Five-steps to help anyone prepare their business for a world-class electric vehicle charging project in less time than a Stranger Things episode.
I receive requests each week from customers eager to bring electric vehicle (EV) charging to their properties. One of their first questions is, “how soon can you send someone out to evaluate our site?”
Interest? Off the charts. Enthusiasm? Couldn’t be higher.
But all the excitement in the world won’t result in a successful EV charging project.
What will? The right information.
Preparations for EV Stations
Without proper preparation or experience, planning a commercial EV charging project can feel scary and nebulous.
Showing up prepared for the initial EV charging conversation not only saves everyone time; it also demonstrates a baseline proficiency that will earn respect and lead to shorter project timelines. You’ll prove you’ve done your research and are ready to get to business.
People like me who are responsible for qualifying your project take notice. Those who come prepared will always take the front seat. Everyone else rides in the back. Or on the roof.
When you’re prepared, you also earn the right to move on to the next item on your overflowing To-Do list with peace of mind.
I want you to have this clarity. I want you to ride in the front seat during your EV charging journey. I want you to look good.
Here’s how to get from EV charging novice to a prepared planner in less than one hour.
Here are the first five actions needed to start any commercial EV charging project:
- Download electrical engineering drawings or plans for your property
- Collect and save the most recent 12 months of electric utility bills
- Contemplate the primary motivations for exploring EV charging. What’s your vision?
- List all stakeholders involved in the final decision
- Know your budget
That’s it. Seriously.
But there’s a difference between knowing how to golf, and winning the Masters. The following details will help you take the first swing, save time, and avoid common water hazards.
Step 1: Download electrical engineering drawings or plans for the property (10 minutes)
Think of electrical drawings as an MRI of your building’s electrical wiring. They help our team quickly evaluate the status and health of your electrical infrastructure for EV charging.
Electrical engineers design building electrical systems with a set of detailed drawings commonly referred to as “as-builts” or “plan sets”.
If you know where to find a digital copy of the electrical drawings, save a copy for the project. If you’re unsure, ask your engineering or facilities team. They’ll have a PDF copy they can email to you in 5-minutes.
Extra credit: If you already know the general location or parking stalls you want to add charging stations, mark those spaces on the drawings. Use a PDF mark-up tool or a crayon. It doesn’t matter. This little move will earn your MVP status in my eyes.
Step 2: Collect the most recent 12 months of electric utility bills (15 minutes)
If electrical drawings are the MRI, utility bills are the building’s vitals. Our team needs your bills to understand current operations and evaluate if your facility’s electrical system is healthy enough for EV charging.
To get the bills, navigate to your utility’s website. Login. Click the “billing” tab and locate the historical bills you’ve already paid. Download PDF copies of the last 12 months of electric bills. If you can’t get 12, gather as much as you can.
If you don’t have utility login credentials, ask your organization’s billing department to send you the last 12 months of electric bills. A quick email request to the right person will take 2-3 minutes tops.
Extra credit: If your organization requires entering a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before sharing utility bills with a third party, ask your legal team for a copy of the NDA in anticipation. Save a copy of the NDA to your project file.
Step 3: Soul-searching – Understanding your primary motivations for EV charging? What’s your vision? (10 minutes)
The “why” is always the most important question for any EV charging project.
Why is your organization interested in EV charging? Why now?
For example, does your organization want to add chargers for every EV-driving employee to charge at the workplace? Or does your CEO drive a Tesla and wants one port to charge at the office?
Stop. Take 2-minutes to write your answer.
Good job. Now, let’s dig deeper.
Some other questions:
- What’s your long-term EV charging vision?
- Who will be charging? Employees? Fleet operators? Visitors? All the above?
- Do you want to install X amount of chargers today, with hopes to scale in the next 2-3 years? (80% of our customers do)
Considering motivations for EV charging helps us determine if we can help. We’re not always the right technological fit for every project and we want to be able to tell you right away. If we are, understanding the “why” will help us design a system that fits the specific needs at your site.
Take 10-minutes to write out why your organization wants to invest in EV charging. Take a shot at the questions above. Be honest. There are no wrong answers because nobody knows the answer but you.
Step 4: List all stakeholders involved in the final decision (5 minutes)
A capital improvement project like EV charging is rarely decided by one person. Depending on the property, the decision is often made by committees, departments, or development teams.
To gain support and keep the group apprised, you need a detailed list of all decision-makers at the start of the project.
Pull up your org chart. Take five minutes to list each individual who will need to sign off on the project. This will pay dividends down the line.
The ultimate project-ending gut punch? A hard “no” at the 11th hour from the CFO who should have been involved at the outset. But you won’t make this mistake; you’re prepared.
Step 5: Know your budget (10 minutes)
Yes, we need to talk about money.
While it may be uncomfortable for some, companies ready to move on EV charging don’t mind. They have the the money. Those who aren’t ready, don’t.
I’m shocked by the number of responses to the budget question that resemble: “Gee, I don’t know” or “I don’t have one”.
My favorite, “We haven’t got that far yet.”
Would you go new car shopping with an empty wallet and no line of credit? No way! That’s why budgets, or lack thereof, are the number one project-killer.
If you don’t have a budget, I’ll always follow up with a “how do you expect to pay for this?” If it’s an “I don’t know” or worse, we aren’t the right fit for your project. The good news: we just saved everyone’s time scheduling a site visit.
Note: Our EV charging projects with 20 Level 2 ports generally start around $150,000 – $200,000. Aren’t sure what Level 2 means? Check out my EV 101 article.
You may be thinking: Well, what about EV charging rebates?
Yes, incentives can be helpful. But they seldom cover 100% of project costs.
A budget is the only sure-fire way to ensure your project isn’t hamstrung by incentive availability. Then, if incentives exist, it’s icing on the cake. And you’ll make your boss look like a rock-star. Bosses like that.
Charging Forward: Next Steps
Whew, 50-minutes. Did you do it? If you addressed all five points, congratulations. You’re 75% of the way to your next successful EV charging project.
Need a summary? Here’s a handy EV Charging Project Checklist to reference or share with your team. It’s free.
Yes, proper preparation takes time and mental energy. But those who make the investment will save yourself and others valuable time, demonstrate proficiency, and… maybe even schedule that site visit.
About the Author
My name is Alex. I’m working alongside a talented team to provide organizations with intelligent onsite solutions that support carbon-free electrification and transportation.