Bakersfield, California is ready to expand the EV charging system

(TNS) – Bakersfield City Council stands ready to dramatically increase the number of EV charging points available on public properties.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the council is due to vote on an agreement to add 30 ChargePoint charging stations in six urban areas of Bakersfield, including the parking structure on 18th Street and Eye Street. That’s a big jump from the four city-operated charging stations currently operated from the downtown Amtrak station.

There are 71 charging stations across Kern County, including 42 in Bakersfield, which means the six proposed locations would add around 15 percent to the total. However, these locations are in places like hospital parking lots and car dealerships that may not be available to the general public.

If approved, the new charging stations would be installed in Park at Riverwalk, the parking lot across from Cal State Bakersfield on Stockdale Highway, South City Hall, Mechanics Bank Arena, McMurtrey Aquatic Center and the downtown parking structure.

Unlike the Amtrak EV charging stations in the city center, the new additions are level 2 chargers that charge faster than level 1. The city is using funds from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and California’s Energy Commission to complete the charging proposal. The total of 266,000 US dollars will finance around 80 percent of the project.

Funding is only part of a government plan to get more electric vehicles on the road. California’s goal is to have 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030 and 250,000 charging stations by 2025.

With more funding available for zero-transfer projects, these proposed charging stations might just be the beginning.

“It’s really going to expand. We’re talking to a number of private gas stations interested in setting it up,” said Linda Urata, a regional planner for the Core Council of Governments who focuses on electric vehicles. “You will see tremendous growth in the next two years.”

Recently, charging options for electric vehicle owners have increased. In January, the State Department of Transportation opened nine new stations across the Central Valley, including one at Tejon Pass and Delano. The city of McFarland recently broke ground for a new station.

More are planned for cities like Arvin, Wasco and Shafter. However, the question remains how popular the charging stations will be. Ahron Hakimi, Executive Director of Kern COG, described the demand for the products as a “chicken and egg” scenario. Consumers may be more willing to buy an electric vehicle if more charging stations were available, but charging stations might not be able to be built without buying more vehicles.

“In the three years I’ve owned the Chevy Volt, outside of home, I’ve charged it less than five times. That gives you an example of how many chargers there are,” he said. “If we as a society want more electric vehicles, we absolutely have to invest in more charging stations.”

The city plans to monitor how often each charging station is used to see if more are needed.

“It’s a pilot project,” said Stuart Patteson, assistant director of public works. “I’m sure they will get used to it. They are supposed to be put into all the databases that direct people to EV charging stations, but until we have them set up for a while it’s hard to say how well used they will be . “

© 2021 The Bakersfield Californian, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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