Needed: Fewer roadblocks for electric vehicles

Electric BMWs charging at a Google complex. (Photo: Roman Boed)

There are over 220,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on America’s roads today – more than double this time last year – and about a third of those are in California. EVs are exploding in popularity; they’re cheaper to drive and fuel, better for the environment and are a more thrilling drive.

While there are already thousands of charging locations across the state, there remains a need to continue to build a network of EV charging stations to support this massive EV growth, especially to meet Governor Brown’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025. That’s why the governor should sign Assembly Bill (AB) 2565 into law. Authored by Assemblymember Al Murastuchi, the legislation has now successfully passed both houses of the State Legislature with bipartisan support.

Lease restrictions are blocking tenants – both individuals and businesses – from installing EV charging stations.

AB 2565 is vital for expanding access to EV charging stations around the state. The legislation aims to address barriers for deploying stations in leased buildings, bringing access to charging stations to the more than 40% of Californians who live in multifamily housing.

The deployment of EV charging infrastructure is increasing but not keeping up with today’s EV adoption rates. In 2012, the ratio of EVs to charging ports was about 7 to 1. As EV sales skyrocketed, the gap widened. In 2013, the ratio grew to about 8 to 1. To successfully grow the EV industry, it is imperative our legislators introduce and support policies that implement the installation of charging stations throughout California.

We are already seeing some success in building a robust infrastructure and paving the way for faster EV growth. Many companies, cities and workplaces have stepped up to support the growing population of EV drivers because offering EV charging is good for the environment and good for business. For example, retailers have found that EV charging attracts new customers who spend more time in their stores as they charge their EVs, resulting in more money spent. Similarly, a workplace can offer charging to employees as a perk. And in the housing space, apartment managers can offer it as an amenity to differentiate from competing complexes.

However, some Californians who rent their homes or businesses are running into roadblocks. Lease restrictions are blocking tenants – both individuals and businesses – from installing EV charging stations. Those restrictions often delay, add financial burdens and even stop small businesses and apartment tenants from installing charging stations at all. AB 2565 gives renters the right to install EV charging stations at their dedicated parking space as long as they’re willing to pay for it.

This piece of legislation supports the widespread adoption of EVs, which, in turn, will help our state reach important clean air and energy independence goals. Small businesses would also have the ability to offer EV charging to attract and retain employees and customers.

The governor’s signature on AB 2565 would help ensure that Californians can charge their cars in more places – at home, work and in public. If a tenant – individual or business owner – wants to pay to provide EV charging for their family, employees, customers or the public, it’s important they have that right.

The benefits are many. By turning this legislation into law, we will both foster the EV industry and help meet our state’s environmental and clean air goals at the same time.

Ed’s Note: Richard Lowenthal is the Chief Technical Officer of ChargePoint, which he co-founded in 2007. ChargePoint is the world’s largest and most open electric vehicle charging network.

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