Procurement and Installation for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Infrastructure Tax Credit

Use the 30C Tax Credit Eligibility Locator tool from Argonne National Laboratory to help learn if your home, business, or facility is in an eligible location for tax credits that could help you save up to 30% of the cost of purchasing and installing EV charging infrastructure.

Infrastructure Development Checklist

Planning

  • Determine project scope, budget, funding mechanism, and timeline by considering:
  • Identify project partners, including local electric utilities, a certified electrical contractor, and Clean Cities coalitions
  • Decide whether the stations will need to be networked, including if utilization data will be collected and if payment capabilities are necessary, and evaluate equipment ownership options
  • Engage with charging infrastructure providers so they can provide input on the plan and timeline
  • Engage with the utility to identify installation needs and costs, including upgrades to electrical service and equipment, and identify a certified electrical contractor
  • Explore federal, state, and local incentives and determine budget
  • Assess applicable codes and regulations and permitting requirements
  • Determine if a formal solicitation is needed

Installation

  • Select a charging site location, considering:
    • Number and type of charging units required both near and long term
    • Proximity to incoming electricity and potential metering enhancements
    • Proximity to a wireless internet connection, if needed
    • Weather impacts
    • Future expansion
  • Select charging infrastructure manufacturer(s) and vendor(s) and network provider; confirm project logistics and equipment delivery
  • Coordinate with the utility to confirm charging requirements (both near and long term) and pricing (including impacts on utility rates and any electrical upgrades needed at the charging site)
  • Establish a charging plan, including networking requirements, electricity rate implications, and charging equipment ownership responsibilities
  • Obtain required permits
  • Determine inspection requirements and impacts on the project timeline
  • Determine additional site needs, including signage and security
  • Assess charging infrastructure maintenance and operation needs and costs
  • Select construction and electrical contractors
  • Establish a final site budget, including available incentives, project costs, and ongoing expenses/fees

Operation

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.

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.

Equitable Access

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 tools can assist with incorporating equity considerations into the EV charging infrastructure procurement process:

  • EV Charging Justice40 Map: Tool from Argonne National Laboratory that provides interactive maps of disadvantaged communities
  • Energy Zones Mapping Tool: Tool from Argonne National Laboratory to identify potential energy resource areas and energy corridors
  • EVI-Equity Tool: Tool from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to help evaluate charging infrastructure accessibility from an environmental justice perspective.

Additionally, the following resources provide guidance for incorporating community engagement and energy and environmental justice goals:

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 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 $0 (if no additional equipment is needed) to $900 for a Level 1 charger and $380 to $690 for a Level 2 charger, according to a Rocky Mountain Institute Report. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Levelized Cost of Charging EVs in the United States report also showed that costs for public chargers are approximately $3,500 per connector for Level 2 and $38,000 to $90,000 per connector for DC fast, with higher costs depending on power output.

Installation

Installation costs can vary significantly 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 approximately $1,300 per connector for a Level 2 charger, according to the NREL and INL Levelized Cost of Charging EVs in the United States report. Public and workplace installation costs per charger average around $2,500 per connector for Level 2, with costs varying depending on location and number of chargers installed at each site. Similarly, DC fast installation costs can range anywhere from $20,000 per connector to $60,000 per connector 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 Levelized Cost of Charging EVs in the United States, Costs Associated with Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, and Reducing EV Charging Infrastructure Costs.

Networking

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.

Other Considerations

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.

Consider domestically manufactured EV charging infrastructure compliant with Buy America requirements. Visit the Made in America Office website for more information.

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). Recently, ENERGY STAR started certifying energy efficiency in DC fast chargers of up to 350 kW.

Charging station installations must comply with local and state codes and regulations and be completed by a licensed electrical contractor. To find licensed electrical contractors trained in charging station installation, refer to the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) list of contractors trained and certified in equipment installation and 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(PDF). Visit the EV Permitting page for more information on what state and local governments can do to streamline the permitting process for EV charging station installation.

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. 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. For more information on the two primary business models, see Public EV Charging Business Models for Retail Site Hosts.

Signage, Markings, and Accessibility Considerations

When installing EV charging infrastructure, 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. Some EV charging incentive programs (e.g., the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program) and state legislation (e.g., in California and Hawaii) may require that new EV charging installations are ADA-compliant (accessible, easy to use, and safe). Key considerations include ensuring adequate space for exiting and entering the vehicle, unobstructed access to the charger, free movement around the charger and connection point on the vehicle, and clear paths and proximity to building entrances. For more information on accessibility considerations, see Access Board’s Design Recommendations for Accessible Electric Vehicle Charging Stations report.

Utilities and Other Partners

EV sales continue to increase, 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. It's important to engage with utilities early in the infrastructure planning process. 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.

Formal Solicitations

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 (RFPs), see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guidance in Procurement of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. State agencies can register for the EV States Clearinghouse to view example RFPs.