If you drive a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or any Tesla, then Half Moon Bay will soon be a friendlier destination.
Jackhammers and spades went into the ground this week as part of a long-awaited project to install the Coastside’s first-ever, public, electric-car charging station. At a cost of $18,000, the new station will allow up to two electric vehicles to charge while parked downtown. City officials hope to use the new station as part of a pilot program to see if plug-in car owners flock to the area.
“We’re really excited about it. I’m hopeful that this is going to be the beginning of much more,” said Colleen Haupt, the city’s project manager. “It’s an important step toward a sustainable future.”
Relatively few electric vehicles are currently on the road; however, that number is expected to surge in the coming years. The California Air Resources Board is expecting 1.4 million electric and hybrid cars to be on the road by 2025. That amounts to approximately one in seven autos in the state.
To prepare for that rise, many Bay Area cities have been preparing the hookups so these vehicles have a place to recharge. The City Council decided to join the bandwagon last year as it allocated money from the Measure J sales tax increase. Elected leaders directed $50,000 toward the charging stations in the hope of attracting well-heeled electric car drivers to visit the area.
The city is still holding onto the remainder of the money while they wait to see how the first electric-car charger does, Haupt said. City officials have already approached New Leaf and Safeway markets to discuss the possibility of installing more stations in the future, she said.
That would all depend on whether drivers begin using the city’s pilot charger, which should be ready to go later this month. The charging station will be located on Kelly Avenue between two parking spots right next to City Hall. The city has no immediate plans to restrict parking in front of the charger. Anyone can park there, Haupt said, but she urged those with gas-powered vehicles to look elsewhere for a parking spot.
Using the car charger will be a bargain compared to the gas pump. The city plans to offer the first two hours of charging for free. After that, a driver would have to pay between 40 cents and 60 cents per hour.
City officials are hoping to arrange a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the charging station in early February.