On the first sunny day in the Bay Area in nearly a week, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in front of San Francisco City Hall , in another step forward in making the Bay Area the “EV Capital of the U.S.”
The high-profile charging stations are part of a nine-step policy plan announced back in November by Mayor Newsom, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, to transform the Bay Area into the “Electric Vehicle (EV) Capital of the U.S.”
“Electric vehicles are the future of transportation and the Bay Area is the testing ground for the technology,” said Newsom, adding that the city began using plug-in hybrids in the city’s fleet last year. “Now, for the first time the public can plug-in to the next generation of cars and take them for a drive in San Francisco,” the Mayor said.
According to Newsom, the city will use tax breaks to promote sales of electric vehicles and encourage homes and businesses to make charging stations widely available. The city will also look at ways to speed up the permitting process to install charging outlets at homes and businesses.
But the media coverage and the buzz at Wednesday’s opening in Civic Center Park wasn’t purely a function of its California location. The opening was timed perfectly with the big boost provided to EVs by the economic stimulus package, thus garnering national attention, as well.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates $2 billion in grants for manufacturing advanced batteries, plus tax credits to cover the cost of manufacturing facilities; it also provides tax credits of up to $7,500 for those who buy new plug-in electric vehicles; sets aside $300 million for federal agencies to buy alternatively-fueled vehicles, $400 million for “transportation electrification,” and another $4.5 billion for improving the nation’s electric grid.
So while California’s unprecedented budget woes continue to drag the state coffers down and threaten the viability of some of the state’s progressive environmental policies, the City of San Francisco continues to test the boundaries of what a municipality can do by itself to push environmental protection forward.
Images: Tim Hurst