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Electric Vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity in Palo Alto as owning, charging, and driving an EV in the region has become easier and convenient. Learn more through the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) frequently asked questions.
An EV uses an electric motor powered by electricity from batteries. These vehicles do not have an internal combustion engine like conventional vehicles that use gasoline or diesel fuel. EVs do not emit tail pipepollution or require oil changes. As a plus, the electricity provided in Palo Alto is carbon neutral, which means that in addition to your EV being emissions free, so is the energy used to fuel it!
Cheaper - EVs can be cheaper to drive than gasoline or diesel-powered cars as they need less maintenance and do not require oil changes or gas fueling. As gas prices continue to rise, EVs are quickly becoming a cheaper alternative for getting around. The cost of electricity to charge an EV is much lower than gas prices in California. EVs do not need oil changes, do not contain spark plugs, and overall have lesspart that need to be maintained or replaced. The US Department of Energy estimates that driving an EV costs about half as much as driving a gasoline fueled vehicle. Plus, federal and state incentives help lower the purchase price of EVs, often making them more affordable to buy than a new traditional gasoline-powered vehicle.
Convenient - EV owners claim that driving an EV is more convenient in that they don’t have to fuel up at gas stations, nor bring the vehicle in for oil changes and other engine maintenance as often as an internal engine vehicle. Having the ability to charge your car overnight, during the day at work, or while out running errands saves you time and money at the pump.
Fun - EV drivers say these vehicles are also more fun to drive as they are fast and smooth on acceleration.
Environmentally-friendly - Perhaps the most important benefit of EVs is the positive impact on the environment. Driving electric is an environmentally friendly alternative to driving a vehicle that relies on fossil fuel sources, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. The combustion of petroleum-based (fossil) fuels results in the release of noxious chemicals into the air, which create dangers to human health. These gases are also responsible for causing climate change, and pollute our air and waterways, endangering ecosystems and further aggravating harm to fish and wildlife species. With no tailpipe emissions or pollution, EVs are a better environmental choice to keep greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful contaminants out of our atmosphere, waterways. You can be an active participant in the fight against climate change by eliminating emissions from your transportation. Plus, in Palo Alto, electricity is carbon neutral, so the energy used to fuel your vehicle is also emissions free.
You may find these testimonials from EV drivers helpful.
Local agencies, the State of California and the Federal Government currently offer incentives for leasing or purchasing an EV. Some programs apply to all residents. Others are designed for low to moderate income households. Some programs are focused on getting older fossil fuel vehicles off the road, while others are incentives focusing on clean transportation including the use of public transportation. There are also limited time discounts from dealers. Rebates are also available for multi-family properties and non-profits interested in installing EV charging infrastructure. Please note that, these rebate programs change throughout the year and are subject to availability. We have attempted to summarize these offerings, but please check the websites of each of these organizations for the most up to date information.
ii. Workshops - the City offers workshops throughout the year to share information and resources with residents. We also partner with the Stanford Health Improvement Program on a series of “Is an EV Right for You?” panel discussions with local, long-time EV drivers and experts. This class is typically offered twice per year in the fall and spring.
Attend an upcoming workshop to learn about how you save save money on rooftop solar and EVs.
The City will continue to update information on its EV webpages about programs and resources available to help people go EV, such as through rebates or other incentives. Please feel free to call or email us anytime at (650) 329-2241 or email@example.com with questions about EVs and City programs.
There are over 40 different models of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on the market today with varying battery ranges. Plug in America offers an EV Shopping Assistant to help you find the right EV to meet your needs.
There are different types of EV chargers and knowing which one to use or understanding how fast it will charge your EV battery can be confusing. The length of time it takes to charge an EV depends on the type of EV and how well-charged your battery is when you plug in the car to begin charging. A full charge can range from 30 minutes to 12 hours, depending upon these factors. The length of charge will also depend on the size of the battery pack in the vehicle and the speed of the charging equipment.
EV chargers are commonly referred to as Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 (L1, L2, L3).
Different Types of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment
EV drivers tell us that for most commuters or multi-car households taking many short-distance trips, a 100-mile range that can usually be gained through one full charge is more than enough for daily commutes and errands. The larger battery capacities available in Teslas, Bolts and other new EV models have a higher mileage range and some feel that canalleviate anxiety around completing a longer single trip.
When driving an EV, the fear of running out of battery charge before reaching a destination can be unnerving. The uncertainty of being able to complete a trip before needing to charge has long been described as a key impediment to adopting an EV for many potential EV owners. This is often referred to as “range anxiety.” Accessibility and convenience of charging equipmentis essential. Luckily, there are many places to charge an EV and resources available to help you locate EV chargers. Most EV drivers charge their vehicles at home overnight, but if you are unable to charge at home, do not let that deter you. Many EV drivers who do not have access to charging equipment at home are able to find plenty of ways to charge their EV in public locations or at work.
EV charging at single family homes – For most homes, a Level 2 charger is sufficient and convenient to use. You will want to make sure that your home is wired to provide enough electrical capacity for your EV, as well as all other home appliances using electricity. Most Level 2 EV chargers will pull about 30 to 50 amps of current. If your home has a 100 amp electrical panel, you may need to upgrade to a 200 amp panel.
i. The City of Palo Alto has developed a streamlined permitting process to help homeowners upgrade their electrical panel.
i. To help make EVs a viable option for people who do not have easy access to a private garage or another area to charge an EV, CPAU offers a rebate of up to $18,000 for multifamily dwellings to install electric vehicle charging equipment. These funds can be used to install EV chargers in shared parking spaces, upgrade electrical services, and/or make a multi-unit parking garage EV ready for multiple EV chargers in the future. This can be a great benefit to your tenants and increase the value of living at your apartment, condominium or duplex building. Read more about Palo Alto’s EV Charger Rebate for multi-user facilities.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) offers grant funding for purchasing and installing publicly-available EV charging stations. Read more about the Air District's Charge! Program. Schools and non-profits are eligible to receive rebates from CPAU of up to $5,000 per EV Charger, for a total of up to $30,000. Multifamily & mixed-use properties can receive up to $3,000 per EV Charger from CPAU, for a total of up to $18,000. Read more about CPAU's rebates for EV Chargers.
11. How easy is it to charge my EV around town?
The City is attempting to make it as easy as possible for people to drive an EV in Palo Alto by installing EV charging stations at public facilities. There are currently seven L1 ports and 53 L2 ports located in public parking garages and at libraries throughout the City. The City plans to install at least a couple dozen more L2 chargers at public facilities as well as Superchargers.
Additionally, people who work in Palo Alto will find that a number of businesses offer free EV charging for employees and visitors.
14. What do I need to consider before purchasing & installing an EV Charger at home?
In order to install a home EV Charger, a permit from the City of Palo Alto is required. Follow the steps outlined on the EV Chargers for Home page.
At this time an EV or TOU rate plan is not available. All residential customers pay for their electricity at the E-1 rate. Any new CPAU rate options, programs, or adjustments are publicized through the Residential Rates page. Please note that CPAU's average electricity rate is still much lower than the average rates in neighboring communities with a TOU rate plan.
Yes. In fact, some industry groups estimate that within a few years, EVs will account for at least 25% of all new vehicle sales. This report on California’s continued electric vehicle market development states that “California has continued to see much faster uptake of electric vehicles than elsewhere in the United States and most other places around the world.” The report continues saying, “The California market—about 96,000 electric vehicle sales in 2017—accounts for half of the U.S. market, as well as nearly half of cumulative electric vehicle sales through 2017.”
As demand for EVs and EV charging continues to increase, we will see more and more charging infrastructure installed throughout the State of California and the United States. This helps further the ability for people to drive electric and not need to worry about the next place to charge up, even on long trips.
In April 2016, Palo Alto City Council unanimously adopted a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2030. This ambitious goal is 20 years ahead of the State of California’s 80 percent by 2050 target.
To help achieve these goals, the City created a Sustainability Implementation Plan and dedicated a portion of the plan to EVs. Powering transportation through EVs as opposed to traditional fossil fuel powered vehicles can significantly reduce GHG and climate pollution. The largest portion of Palo Alto’s GHG emissions are from road transportation. Palo Alto is actively encouraging residents and non-resident commuters to adopt EVs to help reduce its carbon footprint – through policies, incentives and by providing EV charging infrastructure. The City continues to prioritize its efforts to accelerate EV penetration for both EV drivers in Palo Alto as well as EV drivers who visit Palo Alto and require destination charging. The City strives to make “going EV” more convenient and economical than using fossil fueled vehicles.
21. Not all EVs work the same way and there are many different acronyms associated with EVs, which can lead to confusion. To take away the myth behinds EVs, here are some frequently used acronyms and what they mean:
• AEV or BEV – use electricity stored in on-board battery packs as their only fuel source and are some of the greenest cars available. Some popular models include: Tesla Model 3, X and S, BMWi3, Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric.
• ZEV – are AEV or BEV and also include electric bicycles, electric scooters, and fuel cell electric vehicles.