Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley should allow curbside electric vehicle charging

By Alan Gould

Alan Gould is a Berkeley resident.

Public electric vehicle charging station in Novato. Photo: Alan Gould

Public solar-powered electric vehicle charging station in Novato, where the author left his Nissan Leaf for about an hour while I getting a snack at a Mexican restaurant. Photo: Alan Gould

More and more people are buying electric vehicles (EVs). For good reason. They have no tailpipes (zero emissions) and very low maintenance costs because the car’s electric motor has basically one moving part — the rotor. (There are no valves, muffler, radiator, pistons, carburetor, fan belt, etc.)

Yes, they have limited range, but in practice an electric vehicle can serve as a primary car for folks whose normal travel needs are trips of fewer than 70 miles or so. And yes the batteries for the most part are charged with electricity supplied by a fossil-fuel power plant, but California’s grid is getting cleaner. Just imagine a widespread network of solar powered electric vehicle charging stations.

Berkeley has a permitting process that encourages the installation of charging stations, also called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), in private garages or externally mounted on a house by a driveway. Businesses are also encouraged to install EVSEs in principle. But, for residents at homes with no driveway, it’s illegal to install a curbside electric vehicle charging system. So buying an EV for those folks is pretty much not an option.

The key objections to allowing curbside charging include private use of the public right of way (PROW), safety and parking access. Last year, in early efforts to address these issues, the city drafted conditions of permit approval for personal charging stations in the public right of way, proposing that the parking space could be dedicated to a specific vehicle or type of vehicle; that the city would provide, at the permitee’s expense, a sign limiting daytime parking to four hours maximum; and that the permitee not charge fees for charging station use.

I and other potential applicants were especially concerned that the four-hour parking time limit would preclude us from parking in front of our own homes for a whole day.

Last September, Berkeley Planning Director Eric Angstadt presented a report titled “Update on the Status of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure in Berkeley” to the City Council. It stated that, “the City of Berkeley has an interest in promoting the adoption of PEVs [plug-in electric vehicles] as documented in the [City’s] Climate Action Plan (CAP) and General Plan. …The use of electricity for transportation…is a fundamental component to achieving Berkeley’s CAP goals.” The report indicated “concerns that Berkeley is lagging behind other cities in the provision of PEV infrastructure.”

In fact, as of February 2014, there are only two public charging stations in all of Berkeley — at the Center Street Garage at 2025 Center, and at the Upper Hearst Parking Structure. The Sept. 10 update also stated that “Residents lacking off-street parking currently face the biggest barriers to PEV adoption…., a reevaluation of residential [Public Right-OF-Way] PROW charging and a proposed scenario under which PEV charging in PROW could be considered may be appropriate.”

On close examination, many problems raised, including accessibility, enforcement, and competing uses of the public right of way, are actually non-issues. EV owners don’t need parking restrictions other than those existing in parking permit areas. They don’t need any special right to park in front of their own homes. And “competing uses of the public right of way” are all theoretical. What could be of greater importance than implementation of the Berkeley Climate Action Plan?

I think the simplest solution is for the city to permit curbside electric charging stations, with safety standards. Other options are permitting charging stations on the owner’s property, with an under-the-sidewalk conduit for the cable and connector, or permitting home exterior-mounted chargers with an extension cable through an the under-the-sidewalk conduit. The cable would be stored in a secured, dry box. Pilot installations could determine which are most practical.

Following the September planning director’s report, our City Council approved a motion by Councilwoman Susan Wengraf instructing city departments (Public Works, Transportation and Energy & Sustainable Development) to come up with a solution. We should know the results of their efforts this summer. We hope the recommendations will allow hundreds of Berkeley residents to consider buying or leasing a car they can plug in at home.

In closing, to illustrate the vision of electric vehicles all solar powered, I am including a photo of my Nissan Leaf parked at an EV charging station in Novato (top). If you look carefully you can see it is connected to roof-mounted solar panels. What if all our cars could be solar powered all the time?

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related and local authors are preferred. Please email submissions to us. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

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  • guest

    If you really want a place to charge your EV, you should have bought a house with a driveway, Mr. Gould. The city doesn’t need to deal with the inevitable complaints when someone with a non-EV car parks in front of a private EV station on a public sidewalk.

    If the city wants to promote EVs it should do it the same way other cities do, with dedicated EV parking spaces and chargers in public garages.

  • Zach Franklin

    We bought our house in South Berkeley in 2003, well before the current crop of mainstream EVs came on the market and made electric cars a viable option. The house was built in 1912 with a sloped driveway that only a Model T Ford could navigate. We’d love our next car to be an EV that we can charge off the solar panels on our roof. Are you saying that you as a fellow Berkeley citizen want to prohibit me from installing a curbside charger in front of my own house at my own expense, and if I don’t like it I should move?

  • guest

    I suppose that depends. What would you do if you came home after a drive to the grocery store in your EV and found someone had parked in the spot next to the charger you paid to put on public property so you couldn’t charge your car? What if you came home and found someone else had parked their EV in that spot and was charging their EV with your charger?

    I’m not sure where you would move to. Do you know of any other cities that allow residents to install private EV chargers on public property?

  • Eric Weaver

    What an amazingly short sighted comment. Global climate change is the challenge of our time. We have to do everything we can to confront it. Electric cars are a (small) part of the the picture. The inevitable complaints that will arise are a small price to pay. The changes to our lifestyle that are on the near horizon will make this small accommodation seem trivial.

  • guest

    EVs contain batteries that are incredibly, intensely toxic, and have to be replaced. If you want to take the long-term save-the-planet view you should be ditching both traditional cars and EVs for bicycles.

  • guest

    Model T Ford: Width: 66 inches
    Fiat 500e: Width: 52 inches
    Toyota Rav4 EV: Width: 66.7
    Nissan Leaf: Width: 69.7 inches

  • Chris J

    Yah, but when I go to the nursery and try to bring back a 50 lb bag of potting soil on my bike…or I have to bring home a couple of chairs from IKEA or a big anything…well, I’d like an electric vehicle to do it in.

  • djoelt1

    It’s ground clearance and overhang. A Model T has wheels at the corners and has an approach angle to a slope likely exceeding 45 degrees, vs. perhaps 25 degrees for an off road focused modern vehicle. Also, a 12 inch high hump would not high center a Model T or even scrape the undercarriage, while no car sold today without an aftermarket lift kit can make that claim. Come on, be real.

  • djoelt1

    Yes, let’s just follow along and wait for someone else to go first and solve the problem. No, we wouldn’t want to possibly partake in the notion of self government and work out the problem.

    What a wet blanket. Why don’t we try to solve actual problems people have.

  • Charles_Siegel

    You can do light hauling, such as a couple of chairs, using a bike trailer; we should try and accommodate these sorts of alternatives and create safe bike routes for them. You should also remember that, in the days before people had their own vehicles, stores that sold heavy products, such as furniture, provided delivery (just as they now provide parking).

    The problem is that most Americans live in places that are so low density that most destinations are too far away to get to by bicycle. The densities are also too low to support decent public transit (unless there are big parking lots at the transit stops).

    I think we should rebuild our cities to create walkable neighborhoods – both for environmental reasons and because these neighborhoods are more livable. But rebuilding cities is a very slow process, and we don’t have a very long time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. My estimate is that, for automobiles, we can get about one-quarter of this reduction through better urban design and transportation planning, and about three-quarters will have to come from cleaner cars – i.e. from plug-in electric vehicles.

    In the long run, we can do much more to build walkable neighborhoods. But the reality is that, to get the emissions reductions that we need to control global warming, electric vehicles will have to be a big part of the mix.

  • Chris J

    Ok you Re more aware of numbers and hopes and expectations for the future and an improved environment. Hadn’t thought about bike trailers. I like it.

  • guest

    How many people actually have this problem? How would they react in the situations outlined above?

    I’m trying to outline possible scenarios where someone who had paid for a curbside charger might get upset about its use. It’s something that needs to be discussed and considered before we could move forward with something like this.

  • guest

    What if, as Berkeley moves power lines underground over time…

    I am not convinced that this will ever happen.

  • EBGuy

    Or better yet, buy a vehicle that allows you to use a lower carbon fuel (and support a worker owned cooperative, Biofuel Oasis). From the CA Air Resources Board:

    Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil: 11-16 gCO2e/MJ
    Electricity: 104 – 124 gCO2e/MJ

    Petrodiesel: 94.71 gCO2e/MJ
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/121409lcfs_lutables.pdf

  • Antonio Noguerra

    What if, as Berkeley moves power lines underground over time, while that work is being done they also install outlets for recharging every 20-30 feet or so. Build for the future.

    Thanks to the glacial pace of street repair and the inexcusable failure of the city to budget for more of it, sooner, the streets will continue to decay into loose gravel in which it’ll be easy to drop the necessary conduit.

  • EBGuy

    I only had to look next door for inspiration. Jack up the house, put in a granny flat on the lower floor next to the garage, and solve the “driveway problem”. As a bonus, you also get to assist with the Berkeley housing shortage.

  • guest

    The issue I see is that you as a homeowner do not own the parking space in front of your home and so you don’t have the right to tell anyone else they can’t park there. I can’t imagine that you would want to pay the utilities to charge anyone else’s vehicle either. All that said, I would love to see a way for every parking space to have access to a charging station. How about a dual charging unit between every two parking spaces kind of like the old school parking meters.

  • Alan Gould

    Dear Guest, As luck would have it, I DO have a driveway, and that makes
    me ineligible to even apply for curbside EV charging. My interest in
    this was triggered 5 years ago when I converted an older Prius to be a
    plug-in electric and my driveway was (a) steep, (b) angled at the top
    causing most cars to high center, and (c) on a busy street that was
    hazardous to pull in and out of. I wrote the piece not so much because I
    wanted curbside charging for myself, but because I realized there are
    actually many people in the situation of not even having a driveway at
    all,who could not consider getting an EV—just not in the cards. About
    non-EV cars parking in front of a private EV station, that’s something
    that everyone involved in the current discussions understand that the EV
    charger owner, to get a permit, would have to sign something to the
    effect that he/she understands that it is not a private parking space
    they are signing up for. They just have to wait their turn to nab that
    parking space. Too bad you were not at the Transportation Commission
    meeting last night. There were very constructive and productive
    discussions about pros and cons on many issues that must be considered,
    and in my mind a very good outcome. Your vision of cities providing EV
    parking spaces and chargers in public garages is a good one, but quite
    limited. I was trying to convey a vision of a total sustainable energy
    system, part of which could be electric cars running on solar energy. — op-ed author

  • Alan Gould

    The argument does not at all assume that people own the curb space in front on their homes. But would you admit that many people routinely park their cars in front of their homes, even people who have driveways?

  • felixkramer

    Plug-in cars are starting to take hold because they’re great cars, fun to
    drive. And many see how they can reduce greenhouse gases from transportation,
    along with bikes, mass transit, “smart” urban planning. And people
    get really excited when they see cars powered by rooftop or community solar. So
    far, the first buyers and leasers have been drivers with convenient places to charge.
    (While workplace charging is starting to happen, most people charge at home.)

    Thanks to Alan Gould, David Glaser, and other residents working to end Berkeley’s
    status as a “charging desert.” (If you want to see what I mean, check
    out the map at plugshare.com — it shows EV owners who generously offer to let
    others charge when they need a bit of juice.) As an advocate since 2002 for
    plug-in cars, when I moved here in 2012, I testified to the City Council,
    asking, does Berkeley wanted to be the first to pioneer with charging in the
    public right of way — or let Palo Alto win that one? We lost, but we can catch
    up!

    Last fall, City Council Member Susan Weingraf rounded up Council support for
    a pilot program for curbside EV charging. Department staff have been very
    helpful. And last week’s Transportation Commission meeting actually improved
    the recommendations its subcommittee had developed (with the help of the
    indefatigable Farid Javandal, Transportation Division Manager at Public Works).

    This is an opportunity for the city to leverage local goodwill and energy to
    expand charging options without significant city expense. The pilot will start
    with charging for residents; we hope eventually it will expand to friends and
    visitors.

  • http://ProjectGreenHome.org Sven Thesen

    Good Berkeley Folk,
    Palo Alto, your southern sister city in activism, has already permitted one residential curbside charger and it’s in front of my home. Come charge all you want, depending on the time, the electricity is from the PV on my roof, otherwise its 100% carbon free courtesy of our Palo Alto Utility.

    Regarding the cost, ignoring the installation etc. its about 8 cent/kWh with my PV and 16cent/kWh from the utility. Right now, we are not asking for donations for the juice, tho a number of drivers have dropped off the classic Californian gift of of wine (thank you). As noted above by Alan G. we do not have the right to decide who parks in front of our house (aka the space is no different than blacktop in front of my neighbors) and historically, no one (other than us) has historically parked there.

    To date, i have had no complaints from the neighbors only a multitude of “thank yous!” from the people who charge. In addition to the curbside charger, i also have one on my driveway, my fueling station is always open and there is never a queue!

    For details see:

    http://www.projectgreenhome.org/electric-vehicle-charging

    In looking over the comments posted, IMHO, the three most inaccurate were:
    1) Portraying LiO batteries as being extremely toxic – not true. LiO auto batteries are NOT the Ni-CD batteries of your parent’s power tools. Not only that, the LiO batteries will have use in the secondary market (think backup power for your home) even before being recycled just like your Pb battery in your gas-car.
    2) Reference to the Nissan Leaf Battery heat issue. While this was correct when the article was written in 2012, Nissan recognized this issue and extended their battery warranty applicable to any Leaf.
    http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/car-news/201645/2013-nissan-leaf-gets-new-battery-warranty.jsp
    3) Carbon footprint for electricity. This varies region to region (even city to city eg Palo Alto is carbon free due to large scale hydro, wind & a little PV + some offsets) Key is, over all, it is lower than gasoline and getting cleaner all the time whereas gasoline production is only getting more carbon intense (think tar sands as the oil source). Further, you can make electricity from lots of energy sources, and gasoline, well, umm… Regarding bio-diesel from cooking oil – i like the carbon footprint BUT the tailpipe NOx emissions (in general, as i understand it, without an $$$ add on emission control system are huge! Not good for us breathers, especially those with asthma.

    For those that have never driven an EV, ping me via my website noted above, and the next time you are Palo Alto way, you can take my Leaf for a spin. And for those that have EVs, again, feel free to charge at my house! Sven
    Founder, ProjectGreenHome.org

  • EBGuy

    These are numbers from THE CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCES BOARD. Take up your issues with them, not me. The 124 gCO2e/MJ for electricity is for “California average electricity mix”. Please READ the link I posted as it also has numbers for biogas pathways. For CNG biogas from landfills : 11.26 gCO2e/MJ and from a dairy digester: 13.45 gCO2e/MJ.
    The biggest issue for these ARB numbers is whether they account for the different efficiencies of the motive force in electric and ICE vehicles — as this is where EVs can shine. It appears that ARB is making policy decisions base on these diesel alternatives, so these questions are very important. That said, it’s nice to see biodiesel finally getting its due.

  • Farmer from Berkeley

    As a guest of your city, a city that I grew up in before moving away to an area where I can farm and have a small woodlot that I used to build my home; my past choices have blessed me to be able to live a comfortable life with a very small carbon footprint. Still I miss the Berkeley that my father grew up in; a city with effective well distributed mass transit system of trolleys, street cars and trains. The Berkeley I grew up in was not filled with cars and trucks. I encourage you to “redevelop” the local and regional mass transit system of old. That would be truly effective and sustainable. “Redevelop” a community where children were safe to play with other children in front of their homes. Lessening the need and desire to have so many cars and dependence on them. Provide stimulus to redevelop the small neighborhood stores, that are still visible through out town. Recreate the safe efficient paradise that my father grew up in; not for you, but for your grandchildren’s grandchildren… That would be a true legacy; create the new paradigm! Be well, live well, life is short {I am here to honor my father and care for him the last few months of his life; then I will return to the family farm that will be my legacy to my family and the community I call home}. Non of us can live without the great support of so many other beings; return a bit of that support, perhaps we can learn to give even more that we take and use so short sightedly. Regardless of desire, effort, and technology, there are limits. Practice and cultivate good practices and good stewardship. Thank you for all the good that you do. Many blessings!

  • batard

    … and horse carriages, my childhood home (ca. 1906) in the numbered streets had a shared driveway that split to two garages in the back. There was a gutter on one side to catch a wheel, and overall too steep and too narrow for anything on the road today.

  • batard

    bah — EV is a short-term tactical solution, strategically the problem is much larger. If you want to throw down the global warming card, then I’ll just point out that our entire transportation infrastructure, and the economy that is built on top of it, needs to be replaced..

    Besides, an EV still uses the same amount of energy as a gas-powered car of the same weight. It just comes off the grid instead of point-of-use conversion. And for now, that’s primarily fossil fuels either way you go.

    Charging your EV from PV panels sounds great! As long as you have a roof and a driveway to bring to the table. Otherwise, it’s a game for others to play.

  • batard

    “… would have to sign something to the effect that he/she understands that it is not a private parking space ..”.

    All fine and well, but living on a street with VERY limited parking and about 1/3 of the houses having no garage I can tell you this is a recipe for friction. Even if somebody has no legal claim to the parking spot, they will have some expectation that their neighbors will defer to them once they make the investment.

    Hypothetical — so when I come home on a rainy night with a car full of groceries and kids, and there’s just one spot open on the block .. do I piss off that neighbor, or park around the corner? What if the street it totally clear and I just park in front of their charging station because I either don’t care or wasn’t paying attention? Or my mother comes to visit and doesn’t realize she blocked the charger when she could have pulled 10 feet forward had she known?

    No thanks.

  • batard

    does “Used” cooking oil mean those #’s overlook the gobs and gobs of CO2 involved in growing the corn or soybeans? Not to mention the net energy efficiency…

    If you want to seriously consider biofuel on a strategic scale then you have to account for the inputs. My understanding is that corn production is a wash once you consider all the natural gas (for heat and anhydrous ammonia, both in growing and conversion steps).

  • batard

    Good on you, that’s awesome. The editorial however is in favor of a public policy to allow this in a much more densely populated area. I’m looking at the pictures on your web site and I see giant driveways and NOBODY parked on the street. Not so many neighborhoods in Berkeley like that.

  • John Freeman

    EV is a short-term tactical solution

    Shh. You’ll disturb her. She’s busy buying a stairway to heaven.

    In all seriousness the only kinds of climate change “solutions” the political class can bring themselves to suggest are either consumerist (“save the planet, buy this!”) or passive (“we’ll regulate someone else besides you; that’ll fix it”) or even are just public give-aways to a lucky few in the private sector like a certain regional planning project for the Bay Area or like the idea of turning over the public right of way for installation of private chargers. The concept that a sustainable future might well require an urgent shift to ways of life that bear little resemblance to the current lifestyle of affluent consumerism in a globalized economy is not in the script, so to speak.

  • batard

    Depends on the parking situation on your block. I’d love to park in front of my house on a regular basis. Sadly it doesn’t work out that way.

    I’d rather see the homeowner granted unlimited rights to the parking spot, and to all others a 4-hour limit — PROVIDED the permitting process allow for a public hearing period of 90 days with written notification to all residents of the entire block, and that there are zero objections raised. One resident doesn’t go for it, either offer them cash or just fold your cards and apply for a driveway permit instead — at least then you might have a fighting chance with zoning.

  • guest

    Mr. Gould is a great guy, but this is an insane idea. Why not just have everybody fund a service for laying a white rose on rich people’s pillows? That’s pretty green, too.

  • gguest

    Many homes in my neighborhood don’t have driveways, much less garages.
    Time to pave the front yard.

  • http://ProjectGreenHome.org Sven Thesen

    Batard, Thank you for the thanks. Regarding Berkeley’s draft policy, Its important to note that it does not mandate that only EVs park there, the space is still open to whom ever wants to park there, the only change is that now, if you have an EV you can charge there. So its not going to radically change the parking density per se.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    EVs are nowhere near putting a dent into climate change. Swapping one fossil fuel for another (mostly fracked natural gas in California, but the grid is continent-wide and overwhelmingly coal) doesn’t scale. For years the pretense was that EVs would be recharged off-peak, from idle capacity, but even if that was adhered to there’s not enough available to replace ICE cars.

    But even that pretense has been dropped, the idea being that it’s more important to have the convenience of topping up the batteries anywhere and at any time.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    An overhaul of infrastructure to provide convenient curbside recharging for something that’s only going to be used for the occasional chair purchase? That doesn’t exactly add up. The usage depicted here sounds like a better match for a rental (or “sharing”) fleet.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    @batard – Exactly right, the infrastructure needs an overhaul. Diddling with the current car-centric infrastructure to get a slightly different car-centric infrastructure is a complete waste of resources.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    Manufacture of a car takes roughly as much energy and spews as much carbon as an ICE car consumes and spews while operating. The word “reduce” sounds nice but it kind of glosses over the scale of the problem.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    The grid is continent-wide, and mostly coal. It has become customary to pretend that only the state’s energy mix is relevant, and to allude to its mostly being “clean” natural gas (never mind the fracking), but that’s not how grids work.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Here are some numbers from Joe Romm:

    Of the 14 or so wedges we need to deploy globally by 2050, I have
    argued that about two are electricity efficiency, one is recycled energy
    (cogeneration), and one is vehicle fuel efficiency (cars globally
    averaging 60 mpg) — see “450 ppm (or less) Part 2: The Solution.” The International Energy Agency also thinks about four wedges are efficiency,

    [I would also add that since
    plug-in hybrids are another core solution -- and since the electric
    motor is inherently more efficient than the gasoline engine -- you could
    also consider part of the plug-in wedge to be an efficiency gain.]

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2008/07/23/202908/energy-efficiency-is-the-core-climate-solution-part-1-the-biggest-low-carbon-resource-by-far/

    Here is a key number from Wikipedia:

    Typically, conventional gasoline engines effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content to move the vehicle or to power accessories, … while electric drive vehicles have on-board efficiency of around 80%.[160]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#Energy_efficiency

    I don’t like arguing for electric cars, since I have bicycled as my main form of transportation all of my adult life. But we are not going to rebuild our cities by 2050 to allow everyone to bicycle, so shifting to electric cars powered by clean electricity is a necessary part of the ghg reductions that we need by then.

  • John Freeman

    Alan you say you would have the owner of a property with a charger “sign something to the effect that he/she understand that it is not a private parking space”.

    Such a contract attaches to the owner, not to the property. As a permanent fixture, I would think that rights and responsibilities for streetside, privately installed, semi-public chargers should attach to the property.

    Would you propose to encumber the title of each property? If not, how will the rights and obligations attach to the property and thus be binding to future owners?

    What will be the obligations to future owners? To maintain the charger? To give away charges?

    What will lenders say of the new encumberance on a title?

    Who shall be liable in the event a charger harms someone? If the city needs to do work on the sidewalk or if a city tree interferes with the charger, what then?

    Who is liable for repairs to a damaged charger? Is there some timeframe by which they must be made?

    In short, this whole thing sounds like a poorly thought-out non-starter which I believe is really what staff was trying to convey only slightly between the lines of their report.

  • John Freeman

    Diddling with the current car-centric infrastructure to get a slightly
    different car-centric infrastructure is a complete waste of resources.

    It’s denialism for liberals.

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    I haven’t read Romm’s book yet, so I don’t know how his numbers tally up, nor what the assumptions are. I have seen that 15%/80% comparison before, and it leaves out the inefficiencies in generating and transporting electricity.

    California was considering a “zero”-emissions law 21 years ago, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District tried analyze how feasible that would be. Using the assumption of adherence to off-peak recharging plus the maximum amount of renewable energy that could be deployed (which is to say, all renewable sources devoted to EVs), they calculated that after 15 years of such efforts (e.g. by 2008), EVs could replace 19% of the cars and 7% of the light-duty trucks on the road.

    The notion was withdrawn, millions were spent on the technology, but what has really changed since then? Wholesale abandonment of the off-peak restriction, a shift from rooftop solar to wildlife-killing megasolar, and EVs only available to a small percentage. That’s why I don’t see this making a dent, nor do I see a feasible path for it scaling up to making a dent any time soon.

  • Alan Gould

    John, you wrote
    “Such a contract attaches to the owner, not to the property. As a
    permanent fixture, I would think that rights and responsibilities for
    streetside, privately installed, semi-public chargers should attach to
    the property.”

    The owner of the charger can and should remove it and take it with them if they move.

    “What will be the obligations to future owners? What will lenders say of the new encumberance on a title?”

    Discussion at Transportation Commission even suggested that owner put
    down a deposit in case the owner does not take the charger and the City
    becomes responsible for it’s removal.

    “Who shall be liable in the event a charger harms someone? If the
    city needs to do work on the sidewalk or if a city tree interferes with
    the charger, what then? Who is liable for repairs to a damaged charger? Is there some timeframe by which they must be made?”

    Discussion to date indicates the owner must have insurance that can cover those things.

  • John Freeman

    The owner of the charger can and should remove it and take it with them if they move.

    Whoa! That’s a new rule!

    Alright, now I’m a bit confused. Somehow this charger involves running high voltage power lines under the sidewalk and into the road verge, safely, with the intent of digging them back up again on transfer of the property. This really doesn’t sound like a practical plan.

    Discussion at Transportation Commission even suggested that owner put down a deposit in case the owner does not take the charger and the City becomes responsible for it’s removal.

    That’s going to have to be a helluva large deposit, don’t ya think?

    [liabilities] Discussion to date indicates the owner must have insurance that can cover those things.

    I don’t see how how the homeowner can in any way indemnify the city for harm caused to third parties. Hmm. That makes me think that in addition to all the other poorly thought out details, it would seem installation of these potential electrocution hazards should require periodic inspections on behalf of the city — I wonder how that would be instituted and paid for.

  • Yaworski

    Palo Alto is one such city. When one installs a charger, they accept all of those scenarios as possible risks, and pay for other peoples’ juice.