Part 3 on creating EV charging infrastructure in La Conner
Skagit Valley Clean Energy Cooperative
November 8, 2023
The need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure will inevitably increase. People who don’t want EVs now because their initial cost is too high or their range is too low will re-evaluate that decision periodically. Some people will change their minds as EVs improve.
We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. When Japanese cars arrived in the U.S., only loony west coast liberals wanted them. Detroit’s Big Three laughed them off. Over the next 20 years, Japanese cars improved and reached quality parity at competitive prices. More and more Americans who had dismissed and ridiculed Japanese cars bought them.
EVs are following the same path. As I’ve explained, some EVs are already at total cost parity with comparable internal combustion engine vehicles over a ten-year expected life. It won’t be much longer before EVs also reach or exceed both first-cost and driving-range parity with ICE vehicles. The technology developments required have already happened. They just aren’t widely available and in mass production – yet.
Furthermore, the trend in electricity prices is likely to be flat because the cost of renewable generation systems is still falling fast. The overall trend of gasoline prices is up, because the easily-extracted, light, low-sulfur oil in easily accessed locations has already been pumped. Increased oil production can only happen using expensive technologies or in expensive, inaccessible locations.
Internal combustion engine cars will be on the road for decades, but more and more EVs will appear. A town that isn’t planning ahead for EV charging infrastructure is like a town in the middle of the transition from U.S. highways to interstate highways that isn’t planning to have an interstate exit.
For La Conner to remain a viable tourist location, it must have more EV charging stations. It’s essential to offer a mix of charging options, including Level 2 (more or less, 7 kilowatt) chargers for slower but more accessible charging and Level 3 (more or less, 50 kilowatt) fast chargers for quick refueling. Collaboration between local businesses, governments and utilities should be aimed at identifying locations for chargers and developing strategies to permit, fund and install them. We need to take advantage of near-term opportunities to secure state and federal funds to assist with both long-term and short-term planning and installation.
Not every parking space needs a charging station. Local EV owners won’t need many more than currently here. Local charging generally happens at home. However, places where people stay overnight need to have easy access to enough Level 2 chargers to enable guests to charge their vehicles overnight. The town as a whole has to prepare and install more public Level 2 chargers and to create at least one or two public parking locations with Level 3 chargers for visitors.
In developing infrastructure, more chargers will be required over the next 30 years. The chargers for the EVs expected in 2050 don’t need to be installed now, but locations for charging stations, considering factors like accessibility, visibility and safety, have to be identified. Integration of renewable energy sources during design (e.g., solar panel canopies to offer covered parking and some of the electricity for charging) have to be considered. It will be less expensive than incorporating energy sources after charging infrastructure has been built.