SF to install 80 electric car charging stations
San Francisco will install more than 80 free charging stations for electric vehicles by the end of the year, as part of City Hall's eco-friendly resolve to reduce air pollution.
Monday's announcement by Mayor Ed Lee came as the average price for a gallon of gas in San Francisco hit the $4.32 mark - $1.09 higher than a year ago, according to data tracked by the AAA auto club. That's a dramatic price escalation expected to drive the public's appetite for more fuel-efficient cars.
At the same time, city officials are intent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and are hoping the anticipated growth of electric car ownership will help achieve that goal.
The charging stations, both new ones and upgrades of the handful of existing ones, will be located around town at city-owned garages and at San Francisco International Airport. Officials also want to locate several at neighborhood libraries - not amid the stacks but outside. Which branches will get them has not been decided.
The city plans to install the first ones next month.
Drivers will not have to pay to charge their electric vehicles at the public stations, at least through 2013. However, they still have to pay the regular parking fees in the garages while their cars are plugged in there.
The source of the power: San Francisco's own hydroelectric Hetch Hetchy system.
The charging stations will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"The city's goal is to make it affordable and convenient for all San Francisco residents and visitors to charge their electric vehicles when they are away from their home charging stations," Lee said.
The cost of the program will be in the $500,000 range, said Bob Hayden, transportation programs manager for the city's Department on the Environment. The bulk of funding will come from federal grants, the regional air district, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the airport, said Johanna Partin, the mayor's director of climate protection initiatives.
Many of the stations will offer both 120-volt and 240-volt charging. The higher the voltage, the faster a car can charge. But even with 240 volts, it can take six to eight hours to fully charge a car.
The city may experiment with a handful of 480-volt chargers, which can power a compatible electric car to 80 percent capacity in less than a half-hour.
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