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Workplace EV Charging Support Services Coming Online

Both CALSTART and Forth Mobility have put forward resources to help businesses navigate the new terrain for installing electric vehicle chargers to serve their workforce.

A white electric vehicle plugged in to charge as seen from behind.
Efforts to increase workplace vehicle charging are underway, but barriers remain.

Perhaps the most sizable barrier, say consultants, is the simple fact that many employers do not own their building or parking area and are not in a position to make the move to install charging infrastructure.

“There’s no incentive, really, for the property owner to install those chargers,” said Eli Font, associate director at consulting firm Cadeo, during a Nov. 15 panel to discuss workplace charging. The webinar panel was organized by Forth Mobility, an electric vehicle policy and advocacy group based in Portland, Ore.

Supply chain disruptions as well as a lack of qualified installation technicians has also slowed the pace of workplace charging developments, she added.

“Workplace charging is a really complex process, because you have so many different stakeholders involved, not only within the company, but also outside,” said Font.

Despite these hurdles, both public and private employers have made workplace charging a goal.

Alexandria, Va., has a goal of 50 percent of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

“Workplace charging is a really pretty critical component of the strategy to help us meet our goals,” said Amy Posner, electric vehicle planner in Alexandria, who noted about 50 percent of residents in Alexandria live in multifamily housing and may not have access to a charger.

“We also have a lot of residents that rely on street parking,” she added. “Having workplace charging would be a really big benefit to folks interested in purchasing an EV but aren’t sure where they would charge at home.”

The city estimates about 1,500 workplace chargers will be needed by 2050, to support its 7,500 business locations. In Alexandria, 2 percent of new parking spaces are required to have EV charging, with 75 percent required to be “EV ready.”

Alexandria is part of Forth’s Electric Vehicle Adoption Leadership (EVAL), a certification program providing recognition and technical assistance for organizations “that support the adoption of clean transportation,” said Aleksandra Evert, program manager at Forth.

EVAL distinguishes businesses for the steps they take toward adopting a cleaner employer commute, using four levels of the certification.

“Our goal is to execute a nationwide workplace charging program comprised of education, outreach, technical assistance and other activities that enable a large-scale increase in workplace charging,” said Evert.

EVAL is similar to Charge@Work, an initiative by CALSTART. Both programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Charge@Work functions as a resource for businesses, aiming to smooth the path toward workplace EV charging. The program recently introduced its Charge@Work Project Builder Tool, a free online platform that analyzes a property for determining what sort of infrastructure is needed, or can be supported, and a blueprint for getting there.

“Workplaces have the power to supply EV charging to workers who lack home charging and to ensure that all workers — even those with long commutes — can make it to and from work in an EV without worry,” said Jason Zimbler, light-duty vehicle director at CALSTART, in a statement.

“The city is just getting started on this journey, and we’re really glad to be part of this Department of Energy project with Forth, to rely on some of these resources and programs to encourage workplace charging throughout the city, but also at the city itself,” said Posner.
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.