First published in the Aug. 20 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Tesla has approached the city of Burbank requesting that Burbank Water and Power collaborate with the company to install Tesla electric-vehicle chargers on city-owned property. The City Council recently gave approval for BWP to proceed with negotiations.
Tesla would pay for the installation of the chargers along with some improvements at a city-owned parking structure on East Orange Grove Avenue located near the Burbank Town Center.
They would also provide “aid-in-construction” infrastructure funding according to the city, which would allow the city to install non-Tesla chargers at the parking structure as well, at least doubling Burbank’s electric vehicle charging capacity.
Burbank is home to the most utilized Tesla Supercharger station in the country also located at the Burbank Town Center. City staff members said there are often significant waits for charging at that location.
“Not only is it their largest used Supercharger in California, but it alone has more usage than the entire state of Kentucky,” Councilman Nick Schultz told the Leader. Schultz met with representatives from Tesla last week to discuss the Orange Grove parking structure project.
“We have a lot of infrastructure for gas-powered cars, but not a lot for electric vehicles. …The project that we are considering alone would double the capacity of supercharging in the city of Burbank,” he said.
Tesla utilizes fast-charging technology called direct-current fast charging, or DCFC, which allows a vehicle to get 200 miles worth of charge in less than 30 minutes. The city hopes that while customers are charging their vehicles, they will make purchases at local businesses during their wait.
According to the city, 90% of drivers leave their vehicles while charging and make three visits per month to public charging stations on average.
“The city has long committed itself to building out our electric vehicle charging infrastructure, not just to get people out of gas cars and into electric vehicles, but also to meet some of our state targets,” Schultz said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order last year setting goals for California to transition to 100% electric vehicle manufacturing by 2045. The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The city of Burbank is pursuing efforts to encourage residents, visitors, and businesses to adopt plug-in electric vehicles.
Additionally, Tesla would lease the space from the city, which would generate additional revenue for the parking authority, which would go back into parking structures.
“That’s a problem we are running into. Parking funding is dropping very quickly… that’s why our parking structures are so deteriorated. So we are trying to create more funding for the parking authority which would go back into those structures,” Mayor Jess Talamantes said during a council meeting last month.
The city aims to reduce its emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony said that Tesla is notorious for their union-busting tactics, and suggested that the city also get competing offers for a similar deal from Ford and General Motors, which have unions. City staff responded, pointing out that Tesla represents 70% of the electric charging market nationwide.
Jeannine Edwards, head of sustainability, marketing and strategy for BWP said that the city can look into Tesla and other companies.
Ultimately, the motion to proceed with negotiations with Tesla to install proprietary and nonproprietary charging infrastructure was passed unanimously by the council on July 12.