Charging Infrastructure Procurement and Installation
Infrastructure Development Checklist
- Determine project scope, budget, funding mechanism, and timeline using the following considerations
- 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 (EV) charging infrastructure exist, thereby creating a multifaceted infrastructure procurement process. The site host’s specific characteristics and goals, such as utilization, equity, and environmental justice considerations, can also influence the process. Installing charging infrastructure can involve complex payment structures, data collection, ownership models, parking, and signage requirements, in addition to typical infrastructure considerations like cost, regulations, safety, efficiency, siting, and type of equipment. 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, approached decision making, and implemented charging infrastructure, see the following case studies.
- Public Charging Procurement Case Study: Colorado Energy Office: EV Fast-Charging Corridor Grant Program
- Multi-Unit Dwelling Charging Procurement Case Study: Green Rock Apartments
Identify the Need
The first step when planning to procure and install charging infrastructure is to consider your community members. It is important to understand their expected charging needs based on travel patterns, EV ownership, amount of time it may take to charge the vehicle battery, and the number and type of EVs expected to be served at each location. This type of information can help better determine the number and type of charging infrastructure required for the project. The California Energy Commission’s Electric Vehicle Charger Selection Guide offers an overview of the considerations for making a charger purchase.
The EVI-Pro Lite tool can also provide an informed estimate of the quantity and type of charging infrastructure necessary to support regional adoption of electric vehicles by state or city/urban area.
Ensuring equitable access to EV charging is an important consideration when planning infrastructure development. Low-income and underserved communities are typically exposed to a higher proportion of environmental hazards and EV charging infrastructure can make it easier to encourage EV adoption as a strategy to reduce those impacts.
It is important to design charging infrastructure projects alongside a diverse set of community members. This provides local context that ensures appropriate charging solutions for the area. For example, a high-density urban area with multifamily housing might benefit from level 2 curbside charging, while a more rural community may not have on-street parking and would benefit instead from centralized fast charging.
The following resources provide guidance for incorporating community engagement and energy and environmental justice goals:
- Removing Barriers to Electric Vehicle Adoption by Increasing Access to Charging Infrastructure
- Electric Vehicles (EVs) for All: Electrifying Transportation In Low-Income Communities
- Expanding Equitable Access to Electric Vehicle Mobility
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). The EV Charging Calculator, part of Argonne National Laboratory’s Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation AFLEET Tool can be a useful reference to estimate energy consumption and emission impacts of charging infrastructure.
Equipment costs will vary based on factors such as application, location, charging level, and type. When choosing charging infrastructure, features to consider include: networking capabilities, theft deterrence, output power rating (in kilowatts), number and type of connectors, number of vehicles that can simultaneously charge, and operation and maintenance (e.g., payment and data collection capabilities). Ensure that the features chosen also align with anticipated needs and budget. Charger costs for residential use vary from $700 to $900 for a Level 1 charger and $1,400 to $4,100 for a Level 2 charger, with higher costs for apartments, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation’s review of charging infrastructure costs across major U.S. metropolitan areas. This review also showed that public and workplace costs per charger range from $596 to $813 for Level 1, $938 to $3,127 for Level 2, and $28,400 to $140,000 for DC fast, with higher costs for networked stations and for pedestals with one charger as opposed to two chargers.
Installation costs can vary based on factors including the number and type of charging infrastructure, geographic location, site location and required trenching, existing wiring and required electrical upgrades to accommodate existing and future charging needs, labor costs, and permitting. Based on these factors, charger installation costs for residential use vary from $400 to 600 for a Level 1 charger and $680 to $3,300 for a Level 2 charger, with higher costs for installations in apartments, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation’s review of charging infrastructure costs. Public and workplace installation costs per charger average around $3,000 for Level 2, with costs varying up to 50% depending on location and number of chargers installed at each site. Similarly, DC fast installation costs can range anywhere from $18,000 to $66,000 depending on charger power and number of installed chargers per site. The data show that labor is the largest expense in a typical installation, and the per-charger cost goes down significantly for larger installations.
Federal, state, local, and utility incentives may be available to offset installation costs. For more information on charging infrastructure cost considerations, see reports on the Costs Associated with Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment and Reducing EV Charging Infrastructure Costs.
Networked charging infrastructure is connected to the internet and can send data, such as information on frequency of use, to a network services provider (i.e., charging network) and the site host. Networked charging infrastructure allows site hosts to offer radio-frequency identification (RFID), smart phone, or credit card payment; monitor and analyze use; and provide customer support. By selecting charging infrastructure with hardware that uses the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) version 1.6 or higher, which physically separates the appliance aspects of the charging infrastructure 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 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 charging infrastructure is not connected to the internet and provides 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.
The process of procuring charging infrastructure includes many other considerations, such as compliance, permitting, safety, ownership, signage, markings, and more.
Compliance, Permitting, and Inspection
When choosing charging infrastructure, ensure that the manufacturer has complied with certification requirements, including testing the product with a certified testing body. Charging infrastructure 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. To qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, chargers must be rigorously tested for operational safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Furthermore, certified Level 1 and Level 2 chargers use 40% less energy than other similar products when in standby mode (up to 85% of the time). ENERGY STAR certified chargers use open communication standards and those that have connected functionality capabilities are listed as “Connected Capable” (see ENERGY STAR EVSE Product Finder).
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, consult with project partners, including charging station manufacturers, utilities, and Clean Cities coalitions.
An electrical contractor should be aware of the relevant codes and standards and obtain a permit from the local building authorities before installing charging infrastructure. Additional time may be needed, as the permitting process could require a site installation plan, and approval from fire, environmental, or electrical inspection entities. For comprehensive guidance on all aspects of charger installation, including planning, permitting, construction, and accessibility considerations, see the 2019 Electric Vehicle Charging Station Permitting Guidebook from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. In addition, EV Charging Station Permitting Resources developed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority can help municipalities, developers, planners, and planning board members learn the basics of charging stations and navigate the permitting and installation processes.
Lastly, many municipalities and utilities have published documentation on codes and regulations for charger installations in their territories. For example, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in California created online guidance on codes and regulations for installing Level 1 and Level 2 residential charging, including ventilation requirements and accessibility considerations. Similar guidance exists from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Riverside, California.
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. Charging infrastructure owned by the site host is 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. Charging infrastructure owned by a third party is 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 charging infrastructure to the third party.
Signage, Markings, and Accessibility Considerations
When installing EVSE, consider the signage and pavement markings that may be necessary to help inform drivers. Other considerations are installing the charging infrastructure 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. ADA-compliant EV charging stations should be accessible, easy to use, and safe.
Utilities and Other Partners
EV sales remain strong, according to Argonne National Laboratory. Because of this, utilities play an important role in supporting the projected future growth of charging infrastructure and managing energy efficiency optimization for charging stations and the electrical grid. Utilities can mitigate grid impacts by offering managed charging (also called smart charging). This allows a utility to remotely control EV 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 charging equipment and installation.
During the planning and procurement process, site hosts may also choose to engage their local Clean Cities coalition, and state and local governments for advice.
For more information on charging infrastructure and electric utilities, see the Edison Electric Institute’s Electric Transportation website, the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s Transportation Electrification website, and Atlas Public Policy’s EV Hub.
Depending on the site host organization’s procurement requirements, a formal solicitation process may be needed to purchase and install charging infrastructure. Each of the considerations above, as well as operation and maintenance issues, can be included in the solicitation. For information on charging infrastructure requests for proposal, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guidance in Procurement of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.