Beverly Hills Charger Update  



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Sunday Febuary 3, 2019 Beverly Hills Charger Update On April 2, 2018 the City of Beverly Hills modified their charger rules to ban Plug-in Hybrids from charging at the city owned stations and also changed the pricing policy from free to 25 cents per kilowatt hour with a station fee of $6.00 per hour that kicks in after 2 hours.  I recommended at the time that the City dropped the ban on plug-in hybrids but kept the pricing in place.


Starting just before the new year Beverly Hills actually did what I suggested, although I'm sure my blog had no influence on the decision.  What caused the change was California state bill SB 1000.  This bill recognizes that the reason for public charging is to maximize electric vehicle miles driven not to provide a life raft for BEV owners.  What it did was to make it illegal to ban PHEVs from chargers that were funded by public funds. 


Beverly Hills staff did a review and found that about half of their chargers fell under this rule.  The council made a wise decision and opted to allow PHEV charging at all the cities chargers, feeling that it would be too confusing to have some chargers accessible and others not.  While Plug-in hybrids can now charge again at city lots they did say that if too many PHEVs came back to using the chargers then they would adjust the station fees to price them out.


When they first started banning PHEVs charger utilization dropped dramatically.  It wasn't just Plug-in Hybrids that were not using the chargers but the pricing also drove many pure electric cars away also.  This tells me that the people complaining most about not being able to use the chargers probably thought they were more entitled to a free charge than PHEV drivers were.  Since the ban was lifted I haven't seen much of an increase in charger utilization.


Yesterday I took the opportunity to  charge at the Beverly Hills Library while having lunch at Kelly's Coffee which is part of the Library complex.  I like to charge there because the library complex has a large solar array so you are basically charging on solar energy.  When I arrived there was a Porsche Cayenne S e-hybrid charging there.  I plugged in at the other charger and went for lunch.  When I came back the Porsche had gone but this had been replaced by a Pacifica Hybrid and a Fusion Energi charging was also charging there so three of the four connectors (2 per charger) were in use.


That is the busiest I have seen a group of 4 chargers at a Beverly Hills facility since they banned PHEVs back in April.  I hope that if PHEVs do start to make more use of the chargers that the city considers the best benefits to the environment before doing something dumb like pricing out PHEVs from the chargers as this will also discourage many BEV drivers from charging too.  There first step is to give some training to their parking enforcement officers about how to handle the charging spaces.


Before the ban I had complained several times about the rules for the chargers not being enforced and this is still happening.  I often see Plug-in cars, most often Teslas, parked in the charging spots but not connected to the charger.  Since the chargers are not getting used much anymore I am also seeing an increase in the number of times the chargers are ICED.  On at least 2 occasions since the start of the year I have seen traffic enforcement drive past illegally parked cars and not even look to see if they are charging.


I said a long time ago that free charging would eventually go away and I see that this is beginning to happen.  Santa Monica is now considering pricing their chargers but they are also planning on adding a whole lot more chargers around the city.  The addition of charging fees also puts pressure on other sites that still have free parking so sites like those served with Voltec chargers are becoming much more heavily utilized.  It is now quite difficult to drive down to the ones around West LA and find one that is not in use.


The thing about pricing is that it makes the chargers available to those that really need to charge but it becomes counter productive if the cost is too great.  The Beverly Hills chargers work out at the equivalent to me of gas at $2.50 per gallon so it is cheaper to charge than to pump gas.  The chargers at Century City Shopping Center are the equivalent for me to $5.50 per gallon of gas so it is cheaper to fill up the tank.  I'm an outlier as I can only charge at 2.4 KW which makes station charges very expensive, but when setting prices Cities still need to make sure that they don't make them too expensive that everyone continues to use gas.


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