Powering Strong Communities

EV Commercial Charging Rate Aimed At Spurring Infrastructure In Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners recently approved a special electric vehicle (EV) commercial charging rate. 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 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.

The board’s action in late September followed testimony at a hearing from Tesla, EVgo and Electrify America and local and state officials on the 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.

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 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.

Electrify America, which says it has the largest open DC fast charging network in the US, was formed in 2017 to manage $2 billion in investments in zero emission vehicle infrastructure. The funds come from its parent company and are mandated under a 2016 settlement of the Volkswagen emissions-cheating scandal. The settlement will cost the car manufacturer $14.7 billion over 10 years.

LADWP is spearheading the city’s efforts to achieve state and local transportation electrification goals.

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.

Following the testimony, Board President Cynthia 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, LADWP noted.

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.

Ann Santilli, LADWP’s chief financial officer, said the commercial EV charging rate agreements are designed to shift a portion of commercial rates to reflect the actual hours when the EV chargers are being used.

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, the public power utility noted.

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.

To address EV industry concerns, LADWP is continuing 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.