As electric vehicles begin to spark Valley’s interest, will powering up be a problem?
There are fewer than 5,000 automobiles in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties that are powered primarily by electricity – either battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles that get their charge from a cord and an outlet rather than a hose and a gas pump.
And despite what auto dealers say is growing popularity among customers, such electric vehicles account for less than half of one percent of all cars and trucks on the road in the Valley. If demand continues to grow, however, researchers say their numbers could put increasing strain on a limited infrastructure of public charging stations at which drivers can power up their batteries – and potentially have consequences for the state’s power grid.
“California’s public charging stations are primarily located around major traffic corridors or highways, or where there is a high PEV (plug-in electric vehicle) density,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists Anand Gopal and Julia Szinai wrote in an analysis released Thursday. “However, public charging station construction has not kept pace with the existing and expected magnitude of PEV deployment across the state. This shortage of charging stations threatens to become a critical bottleneck to mass adoption of PEVs.…”
California has almost 30.6 million registered cars and trucks; of that, about 342,000 are battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to Jan. 1 registration figures from the Department of Motor Vehicles. But aside from owners who may have charging systems installed at their homes, there are fewer than 4,500 public charging stations across the state with about 16,000 charging outlets. That’s not going to be enough, Gopal and Szinai wrote in the report produced for Next 10, a nonpartisan policy organization.
Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry