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Webinar: Ensuring a Reliable Charging Experience (Text Version)

This is a text version of Webinar: Ensuring a Reliable Charging Experience, presented on June 8, 2023.

Stephen Lommele, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Hello everyone, and welcome to today's webinar. I'm Steve Lommele. I'm the communications and education lead for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Today, we're going to be focused on ensuring a reliable charging experience. So we've got some great speakers for you. We're going to go ahead and get started here in just a minute. We're letting some additional participants roll in. Welcome today, everyone. Thanks for joining. We'll get started here in just a second.

Great. Hello, everyone. And again, welcome. I'm Steve Lommele. I'm the communications and education lead for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Today's Joint Office webinar is focused on ensuring a reliable charging experience. And we're going to have some great speakers here for you in a second.

But before we get started, I just want to run through some quick housekeeping tips. So first of all, controls are located at the bottom of your screen. And if they are appearing, you can move your cursor to the bottom edge. And this is where we're going to be taking questions from you during the webinar. So please do submit questions as the speakers are presenting. And we'll have time at the end to address those questions. Again, submit those questions using the Q&A window.

And as just a disclaimer, we are recording today's webinar. And it will be posted on the Joint Office website and also used internally. So if you do speak during the webinar or use your video, you are presumed to consent to recording and use of your voice or image.

So our agenda today, I'm going to provide just a brief welcome and introduction from the Joint Office. And then we've got our Executive Director, Gabe Klein, who will make a few remarks. And then we're going to have a presentation on the Charging Reliability and the ChargeX Consortium presented by John Smart of Idaho National Lab, followed by some cybersecurity considerations presented by Sarah Hipel from the Joint Office. At the end, we will have opportunity for the panelists to answer some of your questions. So again, please do submit those while we're going through the presentation today.

So as some background, the Joint Office was established to accelerate an electrified transportation system that is affordable, convenient, equitable, reliable, and safe—bringing together expertise and resources from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation. We were established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. And we're working so that we can create a future where everyone can ride and drive electric.

The Joint Office provides unifying guidance, and technical assistance, and analysis to support four major programs. So first is the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program. And that's the $5 billion program that provides funding to state departments of transportation to build out a national electric vehicle charging network along designated electric vehicle charging corridors.

So initially, this is primarily focused on building highway corridor stations. And then once states achieve fully built out status, they'll have some flexibility to invest those dollars to support additional corridor stations or perhaps stations in communities as well.

And then recently announced, the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program. So this is the $2.5 billion in community and corridor grants for EV charging, as well as hydrogen, natural gas, and propane fueling infrastructure. I have a slide here coming up later on the deadline for this, but just as a reminder, this opportunity is open. And Federal Highways is accepting proposals for the CFI grant program right now.

And then the Joint Office also supports the Low and No Emissions Grants Program for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Agency. And this is $5.6 billion in support for low and no emission transit bus deployments. And then we're working with the EPA on the Clean School Bus Program. So we're working with school districts around the country to roll out clean school buses, as well as charging infrastructure to support those.

So the Joint Office has been very focused on making sure that states, communities, tribes, transit agencies, and school districts around the country have access to technical assistance and strategies for building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

We have had one-on-one meetings with state departments of transportation for the last year and a half or so, primarily focused on the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program. So we've got great relationships with the state departments of transportation, in many cases, the energy offices who are working closely alongside state DOTs to roll out infrastructure through the NEVI Formula Program.

And then answering lots of questions from our stakeholders via our concierge service. So we do have on the Joint Office website,, we've got a concierge service where you can submit questions via web form, via phone, or via email.

And those go to a team of experts behind the scenes who have been fielding questions and developing resources to address many of the challenges and opportunities faced by our stakeholders in rolling out this charging infrastructure. So I highly encourage you to make use of that. Visit assistance to learn more and the Contact Us form to ask questions.

As I mentioned, is the website of the Joint Office. And this connects state DOTs and other stakeholders to resources, including information on infrastructure planning and implementation guidance, lots of data and tools. We regularly post news items here on important news coming out of the Joint Office as well as our federal partners at DOE, DOT, and EPA, and then, of course, accessing the technical assistance resources that we have.

You can view a recording of this webinar as well as other webinars that we've hosted on the Joint Office website. And again, we encourage you to sign up for news and updates from the Joint Office. You can subscribe to our regular newsletter, where we share out information on past and upcoming webinars, other funding resources, technical assistance resources, all of that great stuff.

So I do encourage you to subscribe so that you can get a recording of today's webinar when it's made available. And then if you have a question that's not answered on the webinar today, please do follow up with us via that contact form and ask that question so that we can get back to you. That's the best way for us to be able to get you the information that you need to make the decisions you need to build out our electrified transportation system.

Just wanted a quick reminder, again: The deadline for the CFI program is June 13. So please work on getting those applications in.

And then the Joint Office also has the Ride and Drive Electric funding opportunity announcement. So that's $51 million to support lots of initiatives, things focused on reliability, workforce development, innovative charging community models for deploying charging infrastructure. And the deadline to submit concept papers for that is on June 16. So if you visit and go to the Funding Opportunities page, you can learn more about both of those opportunities.

So with that, I want to turn it over to Gabe Klein, who's just going to make some introductory remarks. And as a reminder, Gabe is our executive director leading the Joint Office. We've got a growing staff. And Gabe is leading us to the charge. So go ahead, Gabe.

Gabriel Klein, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Thank you, Steve. And thanks actually to the whole Joint Office team and lab teams that come together and make these webinars happen. And I want to encourage everybody to go to our website. And you can look at all of the webinars that Steve and team have put together over the last, well, six, eight months for lots and lots of interesting topics.

This one is near and dear to my heart. It's absolutely crucial. And when we think about reliability, we tend to think about chargers working. And that's absolutely at the core, but it's also about cybersecurity, it's also about usability, and the system being frictionless.

Think of your favorite product that you like to use out there. Why do you like to use it? We have a 97% uptime requirement in the minimum standards that were put out in February. Imagine if your phone only worked 97% of the time. That is a minimum. And so we need to think about this national network as something that's interoperable, frictionless, easy. And believe it or not, it could be fun to use it.

So I'm really excited about this. I will also say that we're going to hear, as was put up on the slide, from Sarah Hipel and John Smart. And they're going to really dive into what this charging experience entails, as well as the newly launched National Charging Experience Consortium, or ChargeX. And then, again, they will go into cyber as well.

Steve covered the Ride and Drive Electric funding opportunity announcement. I really encourage everybody to go to our site and read that if you haven't. You can still get a concept paper in, as Steve said. It's really innovative and there are reliability components in there as well. So I hope you enjoy this today. Thank you so much for taking time out. We have states and cities. We have private companies.

We have a lot of different types of organizations. It's going to take all of you to make this system work for the American people. So thank you, enjoy it. And reach out to us through our website at with any questions or feedback by the way on what you like today or what you'd like to see. Thanks, and back to you, Steve.

Stephen Lommele: Thanks so much, Gabe. And thanks, again, all of you for joining. So I'm going to turn it over to our panelists here in just a second. But first, we want to do two quick poll questions. So Justin, if you might please pull up that first question, we are interested in knowing what sector you represent. So if you could take a minute here to just indicate what sector you represent. And as soon as we've got a critical mass, I'll have Justin advance and we can see the results. Again, we are taking your poll responses right now. And Justin's pulling up the results right now.

So you can see, we've got good representation from state governments as well as NGOs and industry. I see that we've got some utility folks as well, as some EVSPs, electric vehicle service providers or charging networks, and then some communities too, and local and regional governments, also some representation from a tribal government. Great to have you on today.

Justin, if you could advance to the next slide, please, our next polling question. And this is focused on what region of the country you are from. So if you could go ahead and indicate here. Of course, we're supporting national programs. On the past webinars, we've had representation pretty evenly across the country. It will be interesting to see who we've got on today.

Great, I love to see that. Pretty great representation from across the country. All different regions pretty equally represented. So thank you all for joining. And with that, I'm going to go ahead and introduce our panelists for today. So we've got John Smart. John is the mobility analytics group lead at Idaho National Laboratory. And he recently completed a detailed assignment with the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation.

So John and I had the pleasure of working together for the last year and a half or so where he served as the acting program manager for guidance, standards, and requirements. And during his 15 years at Idaho National Lab, he has formed and led cross-functional teams of experts in transportation, energy storage, power systems, cybersecurity, data science, and machine learning.

And then we also have Sarah Hipel on board. So Sarah is the standards and reliability program manager within the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. And the standards and reliability program covers reliability metrics, charging protocols, and standards, as well as cybersecurity standards and guidance that we're providing to states on standard practices, data collection and sharing, new tools for collaboration, and product development within the Joint Office.

Sarah is an experienced engineer with a passion for e-mobility and a specialization in interoperable mobility infrastructure. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to John, who's going to take over the slides here. So I will stop sharing, John, and turn it over to you.

John Smart, Idaho National Laboratory: All right, thanks, Steve. And thanks, Gabe, for having me. So Steve, you mentioned that I've been at Idaho National Lab for 15 years. And throughout that time, I've been privileged to work very closely with charging station operators, with automakers, and a lot of other stakeholders in the EV industry.

And it's thrilling to see how the market is growing and the industry is maturing. I'm happy to share today with our audience the things that I've learned over that last 15-year period that will hopefully help you to ensure a reliable charging experience for today's and future EV drivers.

So here's an overview of what I'll discuss today. First, what is the charging experience? What do we mean by that? What influences it and who's responsible for it? I'll talk about the operational capabilities that are needed for charging station operators and others to provide a highly reliable charging experience.

Then we'll talk a little bit about how to measure reliability in terms of uptime, which has become a popular metric. I'll conclude with some thoughts on advanced design features for charging stations and some cautions there. And finally, I'll introduce the ChargeX Consortium that Gabe mentioned and what the national labs are doing to partner with the private sector.

So first, what is the charging experience? It's really everything that happens from the time that an EV driver thinks, "I should probably charge soon," until after that charge is completed successfully. I like to think of it in terms of questions that drivers may ask themselves, such as, where can we charge? How hard will it be to find the charging station? How long will it take to charge? How much will it cost? How comfortable will we be when we're there? And fundamental to all of that, will it actually work for us? Will the chargers be operational? Not just that—also, will the combination of our EV and that charger work together to successfully charge?

What influences the charging experience? What are all the factors that come together to provide that charging experience? Well, from the customer's perspective, it's the location of the charging station, the design features of the charging station, what amenities are there, also the user interface and the functionality of the charger itself. How do you get it to work? How do you interact with it? As well as any app that a driver may choose to use to find a station, to navigate to it, to pay, to operate the charging—the charging station.

So it looks like an iceberg. There's a lot that has to happen behind the scenes or beneath the surface that the customer, the EV driver, doesn't see. So let's dive into some of those things. So first, naturally, there's operation and maintenance of the charging stations themselves, or O&M.

This includes really obvious things like station cleaning, maintenance and repair, also operating the communications network that communicates with and controls the chargers, monitors the use of the chargers, and performs diagnostics and remote troubleshooting.

There's also customer support services. So if there's a problem, what does a customer do? We could provide a call center that allows them to call it and gets them—to get live operator support. There's spare parts inventory management, which has become more of an issue in recent years, thanks to supply chain constraints. There's software update management and so on.

Further removed from the customer is product development and manufacturing. Of course, the way that an EV or a charger is designed has an impact on the customer experience, as well as how well those products are tested. Also, the design of EVs and chargers and how well they comply with industry accepted standards makes a big difference to the charging experience. And then finally, where the parts come from also affects reliability in the charging experience.

There's more. So the planning, and installation, and construction of charging stations also has an impact. So where the charging station is sited, how real estate is procured, and what the terms and agreements are of that relationship or that arrangement. Of course, the design of the overall station, the layout, construction, the commissioning, how well the station is constructed and verified to be working properly. And even, sometimes, the electric utility has a role in the customer experience.

Who is responsible for the charging experience? Well, again, from the customer perspective, certainly the EV manufacturer that produces the vehicle that they sit in has a huge, huge role to play, the charging station operator, the company whose brand name is on the chargers that operate the physical stations.

And also in any provider of what we call roaming apps or apps that show where charging stations are and allow customers to see the status of those stations, navigate to them, and pay—could be the charging station operators' offered apps or the EV manufacturers, or we're seeing more and more third parties providing that service. So those are all entities that are responsible for the top-level charging experience.

But again, following the iceberg analogy, there are so many more entities or organizations behind the scenes that directly impact the charging experience. So for the rest of my presentation, I'll talk about what happens behind the scenes, who the players are, what needs to happen to ensure a reliable charging experience, all of the things that the customer doesn't see.

So in order to understand who does what, we need to understand prevailing business models. In this still nascent industry, there's a wide range of business models at play. On one extreme is full vertical integration, where a single company does everything in-house. And it simply leases property from a site host or a landlord.

That means the company operates their charging stations. They provide backend communication, network support. They manufacture the chargers, provide field services. They maintain and repair the chargers and even provide customer support themselves.

On the other extreme is a case where a site host, which could be really any business, decides themselves to become a charging station operator, but they have no expertise or maybe interest in doing all that—all that needs to be done to operate that station. And in this case, they purchase their charger from a vendor. They contract with installers and field service providers. They also contract with the charging network provider and customer support services to run the station.

Today—excuse me one second. The fact is that today, most companies, most charging station providers, are somewhere in the middle, where they do some of the work themselves. And they contract out some of the services to third parties.

Given that, it's abundantly important that charging station operators clearly define roles and responsibilities for operation and maintenance among their contractors. These contracts are often called service level agreements. And providing or developing detailed SLAs early in the business development process is absolutely critical for success.

If that's not done, very quickly, things devolve into finger pointing between the different organizations involved. Now, I don't just mean that blame will be cast. Yes, that happens sometimes, but more often, simply if one entity doesn't know what their responsibilities are, they expect other people to be doing that thing. And it begins to look like Abbott and Costello's Who's on First skit. Now, that can be very entertaining for an afternoon on YouTube, but it's not at all entertaining for the customer who bears the brunt of the dysfunction among organizations.

Let's talk about the capabilities that a charging station operator needs to ensure reliable operations, in order to understand the contractual relationships between the different entities. These necessary capabilities, which require significant sophistication, include first, a geographically or regionally located field service team that is close enough to charging stations that they can respond quickly to make repairs.

Next, a team that performs regular site inspection. They clean and maintain the site and also test the chargers with different vehicles to make sure that as software changes and as new vehicles come to market, that everything still works. Charging station operators also need to provide customer support. Ideally, this would be a 24/7 call center of live operators. Although in this day and age, there are, of course, other ways to communicate and support customers.

Also, there needs to be remote monitoring and diagnostics of the charging stations to not only identify when there are problems but also remotely fix as many of those problems as possible. And then, additionally, each charging station operator needs to have a strategy for procuring replacement parts, which, as I mentioned a minute ago, is challenging these days. It's not only due to supply—excuse me, supply chain constraints but also because the pace of change of charger technology is quite rapid. And replacement parts in stockpiles can become obsolete quickly.

All of this needs to be brought together. Each of these elements are important in isolation. But for real success, they need to be coordinated through some kind of a quality management system. That includes data collection and sharing between entities. A way to track and follow up with issues to make sure they're taken care of. And overall, to measure and improve performance.

I want to give you two examples that are particularly problematic for our industry today. But first, let me tell you that oftentimes, everything I've just described is referred to as an O&M, or operations and maintenance plan. In fact, some states in their NEVI request for proposals or other funding programs are requiring applicants to those programs to detail their O&M plan as part of their proposal or their application. I think that's a great idea.

All right, so a couple of examples. Not all failures or not all problems that happen at charging stations today are visible via remote monitoring. Take for example, the plastic housing on a fast charger connector. That plastic housing can be damaged when the connector is dropped on the ground. It can be driven over. If not handled with care, it can be cracked or even broken and no longer usable.

Now today, very few, if any charging station operators can detect that kind of a failure remotely, but that doesn't mean that there's not a problem. Clearly, from the customer's perspective that's an issue that is preventing them from using a charger. It needs to be—it needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

So given the different capabilities that the charging station has, what can they do? A site inspection team that's funded by or contracted by the charging station operator will hopefully visit the site, see that problem and make a note of it, or a customer may contact the customer service hotline and report the problem. And that's great, but obviously it can't end there. The site inspection team or the customer support service center needs to report that issue up to someone else. In this case, to the field services team, so that they can visit the site and fix the problem.

Likewise, that problem needs to be reported to the network operations center so that they can update their information in their database to show that that charger is out of service, so that the customer facing app that shows the status of all the chargers in the network is appropriately updated to show that the charger is out of service. Otherwise, you may have a customer drive to that charger thinking that it's—following the instructions that it's operational only to find that it's not.

And then of course once the field service team responds, fixes the problem, they need to communicate with the parts team to make sure that parts are back or the stock is replaced. And then they need to report back to the network operations center to make sure that the status is updated to—of the charger to show that it's now operational.

The other example I'll share quickly is one that involves systems that are owned by third parties. So one that we hear about a lot is a credit card reader. In many cases, the credit card readers installed on chargers are essentially black boxes. They're produced by a separate manufacturer. They're bolted onto the charger. And there's fairly limited information that's issued from the credit card reader itself to the charger's central processor. In that case, there are instances where there is a failure of the credit card reader to process a payment, but not much information back to the charging network operations center.

This is a situation where the charging station operator, through its contracts with the charging network provider, needs to have a system for following through with that third party, in this case, the charging—excuse me, the credit card processor and the credit card device manufacturer, to solve this problem. Now, I don't have any silver bullets today to share with you to prevent that problem, but my point is that there are additional entities in the system even compared—relative to those that I have on screen with whom additional coordination is needed.

All right, in addition to operation and maintenance capabilities, charging station operators also need a robust plan for reliable charger design and installation or to contract with vendors that are doing it. We don't have time to go through all of the different facets of charger design and installation to ensure reliability today, but I do want to just hit on these six topics.

First, there needs to be focus on physical and cyber security. Sarah will talk a bit about cybersecurity. And frankly, we could talk—we could have an entirely separate webinar on cybersecurity best practices. In fact, the Joint Office has hosted such a webinar. And I'm sure there will be more.

Additionally, charger design needs to be weatherproof. And there needs to be an intrusion protection to prevent ingestion of dust and debris, which can be quite punishing. Of course, safety needs to be a top priority, as well as accessibility for people with disabilities.

In terms of designing the entire station and building the station, cellular or internet connectivity can be particularly problematic. There have been many cases where charging stations have been installed and designed to rely on cellular communication using a SIM card embedded within the charger or potentially even a central modem. And in fact, there is no cell coverage in that area, or cell coverage is quite spotty.

So during the planning of that charging station, the best practice is to measure the strength of the signal in that area. And if that signal is low, obviously, the solution is to do something different, either to add a repeater in the area or to connect to the internet another way by a wire connection.

Charger testing during commissioning is a critical part of the commissioning process. That means after the chargers are installed, the construction is completed, there should be a well thought through, robust verification procedure to ensure that the installation was done correctly, that chargers work, that they connect with the back office or communication network, and also they're capable of delivering power to different types of vehicles.

It's easy to shortcut that commissioning process, which leads to the customers finding out the problems in installation. And then finally, you'd be surprised at how many charging stations have inaccurate locations reported to the various apps that show where charging stations are. That again is, in my mind, can be addressed during the commissioning process to make sure that the staff on site are accurately measuring the GPS coordinates of that station and not just relying on geolocation from an address.

All right, now let's talk about measuring reliability. The Federal Highway Administration recently issued minimum standards for all DOT-funded charging infrastructure. And those minimum standards issued in the form of a federal regulation include a definition for a metric called average annual uptime. The regulation states that a charging port is considered up, meaning operational, when its hardware and software are both online and available for use or in use and the charging port successfully dispenses electricity according to the demand of the vehicle.

Here, I show you the equation that's included in those minimum standards to calculate uptime. It looks complicated, but simply stated, it's the total number of minutes in a year, in the past year, that an individual charging port was available up for use or up, divided by the total number of minutes in that year. The standard requires performance or uptime greater than 97% of the time. That simply means 97% of the minutes in a year, which we can calculate out—it ends up being about 11 day's worth of minutes— sorry, about 354 days of uptime or 11 days of acceptable downtime.

Now, you'll note that there are some exceptions. This variable called T_excluded means the minutes of outage in the previous year caused by certain reasons outside of the charging station operator's control are not counted against the downtime or not included in the calculation.

So for example, when the power is out, when the electric utility service is interrupted, that is not considered downtime in this calculation. Likewise, when a charger is failing to deliver power but it's the fault of the vehicle, that's not—it's acceptable to exclude that downtime from this metric.

Likewise, scheduled maintenance is accepted. Vandalism, downtime due to vandalism, is also an exception. And finally, downtime due to natural disasters is not included. And then naturally, any time that the station is not operating, meaning hours or minutes outside of the hours of operation, are likewise not included. So that's a quick primer on what's in the regulation. Many of you, I suspect, have read that already.

Let's talk about what are the implications of that definition. First, up is more than having a heartbeat. Charging station operators and network providers cannot simply send a ping through the communication network to the charger, have it respond back, and say, yeah, we're out. It's much more than that. The charger being up means that it's capable of delivering power. What that means is that accurately measuring uptime requires effort and innovation, more than just pinging the charger through the network.

I'll add an editorial note here that the inability of remote monitoring to see all failures is not an excuse. That's not an exception. If the plastic housing on the connector is broken—the example I gave earlier—and it's not possible to see that through the remote monitoring, that doesn't mean it's accepted or exempted from the uptime calculation. More importantly, it doesn't mean there's no problem. The customer still can't use that charger.

So to deal with this, the onus falls on the charging station operator to be innovative, to improve their monitoring through insight—sorry, on-site in-person inspection—through harvesting data from customer reports about failures, that could be directly to the charging station operator or potentially through third parties, through social media. The charging station operators could install cameras and employ computer vision to see some failures or install different or better sensors in their devices. There's a lot that can be done, but it certainly it takes effort.

I talked a lot about the outage outages that are exempt from the downtime or uptime calculation, but let's remember that those are still not good for the customer. And they're not good for business.

So I think the key takeaway from all of this is an encouragement that if a charging station operator focuses on taking care of the customer by resolving problems as quickly as possible, by understanding the problem, what issues are preventing the customer from having a positive charging experience and resolving those quickly, if this CSO concentrates on that, then the uptime requirements will take care of themselves.

All right, I want to talk quickly about some advanced design features that have become popular, at least in discussion, or there's a lot of news. The first one, first advance design feature I'm talking about, is adding stationary energy storage or a stationary battery at a charging station. This seems like a good idea.

In many cases, it can be a great idea to reduce costs by reducing the need for grid upgrades, to provide power for the site by reducing or mitigating demand charges that reduce monthly electric bills and potentially even to sell power back to the grid when charging stations are not in use.

But I will recommend that charging station operators, or planners, designers of charging stations, proceed with caution, that they think carefully. And they run the numbers on a case-by-case or station-by-station basis because often, adding stationary energy storage, large stationary batteries, is not cost effective in the long run. And that additional capital expense upfront won't pay for itself over time.

Also, there are many new companies coming to market touting energy storage as a key enabler to fast charging. And while they're not necessarily wrong, many of these companies have not yet proven their products. And perhaps more importantly, they have not yet proven a service model and proven the longevity of the work.

Also, what about the products? If not well designed, storage-assisted charging stations can potentially leave customers stranded or at least create problems for positive charging experience. As the chart here indicates, if the chart—if a charging station is busier than anticipated, the stationary battery's state of charge can be fully depleted. And what happens to the n plus 1 EV that shows up after that stationary battery is depleted? Do they not get the charge at all? Is power-curtailed? There are different strategies that can be employed. But it's important to recognize that this eventuality can happen and to have a strategy to protect the customer experience.

Lastly, I want to talk about smart charge management and vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, charging. Keep in mind that these technologies or these approaches are not appropriate for fast charging. It only makes sense for long-dwell charging, where EVs are typically plugged in for a lot longer than they need to charge.

Smart charge management, vehicle to grid, are promising. They are absolutely technically feasible, but recognize that they are still—their implementation commercially is still quite immature and pilot-stage. So they're not quite ready for prime time yet. And so bear that in mind when you're considering these advanced features for charging stations. They're in production.

OK, for just the last three minutes, I want to talk to you about a new effort to improve public charging reliability and usability called the National Charging Experience Consortium, or ChargeX Consortium. We're bringing together EV charging industry members, three national labs—Argonne National Lab, Idaho National Lab, and the National Renewable Energy Lab—as well as consumer advocates and other key stakeholders in the EV industry, to measure and significantly improve public charging reliability and usability in the next 24 months.

So this is a public private partnership to bring together all of the experts and industry to ensure that any driver of any EV can charge with any charger, the first time, every time. With the national labs involved—the national labs, excuse me, are uniquely positioned to help industry to focus on complex issues that require multi-stakeholder collaboration to solve and simplify.

So the five issues that we've identified in the Consortium to focus on are, first, the inadequate charging experience metrics today. We've talked a lot about uptime. Uptime is important, but it's not enough to describe the experience that a customer has. It's an operational metric. We need to characterize the charging experience from the customer's perspective building them.

Second, payment and user interface issues are common in the industry. And they're quite complex. So we'll dive into those. Likewise, communication failures, communication between the charger and the EV, between the charger and the cloud, can be problematic. Also we will look at testing methods—how to verify that communication is robust, that every charger works with every EV. Today, that's mostly done on a one-by-one basis, which is quite limited in its scalability. So we'll work on developing new techniques and processes, even technology, to make that more scalable.

And then finally, we'll strive to overcome limitations and diagnostics for sharing of information about problems between all the entities in the system to more quickly find and fix problems. As of last week, during our kickoff meeting, we had all of these participants listed as committed partners. You can see it's a veritable "who's who" of the EV charging industry. Since that time, we have had quite a few additional companies reach out to request to join. This is not a complete list.

As I mentioned, we've got a charge from the Joint Office to complete our work in two years, to make a significant difference in improvement in reliability and usability in just two years. In fact, we're striving to produce results in each of those five areas that are discussed on a month-by-month basis between now and June 2025.

So I'm excited to update you in the future as we produce and share results. In the meantime, for more information, you can contact us. You can visit this information—visit this website. And there's an email on that website to request more information. So I'm out of time. I'm happy now to turn it over to Sarah Hipel for the remainder of that presentation today.

Sarah Hipel, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Thank you, John, for the illuminating and solution-oriented focus on reliability. As we talk more about reliability, and I come into this position now as the program manager for standards and reliability, we really want to conceptualize the problem. We have very tactical implementation of what needs to happen right now, which John is doing a great job of outlining and the Charging Experience Consortium will seek to tackle.

What I would like to talk about for the rest of the webinar today is the context around reliability. So in addition to on-the-ground tactical, we also want to think about cybersecurity as a first principle. So we want to discuss with you a little bit more today about the cybersecurity initiatives that are happening within the Joint Office as we recently had in the webinar.

We shared cybersecurity clauses that were developed and identified by two national labs. Those will be up on the website shortly. Our next activity is to look at the need for incident response plans up and down the value chain. That could be for suppliers. It can be for states, and municipalities, and other governmental bodies.

And it can also be, is there a need for a centralized incident response location where experts can come together and provide guidance? How can we best support? So right now, we're in an exploratory phase to figure out where we can play and where we can help states and other stakeholders in incident response. As we begin developing that plan, we'll reach out through our national lab staff, facilitating this to many of you on the call as representative stakeholders to see how we can support you best. So please look forward to that.

As was mentioned earlier in the webinar by Steve, we also have significant funding opportunity announcements that have gone out. I've included the URL for those in the bottom here. There are two reliability-focused funding opportunities that are captured in that announcement.

The first one, as you can see on the screen here, has the objective to increase industrial capacity, competition, redundancy, and broad access to validation testing and certification in the United States DC fast chargers with rated power capacity between 150kw and 1 megawatt.

Applications for projects are requested to rapidly increase commercial testing capacity and capabilities necessary to validate, improve, and certify the efficiency, safety, security, interoperability, measurement accuracy, and longevity of high powered DC fast charging stations.

The second topic that's indicated under 3B has the objective to establish teams to assess the performance, reliability, and usability of AC Level Two charging and/or DC fast charging stations across the United States. The teams will develop a scalable in-field methodology to assess AC Level Two and/or DC FC performance, reliability, and customer experience.

The team will then use that methodology to conduct field assessments of AC Level Two and/or DC FC charging performance and reliability by periodically visiting a statistically significant sample of charging stations operated by numerous charging station operators. So if either these funding opportunity announcements are a good fit for your organization, please see more on opportunities. And that's it for my roll up. Steve, I'll hand it back over to you.

Stephen Lommele: Great. Great. Thanks so much, Sarah and John, for the wonderful presentation. We do have some time for some question and answer now. And there have been a lot of questions coming in. And John and Sarah, a lot of them are around the nuance of calculating uptime. Can you talk a little bit about how the minimum requirements, potentially, address uptime calculation? And maybe what's outside of the scope of the guidance itself that goes into calculating uptime?

John Smart: You have [AUDIO OUT] let's keep our comments couched within what's in the minimum standards, so not reading between the lines per se, but I can connect some dots for [AUDIO OUT] folks. So I saw there was one question about different chargers [AUDIO OUT] different ways that they define when the charge starts and ends, and when there's a heartbeat, and when there's not. And all of the mechanics of how the charger communicates to the back office network.

You'll notice that the Federal Highway minimum standards, the regulation, in addition to specifying requirements for uptime, also specifies that all federally funded or DOT-funded chargers communicate between the charger and the backend of the charging network using OCPP. And by the end of February next year, OCPP version 2.0.1. That requirement was put in there specifically to address this question by having all chargers, regardless of brand, communicate to any EV charging network provider using the same communication protocol. That will hopefully fix this problem.

The communication protocol specifies the—all the way down to the variable names, all these different types of requirements that will standardize the—I want to say the—not calculation of uptime, but the identification of the different states or functions of the charger.

Stephen Lommele: Great, well, thanks, John. So another question here is—obviously this is complex. And I know the Joint Office has done a number of things to start to address some of the questions I put in the chat here, but we've had webinars on cybersecurity clauses. We're developing content for the website that addresses that. We did a contracting and procurement webinar.

But what other types of resources are available? I also mentioned, which is a resource for state DOTs and other public entities to access what other states are doing, but do you have any recommendations on where to go about finding best practices for service level agreements, or contract language, that kind of thing?

John Smart: I do. So there are certainly states that have a lot of experience in this area. I mentioned, I think, California during my narrative. Likewise, there are a lot of companies that regularly give these kinds of presentations because of their experience iterating through what makes a good service level agreement.

So I'd recommend seeking out a third party field service provider, a company that's focused on maintaining and repairing charging stations as independent from vertically integrated charging station operator, because those companies tend to know very well what contract language works and what doesn't.

Sarah Hipel: I would add to that as well, from the cybersecurity perspective, speaking about the clauses. I think it's fairly well known within the industry that there's not—there does not currently exist a comprehensive framework for cybersecurity for the entirety of the EV charging experience, the charger side as well as the vehicle side.

So there's definitely interest within, I think, the industry, states, and other stakeholders to see this framework come together. There are efforts around, within industry, and ISAC to have this happen, to expand the same model from cybersecurity to EVSEs. So I would definitely encourage you to join in those efforts where you find them. I don't know how much I'm supposed to promote one or another, but there's some very active ones underway right now that I think you can do some quick searching on.

I would also like to offer us as the Joint Office in support for this. Part of this, our initiative here, is to identify the gaps. Exactly what I think the question is, is where are the gaps in comprehensive cybersecurity? Where are the gaps and additional clauses that could be used for procurement or that you can use when considering what type of services to offer?

So those, bring those to us and we'll see what we can do to help. As Steve mentioned, the clauses, the procurement clauses will go up onto our website shortly. And then once we have more stakeholder engagement in the incident response activities, we'll make sure to get those out to everyone as well.

And we want to keep the door open. So if there are other cybersecurity support questions, connections of dots that we can make, please message us and tell us where you need our help. And we'll do our best to try to help make connections or to create resources when we can.

Stephen Lommele: Thanks, Sarah. Another interesting question here, asking if we have any guidance or thoughts on how you measure reliability, maybe using other metrics other than uptime. So clearly, there's the uptime requirement in NEVI, but how else are people or maybe charging networks thinking about this?

John Smart: Yeah, that's a really important question and one that we are taking to heart. And we'll focus on the National Charging Experience Consortium. I'll give you one example as a spoiler. We plan on coming up with a recommended practice document in just a few months that gives a comprehensive review of all the metrics we think are necessary to characterize the charging experience perspective of the customer.

But anyway, the spoiler, a popular metric—sorry, an additional metric beyond uptime that is becoming more popular is first-time plug-in success. So what percent of the time when a customer tries to use a charger does that charge session initiate and finish the first time? And so that's an example of a metric that is customer centric.

I'll emphasize, uptime is important. The chargers have to be operational. You can't use it if it's down, but it's not enough. It's necessary but not sufficient. So there's additional metrics. Yes, we do need to develop and adopt so that we can both measure and improve customer experience.

Sarah Hipel: And a little bit more on that is saying that the NEVI minimum standards are exactly that, the minimum. They're the floor from which to begin. We have one reported metric required for uptime. But from a supplier and manufacturer perspective, when you're looking for suppliers or suppliers themselves, they really should have a comprehensive view of, I mean, uptime is one aspect of overall reliability.

And that's something that I certainly think that you could ask about within suppliers. And for suppliers themselves, the NEVI uptime is one thing. It's one golden signal. But as John was mentioning, there's other rates that are very important—first time, every time, overall successes, and charging sessions overall, what kind of power is delivered compared to what's being asked for. It really should be a broad set of reliability metrics and just the one is being populated then for NEVI reporting.

Stephen Lommele: Great. There's another good question here just around examples. But do either of you have any examples of cities, or states, or utilities that are having success meeting their minimum uptime expectations that could be referenced? And maybe this could be irrespective of NEVI, but just someone who has had a good experience deploying infrastructure that works as they intended it to.

John Smart: Yeah, yeah. I thought about this coming into the webinar today, giving examples either of cities or charging network brands. And I really hesitate to share any because I know I'll forget some. I don't want to just—I don't want to promote any one particular brand or—but I understand the need, particularly, for state agencies to have good benchmarks.

I will share, I guess, one maybe neutral recommendation. There are electric utilities who own and operate their own charging networks and have an interesting perspective. I was talking with colleagues at New York Power Authority. They have a network of 100 DC fast chargers, as well as numerous Level Twos. And they have a lot of real-world experience, but because they're, let's call it—let's call them an independent charging station operator, they are pretty open with what's working and what's not. So for what it's worth, there's one plug for some of the top.

Stephen Lommele: Great, well, thanks so much, John, Sarah. I've just got a slide up here about two upcoming webinars. We have one on June 13 focused on workforce development and another one at the end of the month on futureproofing and resiliency and site design.

And then I also want to just remind you all that if you did have a question we weren't able to answer, please do reach out to us and We will have a recording of this webinar posted along with the slides. And then if you subscribe to our email newsletter, we will also send you a link to the recording when it's available.

So John and Sarah, thank you so much for presenting today. And to all of our participants, we really appreciate you joining us. And we hope to see you on another webinar here in the near future. And please, do reach out again via the website if you've got follow up questions so we can be of additional help to you. So thank you so much, everyone. I really appreciate it.