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?
CHUTTERSNAP

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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Can Customer Service Set LA’s Newest E-Scooter Startup Apart?

Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Yahya Dabbagh
Image by Maylin Tu

Yahya Dabbagh isn’t your typical micromobility startup CEO.

For one, he takes a personal approach to customer service. When he feels a rider is trying to game the system by reporting a scooter broken, in order to earn a free unlock (valued at $1), Dabbagh sometimes will call them up.

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Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Robot Bartenders, Space Construction and a Weight Loss App: Highlights From Techstars’ LA Demo Day
Andria Moore

On Wednesday, Techstars’ fall 2022 class gathered in Downtown Los Angeles to pitch their products to potential investors in hopes of securing their next big funding round. dot.LA co-sponsored the demo day presentation alongside Venice-based space news website Payload.

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Derek Jeter’s Sports Trading Card Company Brings in $10M

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.

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