Per a study by ChargePoint, Inc., there were 540,000 electric vehicles on the road in the United States in November 2016. A study by Navigant reports that 2017 electric vehicle sales are on track to increase by 50 percent this year. California, the largest electric vehicle market in the country, is home to nearly 50 percent of operating electric vehicles in the United States according to EV Volumes. The automotive industry continues to introduce new electric models, and numerous companies have plans to shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. General Motors, for example, announced its plan for an all-electric, zero-emissions future in October 2017. The company says it will introduce two new electric models in 2018 and at least 18 more by 2023.

Despite this robust market growth, electric vehicles face challenges in being accepted broadly until they can be charged quickly and efficiently. Facilitating the charging of electric vehicles is vital to widespread adoption of this new technology, and many cities remain unequipped to accommodate residents who invest in electric vehicles.

As of November 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy reports there are 3,970 public electric vehicle charging stations with 13,801 charging outlets in California. Charging station infrastructure is highly concentrated in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area. There are far more charging stations available now than in past years, but the state has a long way to go. According to a report by the UC Berkley School of Law and UCLA School of Law, analysts estimate that California will need between 125,000 and 220,000 public electric vehicle charging outlets by 2020.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program benefits can help empower cities to accommodate for the rapid proliferation of electric vehicles.

“As local government leaders, it is our goal and responsibility to ensure our cities are prepared to accommodate for electric vehicles,” says California Choice Energy Authority (CCEA) Board Member R. Rex Parris. “CCEA encourages our associate members and all operating CCAs to consider investing ratepayer revenues in electric vehicle programs.”

CCA programs empower local governments to reinvest in their communities through energy-related initiatives such as energy-efficiency retrofits, solar photovoltaic systems and electric vehicle programs. Operating CCAs such as Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) are among the first to take advantage of CCA benefits to implement electric vehicle charging programs in their communities.

In early 2017, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) contributed $25,000 to the City of Lancaster’s partnership with eBee Smart Technologies, a provider of electric vehicle charging solutions. Five eBee electric charging units were installed on streetlights on Lancaster Boulevard. Electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles at these charging stations at no cost. LCE received a reimbursement for equipment and installation costs from Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District’s Plug-in Infrastructure Incentive Program Grant.

“CCEA Associate Member LCE has helped accelerate the City of Lancaster’s goals to expand electric vehicle charging options for their residents. The City is host to a variety of electrical vehicle charging stations and intends to continue using LCE benefits to develop programs that will accommodate for the increase in electric vehicles,” says Mark Bozigian, Lancaster’s City Manager.

LCE also has contributed $50,000 to Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), the transit agency serving the City of Lancaster, for a partnership with Green Commuter, an all-electric vanpool provider. AVTA will work with Green Commuter to procure and operate an all-electric vanpool and car sharing program. The program will add four new charging stations with the capacity to charge 12 vehicles at a time. Green Commuter will provide LCE full reimbursement when the project is complete.

In Northern California, MCE is also using the benefits of CCA to sponsor electric vehicle charging stations in San Rafael, Belvedere and San Anselmo. MCE offers electric vehicle owners a cost-effective way of charging their cars by providing residential electric vehicle rate options that do not increase as monthly usage goes up. MCE electric vehicle charging rates are flat and do not have tiers like most residential rates. SCP’s Drive EverGreen program has partnered with seven local car dealerships to provide purchase credits for electric vehicles, and offers qualified customers with free electric vehicle charging equipment for their homes.

“With an additional revenue stream that can fund community programs and low electricity rates, CCA programs can help shape the success of electric vehicles in our cities,” adds Bozigian.

CCEA is a pioneering Community Choice Aggregation solution for cities in California. Formed in 2014, the joint powers authority provides an innovative model that retains local control of utility services for cities who partner with CCEA while alleviating operational risk and administrative overhead associated with the implementation of CCA. CCEA’s joint power authority model is quickly becoming the gold standard for implementation of CCA by California cities.