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Software Is Helping to Expand U.S. EV Charging Infrastructure

PredictEV, an electric vehicle infrastructure planning software, is helping utilities and other organizations plan the location of EV charging both now and in the future.

An EVgo charging station on I-15, an interstate highway connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Data related to where electric vehicle drivers live — and even where they will in the future — is helping both the private and public sector plan the locations for charging infrastructure.

PredictEV, technology developed by Volta Charging, is helping utilities, cities and other organizations plan the locations of new charging infrastructure, offering insights into charging needs in underserved communities. A wide deployment of charging infrastructure is a key component of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“PredictEV is an out-of-the-box EV infrastructure planning solution that utilizes mobility patterns, population distribution and visitation data,” said Kevin Samy, head of climate policy and communications at Volta, in an email. “In the simplest form, a user can input a future year to begin to understand EV adoption, grid and socio-economic impact, and then continue to tweak infinite adjustments to narrow down to a desired scenario.”

The technology is being used by utilities like Southern California Edison, one of the largest utilities in the nation serving 15 million residents across 50,000 square miles. The utility has plans to install some 30,000 to 40,000 public chargers in the next three-plus years, said Naveed Ahmad, senior adviser in e-mobility partnerships at Southern California Edison.

The legislation provides for “mapping and analysis activities” to determine the “locations of current and future electric vehicle owners.”

“That’s exactly what PredictEV was built to do,” said Samy. “We’re combining federal and state government data sets around mobility, health and many other socioeconomic factors … to enable quick, efficient analysis and create the outputs needed for applications.”

In a state like California, the largest EV market in the nation, state officials are keenly focused on equity as the state undertakes a charging expansion.

The state energy commission aims for 50 percent of funding for charging to go to low-income and disadvantaged communities, said Hannon Rasool, deputy director of fuels and transportation at the California Energy Commission.

“Across the board, we’re looking very heavily at equity,” said Rasool, speaking on a recent panel to address the issue of multifamily housing charging. The panel has hosted by Veloz, an EV advocacy and policy group based in Sacramento. “We definitely think the role of the public sector is not fully going to accelerate the market in general, but also to address what the private market may not otherwise address.”

Volta is also a provider of charging infrastructure and plans to have more than 4,000 chargers deployed by the end of the year. These will largely be Level 2 chargers located at destinations like shopping areas, workplaces or schools. The bulk of the effort by the federal government to expand charging will focus on highly traveled corridors. However, home-charging and workplace or retail center charging will have to be part of the mix as well to give consumers the confidence to switch to driving electric.

“I do not think there’s a silver bullet here,” said Rasool. “One solution is not going to work for everything.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.