Photo: BlinkHere’s a mid-week dispatch from the green evolution in California.
The Bay Area Air Management District on Wednesday granted $3.9 million to four companies as part of an effort to roll out electric car charging stations in 2,750 homes, as well as 30 fast-chargers along highways. Depending on the electric car, high-voltage fast chargers can “fill up” a battery in as little as 30 minutes.
“The electric vehicle’s time has come, and its effectiveness as a means of improving air quality depends on a robust charging infrastructure,” Jack Broadbent, the air district’s executive officer, said in a statement. “Investing in infrastructure will help make the electric vehicle a viable option for many Bay Area residents and businesses.”
San Francisco’s ECOtality was awarded the lion’s share of the funds, receiving nearly $2.9 million to install 1,500 of its Blink Home Chargers as well as 20 Blink DC Fast Chargers around the Bay Area. The company is managing the EV Project, a $230 million private-public collaboration to roll out 15,000 charging stations in 17 cities in six states, as well as in Washington, D.C.
AeroVironment of Southern California received $500,000 to deploy 500 of its home chargers and 10 fast chargers, while Coulomb Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup, scored $350,000 to install 500 home chargers. The air district granted $175,000 to a company called Clipper Creek of Auburn, Calif., to put in 250 home chargers.
While the San Francisco Bay Area is widely expected to be an electric car epicenter, the first mass-market battery-powered sedans — the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — have been slow to hit local roads so far. I’ve spotted one Volt on the streets of Berkeley, but have yet to see a Leaf in this city, where one out of every five cars sold over the past four years has been a Toyota Prius hybrid.
Which may not be a bad thing given that there’s a paucity of public charging stations at the moment. For instance, when I fire up Coulomb’s iPhone app, it shows none of the company’s chargers have been installed in Berkeley, and there are only a dozen within 12 miles — three in San Francisco and another nine in the suburbs to the east.
Which may explains why the air district dedicated the bulk of its electric car cash for home chargers. For the time being, it’s likely most drivers will juice up at home and hope to find one of the few public chargers if they run out of electrons.
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