New Yorkers are known for their love and dependence on their automobiles. However, the automobile industry is changing so rapidly – the supporting industries may not be up to speed.
Statistics from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) show that in 2018 New York State was accommodating more than 30,000 plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) and has plans for up to 1 million by 2025 through Charge NY (New York State’s Initiative to get more electric cars and trucks on the road). According to a recent study by BloombergNEF, in the United States, “Over 2 million electric vehicles were sold in 2018, up from just a few thousand in 2010… We expect annual passenger EV sales to rise to 10 million in 2025, 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040.” As electric vehicle use continues to spread, the demand for charging stations is growing exponentially.
With the number of electric car owners growing so quickly, the electric charging stations may not develop fast enough. We think running out of battery charge on your phone is a problem- how are we going to handle running out of charge on your vehicle? Electric vehicle charging stations may be a great way for companies to attract new customers and to accommodate workers and tenants that will make the change to EVs on their own. Charging stations also keep customers at a location for longer periods, increasing their visits and time spent shopping and eating. They can also provide a great benefit to employees and building tenants, as most charging stations are provided as a free amenity. Conversely, there is also a potential to generate revenue for per-charge pricing. Currently, most EV charging stations at shops and hotels offer free charging to customers, but many also serve to generate revenue from their use. Additionally, installing charging stations increases a company’s reputation as an environmental steward, as you can attract employees and customers simply by the fact that you are a company considering sustainable solutions.
Over the next ten years, we will be seeing charging stations popping up everywhere. We will start seeing them at every office building, every school, every parking lot, every apartment complex, every retail store. Maybe it is time to start planning for this big change.
Once the decision has been made to install an EV charging station, what are the next steps to consider? Decide on owning and managing the charging station or having a 3rd party own and maintain the charging station. Site owners should think about how much usage they can expect to have. Once you have predicted the amount of usage your location could get, the next step is to determine what level of EV charging station you should install. The requirements of your facility will determine this.
There are 3 typical charging levels used in charging electric cars. Every electric car can be charged with level 1 and level 2 stations. However, level 3 charges (DCFC) which are fast charging stations are more powerful than 1 and 2 stations. Not all vehicles can charge at level 3 EV stations.
Many charging manufacturers offer the option to buy a subscription that will maintain the equipment, can collect payments from users and limit use of your station to members if so desired. These stations will be listed on the manufacturer’s network map for drivers. You may be able to obtain a lease option from some manufacturers, third-party charging station service providers, and network providers. Level 2 charging stations have been the option of choice to date because of the lower cost to install over a Level 3 system, but as more and more EVs hit the road, users are looking for a faster way to charge, and the Level 3 chargers are preferred. Most manufacturers charging stations are either wall-mounted or are on a stand-alone pedestal units. They will either have a single or double charging port per station.
In 2018, Tesla, the largest manufacturer of EVs in the US, launched a Workplace Charging program. In this program, Tesla offers free charging stations to businesses such as restaurants, and hotels who in return pay for the cost of the electricity. The drawback to this program however, is only Teslas can charge at these specialty EV charging stations.
Any site that is considering installing a charging station should perform an electrical load analysis and determine if there is excess capacity to add stations. Here’s where an experienced electrical engineer is useful. They can determine the limits of your current electrical supply and what would be needed if you decide to upgrade.
Location of stations is also significant. It is most advantageous to have the least distance possible between the electric panel and the charging station. Preferred parking locations will increase usage and satisfaction. Consider lighting for the location for safety concerns, as many will use the charging station during evening hours. Locating a charging station in the back of a building, or in an area that users may not feel safe, may deter usage. Also, consider pavement cleaning and snow plowing paths when choosing a location for your station so that you do not block access to the station.
Cost of equipment varies significantly based on the requirements you have and the current electrical infrastructure. Equipment for a level 2 charger can cost between $2,000 and $5,000. Installation of Level 2 chargers can be the largest component of the cost and varies between $4,000 and $7,000. If the charger is in a public parking garage, the installation cost will be less than a curbside installation as the charger can be wall mounted and routing of cabling can be reduced and shortened. A Level 3 or fast charging station is usually installed through EV charging station networks and can cost more than $50,000 to install, however that cost is quickly coming down as more and more are installed. The main reason for this increased cost is both the equipment and installation. The installation may require a 480V transformer and the electrician labor hours can be in excess of 80 hours.
The good news is that most states offer incentives, discounts, and rebates for installation of charging stations. Below are a few offered by the State of New York as well as services that H2M architects and engineers can offer:
Charge Ready NY
Through this program, NYSERDA offers rebates $4,000 per charging station for Level 2 stations that are installed at public, workplace or multi-unit parking lots.
New York State Tax Credit
You can receive an income tax credit of up to $5,000 for purchase and installation of an electric vehicle charging station as available until the end 2022.
NYSDEC Municipal Rebate Program
This program provides rebates for any costs with the purchase or lease (must be at least 36 months) for installation of infrastructure that supports public use of clean vehicles. The primary goal must be charging or fueling of clean vehicles by the public.
Noting that the rebate/tax credit programs have limited periods to apply – it may be time to consider installing one of these charging stations.
H2M is available to assist with grant applications and submittals, site plan and parking stall placement options, electrical engineering, installation administration and inspection services.
For more information, call:
Ernest V. Iannucci, PE LEED AP BD+C
Discipline Director, MEP