Does California's New EV 'Transparency' Law Give Companies a Loophole?

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Does California's New EV 'Transparency' Law Give Companies a Loophole?
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Early today Gavin Newsom’s office announced that the governor had signed the EV Charging Reliability Transparency Act. On the surface, the bill—which was originally introduced by assembly members Phil Ting and Eloise Gómez Reyes—aims to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the state by mandating that the California Energy Commission (CEC) work with public utility companies (PUC) to assess and document vehicle charger uptime across the state.


It sounds like sensible policy, but David Rempel, a professor at University of California San Francisco who studies the EV charger network, says the policy “doesn't add much to what's already being done by the California Energy Commission.” Rempel says some of the concessions in the bill might even be detrimental to improving the vehicle charging infrastructure. The CEC and the federal government have already begun recording charger network uptime and have even set minimum requirements for chargers built or operated with federal funds [PDF].

Even more concerning, Rempel says, is that two pieces of language in the bill may actually prove detrimental to accelerating the state’s push toward an electrified vehicle fleet. The first is that the bill only requires the CEC and public utility companies begin documenting their charger uptime by January 2024. This may provide a way for charging companies to argue that they don’t need to implement these policies for another 15 months, which would be a considerable step backwards since—again—most of them are already doing this.

In section 2, part C number 3, the bill also provides a potential loophole for companies to get out of providing the very data the law seeks to record: “An individual or company supplying information or data to the commission pursuant to this section may request that the information or data be held in confidence by the commission pursuant to Section 25322.”

Rempel says the only reason such language would make it into the final version of the bill is because the electric vehicle service providers (i.e. the charger companies) asked for it. Without more details describing when such requests would be approved or denied, it’s hard to look at this as anything other than a concession to the service providers that runs antithetical to the stated goal of “transparency.”

Finally, the bill fails to establish any sort of third-party verification system for documenting uptime. Rempel’s research has previously documented significant discrepancies in uptime between charger companies' claims and what’s observable in the real world.

“The companies right now have reported uptime, of 97, 99%. And when we did our field investigation of DC fast chargers in the San Francisco area, we found that only 75% were working,” he says. “You can play games with uptime.”

The Governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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