DEL MAR — Once parking and policy issues are addressed, residents may soon see electric vehicle chargers popping up around town.
Following a presentation at the July 11 meeting by Bruce Bekkar, chairman of the Sustainability Advisory Board, City Council unanimously authorized staff to move forward with plans to install four stations, and possibly more.
Bekkar recommended the city act now to take advantage of incentives provided by a partnership between the Department of Energy and about 55 companies, including Nissan, Chevrolet and Ecotality.
The goal of the project, funded primarily with a $230 million DOE grant, is to place 14,000 220-volt chargers around six states and the District of Columbia in the next two years.
Plans also include the installation of 300 to 400 480-volt fast chargers that can charge an electric vehicle, or EV, from empty to full in about 25 minutes, or “essentially, a Starbucks stop,” Bekkar said.
Ecotality, which specializes in clean electric transportation, is the San Diego representative planning to place 1,500 chargers in the county within the next 18 months.
If installed as part of the DOE partnership, the chargers would be free and the city would receive an installation credit of $2,500 per unit.
“And there’s some flexibility about how that money can be spent so it’s an appealing opportunity,” Bekkar said.
Installation costs begin at more than $1,500 depending on whether there is an appropriate electrical panel, how far the panel is from the charging spot and any extra work that needs to be done.
The Sustainability Advisory Board worked with city staff to identify four potential installation areas. They are on the south side of City Hall, next to the City Hall Annex, on the southeast corner of the library and, for the greatest visibility, at 15th Street and Camino del Mar near Starbucks.
Bekkar said placing the stations, especially a fast-charge unit, where they can be seen is a way to brand the city as friendly toward greener vehicles.
“This would be the homerun … to have the quick-charge port somewhere in a very visible spot,” he said, adding that none of the locations identified at this point are “set in stone.”
Since users would be expected to pay as they would for gas, the units could also generate income for the city, Bekkar said.
The biggest hurdle could be determining whether parking spaces should be designated dual use or EV only.
“Parking issues are always contentious,” Bekkar said.
“I would really like to move forward with this project if it makes sense,” Mayor Don Mosier said, adding that he’d like to keep staff time to a minimum.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” he said. “This is happening all over San Diego County.”
Mark Ochenduszko, interim city manager, said staff will bring the item back for council consideration after identifying policy questions and alternatives, what needs to be reviewed from a legal standpoint, how the proposal might be approached from a planning perspective and the physical inspections of proposed and potential locations.
Councilman Carl Hilliard said staff should contact other cities, such as neighboring Solana Beach, who are already working to install the units.
Mosier said because the grant money is part of the American Reinvestment Act, it is a time-limited opportunity.
“All this money has to be expended by the end of next year and if we want to participate in this Ecotality program we need to move fairly rapidly,” he said.
Bekkar said the city is guaranteed the installation credits but it should act by the end of the year.
“I think we have a little bit of time, but then again, this is Del Mar so we may need it,” he said.
“We’re going to move forward with due speed in the Del Mar way,” Mosier said.