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PHEVerly Hills no more

Parking meter, Beverly Hills

The Californian city of Beverly Hills has banned plug-in hybrids from using public EV charging sites under new policy regime

You probably don’t have to drive too far in LA’s ultra-chic Beverly Hills before you’ll see a Tesla – or perhaps five. With the state leading the US’ charge for electrification and zero-emissions vehicles, regions like LA and San Francisco are home to increasing numbers of EVs, but infrastructure is seemingly not expanding at the same rate.

According to analysis by Beacon Economics, cited by Bloomberg, the high concentration of EVs in the state actually means it has one of the lowest ratios of public charging outlets to vehicles in the US. As a result, competition for a charging spot could soon get fierce.

In Beverly Hills, that has meant an update in regulation. As of April 2, the city has now adopted a new EV charging policy to encourage “more availability and efficient use” of its 35 public EV charging sites as demand increases, by banning plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) and conventional vehicles from using those spaces.

Currently, the local government notes that 59 Level 2 connections are available in 14 City parking facilities and at Roxbury Park.

Tesla, too, has plans for another Supercharger site in the City (as well as the Beverly Hills Hotel), to be open by the end of the year.

In its ruling, the government notes that:

In order to improve access for vehicles that are 100% reliant on electric power, the new policy reserves the City’s EV charging stations for battery-only electric vehicles. All other vehicles (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and any vehicle without an active charging session or not connected to a station may be subject to citation and/or towing at the owner’s expense.

Other components of its new Charging Policy include implementing energy and station use fees (which will be levied in addition to parking fees) and a new enforcement regulation in signage.

Electricity fees will run at rate of US$0.25 per kWh, applicable when the vehicle is actively charging, which the City says will go to recovering the cost of electricity, as well as a Station Fee of US$6/hour, applicable after the first two hours of establishing a connection, regardless of whether the vehicle is charging. The latter charge will encourage turnover to make the station available for other users.

Drivers are advised to consult EV charging station signage for details about fees, rates and restrictions, it adds.

It’s an interesting solution to the problem of overcrowded infrastructure. Certainly, finding a PHEV in a charging spot is far cry from being ICEd, but the decision raises the question of whether battery EVs should be given more preferential treatment, given that unlike hybrids and “range-extended” EVs, they do not have the option of relying on other sources of power.

ElecTrans suggests that any widening of the policy may set a dangerous precedent, and the real issue here is a critical lack of public charging infrastructure. However, with that unlikely to change overnight this stopgap measure seems a sensible, if slightly biased method, of dealing with the issue.

 

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