The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan Wednesday, April 10, instructing their staff to develop an “electric vehicle roadmap” for the region, a plan that will look at ways to increase electric vehicle use and build a charging infrastructure throughout the county.
As part of developing the roadmap, supervisors also directed staff to support legislation and regulatory changes statewide that promote electric vehicles, and to look for grant opportunities and other sources of funding that could be used to support recommendations the staff proposes.
The staff is expected to present a plan to the board by August.
“It’s time to chart a new course for increasing the county’s use of electric vehicles and expanding the accessibility of charging stations,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who introduced the proposal, in a statement after the vote. “The decision by the board to support creating an electric vehicle roadmap for San Diego County propels us closer to an environmentally sustainable future.”
The county’s action brings the region more in line with the state’s efforts to promote electric vehicle usage, something former Gov. Jerry Brown emphasized last year when he signed an executive order aimed at getting 5 million zero-emissions vehicles on California roads by 2030.
State agencies have committed more than $2.46 billion in public funds for electrical vehicle projects, according to a review by the Union-Tribune in February. The projects include such things as building charging stations and funding rebate programs for residents who buy or lease electric vehicles.
Earlier this month, the state counted 556,344 electric vehicles in California, far more than any other state but a small portion of the state’s 25 million registered vehicles.
Fletcher has said there are about 30,000 electric vehicle owners in San Diego County, and San Diego Gas & Electric estimates there are 1,700 public charging stations in its service territory, which includes San Diego County and a small piece of southern Orange County.
The emphasis on increasing charging stations, especially in county-owned properties, aims to address one of the most common problems facing electric vehicle owners: an inability to easily find a charging station.
Last week Environment California, an environmental group, released a report highlighting difficulties finding charging stations and the non-uniformity of charging stations as some of the biggest challenges to electric vehicle owners.
Supervisor Kristin Gaspar spoke of her experience owning an electric vehicle.
“I found that the availability of charging stations, as pointed out, is prohibitive,” Gaspar said. “You don’t necessarily have a lot of time in your day anyway and having to take the time to plot out your trip and figure out where you can possibly stop and charge ... it was quite a burden.”
Supervisor Jim Desmond, who supported the measure, said the county may want to keep an eye on other advancements in alternative fuels and transportation as well, including hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Several members of the public also spoke in favor of the measure. Tyson Siegele, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego, noted that the vast majority of electric vehicles sold in the United States are built in California.
— Charles T. Clark is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune