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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

Electric cars get 100 mpg equivalent, produce zero tailpipe emissions, and reduce carbon pollution by 75% on California’s green electric grid. Many Santa Barbarans are buying electric cars and we’re starting to see a Volt or Leaf on the road almost every day. Since more public charging stations will make it easier to drive electric, CEC has been working to bring stations to our region.

Since we last wrote about this project in May 2011 we have some exciting news.

Coulomb Technologies — a leading provider of electric vehicle charging stations — has doubled the number of universal charging stations that it is looking to install in Santa Barbara County, from 25 to 50.

It has also expanded the scope of the program to include North County, and we are working with partners to place 100 stations in Ventura County.

Over the last 2 months, CEC has been helping Coulomb review potential locations for the charging stations, throughout Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Solvang, Santa Maria, and Lompoc. The next step will be to determine the top 50 sites based on highest potential use, lowest installation cost, and geographic distribution throughout the county. We are hoping the first stations will be installed and open to the public this fall.

The charging stations are being installed for free as part of the ChargePoint America program, a public-private $37 million partnership to put in 4,600 charging stations in key cities across America by the end of 2011. In our county, installing a new 240 volt charging station built in a parking area that was designed with EVs in mind – such as the Granada Garage or Isla Vista’s new solar carport parking lot – could be as inexpensive as $1,500. In other sites where service upgrades, new panels, trenching, or other retrofits are needed, the price could be as high as $15,000. This highlights the advantage of “pre-wiring” for EVs during new construction or renovations.

Santa Barbara has been identified as one of the top four early-adopter markets for electric vehicles in Southern California. Earlier this year, major car manufacturers began offering fully-functional models such as the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, and about a dozen models will likely be available next year.

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