Fast-Charge EV Stations Debut in Sacramento, Calif.

Public officials are finding that to encourage EV use, government needs to step in.

by / June 3, 2015

Electric vehicles (EV) might be better for the environment, but a dearth of charging infrastructure deters many would-be EV drivers. In an attempt to bolster that infrastructure, however, California's Sacramento Municipal Utility District unveiled on June 3 a new fast-charging station in the city of Citrus Heights. The new charger allows EV drivers to charge 80 percent of their car’s battery in less than 30 minutes.

SMUD officials said they also plan to open more EV fast-charging stations near the utility's headquarters in Sacramento. The stations allow users to charge their vehicles for a fee equivalent to 22 cents per kilowatt-hour, payable by mobile app or credit card. SMUD calculated that EV drivers pay the equivalent of about $2 “per gallon,” compared with an average California gasoline cost of more than $3.50 per gallon.

Similar efforts are under way in other parts of the country, too.

The West Coast Electric Highway program, a cooperation between California, Oregon and Washington state, brought dozens of new stations to the region in an attempt to quell drivers’ range anxiety. In May 2014, eight U.S. governors signed a pact to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on American roadways by 2025. Others, like New York-based HEVO Power, experiment with wireless vehicle charging. The United States leads the global market in electric vehicle use, accounting for 290,000 plug-in electric cars sold since 2008, representing 41 percent of sales globally.