Davis community considers expanding electric vehicle parking


Originally posted on The California Aggie

DAVIS — Davis community members gathered at River City Bank on Sept. 23 to discuss the possibility of increasing electric vehicle (EV) parking in Downtown Davis for both private and public parking. The meeting comes at a time when EV’s are becoming more popular and the demand for charging stations is increasing.

Speakers discussed the importance of having charging stations in Davis because of its reputation for being environmentally friendly. In 2008, the City of Davis adopted a climate action plan with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 27 percent of carbon emissions nationally.

Providing charging stations has the potential to encourage residents to drive EV’s and ultimately aid the goal of reaching carbon neutrality.

Gil Tal and Michael Nicholas, researchers with the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, have conducted research used to help determine the best way to implement EV parking in Downtown Davis.

“Basically we look at travel behavior and find out where people are and where they need to go,” Nicholas said. “With charging infrastructure, there is an extra element in getting people where they need to go because there’s a range issue. So that’s one of the things we are trying to solve with public charging.”

Similar to gas mileage, EVs can only drive as far as they have energy for. EV charging stations would be used by two categories of EV drivers: those who are charging so that they can extend their journey and those who are charging simply because the charging station is available.

“If [EV charging] is free, the users are not the people who really need it because if you need a parking spot, you will take it,” Tal said. “If its paid, the people who need it will take it. Then, it’s better for electric cars because if you need [a charge] to go back home you will buy the charge.”

Whether or not the charging stations in Davis will be free or paid is still being determined and would likely depend on the location of the charging stations as well as the type of charging stations.

Shelby Kelley, a CivicSpark Americorps member working for CoolDavis as their transportation field coordinator, explained that there are three types of charging stations. Level one charging stations perform the slowest charging option and are common in private homes where EV owners can charge their cars for a long period of time. Kelley states that it is also common for businesses to provide level one charging for employees who will be parked for the extent of their eight-hour work day. Level two charging stations take two to four hours to charge an EV while level three charging stations can perform an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

“From the feedback we got from the community, I think it will be a variety of charging types [in Davis],” Kelley said. “Using level one for people who will be parking longer…We will have level two and the fast charging stations as well. I think we will be recommending each of the types of charging for different spaces.”

Recommendations for the EV charging plan–including what kind, how many and where charging stations should be located–have been based on the research conducted by Tal and Nicholas.

“This is great because, as researchers, we are not doing the public participation part and engagement so it works really well from both sides, we learn from them, they learn from us,” Tal said. “It was a great opportunity for us to actually bring the expertise and the models that we use on a big scale to our hometown.”