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Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption in Low and Moderate Income Multifamily Properties through Low Power Charging

Multiple studies have shown that without access to reliable, affordable charging at home, multifamily residents are very unlikely to drive electric. SVCE’s EV Infrastructure Joint Action Plan noted that approximately 39% of its households live in multifamily properties and yet just 9% of EVs are owned by multifamily residents. EV charging access for multifamily renters is an equity issue.

Unlike many other upgrades—for example, energy or water retrofits—multifamily EV charging installations have little or no return on investment and therefore do not attract the time, money, and attention of the multifamily property owner. This has resulted in negligible multifamily charging deployment and is why private-sector electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) companies have avoided this market. Ecology Action’s project design hypothesis is that for any charging solution to be scalable in the multi-family market, it must be both hassle-free and delivered at virtually no cost to the multifamily property owner. The project will thus prototype four critical innovative elements: (1) very low-cost equipment configuration, (2) an end-to-end installation service package, (3) permanent alignment of agency incentives, and (4) tight coordination with low- and moderate-income EV ownership incentive programs. The ultimate goal is to create a rapidly scalable, low-cost, low-power multifamily charging solution in the market.

Ecology Action will demonstrate this solution beginning in summer 2020 by installing 10 EV charging ports between 2 multifamily sites renting to low- and moderate-income residents, using a trained workforce inclusive of traditionally underrepresented communities; leverage existing EV charging incentives through state-based incentive programs and other funding stakeholders; and finally, pair charger installation with tenant outreach to increase EV ownership by connecting tenants to California’s EV incentive programs in partnership with GRID Alternatives, the nonprofit managing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Clean Cars 4 All program.