Arup and team awarded CEC BESTFIT grant for public EV charging infrastructure pilot program

Jackie Wei Green Jackie Wei Green Americas Head of Communications,Los Angeles
15 September 2021

Arup today announced that it is on a team that was recently awarded a California Energy Commission (CEC) BESTFIT grant for an innovative electric vehicle (EV) charging pilot program called Unlocking Existing Utility Assets for Curbside EV Charging. Partnering with leading North American charging network FLO®, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and with the support of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Arup and team will be developing the pilot project, which will focus on the deployment of full-scale, equitable public charging infrastructure in California.

The California Energy Commission is proud to support projects building public curbside EV charging stations in low-income communities in which access to chargers is often limited. Arup team’s novel approach to streamlining costs and deployment time by using existing electrical infrastructure is exactly the type of innovation that will take California to its goal of 250,000 charging stations by 2025. ” California Energy Commission

LA EV charging LA EV charging
Arup and the team will be developing a pilot project that focuses on the deployment of full-scale, equitable public charging infrastructure in California. ©FLO

California currently faces a significant barrier to the adoption of EVs. Because of the lack of comprehensive charging infrastructure, many groups do not have access to charging stations. In particular, low-income citizens and those who live in multi-family homes have limited access to individual charging stations due to high cost, limited parking areas, or lack of ownership rights to build. 

Arup and the project team will be piloting a program to address these barriers through the deployment of public curbside EV charging stations that utilizes existing utility assets in two pilot locations: Santa Monica and Southeast Los Angeles. The team aims to both develop technical and commercial models for charging infrastructure and provide guidance for their scaling and outreach. The pilot program’s main goal is to minimize operations, purchase, and installation costs of chargers for vehicles in the light-duty sector. By utilizing existing utility assets, the program proposes significant cuts to infrastructure material and labor costs. Mounting chargers to street poles or streetlights, using pre-existing underground vaults, and incorporating fast-charging stations into existing service transformers will significantly reduce the cost of deployment. 

Supporting universal charging for every kind of residence, whether single or multi-family, is a critical step in expanding EV adoption in Santa Monica and all urban areas. Santa Monica is pleased to partner with SCE, LACI, and the project team to innovate curbside charging technologies. ” Sue Himmelrich Santa Monica Mayor

By leveraging existing utility assets, the team will also be able to streamline permit procedures, such as CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) compliance, resulting in a much quicker adoption of the technology. In addition, direct attachment to utility infrastructure will put the work under the purview of SCE, simplifying customer to city coordination. This pilot program will test various innovative models to identify the most cost-effective and successful solutions, which will help determine how to scale this concept statewide.

Accessibility and equity are key drivers for this project. As California continues to strive for its climate goals through electrification, access is emerging as an important consideration. By making EV charging ports more widely available to the public, the team is helping to ensure that efforts to decarbonize benefit every community. To identify sites to deploy equitable infrastructure, Arup will build on current knowledge in the space by adapting Charge4All, the geospatial suitability software it launched in 2020. Charge4All is a data-driven tool developed in collaboration with LACI and leading energy utility companies that helps streamline the implementation of public charging ports. The tool will overlay existing social equity criteria with existing utility infrastructure availability to help the team seamlessly integrate equity and technical considerations early on in the planning and design stage.

We are excited that our project has been awarded the CEC BESTFIT grant, enabling us to deliver the pilot stage of this project with our partners FLO, SCE, LACI and EPRI. Our work aims to change the current approach to implementing EV charging stations, using existing assets to facilitate lower cost and quicker rollout — and ease the transition to all-electric urban mobility. We are proud to be making strides to accelerate the transition to clean energy for all. ” Katherine Perez Katherine Perez Principal

This innovative solution to the lack of equitable EV infrastructure is a revolutionary approach to deploying public charging ports. With the support of the CEC BESTFIT grant, the project team aims to develop utility standards which will act as a set of instructions for installing equitable curbside charging by modifying existing infrastructure. The pilot program will identify the most cost-effective and resource-efficient method for deployment, paving the way for other cities in California to rapidly replicate the approach and ultimately expand the EV charging network statewide.