The Muir Commons community in West Davis “cut the ribbon” on its first electric vehicle (EV) chargers 17 years ago, quite early in the EV game, according to resident Eugen Dunlap. After years of consensus building and leadership, Muir Commons recently cut a new ribbon on 26 brand new Level-2 chargers — one for each household. Muir Commons now stands as the first multi-unit dwelling electric vehicle charging project in the area and the largest to date in California.

Celebrating collaboration and community

A celebration was held November 9, 2018, for residents and others who made the installation possible through enthusiasm, hard work, and funds: residents (and their kids), representatives of the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District and its Clean Air Funds program, and representatives of PG&E’s EV Charge Network program. City and community leaders were also on hand including Mitch Sears of Valley Clean Energy, Kerry Daane-Loux, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Davis, Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor, and Chris Granger, Executive Director of Cool Davis.

The Muir Commons ad-hoc committee on EV charging infrastructure members Corey Bock, Eugen Dunlap, Laurie Friedman, and Ben Finkelor expressed gratitude for the installation and the collective support of the community members assembled. Ben, also Executive Director of the UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute at West Village, opened the festivities and introduced resident Corey Bock, who delivered an impassioned speech.

Impassioned speeches convey dedication

Corey’s speech opener: “Climate change is not a political choice, but a scientific reality. The climate is changing and it is a change we ignore at our peril. … We can choose to act, while we still have the opportunity. We’re here today to express our gratitude for this opportunity to act — to respond to climate change and toxic air pollution by investing in a cleaner, more sustainable transportation future.”

PG&E representative David Perez expressed his hope that in the future his son would ask him what were “gas stations” and his colleague Allen Fong commented that the committee’s “level of experience was educational.” Alan also confirmed that this was the first and largest multi-unit dwelling system installation for the program in his territory, and one of the first overall in California.

County Supervisor Don Saylor noted that Muir Commons was the first co-housing community in the United States established in 1991 and the current installation was a “wonderful step.” He continued that it is “through individual actions such as this that we will impact this issue.” Ben wrapped up the cake-and-wine-toasting event with a simple but salient truth that Muir Commons will now “be an example of how to do chargers at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs).”

The installation cost each Muir Commons member $1150 out of pocket, which makes the achievement even more noteworthy. Residents will benefit far into the future from this initial investment, and the youth who will likely benefit the most were on hand in force, collecting video footage, helping to serve cake, and cutting the green ceremonial ribbon.

Ad-hoc committee members Ben Finkelor, Corey Bock, Eugen Dunlap, and Laurie Friedman are grateful for the electric vehicle chargers at Muir Commons, Don Saylor (middle) helps them celebrate. All photos credit Johan Verink.

Residents motivated to move forward with electricity

Committee member Laurie Friedman commented after the event that “Muir Commons has always cared about the environment. We put in solar panels for our Common House years ago, and now we continue in that process with the EV chargers. The EV chargers make it possible for community members to purchase electric vehicles and help the environment in that way. Personally, I hadn’t seriously thought about owning an EV, but now it will be the next vehicle I purchase!”

Charging network program

The electronic management system that comes with the chargers tracks usage, generates monthly billing, and controls access. The chargers are owned and maintained by PG&E and deliver power from Valley Clean Energy sources.

Interested apartment and condo managers and co-housing communities can look into PG&E’s EV Charge Network program, which offers charger installation at workplaces and multi-unit dwellings such as apartment complexes. For more information, visit the PG&E website.

Gratitude for state programs and steps taken

Corey Bock finished up his speech with plenty of gratitude and optimism for the future: “We are grateful that the people of the state of California understand that our choices impact our climate and grateful that they want to do something about it. We’re grateful to our state’s civic leaders for the laws and programs that will help make it possible for Muir Commons residents – and residents of condominiums and apartments all over the state – to choose to own and operate sustainably fueled vehicles.”

“We are not here today to declare victory: rather we are here to celebrate our first step on a long road. Change isn’t easy and it doesn’t come cheap. But building a new transportation system that runs on clean sustainable fuels will be nine times easier and nine times less costly than enduring the consequences of clinging to a transportation system that pollutes our air, damages our climate, destroys communities, and destabilizes nations.” Corey’s metaphor was based on memories of his grandmother and that age old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine.” For Muir Commons, stitches … and steps taken now, will save us all many less desirable options in the future.

For more information about electric vehicles, visit the Cool Davis Drive Electric Cool Solutions web page.