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Central Coast counties divvy up EV charging station fund

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San Luis Obispo County has $2.3 million available as part of a $12 million effort to get around 1,000 new electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and SLO counties.

On Aug. 5, the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) will start accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis. And the money goes fast, according to Vince Kirkhuff, an air quality specialist with the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD), which contributed money to the fund alongside the SLO Council of Governments, Central Coast Community Choice Energy (3CE), and the California Energy Commission.

"In the last few programs that they have opened, sometimes the funding is gone within hours," Kirkhuff said. "What seems to be the best course of action is for potential site hosts, if someone wants to put a charger on their property, that they contact a vendor ahead of time, ... get all of their ducks in a row before the program launches."

The goal is to help sprinkle 200 level 2 chargers and around 30 DC fast chargers around SLO County, although Kirkhuff said the number of chargers will depend on the size of the rebates that get awarded.

Level 2 chargers, which charge electric vehicle batteries more slowly and would be a better fit for something like an office parking lot or an apartment building, are eligible to receive program rebates between $3,500 and $6,000. While DC chargers, which can take a vehicle battery from a 20 to 80 percent charge in less than an hour and would be a good fit for a grocery store or restaurant, are eligible for between $30,000 to $80,000, Kirkhuff said.

Higher rebate amounts will be allocated to chargers in low-income areas or multi-family buildings, he said, adding that around 50 percent of the money will go toward low-income areas of the county.

"One of the problems with getting the chargers out is something like 90 percent of EV charging currently happens at home, so people who have electric cars charge them at home," Kirkhuff said. "This is a problem for people who don't have a garage or a driveway, people who live in an apartment building ... so that is something that needs to be filled."

Giving people who don't have an opportunity to charge at home a place to get their cars charged up should help get California to its electric vehicle goals, he said. The state's currently aiming to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road and 250,000 EV chargers around California by 2025, according to a press release from the Santa Barbara County APCD, which contributed money to the program for Santa Barbara County. By 2030, California wants 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road.

The South Central Coast Incentive Program will be the 11th that CALeVIP has launched since December 2017, CALeVIP spokesperson Laura Rehrmann said. The California Energy Commission is providing $200 million in funding for the program, and funding partners have already added nearly $34 million to that total, Rehrmann said.

3CE contributed $1.75 million to the South Central Coast program, 3CE spokesperson Shelly Whitworth said. It's the second EV charger program 3CE has collaborated on. In 2019, 3CE, CALeVIP, and local agencies offered $7 million for EV chargers in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties.

Whitworth said the money was provisionally subscribed within an hour of the program opening. Rehrmann said that after all the applications were reviewed, there is still some money available for those three Central Coast counties.

"Any disadvantaged communities, anyone who is looking to be a part of this, really needs to have their application ready to go, refreshing the site and hitting submit pretty much in that first 10 minutes," she said, adding that 3CE has a couple of other EV programs available through September.

Those who want to apply for the CALeVIP program, should visit calevip.org/incentive-project/south-central-coast to learn more. 3CE customers can apply for Electrify Your Ride—$2,000 to $4,000 for new or used electric vehicle purchases—and Charge Your Ride—meant to cover up to 80 percent of the costs and electrical work needed to install chargers at home—at 3cenergy.org.

"It's kind of the last hurdle for people to adopt electric vehicles. They're wondering where [they're] going to charge if they don't have a charger at home," Whitworth said.

Fast fact

• The SLO Food Co-op donated $2,700 to the SLO Food Bank in July as part of the grocery store's 2 Percent Tuesdays Program, according to the co-op. The program is designed to give back 2 percent of each Tuesday's total sales to a community nonprofit, and the next nonprofit slated to benefit from Tuesday sales is the 40Prado Homeless Services Center. Located at 2494 Victoria Ave. in SLO, the co-op is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Δ

Editor Camillia Lanham wrote this week's Strokes. Send business and nonprofit tips to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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