The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has completed a new website tool that can help city and state planners to prepare their communities for the arrival of plug-in electric vehicles. The website includes a collection of case studies in electric vehicle deployment collected by NREL, and documenting the early experiences of locations nationwide and leading the roll out of home-charging network implementation.

According to NREL, all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) hold extraordinary potential for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil; however, cities and states must have appropriate systems and infrastructure in place to accommodate the deployment of home-charging equipment before widespread adoption will be possible.

EV and PHEV technologies

As EV and PHEV technologies enter the consumer market on a large scale, cities, states and regional planning bodies will have to adapt appropriate systems and infrastructure. Credit: NAFTC

NREL developed the case studies and website as a part of the DOE’s Clean Cities initiative, a government-industry partnership of DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program. Clean Cities aims to reduce the amount of petroleum used in nationwide transportation through utilization of alternative fuel technologies like electrification. NREL’s newly compiled case study information can be found on Clean Cities’ Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) at

“The first-of-its-kind collection of information will prove invaluable to cities and regions that are getting ready for electric vehicles,” said Clean Cities Co-Director Linda Bluestein. “They can take advantage of the work done by early leaders, so no one will have to reinvent the electrically powered wheel.”

Cases documented by NREL on the new website include the State of Oregon; Raleigh, N.C.; Houston and Los Angeles. The case studies offer ideas for industry leaders and public officials in search of answers on questions regarding residential charger permitting procedures, tax incentives, regulator mechanisms, technical guidelines and equipment inspection requirements.

In the Oregon case, for example, manufacturers and public officials have teamed up with consumers to deploy charging equipment to 900 residents and 1,150 public locations. The NREL case study highlights Oregon’s step-by-step process for permitting, installation and inspection of home charging equipment. In addition, the case study provides a valuable resource of links to the legislation, regulations and reports involved in the Oregon case that other regions can use in their own communities.

The Los Angeles and Houston cases provide successful examples of electrification deployment in huge vehicle markets. In Los Angeles’ case, the city applied its existing online Express Permit system to electric vehicle supply equipment installations—streamlining the process. Houston follows a similar online system with its permits issued automatically through the Houston Code Enforcement Group and expedited inspections that can be performed the same day as installation.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the largest vehicle markets in the country and one of the four NREL case studies designed to provide community and state leaders with a blueprint for rolling out electric vehicles. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Other successful strategies from the four cases NREL compiled include incentives for plug-in vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment, infrastructure development, customer support, customer and stakeholder education and adoption of EV and PHEV fleet vehicles in the public sector. “EVs and PHEVs have the potential to transform transportation in our nation,” Bluestein said. “Preparation by municipalities, utilities, states and regions will determine how quickly and smoothly that transformation takes place.”

NREL and Clean Cities are hoping that the new case studies website will help community leaders pursue successful deployment strategies for electric vehicle technologies in other places as well.

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