LADWP offers rebates for home electric vehicle charging

File photo: LADWP chief Ron Nichols and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villraigosa.
File photo: LADWP chief Ron Nichols and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villraigosa. Molly Peterson/KPCC

Los Angeles's Department of Water and Power will pay customers up to $2,000 to install chargers for electric vehicles at their homes.

The DWP will cover equipment and installation costs for up to a thousand electric car owners who install Level 2 or rapid chargers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the program offers Los Angeles "a unique opportunity to transform L.A. from the car capital of the world to the electric car capital of the world."

A home charging station requires a permit. The mayor says he's cut red tape at the Department of Building and Safety and the DWP, so people may complete the process in a week.

DWP general manager Ron Nichols said his utility will lean on wind energy to handle higher load demands. "In fact, we're literally banking on that," he said.

The public utility expects people will charge cars at night, Nichols says, when wind energy is plentiful. Wind also helps the DWP meet state mandates for renewable energy.

It already offers an off-peak discount of almost 20 percent to car chargers. L.A. city officials say that helps keep the operating cost for an electric car around a dollar a gallon.

David Pettit of the Natural Resources Defense Council referred to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill when he said L.A.'s rebate is a good move away from dependence on increasingly costly oil. "The way out of that isn't twiddling with a wrench to make the blowout preventer a little better," Pettit said. "The way out of that is to make the move to a clean energy economy."

Few ratepayers have home electric vehicle chargers now; one DWP official guessed that between three and four dozen exist now. The utility's goal is to grant 5,000 rebates for chargers by the program's end.

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