San Francisco and Los Angeles are known for their fog and smog, respectively, but at least the some folks representing the state of California want to make sure the view is crystal clear for plug-in drivers looking to juice up their vehicles.

The EV Open Access Act, or SB454, was recently passed by the California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. The bill guarantees plug-in owners "same access" to publicly accessible charging stations as conventional car owners have to gas stations. That means no special access card, password or secret handshake required, just a credit card like any other corner station. It also means pricing transparency when it comes to disclosing charging rates, advocate group Plug In America says.

That California took the lead here is no surprise. Californians have bought more than 35,000 plug-ins – more than a third of all the plug-ins in the US – since 2011. As of the end of last month, the Golden State was home to 1,276 publicly accessible charging stations, or more than a fifth of the country's total, according to the US Energy Department.

Read Plug In America's press release below.
Show full PR text
PLUG IN AMERICA BOOSTS OPEN ACCESS FOR EV CHARGING

- SB454 Clears Key California Senate Committee -

Sacramento, CA, May 3, 2013-Plug In America today announced that SB454 - the EV Open Access Act, introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett – has passed out of the California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee by a vote of six to four. SB454 allows consumers with plug-in cars the same access to charging stations that gas stations provide gasoline cars.

"This bill will ensure that plug-in drivers can charge everywhere and will know what it will cost," said Jay Friedland, Plug In America's Legislative Director. "Public charging spots must be readily accessible to the public and not constrained with access cards or network membership requirements."

SB454 requires that all public charging stations which require payment accept a simple credit card transaction--to streamline the current system of multiple proprietary access cards--or provide access with a phone call. The bill also requires pricing transparency so that drivers know costs associated with particular charging stations. Since 2010, the charging industry has made significant progress installing EV charging infrastructure with help from $115 million in federal grants and over $20 million in funding from the state of California via AB118 funds from the California Energy Commission and local air districts. Fortunately, most public stations deployed by the EV charging industry already have the capability of point-of-purchase price notification to consumers.

"A sustainable vehicle charging infrastructure is an important part of the road to electric transportation. Greater consumer confidence in public charging will speed acceptance of EVs by ensuring that drivers will know how much charging will cost them," Friedland added. "A straightforward, sound set of principles that builds off the best practice standards already being set by leading charging companies will strengthen and increase the size of the market, especially as the number of vehicles continues to grow at an accelerating pace."

Sales of electric vehicles have grown from just a few hundred in a month in 2008 to over 7,000 sold in the month of April 2013. In California over 35,000 plug-in vehicles have been sold since the end of 2010 - more than a third of the US market.

About Plug In America: Plug In America is the preeminent advocacy organization advancing the plug-in vehicle market. The nonprofit organization works to accelerate the shift to plug-in vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity to reduce our nation's dependence on petroleum and improve the global environment. For more information: http://www.pluginamerica.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      PeterScott
      • 1 Year Ago
      What does this do to Tesla and their Private Tesla only, Supercharger network?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        Tesla's Superchargers are private, not public, chargers; nor do they require payment. I agree with Rotation, this bill doesn't affect Tesla's charger network.
          throwback
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          So if private chargers are not subject to the law, then I could set up my own private network and allow members only to use them? They would be "free" to members of my private club. Which requires a membership. Like Tesla's network. You have to pay (buy a model S) in order to use their "free" network.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Letstakeawalk: This already does not apply to Tesla because they do not charge for charging. As I mentioned, Tesla's parking spots in Gilroy are in a mall. Malls are considered public areas in California, both the parking lot outside and the common area inside. Mall owners cannot just declare their areas not-public, if they could they already would. But California law determines what is a public place and the law overrides self-declarations. If you think you can just mark a spot as non-public, then who exactly do you think this law does apply to? Binks' chargers are installed in spots they do not own. The owner of the parking spot is the business in question, the business which isn't in the business of charging EVs. No, clearly his law applies to spots which are generally available to the public like at a mall or a place of business that does business with the public but which have chargers attached to them, chargers which cost money to use. Interesting idea about CostCo, but I suspect that doesn't apply to them. Their parking lot is a public place so while they can restrict it to customers only they can't restrict the charging to members only. Section (a) (1) says that you cannot be required to become a member of ANY club to use the charger. You would have to be a customer, but since in California you can be a customer without being a member if you are purchasing alcohol, I don't think it would be legal to restrict non-members from using them. And the McDs argument I don't get at all. The public-at-large are you customers so designating them customers on;y doesn't keep the public-at-large from using them. They just have to become a customer to do so. And I really don't see how you are using a qualifier as to who they have to let use them to modfy the statement as to who can be required to join a club. There is no qualifier on (a)(1). No one can require you to join a club to use the charger, not even those whose main business IS charging cars!
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          So, at this Supercharger you mention at the mall... Can any EV driver (hypothetically, if the had a correct adapter and log-in access) use that charger? Or is the space clearly marked for Tesla owners only? I have no doubt that Tesla could make their Supercharged publicly accessible if they wanted too. I'm just not convinced that at the moment they could be considered to be so, because you have to own a Tesla to access one.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Letstakeawalk: I agree Tesla's system is not covered by this. But it's not because it doesn't use public parking spaces. It is because you don't have to pay to use it. No, supposedly you cannot use a SuperCharger without a Tesla, even with an adapter, it presumably is checking something before starting. How the parking space is marked is not material to whether this applies to them. This bill would be pointless if you could just declare a parking spot non-public to get around it. Tesla's spots are in public lots, so that part is satisfied. But you don't have to pay a fee to use them, nor is there a subscription, so they are not covered. Costco, with a yearly fee, would not be allowed to charge for charging unless they also allow the public to charge for charging also. Alternately, they could not charge members money to charge and then they would not be required to let others use their chargers for a fee or at all. Short version: this bill will not affect Tesla other than it will keep them from going to a yearly subscription or pay-per-charge in the future without allowing the public to use the chargers. Of course, the public has little interest in the chargers since they can't even connect to it. But hey, who said the law had to always make sense?
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Letstakeawalk: Tesla's chargers are in public spaces. For example the Gilroy one is in a mall. A mall (even the inside!) is considered a public space in California.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          " No one can require you to join a club to use the charger, not even those whose main business IS charging cars!" If your primary business is providing EV charging, you will not be allowed to require membership. This would be a public charging station. If your main business is *not* providing EV charging, you may limit the use of your E charging equipment to whomever you choose, making it a private charging station. I understand your definition of "public", we have several pubic parking garages in my town. However, even though they are public and anyone is free to use them, the owners of the garage (the City) has the ability and does sell reserved spaces within that garage. So, it is possible to have a private space in a public facility. The bill protects property owners (and lease holders) by allowing them to designate spaces as for their customers only. There's nothing unusual about that, even my local grocery store will tow you from their "public" lot if they feel you are not their customer, because while it may have "public" access, it is still private property and their rights as property owners are still intact. If your local mall wanted to prohibit non-customers from entering their lot, they could easily do so. And in doing so, they also have the right under the bill to restrict who can use the parking spaces next to any EV charging equipment they own. IMHO, this law is attempting to regulate (and open access) to EV charging networks that model themselves after gas stations - EV chargering companies who set themselves up to provide a specific product/service: electricity for EVs. This law imposes no regulation on non-EV charging companies who still would like to provide EV charging services for the benefit of a specific group, such as their customers, employees, or owners (in the case of Tesla). Nothing in the law would force a company that focuses on business other than EV charging from providing EV charging to a private group, just as nothing in the law forces a private EV charger to be open to use by the general public.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Tesla chargers are public by the bill's definition. Read the link below. throwback: Tesla may charge up front, but they don't charge a subscription fee. So your idea couldn't fit through the same loophole as Tesla is.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "How the parking space is marked is not material to whether this applies to them." Obviously, I disagree. "This bill would be pointless if you could just declare a parking spot non-public to get around it." OTOH, the bill clearly states: "Nothing in this article limits the ability of an owner or lessor of a parking space whose primary business is other than electric vehicle charging from restricting use of the parking space to customers of the business." So, if your primary business is charging EVs, then you have to allow everybody in. But, if you're predominately in another business, say wholesale goods (CostCo), or a restaurant (McD's), or a shopping mall, and you only set aside a few spaces for EV charging - then you can clearly designate those spaces as "customer-use" only, effectively preventing the public-at-large from using them. I would argue that Tesla, which derives the bulk of its business from the sale of BEVs, as owner of the land (or lessee) on which its proprietary chargers are situated, has the legal right under this law the restrict the use of those spaces it owns (or leases), making them non-publicly accessible. Again, any signage to that extent ("Tesla parking only") would only further cement the argument that they are private spaces reserved for a specific group, and not available for use by the general public.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I'm not sure that the bill would consider Tesla's Superchargers to be "public". "“Public parking spaces” shall not include a parking space that is part of, or associated with, a private residence or a parking space that is reserved for the exclusive use of an individual driver or vehicle or for a group of drivers or vehicles..." Tesla SuperCharger parking spaces are by definition, reserved for Tesla Owners. Unless I am mistaken, they are not generally accessible to the general public. "Nothing in this article limits the ability of an owner or lessor of a parking space whose primary business is other than electric vehicle charging from restricting use of the parking space to customers of the business." Throwback - "So if private chargers are not subject to the law, then I could set up my own private network and allow members only to use them?" Yes. For example, Costco could set up private chargers, for the sole use of their membership. The bill doesn't clearly define what a "public charger" is, but it does clearly state what a "public parking space" is. If there's no "public parking space" near an EV charging station, it stands to reason that the charger station is not "public".
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        Good question. This would seem to outlaw Tesla having a proprietery charger.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        Nothing. 'Persons desiring to use an electric vehicle charging station that requires payment of a fee shall not be required to pay a subscription fee in order to use the station.' Tesla doesn't require payment of a fee. It doesn't affect any other free charging. It also doesn't mean you can't use a proprietary connector, you just have to be able to activate the charger without joining a club. If you can't connect up, well, that's a different matter. It would forbid things like CostCo chargers where you would have to be a member to charge. Unless CostCo didn't charge for charging or if CostCo allowed guest (non-member) charging.
      Scott R
      • 1 Year Ago
      This isn't good news for Blink (Ecotality). Their charging stations don't have a credit card reader and the RFID reader only works reliably with their cards. ChargePoint, on the other hand, seems to have this handled already but you have to call them. Not sure I want my credit card swiped on such machines. Security is less than at a gas pump, and those are already hit. I don't mind having to sign up for a special card, I'd prefer just one card though that works with all of the public stations (like Blink and ChargePoint are supposedly setting up... what about SemaCharge?). I don't mind a small deposit, as long as I can get my money back when I cancel or if they go belly-up. And I don't mind a small fee for the card itself (like $3), but if they want a monthly or annual fee no f-ing way.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scott R
        Blink allows you to use their chargers as guests by accessing their website. Good for them too, as Blink there are 12 Blink chargers being installed in Hayward which is in Corbett's district. I doubt Corbett would be happy killing charger installations in her own area. https://www.blinknetwork.com/blinkGuest.html
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't say nearby. Any trip which I need to charge for is by definition a relatively long trip. There will be multiple chargers along the trip. But they are not nearby. If I can charge nearby I can charge at my destination. The backups are not this way, they involve making additional, potentially long stops. This is why if I am planning a trip there is an advantage to reservations right now. And some will pay for that advantage.
      Mart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not every state has deregulated the sale of electricity in the way California has.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mart
        And as a result we pay lower rates because companies are not free to raise rates on a whim or blame prices on market fluctuations. Don't let the wall street bankers bet on your electricity prices.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          PG&E is not running a racket. They were victimized by Enron and others. And if you used a lot of electricity (quite likely) you were running into issues with the tiered rates used in California to encourage energy savings. These mean that electricity can rise to over $0.25/kWh if you use more than average. Big businesses arrange their own electricity contracts and avoid this. Small businesses don't really have that option.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          No, deregulation did not work that way for California. Since Wall Street and their Texas buddies like Enron moved in and manipulated the market, the California utilities ended up having to enter into long-term contracts at above-market rates. It really didn't work out well for quite a long time. But the problem was the Wall Street market manipulators, not the state.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          I remember my electricity costs in California being very high, because PG&E is running a racket out there.. Despite my local utility using more expensive fuel to generate power, electricity is cheaper here. Explain that!
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          PG&E is not running a racket. But it is a de-coupled utility system that strongly encourages people to conserve and has a LOT of renewable power. In fact renewable power is their main source of power! If you add the wind, solar, hydro, and bio-fuel generation together that is around 35% of their power. So it is not extremely cheap but it is very clean. The rest is mostly nuclear and natural gas. And it is not easy to be cheap in California . . . land and wages are expensive here.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is this really necessary? industry always manages to figure out standards itself over time. Your computer is a great example. I hope this does not squash some new and interesting innovations.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I agree. What if I'm going on a trip in my electric car and I want to reserve chargers in advance so my trip goes smoothly? This seems to prohibit that. I think this is best solved in the same way access to gasoline was solved, by people putting in lots and lots of chargers because they make money doing so. Then it doesn't matter that I can't use a Pacific Pride gas station, I just use another.
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        This doesn't say you can't reserve a charger, it just has to be open to anyone. I don't think this has to be a negative complication.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      RFID credit cards do have encryption. http://www.rfidjournal.com/blogs/rfid-journal/entry?9304 It's astounding how people will spread bogus info. And if you think RFID is easy to steal, you probably never tried to copy a magstripe. It's far easier than copying an RFID credit card. If you were to place a device on the front of a charger to "sniff" the RFID exchange or even to have it query the RFIC credit card itself (since it is in range at the time of course), you would not receive the information necessary to clone the credit card to a magstripe or RFID card. You could run your own transaction at the time I suppose, but you would have to do it while the card is near. Those transactions would be easy to cancel later as they would show up concurrently with other transactions. This information would also lead to knowing which reader was being "bugged" in this way because you know the "bug" is within inches of the other device which is transacting at the same time.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      The very notion that you have many backups to fall back upon proves my point. You might not get the *fastest* charger, but there's always something nearby that you can use.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Update to my below post: Here is the bill. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0451-0500/sb_454_bill_20130507_amended_sen_v96.htm Merely adding the ability to pay with "mobile technology" satisfies the requirements of the bill. So no need for credit card swipers, everyone will just put a URL on the chargers. That's a relief, I don't think having swipers is a good idea, nor does anyone really want to make a phone call as suggested by ABG. I would imagine few EV drivers don't have smartphones, so having a web page or app is more convenient than a phone call where you have to punch in your CC# and other info. I don't quite know what ChargePoint will do, their two-line VFDs won't make it easy for users to find info on how non-members pay. ChargePoint really should update their chargers to have better displays. This does outlaw the idea of a company which sells "premium charger access" where you pay fees and thus have access to charger locations so you know there is a better chance of you having a spot when you arrive. I'm not sure if it outlaws reserving stations for when you arrive either. I wonder if Sen. Corbett knows that there are gas stations which don't accept credit cards or cash (Pacific Pride) in California and what she thinks of them.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        So I hope my smartphone's provider has data coverage at the charge station. Then I unlock my phone, launch the browser, read the URL off the sticker and type it into my browser, wait for the page to load, authenticate with a login and a password, or perhaps enter my credit card information, etc., etc... And you find that to be a better scenario than taking 1.5 seconds to swipe a credit card? My mag stripe seems to work at every gas station ever, so I don't see why it wouldn't work for charge points.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Swipers are practically free.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          It doesn't matter if I find it a better scenario. Putting a credit card reader on the machine will cost more and break more so they simply won't do it since the law does not require it if they instead provide access from a smartphone. And yeah, you better hope you have coverage. Otherwise you'll have to walk around a bit to be able to get signal. Boo hoo for you. So yeah, the option of opening your pocket, pulling out your wallet, pulling out your credit card, swiping it, entering info (like your zipcode or CVV), etc. etc. won't be an option. If you can make it seem like pulling out your smartphone is a big deal I can make it seem like using your credit card is one too.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Letstakeawalk: They already accept credit cards, just not with a swiper at the machine. You have to use your smartphone. I don't quite know how many times I have to say this, but a swiper would be easily the most high-maintenance item on the charger. It's not cost-effective. They'd be idiots to put swipers on their chargers when they can satisfy the law by allowing you to use your phone to activate the charger. You're talking about chargers which take in maybe $40 a month. Adding the cost of a swiper and the cost of maintaining it just doesn't make sense.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          They'd be idiots not to accept credit cards.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          More specifically, the CC companies will pay for you to have one, so their customers can use their cars, by which the CC companies make their money.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          I hope I remember my phone!
      • 1 Year Ago
      ChargePoint and Blink are trying to extend their duopoly in California which has been funded by taxpayers. This helps open up chargers to the public. Why can't EV charging in public locations be accessible with a credit card? I don't want a Blink or ChargePoint membership, and don't like that they lock people in.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        Blink already lets you charge with just a credit card. Not sure about ChargePoint.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where do you live? There is not a surfeit of chargers in my area and we have hundreds. If you plan on a trip that requires charging, you have to plot out many backup ideas in order to be sure you can make your trip.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      " And some will pay for that advantage." And no doubt, there will be private EV charger networks that will cater to individuals who will pay for the privilege. Just like we have public gas stations, accessible to anyone, and private gas stations, accessible to members only.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      To be clear, by "nearby", I meant that there are charging opportunities nearby fast chargers, not nearby your starting point. One of the great pros for EVs is the ability to plug into any 110V outlet. Only an idiot would get stranded in an EV. Needing to make a "reservation" for a fast charging is a luxury, and not at all vital to completing a trip.
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