The 12th Annual California Climate & Energy Forum took place from August 3-19, 2021. During these three weeks, climate and energy practitioners shared with us 60+ best practices and came together to discuss how to Transform Tomorrow Together. The best practice presented in this article was featured in Webinar 4, view the presentation slides and video recording to the right!
Written by Carlos Huizar, Planning Associate at the City of Torrance
The City of Torrance continues to experience both residential and commercial growth, which further increases the demand for publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. The “One Mile, One Charger” project sought to increase access to publicly accessible EV charging in the City of Torrance, thereby supporting existing and future EV ownership. According to public outreach conducted by the City, potential EV drivers reported to have “range anxiety,” a fear that they might be stranded without access to a charging station when their vehicle’s battery runs low on power. Prior to the start of this project, the growing demand for EV charging stations exceeded the supply within the City, creating long lines, disputes, frustration and even vandalism at the existing charging stations at City Hall.
In order to obtain public input, City staff developed an exercise known as the “Plug-(P)in Maps” where members of the public could “plug-in” a pin into aerial maps of the city to reflect their preferred location for an EV charger. This exercise was completed at various environmental functions, such as the Torrance Environmental Fair and the Honda Employee Earth Day Fair, with much success. In an effort to expand the public outreach the exercise was made available on the City’s website, allowing individuals to submit their suggestions from anywhere. The suggestions received were layered to a GIS map. City staff reviewed these suggestions and proposed sites for City-owned charging stations that best reflected the public’s interest in the EV charging station locations. Where higher concentrations of pins were observed, staff was able to note the greater public interest reflected in a particular area or property and encourage private development to incorporate charging into their redevelopment pursuits.
The City successfully pursued grant funding from the Mobile Source Reduction Committee (MSRC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to install a total of 14 Level II and 6 DC Fast charging stations. The charging stations were installed across six publicly owned sites that were selected with significant input from members of the public on where EV charging stations would be most beneficial: The Katy Geissert Library and Civic Center Complex, McMaster Park, Columbia Park, Charles Wilson Park, Walteria Park and Library and a City parking lot located in the center of Downtown Torrance.
Through public engagement, efficient resource allocation and dynamic communication using GIS and story mapping, the City of Torrance has been able to achieve the main goal of the project, which was to never be more than a mile from a publicly accessible electric vehicle charging station within the City’s boundaries, as 98.6% of the City is now within one mile of a charging station. This percentage of coverage increases to 99.6% when the publicly available EV charging stations that are planned or currently under construction within the City are taken into account. While the achievements of the project are clearly attributable to the heavy and growing demand for electric vehicle infrastructure, the significant outreach efforts to members of the public to determine barriers to EV ownership and possible locations for future charging stations cannot be discounted. By engaging the community early and often, the City’s sustainability team was able to put together a project that would meet the demand for growing infrastructure in locations where the charging stations would be used most.
The City of Torrance has continued the electric vehicle infrastructure efforts by now focusing on the transition of city fleet vehicles into hybrid plug-in and fully electric. Through a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC), the City will be installing 16 Level II EV charging stations at the Civic Center and City Yard to support the growing EV fleet vehicles.
For more information about the ‘One Mile, One Charger’ Project, you can visit our website: https://www.torranceca.gov/our-city/community-development/sustainability/one-mile-one-charger-project#!/