Highlights from Playbook 4: EV Charging Infrastructure Design & Construction

Published on
May 15, 2024
Written by
Jonathan Colbert
Read time
5 min
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Highlights from Playbook 4: EV Charging Infrastructure Design & Construction

The road to fleet electrification is paved with complex challenges, particularly when it comes to the development of large-scale charging infrastructure. As the Wall Street Journal reports, "The rollout of heavy-duty electric trucks in the U.S. is facing speed bumps at charging stations, where executives say delays getting everything from parts to permits are slowing down construction of the crucial infrastructure." The same is true for light- and medium-duty fleets as well.

For most organizations, the prospect of navigating this uncharted territory can be overwhelming, pulling focus away from the core business. At Voltera, it’s our mission to tackle the toughest obstacles in EV charging deployment head-on, providing fleet operators with a clear path forward. In the fourth installment of our "Electrifying at Scale" playbook series, we take a deep dive into the intricacies of designing and constructing fleet charging facilities, sharing valuable insights and strategies gleaned from our extensive hands-on experience.

Access the Playbook now

Design in parallel with zoning and power procurement

Developing an EV charging site at the scale required for fleet operations is an unprecedented undertaking, one that demands a delicate balance between site design, permitting with local authorities, and power procurement from utilities. Rather than a straightforward, linear process, it involves a circular workflow where decisions made in one area have ripple effects across the others. Successfully navigating this complexity requires the kind of deep expertise and strategic thinking that Voltera has cultivated through our work in the trenches.

In lieu of existing requirements and standards, start with the end goal

One of the most significant hurdles fleet operators face is the lack of established requirements and standards for charging sites tailored to their specific needs. To overcome this challenge, we begin every project by immersing ourselves in the fleet's operational realities, gaining a thorough understanding of their unique circumstances. This includes analyzing factors such as vehicle types, daily mileage, charging patterns, and future growth projections. This knowledge is the foundation for designing a site that optimizes charging and power requirements, ensuring the infrastructure is not only fit-for-purpose but also future-proofed.

Prepare to pave the way (educate and collaborate) with AHJs and utilities

Another challenge is the limited experience and capacity of many permitting authorities and utilities when it comes to the unique requirements of fleet EV charging. We see this as an opportunity to educate and collaborate. We invest considerable time and effort into building strong relationships with local officials, helping them understand the project's intricacies and its potential benefits for the community. In cases where zoning laws have not yet caught up with the realities of fleet EV charging, we work hand-in-hand with authorities to pave the way for a more streamlined approval process. On the utility side, we take a proactive approach to minimize interconnection delays, right-sizing our power requests and maintaining open lines of communication.

Standardize the product into a kit of parts and hack the supply chain

To further streamline development timelines and reduce complexity, Voltera has pioneered a standardized approach to charging infrastructure design. We've developed a modular system of "power blocks" – pre-engineered combinations of transformers, switchgear, and chargers that can be customized to meet each fleet's unique needs. This kit of parts strategy allows us to simplify the design process, procure equipment in bulk ahead of time, and maintain consistency across sites while still allowing for flexibility and scalability. By leveraging this standardized approach, we can compress project timelines and reduce costs without sacrificing quality or performance.

Learn more about our standardized approach – access the Playbook now

Our strategic approach to procurement also plays a crucial role in navigating the challenges of supply chain constraints and equipment availability. By forging strong partnerships with key vendors and suppliers, we can forecast demand more accurately and secure the necessary components well in advance. This proactive strategy has proven invaluable in mitigating the risks of delays and ensuring projects stay on track. When it comes to construction, we leave nothing to chance, rigorously vetting and partnering with experienced local contractors, electricians, and consultants who bring the specialized skills and knowledge needed to execute complex charging infrastructure projects.

Work with the best people

As Dejan Antunovic, Electrification Program Manager at PepsiCo, emphasized at the 2023 EV Charging Summit and Expo, "Creative solutions, engaging the right partners is absolutely critical. It will get busier so starting early is even more important. The grid will eventually be challenged once demand rises. Get public stakeholders involved. Scale up the proper way." At Voltera, we couldn't agree more. The key to success lies in proactive planning, strong partnerships, and a holistic approach that engages all stakeholders.

As the project nears completion, our focus shifts to ensuring a seamless transition from construction to operations. We meticulously coordinate the final stages, carefully sequencing utility and inspector approvals to energize the site without any hiccups. Our dedicated commissioning team acts as a bridge during this critical phase, making sure all the sophisticated equipment integrates seamlessly with fleet vehicles and backend management systems. By maintaining a hands-on approach throughout the entire process, we can identify and resolve any issues quickly, ensuring a smooth and successful launch.

Case study: EV charging infrastructure at the Port of Long Beach

A shining example of Voltera design and construction in action is the recent completion of a 65-charger facility for a drayage fleet at the Port of Long Beach. Despite the challenges of securing land in one of the nation's most congested markets, our team identified an ideal site that provided easy port access while aligning with community needs and values. We then handled every aspect of the development process, from navigating complex utility interconnections to managing construction and equipment installation. When global supply chain disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine threatened to derail the project, we leveraged our strong supplier relationships and quickly sourced alternative components, keeping the project on schedule without compromising on quality. The end result is a state-of-the-art charging facility that not only meets the fleet's current needs but also provides ample room for future growth.

Explore these challenges – and how we’re solving them – in depth in Playbook 4  

At Voltera, we understand that the journey to fleet electrification is complex and filled with uncertainties. But we also know that with the right partner, fleet operators can navigate this challenging landscape with confidence and emerge as leaders in the clean transportation revolution. Our mission is to be that partner, providing the expertise, resources, and unwavering support needed to simplify the path to electrification and accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future. If you're ready to embark on this transformative journey, we invite you to reach out and discover how Voltera can help you electrify your fleet at scale, unlocking new opportunities and driving your business forward.

Electrification at Scale Playbook Series

This EV Infrastructure Design & Construction Playbook is the fourth in a series of Playbooks covering the entire EV charging infrastructure value chain – showing the challenges and opportunities at each stage, and how Voltera helps customers overcome those challenges and capture opportunities.  

Playbook 1: Real Estate Identification & Acquisition

Playbook 2: Power Procurement

Playbook 3: Finding the Right Solution

Playbook 4: Design & Construction

Playbook 5: Operations & Maintenance – coming soon!