes between jurisdictions. For example, most EV charging takes place at home, so expediting permits for residential installations can speed the roll out of charging station, especially for single-family residences where installations are often straightforward.
Electric vehicle charging devices are allowed as long as they meet the standards of the Zoning Ordinance for a parking space in all respects. The Zoning Ordinance does not distinguish between the types of users allowed in parking spaces. If, through Site Plan approval, a space containing an electric vehicle charging device is designated as exclusively for use by electric cars, it should be created as one of the reserved spaces in the garage or parking lot.
AB 1236 Requirements
- It is the intent of the Legislature that local agencies not adopt ordinances that create unreasonable barriers to the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and not unreasonably restrict the ability of homeowners and agricultural and business concerns to install electric vehicle charging stations.
- It is the policy of the state to promote and encourage the use of electric vehicle charging stations and to limit obstacles to their use.
- It is the intent of the Legislature that local agencies comply not only with the language of this section, but also the legislative intent to encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging stations by removing obstacles to, and minimizing costs of, permitting for charging stations so long as the action does not supersede the building official’s authority to identify and address higher priority life-safety situations.
- A city, county, or city and county shall administratively approve an application to install electric vehicle charging stations through the issuance of a building permit or similar nondiscretionary permit. Review of the application to install an electric vehicle charging station shall be limited to the building official’s review of whether it meets all health and safety requirements of local, state, and federal law. The requirements of local law shall be limited to those standards and regulations necessary to ensure that the electric vehicle charging station will not have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety. However, if the building official of the city, county, or city and county makes a finding, based on substantial evidence, that the electric vehicle charging station could have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety, the city, county, or city and county may require the applicant to apply for a use permit.
- A city, county, or city and county may not deny an application for a use permit to install an electric vehicle charging station unless it makes written findings based upon substantial evidence in the record that the proposed installation would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety, and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact. The findings shall include the basis for the rejection of potential feasible alternatives of preventing the adverse impact.
- Any conditions imposed on an application to install an electric vehicle charging station shall be designed to mitigate the specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety at the lowest cost possible.
- An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local permitting authorities.
- An electric vehicle charging station shall meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the California Electrical Code, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and accredited testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories and, where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability.
- On or before September 30, 2016, every city, county, or city and county with a population of 200,000 or more residents, and, on or before September 30, 2017, every city, county, or city and county with a population of less than 200,000 residents, shall, in consultation with the local fire department or district and the utility director, if the city, county, or city and county operates a utility, adopt an ordinance, consistent with the goals and intent of this section, that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations. In developing an expedited permitting process, the city, county, or city and county shall adopt a checklist of all requirements with which electric vehicle charging stations shall comply to be eligible for expedited review. An application that satisfies the information requirements in the checklist, as determined by the city, county, or city and county, shall be deemed complete. Upon confirmation by the city, county, or city and county of the application and supporting documents being complete and meeting the requirements of the checklist, and consistent with the ordinance, a city, county, or city and county shall, consistent with subdivision (b), approve the application and issue all required permits or authorizations. However, the city, county, or city and county may establish a process to prioritize competing applications for expedited permits. Upon receipt of an incomplete application, a city, county, or city and county shall issue a written correction notice detailing all deficiencies in the application and any additional information required to be eligible for expedited permit issuance. An application submitted to a city, county, or city and county that owns and operates an electric utility shall demonstrate compliance with the utility’s interconnection policies prior to approval.
- The checklist and required permitting documentation shall be published on a publicly accessible Internet Web site, if the city, county, or city and county has an Internet Web site, and the city, county, or city and county shall allow for electronic submittal of a permit application and associated documentation, and shall authorize the electronic signature on all forms, applications, and other documentation in lieu of a wet signature by an applicant. In developing the ordinance, the city, county, or city and county may refer to the recommendations contained in the most current version of the “Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Permitting Checklist” of the “Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook” published by the Office of Planning and Research. A city, county, or city and county may adopt an ordinance that modifies the checklists and standards found in the guidebook due to unique climactic, geological, seismological, or topographical conditions. If a city, county, or city and county determines that it is unable to authorize the acceptance of an electronic signature on all forms, applications, and other documents in lieu of a wet signature by an applicant, the city, county, or city and county shall state, in the ordinance required under this subdivision, the reasons for its inability to accept electronic signatures and acceptance of an electronic signature shall not be required.
- A city, county, or city and county shall not condition approval for any electric vehicle charging station permit on the approval of an electric vehicle charging station by an association, as that term is defined in Section 4080 of the Civil Code.
Charging Station Options for Site Owners
Today, many charging stations are publicly funded and offer free charging to encourage early adopters of PEVs. However, many public stations will evolve toward a pay-for-use system as PEVs become more mainstream. In most parts of the United States, only utilities are allowed to sell electricity directly, so most non-utility owned stations likely will charge a service fee instead of charging for electricity use. A number of payment models are being explored, all designed to make paying for charging simple and convenient. Drivers might subscribe to a charging service, swipe their credit card, enter a charging account number, or insert coins or bills into a meter to charge their PEVs. In many cases, drivers will only be charged a single fee for parking and charging. “Smart cards” or radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices programmed with user information enable the station host to collect usage data in addition to payment.
Charging station ownership models also vary. Some charging station hosts may purchase, install, and operate stations themselves. This model gives the host or owner control of the station and allows them to keep all revenues. For example, a parking lot owner might buy and operate a pay-for-use charging station as a central part of its business strategy. Other organizations will contract with a third party who pays the station equipment, installation, and maintenance costs and manages the logistics in return for lease payments or a share of the station’s revenue. This model minimizes the host’s upfront costs and administrative responsibilities. For example, a retail business wanting the customer attraction benefits of hosting a station without handling all the details might contract with a third party to install and operate a station on its property.
ENERGY STAR Certified Equipment
If you are interested in energy efficiency, Energy Star has developed standards for charging equipment. Energy Star certified chargers can save 40% on average in electricity when in standby mode.
How to Use the ENERGY STAR Product Finder:
- Visit the ENERGY STAR Product Finder.
- Select Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.
- Review the results and if needed, filter your results further by “Type,” “Brand Name,” and other defining features.
- Make informed recommendations on ENERGY STAR certified products.
Requirements and Regulations
Charging station installations must comply with local, state, and national codes and regulations, and installation requires a licensed contractor. The contractor should know the relevant codes and standards and obtain approval from the local building, fire, environmental, and electrical inspecting and permitting authorities before installing EVSE.
You can learn about codes and standards typically used for U.S. PEV and infrastructure projects on the AFDC’s Codes and Standards Resources page.
Consult PEV manufacturer guidance for information about the required EVSE and learn the specifications before purchasing equipment and electric services. In many areas, a site installation plan must be submitted to the permitting authority for approval before EVSE installation can proceed. A plan describes the use and locations of elements such as electrical system components, hazardous materials, EVSE, lighting, vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow, ventilation, signage and striping, safety and accessibility measures, and landscaping.
Funding & Resources
Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) Charge! Program
The Air District is accepting applications for the Charge! Program. Up to $5 million is available for public and private organizations to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the 9-county San Francisco Bay Area. Please visit their website for further details, including the Program guidance document, funding options and to apply: https://www.baaqmd.gov/funding-and-incentives/businesses-and-fleets/chargehttp://www.baaqmd.gov/charge
PG&E EV Charge Network Program
Pacific Gas & Electric’s EV Charge Network is providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure at multi-unit dwellings and workplaces across its service territory. To learn more, visit: https://www.pge.com/en_US/small-medium-business/energy-alternatives/clean-vehicles/ev-charge-network/program-participants.page?WT.mc_id=Vanity_evchargepge.com/evcharge
Alternative Fuels Data Center Vehicle Cost Calculator
UC Davis EV Explorer Annual Commute Cost Calculator