Electric Vehicles

Lessons Learned from Clean Cities Community EV Readiness Projects

July 2014, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Stephane Babcock

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities program funded 16 state programs as part of its Community Readiness and Planning for Plug-In Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure awards, which totaled $8.5 million. The projects were envisioned as a way to streamline the further implementation of an electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in communities around the country. 

“As a department, we continue to have a really strong interest in communities becoming ready for electric plug-in vehicles, and, if they are ready, we want them to progress because there is a lot communities have to do,” said Linda Bluestein, the U.S. DOE’s national Clean Cities co-director.

The idea for the program stemmed from a 2010 public meeting where Bluestein and her team learned that certain communities were already creating partnerships and developing best practices to deal with the increase in EV production.

“But, this was only in certain areas of the country, and they were only at the beginning stages of planning. We wanted to move this forward because we saw that the floodgates were going to open and all these plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) were going to be on the market,” Bluestein explained. “The worst thing that could happen is a lack of knowledge by the dealer that sells them or by the consumer that wants to buy them or people that permit for home charger installations, or even vehicle maintenance.”

By combining the right education and the right best practices, Bluestein believed this would be something that communities could “sail past” and implement infrastructure and implementation.

“You want to advance the regulation and the codes in these areas so that best practices are put into place along the way,” Bluestein added.

This idea quickly became a reality when, on Sept. 8, 2011, then U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the 16 awards, which helped prepare communities in 24 states and the District of Columbia to adopt PEV technologies.

But, it isn’t just the adoption of this technology that communities need to be concerned about. According to Bluestein, there are a number of small details that need to be looked into when deciding where a charging station should be located.

“You’re going to be concerned with everything from the weight of the cord, to whether or not there’s not a tripping hazard,” she said.

To deter from “getting iced,” which Bluestien explained as when people with an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle park in a space meant for an electric vehicle with charging equipment, good parking enforcement policies need to be put in place.

Communities involved in the project also looked at the demographics and travel patterns to determine where to place public charging stations so they would have a clear path to build corridors and stations.

“Between the infrastructure and the fact that the location of stations really need to be planned out, there’s a lot to it,” she concluded. 

Following are snapshots of some of the Clean Cities programs involved in the EV Readiness project.

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