San Fernando Valley Sun / El Sol
The San Fernando City Council may consider entering another agreement to build and develop more public charging stations for electrical vehicles (EVs), this time with a public utility.
Shant Nahapetian, SCE senior policy advisor for Southern California Edison, detailed a $432 million program approved by the state to offer project funding to its customers that are businesses, government agencies, property owners and other organizations to become part of what Edison says will be the nation’s largest electric vehicle charging infrastructure run by an investor-owned electric utility company in the Southland.
Known as the “Charge Ready program,” Edison is planning to build or add 38,000 new electric car chargers — and nearly 8,500 more parking stations for medium or large EVs including trucks — for its Southland customer base over the next five years “assuming the funding for the program isn’t depleted before then,” Nahapetian said during his 30-minute presentation at the council meeting on Monday, Sept. 20.
At least half of those parking chargers, Nahapethan said, would be placed in state-designated disadvantaged communities, or economically-impacted communities that suffer most from the negative effects of air pollution, and 30% would be for multi-family properties or apartments.
The City of San Fernando meets the criteria of a designated disadvantaged community, the Edison representative said.
“We are halfway on our pathway to delivering 100% clean power to our customers, and we’re going to plug in more cars, trucks, buses and equipment into that clean power supply,” Nahapetian said.
“It’s no secret that Californians breathe some of the worst air quality in the country, and the transportation sector is accountable for almost half, including when you factor in refineries of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change…we’re trying to support mass market adoption of zero emission electric vehicles. To achieve that, we are trying to make it easier for folks to charge their cars at homes, apartment complexes, work places and public places.”
The program to apply is not open to residential Edison customers, Nahapetian said, but is available to owners of multi-family dwellings and commercial properties, as well as governmental agencies.
He also said that Edison has received 700 applications since July, but that “no projects have been approved.” And even though Nahapetian was encouraging the City of San Fernando to apply for the funding, “unfortunately I can’t provide any assurance that [San Fernando’s] project would be approved.”
This would not be the first outside venture by the City for EVs charging stations. Last year, on Aug. 3, the City reached an agreement with the automaker Tesla to build a supercharging station for the electric car company’s vehicles, located in Parking Lot 8 near the downtown mall.
The Tesla agreement — for five years with a renewal option for Tesla for five more years — had its detractors among some residents and business owners. They formed an organization called the Citizens of San Fernando Committee for Environmental Justice, filed a lawsuit in a downtown Los Angeles Superior Court seeking a restraining order to at least pause the project and reconsider the location, but it was denied.
A major complaint was the loss of parking spaces which could impact nearby retail businesses located in the city’s outdoor mall. “The Tesla charging station has been operating successfully,” said Mayor Sylvia Ballin, “I’ve seen people picking up food from our restaurants while their cars are charging.”
Those approved for the Edison project can either have Edison only install the underground infrastructure and the participant then installs the station itself and maintains it — getting a rebate from Edison for doing so — or they can opt for Edison to install everything and also be totally responsible for maintaining the station.
Each station would cost approximately $15,000 to build and install, and would take approximately a year from the application date to when the project is completed. The agreement and operation of the stations would be good for 10 years, Nahapetian said.
He added the program did not include “DC fast charging” —which can charge an electric vehicle up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes — which, at this time, is still considered “cost-prohibitive.” These charging stations — Levels 1 and 2 — can take an hour or more to charge a vehicle.
The council members in attendance for the presentation — Ballin, Vice Mayor Mary Mendoza, Cindy Montañez and Hector Pacheco — all expressed interest in having the City apply for the program.