California is expected to need more than 1.2 million chargers by 2030 to meet the fuel demand of 7.5 million electric vehicles expected to be on California roads. (Unsplash / Michael Fousert)
When Chevrolet launched Volt, a plug-in hybrid, in 2011, Brett Beard began installing chargers in the homes of early passers of electric vehicles in Southern California. It was a niche group. “We were in the garages of movie artists,” recalls Beard.
The government is now expected to need more than 1.2 million chargers by 2030 to meet the fuel demand of 7.5 million electric vehicles expected to be on California roads, according to California Energy Commission. The work of building the California EV charging infrastructure has been instrumental in achieving the government’s climate targets and alleviating the “various concerns” of the general public crossing the state for their battery-powered vehicles.
Hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars budgeted for creating the infrastructure also represents the work of the party electrical technicians at the Beard’s Santa Fe Springs contracting company, as well as thousands of electrical workers across the state. Over the next eight years, according to one estimate, 2,609 California electricians, or 6.8% of the existing electric workforce, will be employed in installing EV chargers.
With this sudden increase in spending, labor and environmental advocates have been working to integrate public investment into EV infrastructure and training standards as a way to ensure high quality work and high road works. Parliamentary Bill 841, funded by California MP Phil Ting in 2020, requires at least a quarter of approved electricians on public-funded projects or to participate in an 18-hour course, known as the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP). Skills requirements represent a broad effort and career advocates to attain certification standards for work related to climate investment.
Beard participated in the previous version of EVITP back in 2012. It was a very valuable instruction when technology was little understood by colleagues. “Electricians have cargo trucks,” he suggests. “They don’t have electric cars.”
Beards have since taken the class several times as technology has changed. He and other supporters of the need say it is important to make sure car payments are safe and reliable. Beard oversees the process of turning on electric cargo trucks and school buses, as well as the development of “bidirectional” charge. which allows car batteries to return electricity to the grid. Charging stations with 20 dispensers all using one large charger are located on the horizon. “So you’re talking about high voltage,” similar to a battery storage system, says Beard. When energy requirements are imposed on charging infrastructure, “Having an EVITP will save lives,” he adds.
The requirement that at least a quarter of electrical technicians at public-funded jobs take an online class at a cost of $ 275 may be seen as a non-controversial proposal. But not everyone is enthusiastic. The Electric Vehicle Charging Association (EVCA), an industry group representing companies like ChargePoint, had previously opposed the requirement before removing its opposition in 2020. Reed Addis, EVCA manager, says its members are still “shocked” about the responsibility imposed on them. . “We don’t know about poor electrical work or poor installation work that would require this. So in our view, it was like, where is the impetus for this policy?”
‘Having [Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program] will save lives. ‘
– Brett Beard, Santa Fe Springs contracting company
EVITP was launched in 2012 after a series of reports of electric vehicles caught fire. Some of the fires started in the car, but others started in the electrical systems of the buildings in which the cars were charging, leading to the recognition by car manufacturers that electricians installing charging stations needed better training, according to Bernie Kotlier, nationally. co-chair of EVITP. Starting in Michigan, the nonprofit organization that runs the training program is led by electrical contractors, electricians, first aid providers, utilities, electric car manufacturers, EV charging manufacturers and others.
Kotlier says there is no major reservoir of code violations, power outages, fires or deaths related to installation errors. Yet, for many years, there have been reports of scattered fire engines that erupted when cars were charging that were not connected to the battery.
In 2020, a child suffered minor injuries after a a fire broke out in a garage in Cerritos, California where Tesla was charging; it was thought to be related to household aluminum cables. In 2019, a fire broke out in San Antonio, Texas, over a fire excessive electricity system. Similar media reports about fires connected to electric vehicles, however rare, also set the industry back, says Kotlier, who is also the executive director of the IBEW Operations Management Co-operation Committee and the National Contractors Association Electricity (NECA) California & Nevada. He says there are 2,300 EVITP-approved electricians across California, ready to meet the government’s infrastructure targets.
Hyundai Kona charging at the Evnex charging station in New Zealand. (Unsplash / Ed Harvey)
The EVITP initiative is supported by the International Brotherhood of 750,000 Electrical Workers, though not a coalition plan. Kotlier wishes to point out that participants only need to be government-approved electrical technicians in order to be eligible for EVITP certification. There are other ways to be certified besides affiliate training programs.
Still some supporters still see the need for EVITP as a way to maintain work quality standards while the departure from fossil fuels could cost intermediate work in refineries, power plants and in automotive industry. The goal should be to show “that a clean economy is better than the dirty economy we have,” said Marc Boom, director of federal affairs at the Natural Resources Protection Council. “The transition will not be completed until good and quality work goes with it.”
The national environmental group joined the electricity workers’ union in February urging Parliament to include the requirement for EVITP approval in the Build Back Better Act. The Biden rule is recommend software as a way to ensure “safe and high quality” performance under the bilateral infrastructure bill, which is expected to fund 500,000 EV levies across the country at a cost of $ 7.5 billion.
‘Because they have chosen this program, given the monopoly, you will not see many colored people can participate and get that kind of training.’
– Reed Addis, Electric Car Charging Association
Carol Zabin, an economist with Green Economy Program at UC Berkeley Work Center, explains this. The EVITP program is “primarily based on a state-approved apprenticeship system,” a paid-in-service student training system that combines classroom training with years of on-the-job training. “Certificates can help pay well, and it recognizes skills that help employers know what they are hiring,” says Zabin.
But EVCA Addis sees EVITP’s need as “elitist” and expensive as the industry tries to make electric cars as cheap as possible. “Because they have chosen this program, given the monopoly, you will not see many people of color able to participate and receive such training,” says Addis, who complained the test was difficult to achieve. for rural ones.
No data is available about the demographics of EVITP-approved electricians in California, according to the California Energy Commission. The CEC has recently partnered with California community colleges to offer EVITP examinations in the state’s rural areas. Previously, the test was only offered in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Diana Limon is the training director for the largest school of electrical technicians in the nation: Southern California Electrical Training Institute in Commerce, California. (Capital and Capital)
Diana Limon, wearing a faded gray suit, is like a business and straightforward. He is the training director for the largest school of electrical technicians in the nation: Southern California Electrical Training Institute (ETI) in Commerce, California. The center is run jointly by NECA and IBEW Local 11, whose jurisdiction deals with LA County automatically based. (Note: IBEW Local 11 is a sponsor of this site.) Students at ETI are very visible. as a county, except for the many Latin and white minorities and the inhabitants of the Asian and Pacific Islands. The current class of approximately 1,900 is 69% Latino, 9% Black, 4% Asia and Pacific Islander and 17% white. About 125 IBEW students completed the EVITP program last year. They will receive their EVITP ID as soon as the government fully accepts them as electricians.
“I think for us it is always about raising standards,” Limon says of EVITP. “When we do wrong people can be shocked, electrocuted, or someone else may be injured because of it, or a fire may occur. So the safety of the citizens is important to us and the safety of our members is important to us.”
The College of Electrical Training is located in a solar-powered building where Frank de Leon studied electrical engineering from 2004. He said he began learning about the possibility of becoming an electrician through the union. 2nd mobile app, which sends participants to prisons to communicate. “The job of a party electrician was like a dream come true for me,” says de Leon, who feels that his basic knowledge of arithmetic and interviewing helped him get a scholarship.
He is currently an EVITP-approved supervisor and an electrical company contractor specializing in EV charging. He says he will soon install 40 chargers at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Riverside County, where he was detained for 25 months in the late 1990s.
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