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California gets $56 million to expand number of electric vehicle charging stations

Facing demand for more electric vehicle charging stations, California is getting help from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.|

California’s pressing need for more electric vehicle charging stations in the next decade is getting a boost in the form of $56 million in federal infrastructure funds this year.

The auto-oriented state now has nearly 80,000 public and shared private electric vehicle chargers — including nearly 800 in Sonoma County.

But it needs far more — nearly 1.2 million chargers to serve the 7.5 million passenger EVs anticipated on Golden State roads by 2030, according to a California Energy Commission report last year.

“We need to bridge the gap in electric vehicle charging or we won’t meet our goals for zeroing out harmful pollution from transportation,” Commissioner Patty Monahan said at the time.

There are nearly 400 chargers in Napa County, 160 in Mendocino County and 14 in Lake County.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San-Rafael, and Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Thursday hailed the award of $56 million in federal funds, the first installment of a five-year, $5 billion program included in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden in November.

“House Democrats are delivering for the people — electrifying America will help us combat the climate crisis and create well-paying jobs here at home,” Huffman said in a statement.

“Electric vehicles play a vital role in combating climate change and providing a cleaner environment by reducing carbon pollution across the country,” Thompson said in a news release.

Calling the national network of 100,000 chargers currently insufficient to handle the growing number of EV owners, Thompson cited goals of enlarging the network to 500,000 chargers and pushing EV sales to 50% of the automobile market by 2030.

Transportation accounted for 29% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, the largest of all economic sectors, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report said.

Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center, a Santa Rosa nonprofit, said the federal funding — combined with California’s budget surplus — “is a transformational opportunity to address climate pollution from the transportation sector.”

“It’s vital that the state use these funds to ensure electric vehicles and charging stations are accessible to lower-income and working class communities, as well as those living in multifamily housing,” she said.

The relatively small number of charging stations nationwide, combined with the time it takes to charge an EV, remains a barrier to EV sales, CNBC reported last year.

The EPA and climate hawk Democrats in Congress, including Huffman, are pressing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to backtrack on the purchase of thousands of gasoline-powered Postal Service vehicles, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Huffman has sought to phase out gas-guzzling vehicles in the Postal Service’s fleet as far back as 2014.

Biden issued an executive order in 2021 calling for the federal government to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a goal that would require cooperation by the Postal Service, which owns the nation’s largest civilian vehicle fleet, the Hill reported.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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