Electric Vehicle Charging

Urban Equitable Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Episode 89

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with communities, governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: “I don’t care that they stole my idea, I care that they don’t have any of their own.” – Tesla

If you live in a single family home – you can do all of your electric vehicle charging with a regular electric socket in your garage.

But in urban areas, most people live in apartments and multifamily buildings. How do we create the opportunity to own – and charge – an electric car for everyone?

Across the country, ordinances and laws are being passed to promote EV charging. Today, we focus on the leadership of Illinois, where the state passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act and the City of Chicago adopted the EV Readiness Ordinance.

Across the US and world, people are creating infrastructure that will provide easy access to charge EVs, and significant incentives are coming for people to shift, save more now, and invest for the future.

Let’s learn more with these three EV advocates guests:

Neda Deylami is an EV advocate and attorney from Chicago. She has worked on clean energy legislative campaigns at the city, state, and regional levels, and she aims to make clean transportation accessible, affordable, and feasible for all.

Samantha Bingham is the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition coordinator, one of 75 US Department of Energy designated coalitions serving local communities across the country. Sam has coordinated numerous ride and drive events for both fleet professionals and the general public to learn more about electric vehicles. The goal of CACC is to reduce petroleum use in the transportation sector and to improve the health of our communities through improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Vanessa Perkins founded the Chicago-focused Community Charging Initiative to help mitigate EV charging deserts, promote EV awareness and usage, and support community-owned EV charging installations. Through a research fellowship with Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2.org), Vanessa engaged Chicago neighborhoods to determine how to leverage existing infrastructure and the sharing economy to fill public EV charging gaps. A grant-funded pilot of Community Chargers was launched this year in Chicago’s northwest, southwest, and south side neighborhoods, all of which are owned and operated by community host partners. 

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Challenges: “In 2018 and 2019, Clean Cities, with the support of stakeholders, was able to hold an electric vehicle ride and drive at the Chicago Auto Show. And we thought we were going to have thousands of people test drive EVs, and found out that it was tough to pull people aside and engage them on electric vehicles and get them to test drive.” – Samantha Bingham

 Lessons: “Drill deeper into what preconceived perception do they have about electrification? Not just assume their gearheads and EVs are just not going to work out for them. With more infrastructure, over 90% of our trips are 40 miles or less, that’s well within the range of even a lower mileage EV. The mission is never accomplished; we keep needing to engage more and more groups about the benefits of electric vehicles and why infrastructure is important, why they should host chargers, why individuals should purchase or look into converting to electric vehicles.” – Samantha Bingham

Supernova#1: “I was at those auto show events volunteering. One of the best ways to get people to come was, I asked them if they liked paying for gas – that got their attention. When I do one-on-one presentations in different communities, one of my favorite tidbits is talking about the efficiency between gas engines and electric motors. Because gas engines are really not efficient. And I love telling people that when they buy $40 worth of gas, $8 of it is actually moving the car, and $32 it’s just being set on fire.” – Neda Deylami

Supernova#2: “There are a lot of really exciting policies t that are going to help solve some of those issues with charging deserts. Illinois just passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, and Chicago adopted the EV Readiness Ordinance. Hopefully, we’ll see that across other municipalities. And then I’ve been working on a small project where we are building privately owned level two charging stations that can be owned by the host on a small commercial site in the neighborhood and rented out to the general public. It’s a way to almost Airbnb a charger.”

Supernova#3: I wrote a bill on the state level that is being considered right now. That would include new and renovated buildings that would recommend requirements for parking spaces dependent on the number of parking spaces and how many of those spaces are EV ready. There are different suggestions based on whether that parking space will be ready for a charger to be installed versus how much extra installation will be required, like having an outlet there or not. But basically, the circuits and the wiring capacity is there in the building such that later on, when more people have EVs and want to charge their vehicles at home or work; we’re not going to be having to dig up concrete and spend 10s of 1000s of dollars, which is what the most expensive part of retrofitting right now is. We can save those costs and invest in it now and not have to spend more later.

Aha moment: 

“If you’ve never ridden an electric car, go do it! They’re really fun. The first time when we actually started test driving them was a 2016 Nissan Leaf. Boy, Is that easier to drive; more fun to drive! People were like, oh, Tesla’s are so fun! But all EVs are fun! You accelerate in seconds. They’re quiet.” – Vanessa Perkins

We had a project with some wheelchair accessible compressed natural gas taxis about a decade ago and actually heard from a gentleman who is confined to a wheelchair. He came into O’Hare with his wife, who was attending a conference. They were picked up in a wheelchair-accessible CNG vehicle, and they were both ecstatic about the green option for wheelchair vehicle mobility. The gentleman felt so great about having access to a green vehicle that while his wife was at the conference, he traveled all across the city in a clean vehicle that was able to transport him safely and cleanly.” – Samantha Bingham

Most Energized About:

“I’m just excited about the fact that EVs are also mobile batteries. My family is always going through power shut-offs in California from the fires. My aunts are very into the idea and are looking into getting an EV that can also work as a backup battery for their house.” – Vanessa Perkins

“A lot of the benefits we can get from EVs that we’re noticing now, like… the grid becoming more renewable, stabilization of the grid, and lowering prices for everyone, regardless of if you own an EV or not. I think a lot about Texas during that ice storm. And also passing my bill.” – Neda Deylami

“I am super energized about leadership here in Illinois on electric transportation; we have activities going on at the statewide level and the local level that are just all hands on deck supporting the electrification of everything from light-duty passenger vehicles, to mitigating diesel emissions through electric trucks and buses.” – Samantha Bingham

Parting Advice: 

“Get your butt in the seat of an EV. It’ll change your life.” – Samantha Bingham

“Listen to the people who have frontline experiences with the environmental issues that you’re trying to advocate for.” – Neda Deylami

“Invest in Illinois for what we’re doing with electric transportation and beneficial electrification in general.” – Vanessa Perkins

Connect:

Neda Deylami:  nedadeylami2@gmail.com 

Samantha Birmingham: sam@chicagocleancities.org 

Vanessa Perkins: vanessa.a.perkins@gmail.com 

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