Powertree charger and battery cabinet system

Powertree, a local electric vehicle (EV) charging station startup, has lined up over 100 apartment buildings in San Francisco, Berkeley and Emeryville into which it plans to install solar-powered charging stations for residents, the first installation of which is slated for testing in the Mission in about a week.

At the same time, PG&E has submitted a request to the California Public Utilities Commission for $654 million in ratepayer dollars to finance a proprietary network of 25,000 EV charging stations in northern and central California.  And if approved, PG&E would be allowed control the network’s hardware and rates, a move which could undermine, or possibly quash, Powertree and other innovators in the space.

Partially driving the charging station push, California Assembly Bill 2565 which was passed late last year and requires landlords of non-rent controlled buildings with at least five (5) parking spaces to permit a tenant with a parking space in the building’s garage, and a lease which was executed, renewed, or extended after July 1, 2015, to install a dedicated EV charging station, albeit at the tenant’s expense.

AB-2565 also voids any term in a lease renewed or extended on or after January 1, 2015, that either prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in a parking space associated with a commercial property.

And of course, battles between tenants for existing charging station spots in buildings are growing.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by gold_rush_town

    //no, really// It’s a shame that these guys can come in and steal the sunlight from the top of the buildings whose ambient temperature would have been otherwise maintained by solar heating. What about the birds who may see these panels and think they are flying over the ocean. Can we get an EIR for each new installation? Finally, can’t we require four blocks of bike lane be funded by each one of these automobile-enabling infrastructure devices? //no, really//

  2. Posted by anun

    I’m a condo owner who’s interested in converting my deeded parking space to support an electric vehicle. Anyone got a ballpark figure on how much it would run me?

    • Posted by Pioneer

      Figure you need 240v 50amp service. If you have that unused capacity and the main panel is within 20 feet-it’s really not that expensive. Around $1500, parts and labor for the outlet installation. Charger extra. Most homes don’t have the extra capacity and need service upgrades. Consider a dedicated meter for cheaper grid power while you are considering upgrades (current e-vehicle DMV registration required).

    • Posted by frog

      I’d guess it’s a bit more complicated in the newer buildings, since they all use car elevators.

    • Posted by anon

      Depends on how far you’re running the conduit. In my building, it could range from approx $2,000 – $4,000 depending on proximity & which floor of the parking garage.

  3. Posted by frog

    Why do we insist on putting solar power chargers in SF? It makes much more sense to pay money for solar power in a place that isn’t a fog bank and then have our rates subsidized.

    • Posted by John

      “One misperception in San Francisco is that, due to the fog, the solar power potential for the city is not good, but this is not true. “Many residents were unaware that San Francisco actually has very good solar potential. San Francisco receives solar radiation equivalent to 93% of that seen in San Diego, and cooler temperatures during clear months allow for more efficient energy production than in hotter areas, because PV systems operate more efficiently at lower temperatures.””

      • Posted by Serge

        This. Houses in the outer sunset generate more than enough power through solar to cover (standard) daily usage. The fog argument has thankfully been debunked.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      It makes a lot of sense to put solar power in SF. Because despite the reputation of fog, SF is indeed one of the sunniest city in US.

      • Posted by Matt in Uptown

        I think you two need to dive deeper. We all know that SF has several micro-climates. Basically the west and north areas can be socked in all day with fog while parts of Downtown and the Mission see sun and chilly breezes. It’s not good science to say that 1/4 of a city’s weather represents the rest when it does not. As for the 93% stat -that’s taken from promotional literature and doesn’t even include citation. I’d like to see what convoluted, cherry-picking process they used to come up with that one! From what I can put together they did it by only taking data from one sunnier Downtown weather station. Sorry, SF is actually a fog fest.

        • Posted by R

          Solar panels do not need to be in direct sunlight, so even when it’s foggy or not perfect sunshine you can get some amps. And it’s not realistically foggy all day that many days anywhere in the city. Obviously, far out Richmond and Sunset would have worse performance than the Mission, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t pencil out.

        • Posted by John

          The link was removed but if you’ve run some experiments and have better data, by all means fill us in.

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          i live in the iner richmond, and i honestly think we had maybe 20-25 days of fog in 2014.

        • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

          I live in the west side. All day fog, if it happens at all, will be no more than single digit number of days. In contrast, all the sun is just too common that people don’t pay attention. Do some counting and you will see people have a lot of misconception about the actual percentage of foggy days.

          My link is from NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I definitely give it more creditability than your words and speculations.

        • Posted by

          Solar radiation is marginally affected by overcast or fog from an inversion layer. Only visible light is. Try laying on the beach on an overcast day. You will be none-the-less sunburned after a few hours.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      its been foggy maybe 30 days out of the years ver the past 5 yrs

  4. Posted by Karl

    not all of SF is a fog bank. Solar can pencil here. Does California Assembly Bill 2565 apply to condo buildings or specifically apartments? I wonder how it would impact a rental unit in a condo building

    • Posted by Matt in Uptown

      Can you provide some data from actual installations? That might be more informative than conjecture.

    • Posted by Jake

      SF has some solar energy monitoring stations scattered around the city with multi-year data sets. They range only about 12% from most to least solar radiation (namelink).

      I’d like to know when we can put a wind turbines on Sutro and the other antenna hills.

  5. Posted by R

    Jake: Thanks, good find.

    Matt: There you go, actual data. Or will you dismiss this as well?

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