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In Depth: Does San Diego have enough Electric Vehicle charging locations?

"Significant gaps" reported in EV infrastructure
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Posted at 10:24 AM, Apr 03, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As gas prices soar, interest and demand for Electric Vehicles is also on the rise. But San Diego County does not appear ready to meet the demand for charging stations and other infrastructure needs to support all those extra EVs on the road.

That's especially true for drivers who can't plug in their cars at home and will have to rely on public chargers.

A recent report by SDG&E found there are 69,000 EVs in San Diego as of 2020, and only 6,761 publicly available charging stations in the County. By 2030, they estimate the number of EVs to balloon to 771,000. That would require more than 155,000 charging stations to keep pace.

Getting to that 155,000 mark means some combination of government and businesses will have to build more than 16,400 chargers per year to keep pace.

"It's crucial we keep expanding to reach these goals," says Corey Perman, the Clean Transportation Project Manager for SDG&E.

"There are not enough chargers, at the moment, for everyone to charge," he says. "This is something we constantly look at. There's definitely a huge gap to meet the state's climate goals."

Since 2018, SDG&E has built 3,260 public charging stations. They have plans to build 2,600 more over the next several years. They also offer incentives and rebates to businesses or apartment complexes that want to build charging stations for employees and renters.

In 2019, the County of San Diego announced the Clean Cars for All program. In addition to offering rebates for low-income families to buy an electric car, the program promised to build 2,000 charging stations around the County. A spokesperson told ABC 10News the program still hasn't launched.

But, the County Air Pollution Control District does have the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, which offers rebates for private businesses who build chargers. According to their website, they have more than $19.7 million available.

All this will hopefully help reduce what EV drivers call "Range Anxiety," a form of stress brought on by not knowing where to charge their car.

Apps like PlugShare help identify charging locations. They also give information about what type of plug is available, how many chargers are in use, and how long it will take to charge.

Experts say planning ahead is the key.

"It takes a little bit of forethought," says PlugShare's Dan Wheeler. "Is there a grocery store that they frequent that has a public charger? Depending on their vehicle, they may be able to juice up while they're getting their weekly groceries or eating at a favorite restaurant."

Drivers say the extra planning is a hassle, but worth it to feel like they're saving some money on gas, and helping the environment.

"I think a lot more stations are going to pop up," says Cheng Tan, who drives a Hyundai Ionic. "I'll feel more comfortable when there are more charging stations and more options."

State leaders have established a goal of 5 million EVs on the road by 2030, and for all new car sales in California to be electric by 2035. Lawmakers have passed several bills aimed at making it easier and cheaper to ensure the state has the infrastructure in place so drivers can stay charged.

To track how many EVs are currently on the road, click here. To see how many chargers are available to the public, click here.