Sacramento electric car owners will have 28 more charging stations to use starting in November. The City Council last week approved installation of the stations at eight public parking garages.
The new stations provided by Coulomb Technologies' ChargePoint America program will work with every electric vehicle on the road except for select Tesla model vehicles. For those cars, an adapter is sold by Tesla.
The charging stations will be free to use. Installation is expected to begin in August and finish in November, said Sacramento city fleet manager Keith Leech.
With the added 28 stations, Sacramento will have more than 50 stations in public garages, Leech said. Some of those stations installed in the early 1990s are now obsolete, though, and need to be upgraded.
Through a separate initiative, most of the old chargers will be upgraded to the newer standards of vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, Leech said.
Leech said electric automakers consider Sacramento a desirable market. The Nissan Leaf had two early release phases in several cities, the second of which included Sacramento. To maintain that interest, Sacramento needs to stay up to date with rising demand for electric vehicles, Leech said.
Tim Gallagher, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan West Coast, said automakers choose cities for early market launch based on a variety of factors. "Community interest, local government support, existing infrastructure" and more all play a role in the decision, he said.
A number of those early launch cities also have attracted interest from the ChargePoint America program.
ChargePoint America began when Coulomb Technologies won a $15 million grant in 2010 from the Department of Energy. The money is to be used to install 4,600 electric vehicle chargers across 10 national regions by 2013.
Coulomb, which is based in Santa Clara County, approaches cities to participate in the program, offering to install electric vehicle chargers for public use. Private residents can also purchase their own charging station through the program.
"We're excited to include Sacramento into the program," said Michael Jones, director of the Western region at Coulomb. "There is a lot of opportunity to have the state government begin using electric vehicles, and the city can benefit from having these chargers in place," he said.
Leech expanded on Jones' idea for broader use, saying he hopes the city can also eventually have "a commercial fleet using the stations" rather than just private owners.
Leech said he hopes the new chargers will encourage more residents to buy electric vehicles. "For anyone who lives in an apartment or shared parking lot, it's pretty difficult to charge your electric car," he said, as installation typically requires a garage or carport. With public use stations, more owners could overcome the initial fear of not having a charging station readily available, Leech said.
Costs for future maintenance will be paid for by revenue from the parking garages selected.