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Sonoma & Mendocino Counties To Get $6.75 Million For EV Chargers

The Sonoma Coast Incentive Project will provide $6.75 million in incentives for the installation of electric vehicle chargers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties over the next three years.

The Sonoma Coast Incentive Project will provide $6.75 million in incentives for the installation of electric vehicle chargers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties over the next three years.

The Sonoma Coast Incentive Project’s partners are the California Electric Vehicle Incentive Project (CALeVIP), Sonoma Clean Power, and the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District. CALeVIP supports the adoption of electric vehicles in California by offering incentives for the installation of public EV charging stations. It is funded by the California Energy Commission. California has a goal of getting five million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030 and 250,000 EV charging stations  by 2025.

Andy Hoskinson, Senior Manager of Electric Vehicle Initiatives at the Center for Sustainable Energy, answered some questions about the funding for CleanTechnica.

Image credit: Center for Sustainable Energy

How many public EV chargers will be purchased and where will they be installed?

Around 500 Level 2 in Sonoma County and 85 Level 2 in Mendocino. As well there could be around 50 DC fast chargers installed in Sonoma and a handful in Mendocino.

Level 2 chargers will generally be located at destination locations, retail stores, wineries, government facilities, hotels, but apartment building or other multifamily communities and workplaces too.

DC fast chargers will be located at grocery stores/markets, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, colleges and other similar type sites.

Do you know currently where the public EV chargers will be located for disadvantaged and low-income communities in Mendocino County and unincorporated communities in Sonoma County?

We will only know where the EV chargers will be located in disadvantaged communities and low-income communities once they apply and are approved. However, they will of course need to be located within the disadvantaged community and low-income communities as defined by the state:

For the purposes of the project, DACs are identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as the top 25% most impacted census tracts in CalEnviroScreen 3.0 – a screening tool used to help identify communities disproportionally burdened by multiple sources of pollution and with population characteristics that make them more sensitive to pollution.

For purposes of the project, low-income communities are defined as the census tracts, respectively, that are either at or below 80 percent of the statewide median income, or at or below the threshold designated as low-income by the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) 2016 State Income Limits.

About how many public EV chargers are available currently in Sonoma and Mendocino counties?

There are about 380 public Level 2 EV chargers and 80 DC fast chargers in Sonoma County. In Mendocino County there are approximately 80 Level 2 EV chargers and 19 DC fast chargers.

About how many electric vehicles are there in the same counties?

We don’t collect data on EV registrations and aren’t aware of any statewide breakdown by county.

Is the lack of public EV chargers one of the main barriers to greater EV adoption, even though most privately owned EVs are charged at home?

Public EV charging serves a critical role in helping vehicle purchasers make the decision to go electric even for those who may mainly charge at home. The greater the presence of public charging, the less concern potential purchasers have regarding their ability to use an EV for all aspects of the daily driving. And for residents of multifamily housing, or those who cannot get EV charging at home easily, public and workplace charging become even more important.

Will the public EV chargers be compatible with all electric vehicles?

The Level 2 chargers use a common J-1772 connector that all electric vehicles can use as they are currently sold. Under CALeVIP, the DC fast chargers include both CCS and CHAdeMO connectors that all vehicles that accommodate fast charging can use, with the exception of Teslas.

During the pandemic, are there any unusual conditions that you have to be aware of or account for when installing new public chargers?

The pandemic has had a wide and deep impact on many businesses and services, so completing EV charger installations can be more challenging when complying with state and local health orders.

Will you promote the new public chargers once they have been installed, and if so, how?

The EV chargers installed with CALeVIP funds are owned by private and public property owners, business owners, and EV charging operators. The promotion they do can vary greatly, and are dependent on the type of property the EV chargers are installed at. For instance, at an apartment building it is common to see property management promote the availability and use of EV chargers to the residents, and employers typically do the same with their employees. In more public settings, such as a public park or at a retail shopping center, the EV chargers may be listed on apps like PlugShare or others so that EV drivers can find and use them.

Will they show up in public charging apps or websites?

Yes, one requirement of CALeVIP is that each applicant list the EV chargers in the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s station locator map. It is also common for the station owners to list the chargers in other mobile apps and websites to advertise the availability of the EV chargers.

Is the incentive program for this year only, or is it possible it will continue next year as well?

Funds for both DC fast charging and Level 2 charging are being made available this year, but additional Level 2 funds will be made available in 2021 and 2022.

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