Making electric vehicles an everyday sight on Berkeley's streets is a core component of the city's ambitious plan to tackle global warming. As part of the its Climate Action Plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020, Berkeley is dedicated to promoting the use of vehicles that run on renewable sources or low-carbon fuels.
Meeting the city's goal requires industry, government and consumers to work together.
This month, two electric vehicle charging units at the Telegraph Avenue Whole Foods are opening, marking the city's first installation of publicly accessible EV chargers operated by a private enterprise under a pilot city program that fast-tracks permits for charging stations. These two units by NRG eVgo include Berkeley's first DC Fast Charge station, allowing EV owners to charge their vehicle to 80 percent power in a half-hour or less.
EV drivers in Berkeley will easily be able to power up their cars, and the city will see emission reductions from vehicles.
Due to the city's substantial streamlining of the permitting process for EV charging stations, eVgo was able to quickly deploy its network in the area. Berkeley's pilot program seeks to encourage increased adoption of cleaner cars by supporting the installation of charging stations at businesses throughout the community.
These two new EV charging units complement the two charging stations already serving Berkeley residents at the Center Street Garage. We know that demand is there among Berkeley residents. In July 2013, the first month after a second charging station was added to the garage, it was used on 30 out of 31 days, typically two to three times a day. We believe the addition of the new Whole Foods charging stations and especially the fast charging capability will serve as an additional valuable asset for our community's increasing adoption of EVs.
It is our hope that programs like Berkeley's can be a model for other communities in our state and across the nation.
With the partnerships and agreements in place with major retailers and other owners of prominent public locations, firms like eVgo, which is on track to have at least 200 fast-charging stations throughout California by the end of 2016, are demonstrating the potential of private enterprise to work in collaboration with government and with major retailers and other owners of convenient public locations to reap the benefits of cleaner cars on the roads: improved air quality, less dependence on oil, lower cost of vehicle ownership, and over all a greener, cleaner California.
By combining innovative private enterprise and proactive initiative by public agencies, we can encourage more low-carbon vehicles across California, giving the state the best and most robust charging infrastructure in America.
Tom Bates is the mayor of Berkeley, and Terry O'Day is vice president for business development of NRG eVgo.