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San Diego Utility to Install EV Chargers at Schools and Parks

 In another effort by state policymakers to encourage electric vehicle adoption, the California Public Utilities Commission last week approved two pilot programs from San Diego Gas & Electric that will construct about 340 public charging stations at 52 sites at schools, parks and beaches in the region.

“We are committed to making electric vehicle charging widely available and accessible to all of our customers, so they can charge anytime, anywhere —whether they are at work, home, their child’s school or enjoying a day at the park or beach,” said Estela de Llanos, SDG&E’s chief environmental officer, in a statement.

The programs are estimated to cost $18.8 million and will be funded by SDG&E ratepayers.

One pilot program will bring chargers to 22 state beaches and state, city and county parks. OK’d by the public utilities commission last Thursday, it is estimated to cost $8.9 million. The other pilot, bringing chargers to 30 schools and other educational institutions including K-12 campuses and colleges, is estimated to about $9.9 million.

Two types of chargers will be installed: Level 2 chargers that can provide up to 10-20 miles of range per hour of charging and DC fast chargers that can deliver about 20-30 miles for every 15 minutes of charging.

The programs will put a priority on sites located in areas disproportionately impacted by air pollution. The exact locations have not been determined yet, SDG&E officials said. Those decisions will come after discussions with stakeholders and analysis of potential sites are completed.

“This initiative will not only make charging more accessible, but it will also benefit the health of our students,” Cindy Marten, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, said in a statement. “We recognize the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it starts with transportation.”

Transportation accounts for the largest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in California — 41 percent, according to the state’s Air Resources Board. The percentage is even higher in San Diego — 54 percent.

Both pilot programs, authorized by assembly bills that passed through the Legislature in Sacramento and signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, are part of a much larger effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, or EVs. In order to do that, EV infrastructure like charging stations need to expand significantly.

Earlier this year, a review conducted by the Union-Tribune showed various state agencies have committed $2.46 billion in public funds for EV programs. Of that, the utilities commission has set aside $1.048 billion for electric vehicle initiatives with a large share going to erecting charging stations.

The state has set a goal to have 5 million EVs on the road in the next 11 years. As of Oct. 7, the number stood at 655,088 vehicles in California.

SDG&E has already installed about 3,000 chargers in apartments, condominiums and workplaces as part of its “Power Your Drive” program.

The utilities commission recently authorized SDG&E to build charging infrastructure for at least 3,000 plug-in medium and heavy-duty EVs, including delivery trucks, forklifts, refrigerated semi-truck trailers, transit buses and school buses.

SDG&E is also taking part in another pilot program to install charging equipment for ground support at the San Diego International Airport, trucks and forklifts at the Port of San Diego and facilities at Caltrans Park and Ride sites.

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