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Bay Area gets funding for electric vehicle recharging stations

As the latest wave of electric cars arrives in California, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Wednesday awarded $3.9 million to four companies to install charging stations in homes and public places.

Most of the money will be used to lower the cost of installing charging stations in the homes of electric car drivers, helping fund the installation of 2,750 chargers throughout the Bay Area. The money also will pay for installing 30 fast-charging stations in places accessible to the public, such as stores, restaurants or government buildings.

The funds come from a surcharge on vehicle registration fees.

“The electric vehicle’s time has come, and its effectiveness as a means of improving air quality depends on a robust charging infrastructure,” said Jack Broadbent, the air district’s executive director, in a prepared statement.

Some of the cars these stations will serve are already cruising local roads. Nissan North America started delivering its electric Leaf hatchback to Bay Area customers in December. General Motors brought its Chevrolet Volt to the region later that month.

The air district and local governments have been scrambling to put in place the infrastructure these cars will require.

Last year, the air district spent $1.3 million to install 402 public charging stations, a process still under way. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told a green business conference in San Francisco on Wednesday that he is talking with automakers about paying for charging stations at state-owned rest stops along California’s rural freeways.

“It’d be nice to have the infrastructure up and down the spine of California,” he said. As lieutenant governor, Newsom sits on the State Lands Commission, which oversees state-owned property.

The effort is a boon to the companies that make chargers, several of them in the Bay Area.

Ecotality Inc., with headquarters in San Francisco, received the largest award from the air district on Wednesday – $2.9 million. Coulomb Technologies of Campbell received $350,000. The air district gave $500,000 to AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia (Los Angeles County) and $175,000 to ClipperCreek Inc. of Auburn (Placer County).

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