News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

More Electric Car Charging Stations Coming to California

Charging a car in Northern California | Photo: the rabbit/Flickr/Creative Commons License

It might be a bit easier to charge your plug-in electric car in California before long, thanks to $341,045 in grants from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to increase the number of charging stations statewide. The grants, which are awarded by the Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, will fund installation of "Level 2" electric vehicle chargers in San Diego, Sacramento, and Humboldt County, and a study of how the state might change its building codes to encourage installing even more in residential buildiings.

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Award recipients Alternative Energy Systems Consulting, Inc., the California Department of General Services, and OurEvolution Energy and Engineering will be installing the charging stations, respectively including 10 in garages at UC San Diego, nine at the State Garage in Sacramento to serve state vehicles, and one each in Eureka and Arcata.

The bulk of today's awards, $200,000, goes to the California Department of Housing and Community Development to, in the words of the California Energy Commission, "conduct an assessment of the costs and code requirements for installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in residences, including single-family homes, condos and apartments."

The CEC expects Level 2 charging stations to become the most commonly used electric vehicle chargers in the state. They use current at between 208-240 volts -- twice the voltage of ordinary house current -- and can provide 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging, depending on the vehicle.

The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program was established by Assembly Bill 118, which passed in in 2007. The program is budgeted to spend about $90 million in the next fiscal year to encourage Californians to move away from fossil fuels for their transportation needs. An executive order issued in March by Governor Brown mandates that California have the infrastructure to accomodate a million Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) by 2020, and these grants are certainly a step in that direction.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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