Electrify America’s plan for a second 30-month cycle of zero emission vehicle investment in California was approved by a vote of 12 to 1 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) during its December board meeting today in Sacramento. Board member Dean Florez voted against the plan.
The company’s second cycle California plan calls for a shift in investments from a highway DC fast charging focus towards a majority of spending on community DC charging in the new plan which begins in July 2019 and extends until the end of 2021. A national plan that covers states other than California is expected to be submitted to the EPA by the end of January or shortly thereafter, according to the company.
The new plan was considered at an earlier CARB meeting in November where it was expected to be voted on but that meeting ran out of time due to extensive discussion on an earlier agenda item. After that meeting, an additional public “stakeholder” meeting by CARB staff was held on December 7 for the board to receive additional feedback.
Much of the discussion at the stakeholder’s meeting repeated comments at the November board meeting. One new discussion was a request from multiple commenters for more frequent and regular stakeholder meetings to improve communication and coordination among CARB staff and various businesses and interest groups.
At the December meeting today, Electrify America CEO Giovanni Palazzo gave a further update on the status of the charging network in California and answered questions from board members. His comments largely reiterated those made at the November meeting.
As he did during the November board meeting, former state Senator Dean Florez provided pointed and lengthy comments regarding what he said is insufficient support by Electrify America for rural communities. He also asked for, and received, a commitment from the company to plan towards investment in an additional Green City area in a future cycle 3 plan. Florez and another board member, Eduardo Garcia of the 56th Assembly district covering eastern Riverside and Imperial Counties, wrote an opinion article discussing those concerns in today’s Sacramento Bee.
Palazzo stated that Electrify America will meet or exceed the state guidelines calling for 35 percent of zero emission investments to include rural and low-income disadvantaged areas. Some public commenters expressed concerns that those investments may primarily benefit long-distance drivers who charge at highway locations and then pass through rather than benefitting local inhabitants.
Several groups from the Los Angeles area called for increased funding for investments in that region.
Electrify America expressed on ongoing concern that obtaining construction permits for electric vehicle charging in California is taking much longer than in other states.
As they have in past meetings, ChargePoint complained of difficulties competing against charging investments by Electrify America. ChargePoint’s representative raised an example of “a company headquartered in Cupertino” which had been negotiating a purchase agreement with ChargePoint but switching to Electrify America after being offered free 240V charging equipment. EVgo, which supported Electrify America’s first cycle plan, joined ChargePoint in raising competitive concerns.
Toyota, along with various other fuel cell related business groups, complained that the first and second cycle plans have provided no investments in hydrogen fuel cell refueling. Several board members, including chairperson Mary Nichols, also expressed continued support for future Electrify America investments in fuel cell hydrogen fueling stations.
A broad variety of companies and organizations supported approval of the second cycle plan including AAA, ABB, American Lung Association, Black and Veatch, Brixmor Property Group, BTC Power, Electric Auto Association, Hubject, Innogy (Recargo and PlugShare’s parent company), Lucid, and various community groups involved in the Sacramento Green Cities program.
During its presentation to the board, the CARB staff placed the Electrify America investments in perspective towards the state’s 2025 and 2030 charging infrastructure needs for electric vehicle deployment goals. In terms of the state’s 2025 goal, Electrify America’s cycle one and two investments are expected to meet a very small fraction of the needed infrastructure thereby allowing business opportunities for competition towards additional expected state and private investment.