Types of Charging Infrastructure Planning
This section discusses four types of electric mobility infrastructure planning:
- Corridor-level planning supports infrastructure along roads and highways that facilitate interregional travel.
- Community-level planning considers infrastructure solutions to meet diverse needs within a particular region or city, including consideration of current and future mode share.
- Site-level planning focuses on the procurement and installation of EV chargers for a predetermined location.
- Fleet planning introduces electric mobility infrastructure planning for transit, micromobility, ride-hailing/taxi, and last-mile delivery fleets, and can be at a corridor, community, or site level.
The figure below illustrates the spatial relationship between three levels of planning introduced above: corridor, community, and site. The relevant level of planning likely depends on the planning lead and the project stage. For example, local and regional leaders may initially engage in community-level planning, while State DOTs and Tribal organizations are well-positioned to pursue corridor-level planning. Both entity types, however, may transition to site-specific planning after identifying preferred locations for new charging infrastructure. In contrast, independent charging site hosts—such as owners of businesses, workplaces, multifamily housing, and single-family homes—will likely conduct site-level planning only.
The following sections identify useful resources for each type of planning and list planning considerations unique to urban areas.
Corridor-level planning addresses the needs of interregional and interstate travelers and freight operators. Therefore, State DOTs, Tribal organizations, regional planning agencies, and county governments are best positioned to conduct this type of planning.
Key Considerations for Corridor-Level Planning
Below are key considerations for corridor-level planning in urban areas:
- The corridor-based approach may be especially fitting for smaller urban areas without a sufficient base of local EV adopters to support installations. A corridor-based approach offers entities the opportunity to tap into broader regional—or even national—bases of travelers and freight operators that may use a corridor in that area with station locations that are still relatively convenient for local users.
- To meet the needs of EV drivers, corridor charging typically needs to be fast, providing as close a refueling experience to filling up with gasoline as possible. Therefore, corridors generally need DCFCs, which are more expensive and require more electric grid infrastructure. However, if travelers make longer stops at certain attractions along corridors, Level 2 chargers at those locations may be adequate.
- Alternative Fuels Corridors will ultimately provide nationwide coverage of EV chargers along designated major roads and will help connect neighboring urban areas.
Resources for Corridor-Level Planning
The following resources provide useful information on corridor-level planning:
- FHWA’s Alternative Fuels Corridors program website: This website provides resources on building out infrastructure and includes several State and regional corridor-level planning documents, including a series of Alternative Fuels Corridor Deployment Plans documenting strategies for filling fast-charge infrastructure gaps along interstate corridors.
- State National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Planning Websites: This listing includes links to websites with information about State plans for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted interstate and EV infrastructure deployment plans (focused on interstates, U.S. and State highways), which can be found here, as required under the NEVI Formula Program funded by BIL.
- FHWA's Regional Convenings webpage: This resource compiles meeting materials and summary reports from a series of five regional meetings with alternative fuel corridor partners. Meetings occurred in 2018 and 2019 throughout the United States. An example meeting output and corridor-planning resource is the stakeholder responsibility matrix from the Intermountain Western Alternative Fuels Corridor Convening.
- The DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Corridor Measurement Tool: This tool enables users to measure the driving distance between EV charging stations.
- FHWA Alternative Fuel Corridors interactive map: This online application allows users to explore potential new corridors for EV charging stations.
- NACTO Curb Appeal Guide: This whitepaper identifies management strategies for improving transit reliability and supporting safer streets by making room for transit or better managing demands on the urban curb.
- ITE Curbside Management Practitioners Guide: This resource provides recommendations for optimizing curb space allocation.
State, Tribal, and local governments; transportation planning agencies; transit agencies; and community organizations may all engage in community-level planning for electric vehicle infrastructure. In contrast to corridor-level planning, which seeks to meet the needs of those “passing through,” community-level planning engages local stakeholders to serve a particular neighborhood, city, or region.
Key Considerations for Community-Level Planning
Below are a few key considerations for community-level planning in urban areas:
- Entities can tap into regional coalitions and look to national-level organizations to help establish partnerships for community-level planning. Regional transportation planning organizations and metropolitan planning organizations can also help with community-level planning for electric mobility infrastructure.
- Planners can integrate electric mobility infrastructure projects into larger community and transportation planning initiatives, such as projects to expand bike lanes, add a bus route, or otherwise reduce or divert car traffic. Coordinated planning and siting can help ensure sufficient utilization while meeting diverse mobility needs.
- Communities are made up of diverse stakeholders with different needs and perspectives which should be considered in the planning process. For example, curbside charging stations and the adoption of “EV-ready” building codes can help ensure residents of multifamily housing have access to public or private charging options.
- Tourism may generate a high percentage of traffic in some areas. Since tourists may have different travel patterns (e.g., higher traffic and charging station utilization during holidays and weekends), they are likely to place different demands on the types of charging installations needed and the locations of these installations.
Requiring Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in New Buildings
The City and County of Denver (CCD) adopted new EV Infrastructure building codes that will help homeowners and employers install electric vehicle chargers. CCD’s 2019 building and fire codes require new homes or townhouses to have electrical equipment that allows for easy installation of EV charging infrastructure. Additionally, the Denver EV Action Plan mentions that new EV multifamily and workplace building codes have provided even more opportunities for community members to charge their EVs.
In 2019, Seattle City Council voted to adopt legislation that alters the land use code. The legislation requires all new buildings in Seattle that provide off-street parking spaces to also include electrical power outlets. The inclusion of electrical power outlets will make it easier to install electric vehicle chargers. The legislation aims to reduce barriers to owning electric vehicles.
Resources for Community-Level Planning
The following resources from AFDC provide useful information on community-level planning:
- Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness: This is AFDC’s primary portal for information to help communities and regions assess existing conditions, identify opportunities, develop partnerships, and conduct education and outreach.
- A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects: This is a comprehensive summary of lessons learned from DOE’s 16 Clean Cities EV Readiness projects with coverage of 24 States across the country.
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Projection Tool: This online tool helps communities and regions estimate the overall quantity and type of EV charging infrastructure needed.
Site-level planning can occur as a top-down, coordinated approach among local leaders and stakeholders (including community- and corridor-level planners) or as a bottom-up, individual approach initiated by site hosts, such as local business owners.
Key Considerations for Site-Level Planning
Below are a few key considerations for site-level planning in urban areas:
- Urban charging demand will be a combination of overnight residential charging, DCFC charging for owners without home charging, and visitors to the area, requiring a variety of types of chargers in different locations to serve all their needs.
- As in community-level planning, entities can look to regional coalitions and national-level organizations to help establish partnerships.
- Cities can consider co-locating electric mobility charging infrastructure with other transportation options in a multimodal hub (e.g., electric mobility charging, a bike share station, and a bus stop all at the same location). This approach provides residents with convenient choices among transportation options and facilitates transfers between different modes. DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office recently funded several EV mobility hub projects and developed considerations for similar projects.
Resources for Site-Level Planning
AFDC provides a general overview of the site-level planning process in addition to the following more detailed resources for specific types of sites:
Given the shorter distance of many trips taken with micromobility devices, micromobility charging infrastructure planning typically occurs at the community- or site-level.
Charging of micromobility devices may take place at home, at work, or in public places. For example, Oregon has integrated micromobility charging infrastructure with standard EV charging stations as part of the West Coast Electric Highway.
One challenge of micromobility infrastructure planning is the lack of standardization and universal/interoperable charging equipment. Micromobility devices use proprietary charging cables (which may or may not be affixed to the devices) or docks that connect to standard wall outlets. Some advocates have suggested USB-C technology could serve as an interoperable standard for micromobility charging. Massachusetts’ recent transportation bond bill includes provisions to address this challenge by funding installation of universal e-bike charging stations.
Micromobility devices may have removeable or fixed batteries, with implications for charging infrastructure.
Removeable and fixed batteries also have implications for the transportation of micromobility via other modes. For example, the battery constitutes a hazardous material when taking an electric micromobility device on an airplane. Although lithium batteries can represent a fire risk, the Consumer Product Safety Commission finds that electric micromobility products certified to the voluntary UL 2272 Standard for electrical systems for personal e-mobility devices do not pose a fire hazard.
E-bikes with removeable batteries can be serviced at indoor charging stations. For example, lockers that contain proprietary charging cables where riders can charge their e-bike batteries for free are currently deployed in select tourism locations in the United Kingdom. E-bikes with fixed batteries can be charged at fast charging stations located outdoors. Integrated parking and charging stations that are designed to work across multiple e-bike and battery brands offer another option for outdoor charging. State and local governments may partner with micromobility charging equipment companies to create charging sites in public locations.
Different operational models for charging shared micromobility devices are discussed in the Micromobility Partners section.
Planning for the adoption of electric buses and the installation of charging infrastructure will likely be driven by the transit agency, in coordination with the many partners previously discussed. Many existing resources provide guidance on incorporating BEBs into service, such as the Transit Cooperative Research Program’s (TCRP) Guidebook for Deploying Zero-Emission Transit Buses and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Electrifying Transit: A Guidebook for Implementing Battery Electric Buses. These resources provide step-by-step considerations through all the phases of planning, purchase and deployment of buses and infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and performance monitoring.
The usage of BEBs requires the purchase not only of the vehicles, but also the upfront costs of purchasing and installing the charging infrastructure, which may require utility upgrades and maintenance facility modifications. The charging infrastructure for BEBs will need to be carefully considered as it does not scale efficiently, meaning that there will be incremental costs and space requirements as fleet size increases. The operation of BEBs will require hiring new staff and/or training existing staff in the operation and maintenance of BEBs to ensure the efficient use and maintenance of the vehicles. Due to these complexities, it is important that transit agencies plan effectively for the purchase of BEBs and charging infrastructure and consider the role of technologies such as In Motion Charging (IMC) electric trolleybuses (see sidebar) to ensure a system that best fits their needs and constraints.
City of Chicago Tests Electric Buses
In April 2021, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) started to test electric buses with passengers. The buses can run between 75-120 miles on a single charge. To allow for the testing, the CTA installed quick-charging stations at various stations and bus turn arounds. The quick charging stations allow the bus to charge on-route because of the fast turnaround time. This test is part of the CTA’s initiative to transition to an all-electric bus fleet by 2040.
Transit agencies will need to consider their objectives, resources, and constraints prior to purchasing and deploying buses and charging infrastructure. Data collected through fleet and route assessments can help agencies understand their transportation and energy needs.
For example, TCRP recommends designing smaller deployment projects to test implementation and then planning iteratively, with internal and external stakeholder engagement, to build out the BEB fleet. Each phase of deployment can be discussed with bus manufacturers to help plan for the needs of each acquisition.
The needs assessment phase should consider the various factors that will influence decisions in bus and charging infrastructure purchasing, including route structure and length (to understand energy requirements), bus schedules and demand, bus depot capacity, utility rate schedule and costs, and local climate and topography.
Tools that may assist with this needs assessment include FTA’s Transit Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator, which estimates annual GHG emissions of transit projects based on the construction, operation, and maintenance phases of transit facilities and vehicles, and the FTA Transit Bus Electrification Tool, which estimates the partial lifecycle GHG emission savings associated with replacing standard bus fleets with low-emission or zero-emission transit buses.
Transit agencies may also be able to secure technical assistance with deploying electric buses through the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation.
Planning for light-duty commercial vehicles covers a range of high-mileage vehicle types, including those that are owned by individuals, such as ride-hailing vehicles; by a private entity, such as taxis and last-mile delivery vehicles; and by a public entity, such as local government fleets.
Although many similarities exist between ride-hailing vehicles and taxis, planning for the electrification of these fleets will need to consider the differences in their business models, including vehicle ownership and access to maintenance and charging facilities. For widespread electrification of these fleets to occur, challenges of EV ownership and usage for TNC and taxi drivers will need to be addressed, including the upfront cost of the EV, the technological suitability (i.e., the daily range requirements) of the vehicle, availability of charging stations, and time required to charge. Additionally, TNCs and taxi companies may need to prepare for potentially new processes for vehicle repair and maintenance, safety and security, and driver training.
The electrification of ride-hailing and taxi companies will likely require two types of charging infrastructure: Level 2 at taxi company garages for long charges between shifts; and DCFC equipment for short charges during shifts for both TNC and taxi drivers. A robust network of DC ports will likely be required even by fleets with overnight charging access, as charge duration will be dependent on weather conditions and travel demand. However, providing access to overnight charging generally reduces the size of the DCFC network required to support the fleets. When planning charging infrastructure for ride-hailing and taxi fleets, the potential conflicting use of charging stations with private car users should be considered, including whether fleet vehicles should have priority access. However, these two user groups may be complementary if fleet drivers are less likely to charge at the same times as private vehicle owners, such as early evening when they are in a busy shift.
To encourage the electrification of ride-hailing and taxi companies, all the partners involved in the planning efforts should consider how to reduce the total cost of ownership for EVs, including both direct costs of vehicle purchase and charging, as well as the indirect costs of time spent charging. To reduce direct costs, planners might consider rebates or point-of-sale benefits, tax credits, promoting used EVs or scrap-and-replace incentives, short-term rentals of EVs, and exemptions or discounted rates on ride-hailing taxes and fees. To reduce indirect costs, planners can consider the layout and availability of the charging network, including providing amenities at charging locations and prioritizing high-traffic areas such as downtowns and airports; providing HOV lane access and airport pickup priority access to reduce downtime in traffic; and offering financial incentives to EV drivers through premiums paid by the company or rider.
Urban last-mile delivery fleet vehicle charging may take place at centralized logistics depots, shared or dedicated “beyond the depot” charging hubs, or public charging infrastructure. For example, New York City is pursuing installation of up to 100 truck chargers throughout the city and charging infrastructure at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. Santa Monica, California is conducting a zero emission delivery zone pilot offering priority curb space and supportive charging infrastructure for light electric trucks in a portion of the central business district.
Delivery service providers may obtain EV charging infrastructure through different ownership models, including customer-owned and charging-as-a-service approaches. For more information on ownership models, see the Project Development and Scoping section of this toolkit. Delivery service providers should consider the level of EV chargers needed, including the use of DCFC chargers to reduce downtime for fleet vehicles. If relying on public charging infrastructure, delivery service providers must consider whether chargers are physically accessible to larger vehicles. Fleet managers may also take advantage of incentive programs by charging delivery vehicles during off-peak hours. For example, a New York utility offers monthly cash incentives for light-duty fleets that avoid charging during summer afternoon peak demand periods.
The Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay program compiles resources related to commercial electric truck charging, including a roadmap developed by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and a guidebook for fleet managers on commercial truck charging.
Local governments are subject to many of the same considerations as other fleet managers with respect to fleet charging. A few examples highlight municipal experience with EV infrastructure planning and implementation:
- New York City has built out EV chargers for its increasingly electrified municipal fleet, with over 1,000 chargers, including solar-powered chargers, a mobile charger, and 90 DCFC chargers. New York allows public access to some of its chargers for a fee.
- Seattle’s Green Fleet program includes extensive EV charging infrastructure to support its growing electrified municipal fleet. The city has installed one Level 2 charger for each BEV and PHEV in its fleet, with an additional DCFC charger for rapid charging needs. Seattle’s experience highlights the importance of planning for fleet charging before procuring the EVs, optimizing the number of chargers based on fleet characteristics, and locating chargers at central and satellite locations.
Local governments may leverage resources initially designed for Federal use, including FEMP’s Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Planning Form, which is a questionnaire that can assist facility and/or fleet managers with EV infrastructure planning.
On-Route Charging for Electric Buses
The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, IndyGo, is testing on-route wireless chargers for electric bus rapid transit buses for the Red Line. The electric buses are charged through inductive charging, a wireless power transfer process. The chargers are wireless pads in the ground. A bus drives over the pad, stops, and lowers to activate the charger. The full process takes 10-15 minutes. In 2021, IndyGo opened the first charging station at the end of the Red Line.
Additionally, the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) have rolled out In Motion Charging (IMC) trolleybuses. IMC trolleybuses recharge their batteries while running under catenary wires on part of a route and then operate off-wire under battery power for other parts of the route. When returning to catenary wire, the IMC trolleybus automatically reconnects to the wire in 3-15 seconds while passengers board at a stop.
The dual-mode IMC technology can help transit agencies overcome two major challenges of relying solely on BEBs for electrification. First, it can provide agencies with high bus utilization and avoid having to potentially purchase more buses, since IMC trolleybuses can run continuously and do not have to come out of service for midday charging. Second, agencies can potentially avoid expensive grid upgrades that can be required for BEB depot electrification, as the technology requires significantly less grid power to charge than DCFC.
The technology has also been able to handle the hilly terrain of San Francisco, a challenge for some BEBs.
Also in this Section
Electric Mobility Infrastructure Planning for Urban Areas
Electric Mobility Infrastructure Funding
and Financing for Urban Areas