published on May 13, 2016 - 9:27 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Electric car charging stations are in the works along both Highway 99 and Interstate 5, including in the South Valley, by the end of next year.

The California Energy Commission has approved nearly $9 million in grants for the installation of DC fast chargers along major state freeways and highways to allow electric vehicle drivers to travel from San Diego to the Oregon border without worrying about running out of juice.

In our part of the state, EV Connect was funded along Highway 99 from Wheeler ridge north. Another firm, Charge Point, has been selected to build along Interstate 5.

On the 99 the preliminary plan calls for charging stations in Selma at the Home Depot, in Visalia at the Staples on Caldwell Avenue and Mooney Boulevard, in Delano at Home Depot and two sites in Bakersfield — a Flying J and a hotel.

Along the 5, stations are funded at the Grapevine, at the Buttonwillow exit, at Harris Ranch at Highway 198, Santa Nella and Lathrop
Statewide, the stations will offer fast chargers at 41 sites along major routes on Interstate 5, Highway 99 and Highway 101. Fast chargers allow vehicles to fully charge in 20 to 30 minutes. Additionally, 40 sites will have one Level 2 charger, which charges electric cars in about four to six hours.

Cars include plug in hybrids, electric cars and Tesla models that can use the public chargers with an adapter.

California has a fleet of about 200,000 electric vehicles sold since 2011. State officials hope continued incentives to buy electric cars, longer life batteries and the construction of more charging stations will help convince more consumers to buy these clean air vehicles.

The state gives permission for single-occupant vehicles with a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker to use high occupancy vehicle lanes, as well as rebates of up to $5,000 for new zero emission or plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicles.

The trend of electric vehicles getting bigger batteries and thus longer ranges continues with the recent announcement that the 2017 BMW i3 will come with a 33-kWh battery good for 114 miles of range.

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