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July 25, 2011

Sunny Days for EV Charging

SD Sierra Club Chapter Chair Carolyn Chase
Carolyn Chase, Chair of the Sierra Club's San Diego Chapter, talks about solar EV chargers.

The Sierra Club's San Diego Chapter on Friday participated in the unveiling of a solar-powered EV charging station that will be accessible to the public at no cost. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 and the National Electrical Contractors Association -- which highlighted the green jobs that new EV infrastructure will generate -- sponsored the gathering and the new charging units.

Also on hand was Lance Cpl. Brian VanRiper of Operation Free, a group of veterans and national security experts that recognizes climate change and supports the need to get the U.S. off oil. (Read our guest column by Tim Goodrich, a Sierra Club member and Air Force veteran  who served in the Middle East and recently purchased a Nissan Leaf.) This coalition of labor representatives, energy-security advocates, and the Sierra Club sent a powerful message about the future of EVs.

"The transportation sector is a significant cause of global warming and local smog and asthma-related pollutants. Electric vehicles are a critical part of an overall clean transportation solution which translates into cleaner communities, green job growth, and reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels," said Carolyn Chase, Chair of the Sierra Club's San Diego Chapter.

With thousands of plug-in cars hitting U.S. roads this year, EV advocates have stressed the need for infrastructure to accommodate these cars of the future. The sunny city of San Diego has committed to hosting 1,000 charging stations. Other cities have made headlines with similar goals. Also on Friday, Boston indicated that it'll soon be housing 150 stations around town.

The fact that this charging station in San Diego will run on solar –- instead of coal or natural gas –- is a win-win for workers, drivers, and the environment. Solar charging available to the public is catching on.

Earlier this summer, General Electric opened a 100-kilowatt public solar carport that's capable of taking care of 13 cars a day. "Since the station was installed in May, it has generated a total of 20 megawatt-hours, enough for 1,033 full charges" from clean, renewable energy, reports the NYT's Wheels blog. Meanwhile, GE is working on a "wall-mounted" version of its charger that will be available to purchase at Lowe's later this summer.

Most current EV drivers who use solar power are doing so at home with their own panels. What's great about these recent announcements out of San Diego and GE is that these charging stations are public, fully dependent on solar power, and free from the grid.

Visit the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign for more info on becoming a plug-in driver.

(Top picture credit: Patrick Knighton of IBEW-NECA; bottom picture: Brian Foley.)

-- Brian Foley


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