The state of California leads the United States in clean car standards, electric vehicle adoption, and EV charging. According to Veloz, as of August 2021, 924,822 EVs have been sold in California (out of 2,084,118 total EV sales in the United States), and 74,459 charging stations have been installed in California so far. With such rapid growth in demand, it’s no wonder that California has passed new regulations and legislation to support EV drivers. Here are the most important regulations that property managers should know about EV charging in California.

Background on EV Charging Standards in California

You might remember a debate in 2019 reflecting policy differences between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). In 1966, smog and vehicle emissions were such a problem in California that the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board (the predecessor to CARB) issued the first vehicle emissions standards in the country. Then in 1970, President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, which set federal emission standards and created the EPA. Importantly, because CARB predated the EPA, California was granted a waiver to maintain the right to its own stricter standards, thus creating two sets of American regulations. Now automakers can choose to follow California or national emissions standards for new vehicles.

Because California has the most vehicles in the United States and has already been a leader in clean car standards, it makes sense that they would also lead in regulations for charging infrastructure.

How to Bill Drivers for EV Charging

There are two main ways to bill drivers for charging their vehicles: duration of time spent charging and amount of energy transferred. When a business bills a driver for the amount of kilowatts transferred to the vehicle, this is known as “reselling electricity.” Many states originally allowed only a utility company to charge users by kilowatt-hour (kWh). But now, more than 30 states have passed legislation that changes the definition of a utility so charging station owners can bill EV drivers by the kWh. In the other states that do not allow kWh billing, charging station owners must use a duration-based pricing plan if they want to charge drivers for usage.

In 2019, California approved new regulations for pricing at public charging stations. California EV charging station owners can no longer charge by the minute or use time-based billing. Station owners that choose to bill drivers must use a kWh fee. This decision helps drivers better predict their charging costs and protects them during peak demand or demand response events. Because charging time can depend on vehicle type, temperature, and usage, charging times can have wide variations. Billing per kWh is a better way to ensure that charging an electric vehicle remains affordable and accessible. With this regulation, charging stations installed in California before 2021 have a decade to update to kWh pricing, while all new installations must use kWh pricing going forward.

Credit Cards and Public Charging

The second question concerns access to charging stations. Simply put, California charging stations that are open to the public must also offer “open access” to charging according to the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Open Access Act. Station providers cannot require drivers to join the provider’s charging network in order to use a public charging station. Now California will require that physical credit card readers be included on new public charging stations: 

According to CARB, charging stations installed on or after January 1, 2022 (DC/FC) or July 1, 2023 (Level 2) must have: 

  • A credit card reader device on the unit or a kiosk that accepts EMV chip
  • A mobile payment device option
  • A toll-free number displayed

With SemaConnect, drivers can pay by phone (using a toll-free number), by visiting network.semaconnect.com on a mobile browser, or using a third-party application such as PlugShare and ChargeHub. In addition, our credit card-enabled Series 8 charging station, introduced last month, is SemaConnect’s newest solution for retail and public charging

SemaConnect supports open access to charging. Charging an electric car should be easy – you should be able to charge from the day you get your electric car. Now, public parking managers can buy charging stations that include the credit card reader from the leader in open networked charging. Do you own or manage a property in California? Want to learn more about business rebates and legislation for your charging stations? Click here to contact an EV charging expert today.