Charging Infrastructure Procurement and Installation

Infrastructure Development Checklist

  • Determine project scope, budget, funding mechanism, and timeline
  • Determine ideal project site, based on existing infrastructure and infrastructure needs
  • Determine the number, type(s), and costs of charging equipment needed, typically:
  • Decide whether the stations will need to be networked, including if utilization data will be collected and if payment capabilities are necessary
  • Determine if a formal solicitation is needed
  • Choose a network and/or charging infrastructure manufacturer and provider
  • Identify installation needs and costs, including upgrades to electrical wiring, and find a certified electrical contractor
  • Obtain required permits
  • Determine additional site needs, including signage and security
  • Identify project partners, including electric utilities and Clean Cities coalitions
  • Assess charging infrastructure maintenance and operation needs and costs
  • Confirm the station is included in the AFDC Alternative Fueling Station Locator

A variety of options for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) exist, thereby creating a multifaceted infrastructure procurement process. In addition to fueling infrastructure considerations like cost, regulations, safety, siting, and type of equipment, installing EVSE can involve complex payment structures, data collection, ownership models, parking, and signage requirements. Some organizations may also need to issue a formal solicitation, such as a request for proposal (RFP). See the Infrastructure Development Checklist for important factors to consider when selecting and procuring charging infrastructure.

For examples of how other organizations have completed the charging infrastructure procurement process, see the following case studies.

Identify the Need

An initial action in the charging infrastructure procurement process is to identify potential users (i.e., plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers). It is important to understand their expected charging needs based on travel patterns, PEV ownership, amount of time it may take to charge the vehicle battery, and the number and type of PEVs expected to be served at each location. This type of information can help better determine the number and type of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) required for the project.

The EVI-Pro Lite tool can also provide an informed estimate of the quantity and type of EVSE necessary to support regional adoption of electric vehicles by state or city/urban area.

Cost Considerations

Another important consideration is to determine the cost associated with the required charging needs. This includes equipment, installation, and operation and maintenance (including electricity, demand charges, and any annual charging network fees).

Equipment

Equipment costs may vary based on factors such as application, location, charging level, and type. Single connector unit costs range from $300 to $1,500 for Level 1, $400 to $6,500 for Level 2, and $10,000 to $40,000 for DC fast charging. When choosing EVSE, consider available features such as networking capabilities, theft deterrence options, output power rating (in kilowatts), number of connectors, and operation and maintenance considerations (e.g., payment and data collection capabilities). Ensure that the features chosen also align with anticipated needs and budget.

Networking

Networked EVSE are connected to the internet and send data, such as information on frequency of use, to a network services provider (i.e., charging network) and the site host. Networked EVSE allow site hosts to offer radio-frequency identification (RFID), smart phone, or credit card payment; monitor and analyze use; and provide customer support. By selecting EVSE with hardware that uses the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) version 1.6 or higher, which physically separates the appliance aspects of the EVSE from the network backend component, the site host can easily switch charging networks without expensive equipment upgrades. This prevents stranded assets by allowing any network the ability to operate the equipment in the event that a site host decides to switch charging networks, or the existing provider no longer offers charging. OCPP is the industry standard for open access. For more information on open access, see the Open Charge Alliance.

Non-networked EVSE are not connected to the internet and provide basic charging capabilities without advanced utilization monitoring or payment capabilities. To install a networked station, the site must have access to a wired or wireless internet connection or cellular service.

Installation

Installation costs can vary based on factors including the number and type of EVSE, geographic location, site location and required trenching, existing wiring and required electrical upgrades to accommodate existing and future needs, labor costs, and permitting. Based on these factors, installation costs can range from up to $3,000 for Level 1, $600 to $12,700 for Level 2, and $4,000 to $51,000 for DC fast charging. Local permitting and inspection fees may also apply (see Other Considerations section).

Federal, state, and local incentives may be available to offset costs. For more information on EVSE cost considerations, see a report on the Costs Associated with Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.

Other Considerations

The process of procuring charging infrastructure includes many other considerations, including compliance, permitting, ownership, signage, markings, and more.

Compliance, Permitting, and Inspection

When choosing EVSE, ensure that the manufacturer has complied with certification requirements, including testing the product with a certified testing body. EVSE should also be compliant with SAE International standards, such as SAE J1772. Also, check for other optional certifications that may be of interest, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program.

Charging station installations must comply with local, state, and national codes and regulations, and be completed by a licensed electrical contractor. To find licensed electrical contractors trained in charging station installation, see the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program website, or consult with project partners, including charging station manufacturers and utilities.

An electrical contractor should be aware of the relevant codes and standards and obtain a permit from the local building authorities before installing EVSE. Additional time may be needed, as the permitting process could require a site installation plan, and approval from fire, environmental, or electrical inspection entities.

Ownership

Charging station ownership typically falls into one of two categories: site host-owned or third party-owned (e.g., owned by a charging network), though there are other possible arrangements. EVSE owned by the site host are purchased, installed, and maintained by the site host, which allows for full control over the station and the ability to keep all revenue from the station (if applicable). In this scenario, site hosts are responsible for all associated costs, including any maintenance or payment transaction fees. EVSE owned by a third party are installed and maintained by the third party, which minimizes responsibility to the site host. In some cases, the site host may also earn revenue by leasing the space occupied by the EVSE to the third party.

Signage, Markings, and Other Site Considerations

When installing EVSE, consider the signage and pavement markings that may be necessary to help inform drivers. Other considerations, such as installing the EVSE in a convenient location, lighting, and minimizing vandalism by using preventive strategies (e.g., motion detectors, anti-vandalism hardware). Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements should also be taken under advisement.

Utilities and Other Partners

The number of PEVs on the roads has grown significantly in recent years, with sales up 85% in 2018 according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. Because of this, utilities play an important role in sustaining the projected future growth of EVSE and managing the potential strain that charging stations can have on the electrical grid. Utilities can mitigate grid impacts by offering managed charging (also called smart charging). This allows a utility to remotely control PEV charging by increasing, decreasing, or turning off charging to help meet the needs of the grid. In addition, utilities can offer incentives or unique ownership models for EVSE equipment and installation.

During the planning and procurement process, site hosts may also choose to engage their local Clean Cities coalition, PEV dealerships, and state and local governments for advisement.

Formal Solicitations

Depending on the site host organization’s procurement requirements, a formal solicitation process may be needed to purchase and install EVSE. Each of the considerations above, as well as operation and maintenance issues, can be included in the solicitation. For information on EVSE requests for proposal, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guidance in Procurement of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.