The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a “road map” that set goals aimed at encouraging increased use of electric vehicles, including installation of more charging stations throughout the region, adding EVs to the county fleet and educational outreach.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who sponsored the plan, described it as “an item we can all agree on.”
More electric vehicles on the road help lower greenhouse gases and improve air quality, Fletcher said, noting vast improvements in the quality of the vehicles in recent years.
“I’m very pleased to see the county taking a leadership role,” he said.
Goals included in the road map are:
- Reducing the county fleet of gas-powered vehicles and converting 50 vehicles to electric by 2020, having 250 EVs in operation by 2025 and 501 by 2026-27.
- Increasing the number of EV charging stations from the current 37 to 100, including charging stations in private, multi-family residential and/or non-residential development.
- Promoting and providing incentives for county employees to own electric vehicles.
- Funding an EV expert/consumer advocate as a regional resource.
- And collaborating with regional partners to bolster EV use.
According to the county, the plan has an ultimate cost of roughly $21 million. After board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob questioned whether the county could afford it, Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said people can “be rest assured this is doable,” as the county has budgeted for it.
Staff members told the board that grants are available to help pay for program goals. Staffers will also update the board on the plan at future meetings.
Cost concerns aside, Jacob complimented Fletcher for “this bold, aggressive plan.”
Although she voted in favor of the plan, Supervisor Kristin Gaspar took issue with certain elements, including how a possible requirement of charging stations might affect new home prices.
Gaspar also said that it’s “redundant bureaucracy” to hire an EV expert, considering the San Diego Association of Governments could fill that role. Otherwise, Gaspar said “there is much that is good” about the road map.
Gaspar’s substitute motion to bifurcate the plan died for lack of a second.
Fletcher said that he takes the county’s fiduciary obligations seriously, and the road map doesn’t mandate EV stations for new homes. Supervisor Jim Desmond said it was important that the county get as much use as possible out of EV fleet vehicles.
Supervisor Greg Cox said the road map was “absolutely the right thing to do,” and not just because it will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the environment.
“If we make these investments, we’re going to be money ahead over the long haul,” Cox said.
The road map received positive feedback from representatives of the San Diego Association of Governments, San Diego Gas & Electric and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ local chapter.
Gretchen Newsom, political director IBEW 569, said the road map was “a win-win” for climate action and more work opportunities.
Larry Emerson, a member of San Diego 350, told the board that Chula Vista has a similar EV program, and “the race is on” for more cities to follow suit. If all the vehicles “were electric with no exhaust, it’s a beautiful future to imagine,” he said.
Updated at 2:43 p.m. Oct. 16, 2019
— City News Service
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