ENCINITAS — Being green just got a little easier as the City Council voted unanimously Oct. 12 to enter into an agreement for a pilot project to host a charging station for electric cars.
The agreement is part of a nationwide effort, known as the EV Project, partially funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The city will work with San Francisco-based ECOtality to facilitate the construction and maintenance of a “Blink” electric vehicle charging station. The unit will be installed as soon as possible with the agreement running through April 2013.
Several potential sites were identified according to Deputy City Manager Richard Phillips. However, the commuter parking lot on Vulcan Avenue and E Street was the most feasible, Phillips said. The lot is leased by the city from the North County Transit District and would require that entity’s approval before construction begins.
The project assumes and aims to encourage the increased use of electric and hybrid vehicles. The availability of charging stations is often the lynchpin in deciding whether to purchase an electric vehicle.
“If I lived in a city that had at least a third of the charging stations as it did gas stations, I would consider buying an (electric vehicle),” said Leucadia resident Simone Parry. “It’s in the beta stage right now,” she said, adding that “they put (electric) cars on the market without building the infrastructure to support them.”
Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks said the city of San Diego plans to build 300 charging stations within the next year. The owner of an electric car himself, Stocks was enthusiastic about the possibility of using a charging station to lure visitors to the city.
“I’m glad we’re open to advertising,” he said. “I don’t want to keep this a secret. I want to market Encinitas.”
Councilwoman Teresa Barth said she hoped to advertise with an emphasis on local businesses. “I would think we can advertise the city in this loop of ads that will run,” she said, referring to the ads featured on City Hall’s kiosk touch screen.
The revenue-sharing agreement will yield an 8 percent return per month to the city for all ad revenue during the first 14 months. After that period, the share drops to 5 percent, up to $150 per month.
The agreement will cost the city $10,000 from the general fund for any costs above the $2,250 construction cost covered by the grant. The city will also shoulder the cost of electricity for the station. The company fee for users to charge up at the station was variable.
At the end of the project, in April 2013, the city can opt to remove the equipment at the company’s cost, can stay with the Blink network or continue to allow to charge not using the Blink system.
Stocks predicted charging stations would proliferate the local landscape where people actually shop, work and live in the near future.
“Pretty soon, you’ll have these in Ralph’s and Vons, instead of a separate charging station like we do a gas station,” he said.