As the price for a gallon of gas inches closer to that dreaded $5 mark and support for a greener California grows stronger each year, more and more consumers are expected to embrace electric vehicles.
Cerritos Councilmember Carol K. Chen recently joined 50 mayors, as well as city council members and county supervisors from all over California, along with leaders from the California Public Utilities Commission and California Air Resources Board, to tour the LA Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26), the world’s largest event for electric drive technologies, and discuss incentives available to local governments that will help them become plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) ready.
The group also engaged with global industry leaders from General Motors, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi to learn about current and cutting-edge electric vehicle, battery and charging station technologies.
Chen believes that municipalities like Cerritos needs to be prepared to capitalize on the economic and environmental benefits the transition to these cleaner vehicles can deliver, especially because of the huge tax revenue derived from automobile sales by the city.
“It’s interesting that we have been talking about electric vehicles for quite some time, but I think the current technology and the work that (auto) manufacturers have done over the last three to five years has stepped up to where we’re going to be more comfortable looking at electric technology,” Chen said. “The city of Cerritos needs to be more proactive in looking at how we can best help by having public infrastructures ready to encourage the purchase of these cars.”
In a $120 million settlement announced in late March 2012 with the state of California stemming from overcharging disputes involving nearly 50 long-term electricity contracts more than a decade ago, NRG Energy Inc. agreed to build at least 200 fast-charge stations and install wiring for 10,000 conventional recharging units at 1,000 colleges, hospitals, apartments and large work sites around the state. The fast-charge stations allow electric car owners to fully charge their batteries in less than 30 minutes.
In addition, the state is now requiring that power plants and utility companies meet the 33 percent renewal energy guidelines and implementation by 2020. Chen said it’s important for the Cerritos City Council to decide how to best meet that mandate from the state.
“The conversation has to be with our motor dealers association and our major public auto sales areas, such as the Cerritos Auto Square and Town Centre,” Chen said. “At our last council meeting our staff was directed to start looking at this proactively. We should be having conversations with our major mall owners, as well as the city itself, on where we should be putting charging stations.”
Chen said that she’s already looking to purchase her own electric vehicle once she is assured that she can get to where she’s going, and back, without running out of power. She also believes there is potential for electric busses in the city.
“These are all good things,” Chen said. “I am really excited because it can be another product line we can be adding through the inventory sales of our auto mall, and it helps the environment through less gas consumption. Today I paid $75 to fill up my car. That’s just crazy. Eventually people are going to become more receptive to the switch to electric vehicles. We need to look at how we can be part of that movement to charging stations.”