Infrastructure and Rebate Program approved in Camarillo - Tri County Sentry (2023)

Photo courtesy City of Camarillo

Camarillo– The city council, Wednesday, January 26, approved the Southern California Edison (SCE) Charge Ready Infrastructure and Rebate Program and the purchase of electric vehicle support equipment.

The city council affirmed the goal of providing cost-effective, efficient services to the public while minimizing environmental impacts about a year ago.

The city’s project cost after rebates is $371,296.

Assistant Director of Administrative Services John Thomas said they established a fifth objective under that goal to evaluate the transition of public transit and general use city vehicles and the infrastructure necessary to reduce greenhouse gasses by electric hybrid or other environmentally friendly options.

“Also, on October 13, the council adopted a resolution, 2021013, authorizing staff to purse grants, rebates, and other opportunities to fund the installation of infrastructure supporting zero-emission vehicles and to ensure future city fleet vehicle purchases are evaluated with a priority for available makes and models that are most able to meet zero-emission vehicle standards for each vehicle class operational need and existing supporting infrastructure, together with financial feasibility,” he said.

The staff worked toward those objectives, and on December 7, they presented to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee an analysis of the city’s existing fleet, the potential transition to electric vehicles, and conceptual plans prepared by Southern California Edison for the installation of charging station infrastructure at three facilities.

“That’s part of SCE’s charge-ready program,” he said. “The committee reviewed the Charge Ready program, provided input, and recommended the item be brought to a future council meeting.”

The staff has focused on aligning fleet vehicle replacements with available Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) on the market.

“We have a focus on infrastructure because we realize that any successful transition would require infrastructure in order for electric vehicles to be able to charge and be part of the fleet,” he said. “We are identifying available grants and programs that are becoming available and more increasingly becoming available.”

He said the city’s fleet has 74 vehicles, including pool vehicles, code compliance, Public Works Inspectors, Water Customer Service, and Half Ton Trucks.

“There is 33 or 45 percent of the fleet that are scheduled to be replaced within the next five years,” Thomas said. “In the light-duty category, we have 22 vehicles scheduled for replacement. Many of these vehicles are utilized as pool cars, inspector compliance vehicles, utility service vehicles and are considered candidates for replacement with ZEVs because light-duty vehicles are what’s becoming available in the market.”

He said the city is looking at the Chevy Bolt, Ford F-150 Lightning, the Ford Escape Hybrid, and the Ford Maverick.

“I would like to highlight the Ford F150 Lightning,” he said. “It’s becoming more widely known that it’s going to be available. The Ford F150 is a half-ton vehicle and one that we have many in our fleet and could benefit from having as a ZEV within our fleet. Heavy and Medium Duty vehicles are also coming online, which we expect in the next few years. It will allow for the remainder of the fleet to be looked at and considered for zero-emission vehicles in the near future.”

He said light-duty ZEV vehicles that are available cost about $3,000 more to purchase compared to a gas-powered vehicle.

“Although the initial purchase cost is higher, there are savings with a zero-emissions vehicle in terms of fuel and maintenance,” Thomas said. “For example, in this class of gas-powered vehicle, the average fill-up cost is about $78 when you consider the fuel cost of $4.75 a gallon.”

He said an electric vehicle cost is about $15 for a full battery charge based on the current kilowatt rates. The cost savings is about $63 per fill-up.

“At this rate, the additional cost to purchase an electric vehicle is offset by fuel savings after about two years,” he said. “In addition, we do find that electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, and it results in less maintenance and repairs. Switching to an electric vehicle can provide savings over the life of the vehicle in reduced fuel costs and emissions combined with lower maintenance and repair costs that offset the purchase price.”

He noted that the city must look at the infrastructure to support the vehicles, and the timing is almost just right.

“On November 15, 2021, the U.S. President signed a new $1 Trillion infrastructure bill that makes competitive funding available for sustainability and resilience projects,” he said. “In addition, the state has partnered with Southern California Edison in establishing the charge-ready program to meet the need for electric charging stations and its charging infrastructure throughout the state.”

He said the city’s been actively working on the charge-ready program.

“It is a $432 million program that comes through the CPUC and is administered by Southern California Edison,” Thomas said. “This particular program focuses specifically on light-duty electric vehicles. It’s an expansion of their original program, the Charge Ready 1 Program, which is kind of a pilot program. It provides significant financial and technical assistance to install charging stations, and they have a target of 38,000 charging ports that they want to add up and down the state.”

He said they understand that they’ll need additional charging stations for any successful transition.

“They offer three programs as part of this overall program, and the specific program that we are looking to participate in is called the charging infrastructure and rebate program that SCE Built,” he said. “In that infrastructure, you would typically have a charging station location. You would have the main transformer, then you would have your service, and then you would have the meter. This would be considered the utility side.”

“Then, you have this line, and on the other side, you have the customer side,” he continued. “That’s where your actual electrical panel resides and then the inground conduit that would go where each of the charging stations would be located. In the SCE Built program, SCE will actually build both sides of the infrastructure and do whatever is required to outfit the transformer and existing service to the meter. They will also be installing the electrical panel and all the conduit wiring all the way to the stub out in the ground where the charging station pedestal would be placed.”

To participate in the program, he said you must be an SCE customer and own, lease, manage or be the customer of record of the project site, and the project must be in an SCE service area.

“If necessary, customers are required to grant easement rights to SCE,” he said. “Each project site is required to install a minimum of four level-one or level-two chargers. They all have to be separately metered, so each one of them can be individually tracked for their usage.”

Thomas said they also need to enroll in the time ofuse rate plan and demand response program.

“To qualify for rebates on the equipment, all the equipment must be selected from the SCE’s approved product list and must be kept operational for 10 years,” he said. “Monthly charging data must also be provided to SCE, and the city is responsible for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of the above-ground charging station equipment, which we plan on purchasing with a five-year warranty.”

The City of Camarillo submitted for charging sites at the Corporation Yard, City Hall/Constitution Park, the library, and Camarillo Ranch.

“The staff identified these sites as being the most critical for the successful transition of the existing fleet to electric vehicles while also providing opportunities for the city staff and the public to access the electric charging stations,” he said. “Upon the application submitted, SCE scheduled and conducted site surveys at each of the four sites to determine the program feasibility.”

He said the Corporation Yard, City Hall/Constitution Park, and Camarillo Library were accepted. The Camarillo Ranch site was denied because of the inability to locate ADA (American’s with Disabilities) parking stalls with the required travel paths and the low number of charging ports that can be accommodated with the exiting SCE infrastructure.

“The staff was submitted with conceptual plans for each of the accepted sites,” he said.

The next step in the process, he said, is purchasing the above-ground pedestal equipment.

The intent is to have the agreement signed tonight and also have the ability to purchase the equipment, so Edison can enter into their design and build phase, which is the next big step,” he said.

The city will continue pursuing grants and rebates to defer the costs.

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