As more communities encourage adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), a tool from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Clean Cities program can help assess and improve fleet readiness for PEVs.
The Plug-in Electric Vehicle Community Readiness Scorecard is an interactive, online tool that allows fleet managers to measure how well they are meeting the needs of PEV drivers and provides suggestions to improve in the future. The PEV Scorecard ratings and suggestions are based on real-world data provided by users and stakeholders.
To calculate their score, fleet managers answer a series of multiple choice questions covering a variety of topics, ranging from the availability of online permitting for residential chargers to special electricity rates for PEV drivers. As multiple users can enter information on one account, a full range of stakeholders, from company or city officials to non-profit advocates, can participate.
Once participants have completed the PEV Scorecard, it provides them with scores ranging from “Needs Improvement” to “Excellent” for each criterion as well as recommendations and resources to help improve readiness, including case studies, lessons learned, and assistance from a local Clean Cities coalition. Fleets can track and update progress as they carry out these recommendations.
Lessons Learned by the Industry
There are already more than 100 organizations using the PEV scorecard to improve their communities, including DOE Clean Cities coalitions, municipalities, and trade organizations.
In Indianapolis, the PEV Scorecard helped the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition assess the City’s strengths and weaknesses. The coalition’s coordinator, Kellie Walsh, said the assessment revealed that, while the city was doing quite a bit to improve its codes and standards, it required additional state support. The coalition has worked with the state government to update its weights and measures policies for PEV charging. Walsh appreciated the tool’s help to focus on urgent issues, before they became major problems.
“It’s a really good tool to discover your weaknesses,” she said. “It saved us some big headaches later.” Building on their success, the Coalition is working with Nissan to deploy fast charging units, partnering with local businesses to implement workplace charging, and supporting the Indianapolis vehicle fleet’s adoption of hundreds of PEVs.
The City of Atlanta also used the PEV Scorecard to benchmark its progress. Ruthie Norton, a senior project manager in the City’s Office of Sustainability, said the tool facilitated the City’s planning process. Currently, the City is working with its citizen advisory councils to approve ordinances to remove barriers to installing residential, commercial, and public charging stations.
For the Twin Cities, the PEV Scorecard highlighted the strides they had already made. Lisa Thurstin, coordinator for the Twin Cities Clean Cities coalition, said the PEV Scorecard clarified the impact of her partners’ activities. She better understood how their previous efforts toward improving permitting, increasing signage, and educating the public compared to a baseline.
“It showed the strength of the group,” Thurstin said. “With everyone involved, we do have a stronger front, as opposed to one community or one fleet.”
John Frala, professor at Rio Hondo College in California, used the PEV Scorecard to better understand the larger, regional context of PEV adoption. Drawing from its results and recommendations, he persuaded college leadership to install PEV chargers on campus. Now, with four Level 2 and three DC fast chargers installed, the number of instructors at the college driving PEVs is expanding.
While the PEV Scorecard is a great place to start, organizations shouldn’t stop there. The DOE’s Clean Cities program has a wealth of resources available to communities looking to improve their PEV readiness.
The Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Readiness Projects draws together best practices from 16 different projects from across the country, while the blog post Top 10 Ways Communities Can Pave the Way for PEVs provides a summary of the guide. The DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has overviews of PEV basics, as well as new information specific to installing residential charging at multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings and condos. Clean Cities’ YouTube channel also has a number of videos documenting how different cities have taken steps to increase PEV adoption.
Another great opportunity to improve PEV readiness is by making charging available to employees at work. Through the DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge, employers that commit to provide their employees with charging access can obtain technical assistance, learn about best practices, and receive recognition by the DOE. All of these efforts support the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, an initiative focused on the U.S. becoming, by 2022, the first nation in the world to produce PEVs that are as affordable for the average American family as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.
From regions just starting out to leaders at the forefront, the PEV Scorecard provides a great way for cities to analyze their current progress and plan a way forward.