L&I audit shows city infrastructure cannot yet support electric vehicles – NBC10 Philadelphia

Mayor Cherelle Parker’s goal to make Philly the safest, cleanest, and greenest city in America has already hit a snag when it comes to being green.

Not only did Parker inherit dozens of municipal electric vehicle chargers without permits and inspections, but she will now also have to respond to a licensing and inspection audit that will look at the department’s lost productivity due to the EV charging policy.

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City Comptroller Christy Brady launched an audit into L&I earlier this year and quickly realized the department’s use of public fast chargers is a problem.

“I didn’t even think I’d be looking this way … the lack of infrastructure in the city is a problem for the inspectors to do their job,” Brady said in an interview.

But when she kept hearing from inspectors how they spend up to 20% of their work time charging their vehicles, she said she had to look into it.

The NBC10 investigators heard and saw the same thing.

Our research has shown that none of L&I’s buildings are equipped with EV chargers. Still, L&I has assigned more than 100 cars from the city’s electric fleet to its inspectors.

That’s the most of any department.

Inspectors therefore have to drive to certain public fast-charging stations to charge during their working day.

Those stations are sometimes backed up by people waiting, and Brady said inspectors have raised public safety concerns.

“Inspectors have come forward to talk about safety issues with people cutting lines and then getting into fights at these charging stations,” she said.

L&I’s audit could take a year to complete, Brady said.

She said it is “a shame” for the city to purchase electric vehicles and then not have the proper infrastructure in place.

“It’s a great initiative to be greener and cleaner. But the lack of infrastructure in some places is definitely a problem,” she said.

The city has installed chargers at buildings and parking lots for other departments with EVs, such as the Free Library, Water and Health departments.

However, NBC10 investigators found that none of these chargers had been installed with the required permits and inspections.

Following our report in December, L&I committed violations against the 54 charging points for electric vehicles in the city.

According to an L&I spokesperson, each violation carries a $300 fine, which isn’t much considering the city’s budget of more than $6 billion.

But it’s something the city’s new director, Adam Thiel, says will now be addressed by the Parker administration.

We are looking into it and working on it,” Thiel said after a press conference this week in which he announced a pilot program to train people in EV facilities and infrastructure. “I think in the future we want to make sure that all these installations are ready. 100% correct according to all rules, regulations and codes.”

L&I data shows the city’s EV chargers failed a second round of inspections in late January.

Thiel said the administration has not yet determined who installed the city chargers.

“We haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet. Like I said, this is day 40, whatever. We’re dealing with a whole bunch of issues,” he said.

The city currently has 107 levies installed, with more to come.

Data obtained by NBC10 investigators through a public records request shows the city has purchased 170 EV chargers.

Thiel said the city does not yet have a date for when more chargers will be put into service.

“We need more qualified workers to install this type of infrastructure,” Thiel said.

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