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Palo Alto embraces new laws to promote electric vehicles

Original post made on Sep 24, 2013

Seeking to cement Palo Alto's position in the driver's seat of the electric-vehicle revolution, city officials on Monday adopted a policy mandating that every new house be wired to accommodate charging stations.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 9:54 AM

Comments (43)

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:18 am

Until every gas station in PA has a Quick charger it is all just hot air! Come on folks, fix it. Any dealer who sells an EV should also have one or 2 or 3.


Posted by Palo-Alto-Runs-Amuk-Again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:22 am

Yawn!


Posted by pragmatic, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:36 am

Another example of ill executed good intentions.
We burden the already burdened. We should be requiring business to provide charging stations. They get all the tax breaks, benefit from our progress but never share the burden.

Business should participate more in the burden of health care, education and items like these. Where is your common sense.

I would rather you require everyhouse to have a solar energy inverter are require the utilities to buy back at the rates when the electricity excess is provided to the grid. Net - get your priorities straight vs the political grand-standing. Who cares if we are first or second.


Posted by etalors, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

maybe the reason solar energy inverters are not required is because it competes with City of Palo Alto Utilities, the golden goose/cash cow and probably funder of 90% pensions & life time health benefits?


Posted by More Pragmatic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:59 am

If businesses have to provide us with free EV charging, health care, cooking, cleaning, massage, tax advice, and free you-name-it, they will simply move elsewhere. That's why Amazon and Microsoft are based in Washington state (no income tax).


Posted by EV Lady, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

I have an EV and don't have trouble finding places to charge. The car dealerships have stations; City of PA/MP/RW and MV all have free stations; Try Walmart, Safeway etc...all free stations.

Perhaps before you say "get a grip" and make snide comments you should review where you can charge your car. Not to mention, charging your car at home is also a good thing to do..and a lot cheaper than buying gas...

So look at the facts before saying it's not worth it.

City Council, you have my vote...keep it up and build more stations and encourage more cars...these same lame arguments came about when solar power first started, now look what's happening...

There are always nay sayers in the world of "let's not change".


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

"That's why Amazon and Microsoft are based in Washington state (no income tax)."
I don't think so. Bill Gates family has deep roots in Seattle - it's natural that he would settle there.
Jeff Bezos didn't start Amazon in Washington because it had no income tax but instead, to quote from Wikipedia, "because its relatively small population meant fewer of his future customers would have to pay sales tax.[11]"


Posted by Bob , a resident of Community Center
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

What will this council think of next? Busy work. Things that look good on a resume for Board of Supervisors, the State Assembly, or the Senate or get the approval of the developers and builders who seem to hide under every brick.


Posted by Chuck, a resident of Triple El
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

An obvious place to start is to add additional chargers to the city parking garages. They are almost always occupied, indicating that demand far exceeds supply. And it is a solution totally under the city's control to implement.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Mandating how a house is built to promote a specific unrelated business is wrong. I doubt there was any careful thought and study given to the future of electric vehicles in Palo Alto. This appears to be another requirement someone wants to impose on other people. Providing incentives for a change that appears beneficial is better than making it a requirement when the benefits are not understood.

If home network wiring were required in the early days of the internet, imagine how much cabling would be made irrelevant because of wireless networks. Should compact fluorescent lights be required or LED lights? Don't create requirements telling how to meet the goals.

How many people park a car in their garage? How easy is it to park a car downtown let alone at one of a dozen specific spots? If reducing emissions or energy consumption is the goal, have policies directly addressing that. Maybe all new home buyers should be required to buy an electric bicycle.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I see several problems with this MANDATE:

Your electrical grid needs to be able to handle the load of hundreds of vehicles which have to be charged overnight. Overnight loads are much smaller now, with the ability to work and provide maintenance for the grid at night. That goes away.

It will be harder to manage the load with " smart meter " choices.

The same problems PV " off the grid " systems apply: Do I do the laundry or charge the car.....or you can have the original SOLAR POWERED CLOTHES DRYER, those ( Palo Alto declared UGLY ) clotheslines

The handicapped have dealt with these issues for years..planning trips around the battery charge of their electric mobility systems. I myself have an electric recumbent trike.

Where were the compassionate people in P.A. then?

You see, the handicapped have had to deal with this issue for a long time. Now that the GENERAL PUBLIC is forced to deal with this issue, some impractical solutions appear.

Maybe you are going to consult with people who have already found solutions...but remain " invisible " to P.A. government types.

Oh, yeah: I'm trained in being able to work with " alternate energy systems " and know the real ROI on investments and the REAL " Save The Earth " benefits they bring.


Posted by When and If, a resident of Stanford
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

When and if charging stations are as commonplace as gas stations, when and if an electric car can be charged in less than ten minutes instead of eight hours, when and if an electric car does not weigh 10,000 lbs, when and if an electric battery has a range of 300 miles or better ( like a gas engine), and when and if a car battery becomes non-toxic when disposed of.......then I will buy an electric car.

It would help if the price.were more accessible to far more people, too. Perhaps that will come in the near future? And what about the sources of electricity? Many are unclean.

It would very helpful if Palo Alto discounted electric rates for car chargers, like Berkeley and Santa Monica do.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Before the City imposes this rule on new homes, it should impose it on ITSELF. Even new City & PAUSD building should have charging stations!
And Solar Photovoltaics as well.


Posted by MT, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Seems like the city puts a burden on home owners to build a feature that won't be used in most homes. Even if EVs will be more common our current generation and distribution capacity will not be able to support them. Another example of feel-good overreach by the city.


Posted by DougMcK, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Bravo Mayor Sharff, Vice Mayor Shepherd, City Council and Sven. Especially Sven, who convinced me to get an electric car (Leaf) which is very cheap and terrific fun to drive, very clean (thanks to Palo Alto electricity which is very clean), and has all kinds of incidental benefits (no oil change, always has a "full tank" in the morning, never have to go to the gas station, great torque, regenerative brakes).

It would be great to have a LOT more quick charging stations, but they'll come.

After EV batteries are used up for driving, they still are excellent for and could have a long life for energy storage, a great complement to rooftop solar. That's out into the future a little while, but it's coming too.


Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm

The unstated presumption here is that everyone is Palo Alto with a house drives a car. That's simply not true now, and in the future it's likely to be less so.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The argument of the proponents of this requirement are:
1) It is incredibly inexpensive, almost free, to do at time of construction.
2) It has high value to potential purchasers of the house.
3) With rapidly increasing electric vehicle use in Palo Alto, it is very important to many of those potential purchasers.

Consequently, it would seem that builders would be doing this out of self-interest, without the need for any ordinance. But apparently they aren't. I missed part of the discussion, but I didn't hear any explanation of this.

What I did hear was examples of not just "Ready, Fire, Aim", but even worse simply random "Fire". For example from the article: "It's incumbent for us to find out what are the obstacles to owning electric vehicles and to get rid of those obstacles," Scharff said.


Posted by carla carvalho, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I just (august 2013) installed Solar Panels and an EV charger and I can tell you the city did NOT make it easy. I agree, what about the businesses and their obligation? Further, I will add that the Solar Incentive rebate has recently (july or Aug 2013) been REDUCED, so putting a charger complemented by Solar Panels is actually being De-incentivised.

Someone please tell me how to go about getting a movement going to make such enforcement required for commercial properties too? (I'm not of the political slant, so I need some help here.....)


Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm

power outage city-- don't want to live where too many people have electric cars


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm

"Seeking to cement Palo Alto's position in the driver's seat of the electric-vehicle revolution, city officials on Monday adopted a policy mandating that every new house be wired to accommodate charging "
What a ridiculous statement. Does gennady actually proof his writing or is so consumed with being cheerleader for the council and their misguided efforts? I can understand why gennady is stuck working at the weekly.

This whole thing is another feel good measure being pushed by the council. Instead of dealing with local issues and problems, they think they need to show the world how it is done. What a joke.

""It's incumbent for us to find out what are the obstacles to owning electric vehicles and to get rid of those obstacles," Scharff said."
And here we go again-- our clueless council members treating us like idiots by trying to tell us what we should be doing and not doing. The egos and self centered attitudes of these people is amazing. Perhaps someone should give Scharf a dollar so he can buy a clue!!!


Posted by Palo-Alto-Runs-Amuck-Again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

> Someone please tell me how to go about getting a movement going
> to make such enforcement required for commercial properties too?

You might want to think about for a bit. Are you suggesting that, for instance, every stall in a City-owned/built/managed parking structure come with a charging station?

Are you suggesting that all new commercial properties that provide parkng come with a charging station?

Who should pay for the costs of these charging stations?

Who should pay for the power to charge people's vehicles?

Mull over these basic points, and let us know what you're really thinking about.


Posted by Drano, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Think of the drain on the Power grid if even 50% of the population had electric vehicles!


Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Well that was stupid. I don't see myself buying a "all electric" car any time in the near or far future. Maybe a hybrid, but not an all electric. Hey, how's that awful parking situation going in dtpa? Oh wait... we're busy installing stupid electric chargers in new homes that no one will use.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

It seems the council is buying the hype, and very short on facts; the article says:

"Scharff framed the latest efforts to encourage electric vehicles as part of a broader drive to promote environmental sustainability. He called electric vehicles "the wave of the future" and lamented the fact that Palo Alto, despite having legions of electric vehicles, doesn't have too many charging stations. The ones that exist, he noted, are often occupied."

What is a "legion" of electric vehicles? is it 100, 1000, 10,000? I'm guessing that residents own around 40,000 - 45,000 cars. On my block, no one owns an electric vehicle.

And how does this help any resident? by definition, a resident already lives here in an existing housing unit; and this law is only for anyone who might move here into a "new house". And few, if any would move to a new house just to get an electric charging station.

When I look at what's parked at "new houses" costing multiple millions of dollars, I see upper end Mercedes, BMWs, SUVs. I haven't seen an electric car yet in driveway.

So what I get from the council passing this law is it is resume padding, to earn points for getting an endorsement from special interest groups. It's not meant to help the people who already live in Palo Alto.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@carla carvalho and other who (rightly) complain about the cost and complexity of permits for solar, EV, ...

This is a persistent problem in Palo Alto. When I moved here in 1986, there was an 8+ month wait to get a permit to install a(nother) skylight, which I decided against because it was recommended that I re-roof before winter.

Although Councils and City Managers have been promising to fix these problems for decades, Palo Alto voters elect Council members who are going to focus on little things like this (what I refer to as "hobbies and causes") and let the underlying problems fester.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

So someone who commutes to work in Palo Alto using an electric vehicle can just come over to your house to charge up while at work?!?! Seems like the best places to require charging stations would be commercial buildings, public parking lots, and CalTrain stations.


Posted by Diogenes, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

All new homes have to be wired for electric vehicles? Try a Chevy Volt; it comes with a 120V charger that plugs into any standard outlet. Virtually all garages already have those.

Maybe if typical Palo Altoans weren't so hung up on Leafs and Teslas the City could attend to more important matters..............

Geez - your government at "work"...............


Posted by Marvin, a resident of Portola Valley
on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I think this is a great idea! Plus, it is only the pre- wire, not the charging unit. I just did a remodel and I pre-wire my home for this and other things like 220 outlets in the kitchen and garage.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Common Sense,

Actually, there was a massive remodel on my street and, yes, the owner put in a charging station for his fancy electric car. Teslas are now reported to be the third-best selling luxury cars in the state and the Bay Area's electric car central.

I really don't see the prewire as such a big deal--and this sort of thing is totally in keeping with the various building codes in the city. Ever checked out the rules on fence heights?


Posted by yawn, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

While this may ultimately be beneficial to future drivers, to mandate it is silly. Why not mandate that those same homes be built to be ready for the wonders of Palo Alto Dark Fiber? or why not have new roofs be equipped with solar panel mounts, or a rain water cistern buried in every yard if landscaping is done, and the list goes on.

So, while city council strokes it's ego, parking has not improved, congestion has not improved, developers still get massive variances for over sized developments, Mitchell Park Library is still closed, and so on.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm

OPar,

In 2012, there were an estimated 1,500,000 new cars sold in California. In the first 6 months of 2013, Telsa sold 4,000 cars in California.

So tell me again how this law benefits the current residents?

As other posters have asked - has it paved more streets? eased traffic congestion? solved the parking situation?



Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Another action the city council should take is to mandate "time-of-day" metering for everyone.


Posted by carla carvalho, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Regarding Palo-Alto-Runs-Amuck-Again's (what's your real name again?) comments, "what I'm really thinking about" is pretty much what I said (grab your thesaurus if still confused): that the burden should equally be distributed among residential and commercial properties. No, there's no need for "every stall" in a commercial property to have an EV charger. There's experts out there who spend lots of time learning how to assess usage ratios/fuel burden, etc, which is what would be used to come up with exact numbers for commercial properties. If a business is deducting 25,000 miles a year on taxes for miles driven during work then they can put more charging stations in than a bakery using only bicycles for deliveries. And yes, the businesses themselves can pay....just like I can. Last time I checked, big business in PA wasn't exactly using their fossil fuel-powered vehicles to drive to bankruptcy court.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Common Sense,

Why does it have to benefit "current residents"? Houses are built for the long term. Tesla's not the only electric car maker. The big things holding up electric cars are price and readily available places for charging. Already a $70K Tesla is cheaper than the earlier $200K Tesla. Also Tesla's making batteries for more mainstream manufacturers.

This isn't an expensive requirement--$200 is peanuts on a house that will sell for a million-plus. And it sounds like it's substantially easier to do at the time of building than retroactively.


Posted by PHK, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

unless every household installed some gigantic solar panels that stores & supply enough energy for EV, there is nothing green about EV in terms of energy.

energy has to come from somewhere.
EV just shifts the fuel source + possible contamination upstream; it wastes more energy (cause it has to be converted multiple times).

EV is cleaner & quieter, that is for sure.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

The claims that there is nothing green about EV in terms of energy are simply not true.

1. Power stations are significantly more efficient than internal combustion engines in burning energy. A very large percentage of the gasoline in a conventional car is actually wasted.

2. Many EV owners already have, or plan on having solar panels. I personally have solar panels as well as a Tesla and I'm actually producing clean energy which I put back into the grid.


Posted by Utility loopholes, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Many utility companies are actively looking for loopholes to avoid buying back excess power generated by wind and by solar panels. PGand E and their history of corruption will probably be the next one to do so. Unless the government puts a stop to them doing so, utility companies will find a way to sabotage alternative energy and green energy. Apparently, Con Edison has done it, according to the NY Times.


Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I'm so sick of this catering to electric vehicles. Now, in addition to more handicapped parking spaces that can ever be really used, there are tons of electric vehicles spaces we can't use. Like at the new Safeway. People with little income, such as myself, cannot afford new cars. And, where are my rewards? I have never had a car that gets under 30 miles to the gallon on the highway? But now my car (gets 37 miles to the gallon on highway) has no perks at all but the rich just keep getting all the bennies. Many of them (older ones) are the ones who had gas guzzlers the forty years I was trying VW bugs. Regarding businesses providing charging stations, who pays for that? With each extra charge for business, it is just passed on to us. The TESLA station at Molly Stones says one hour free. Is that MS giving it or TESLA?


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Hydrogen powered cars are another up and coming technology for fueling
autos.

Web Link

The city council is rather uninformed about the different technologies, and total environmental impacts each one poses. They should not be supporting one technology over others.


Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

Chris C, you no doubt have noticed how in the us of a, the rich are the ones catered to. It's set in stone.


Posted by EV llama, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:05 am

This is terrible.. Why not embrace a useful technology like solar panels.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

Um, both the state and the city offer PV rebates when you install panels at your home. What else do you need?


Posted by peter huffton, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

So let's ALL buy electric cars and see how long Sven Thesen continues to offer "free electricity" when all of PA is using only solar and wind sources - at $23 and $24 per megawatt respectively!

After all, it is going to be my generation who will be stuck with the bill for this foolishness!


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