California will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035 and that has created an urgency to build charging infrastructure across the state to meet that need. But is it being done safely?
"Not every building is going to catch fire but there are those that don't have the proper wiring or the proper breakers or the proper utility service and they could be in danger," says Bernie Kotlier, the national co-chair of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) based in Michigan.
EVITP was launched in 2012 after a number of electric car fires. A house fire in Cerritos in 2020 occurred while an electric vehicle was plugged in and charging. Authorities don't think it was the car that caught fire first, rather they believe it was the home where the charger was installed.
EVITP was created to establish credentialing standards for electricians and reduce the possibility of unsafe installation by electricians who might not have the expertise needed for this job. And those electricians will be asked to install over a million chargers in California by 2030.
"It's not just something you just show up as an electrician and install it. You really want to do a review of what's currently there and make sure the load can handle it and make sure that this installation is going to last for a long time," says Tyler Lazarian, an EVITP electrician and COO of Electric Service & Supply Company.
For publicly funded projects in California, like an electric bus project in the El Monte Union High School District, there are EVITP training requirements. Those standards don't apply equally to privately funded projects like apartments, businesses or single-family homes, but there is value in asking for it.
Lena Luna, the facility energy manager for El Monte Union High School Districts, explains why home owners could benefit by asking for EVITP electricians.
"You want to make sure they know what they're doing so that you can have these installed correctly. Because it's like any professional, you become an expert in certain areas right? EVITP is a great place to start," Luna said.
"It offers that additional information that an electrician has. Additional layer of safety, additional knowledge on the load calculations and what it takes for a charging system to work," adds Brett Beard of Beard Electric EV in Santa Fe Springs.
To meet the standards to even take the course, state certification or 8,000 hours of hands-on electrical construction experience is required. To date, over 2,300 electricians across California have already passed the course and are now trained to identify infrastructure capable of handling the additional demands of a charging station, or if a location needs to be upgraded.
"This is stuff that I'm confident that an EVITP certified electrician will look into, but I'm not confident that every general electrician would know," Lazarian pointed out. Kotlier added this final thought: "These are not frivolous additional costs, these are life-saving and safety investments."
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