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Texas City Turns to Tech to Place EV Charging Infrastructure

Irving, Texas, will be using technology from Volta Charging to locate public charging infrastructure. Data is a useful tool to help officials ensure that certain groups are not left out of the shift toward electric vehicles.

An aerial view of a neighborhood in Irving, Texas.
An aerial view of a neighborhood in Irving, Texas.
Cities are turning to tech to not only provide the charging for electric vehicles, but tell them where new infrastructure should go.

Irving, Texas, has announced a partnership with Volta Charging to use its PredictEV technology to best determine where additional public charging should be located.

PredictEV scans electric vehicle registrations in an area to get a sense of where the cars call home, whether or not those homes have access to a home charger, existing charging infrastructure, the driving range of EVs, as well as more nuanced data like income, discretionary spending and identifying disadvantaged communities.

Identifying the most ideal places to locate charging is becoming a priority among cities as they seek local, state and federal funding assistance. Those funding streams are often tied to some analysis to ensure the charges are being equitably distributed for drivers of all income and housing levels.

As EV adoption increases in cities across the country and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation prepares to distribute $1.25 billion for community charging through the Discretionary Grant Program for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure, cities, utilities and other organizations will be looking for thoughtful, data-driven infrastructure strategies.

“With state and federal funding for electric vehicle charging stations available, it’s prudent to look at how Irving can use those dollars to provide an additional service to the community by enhancing transportation infrastructure in Irving,” said April Reiling, director of communications for the city of Irving, adding, “[The city] is looking to the future and excited to grow EV charging stations for not just the community, but also drivers coming to Irving for work, leisure and play.”

Irving, a city of some 254,000 residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region, has 10 Level 2 chargers located at city facilities such as City Hall, the library and the city’s convention center.

“The city is looking to expand electric vehicle charging stations at several different locations throughout Irving to support the energy needs of electric vehicle drivers,” said Reiling.

There are only about 80,000 EVs registered in Texas. However, adoption is growing. Nationwide, electric vehicle sales grew 65 percent last year, according to Cox Automotive. Electric vehicles comprise 5.8 percent of the new car market.

Even having 2 million EVs on Texas roads by 2030 would be seen as “a resounding success,” said Cavan Merski, a data analyst at Pecan Street, a smart cities and green energy research firm in Austin.

“To reach a million would also be a resounding success. We’re talking about a fairly slow ramp here,” he added during a November 2022 panel discussion around EV adoption in the state.

A number of drivers, new to EVs, could find themselves needing electrical infrastructure upgrades at their homes, making access to public charging all the more essential.

Volta’s PredictEV’s machine learning models consider the different charging abilities and needs in an area, as part of the metrics it considers in determining the location for public charging, said Volta officials.

Electric utilities like Southern Company in Alabama, Southern California Edison and Tucson Electric Power have all used PredictEV’s services to support and inform EV charging initiatives.

Most homes today do not already have a car charger, and 70 percent do not have a heat pump, another modernizing feature, as homes transition away from fossil fuel-powered heating systems, said Merski.

“Those two transitions are going to be the ones that drive the most panel upgrades,” he added.
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.