Electric vehicles gradually spark Valley interest. Will powering up be a problem?

There are fewer than 5,000 automobiles in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties that are powered primarily by electricity – either battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles that get their charge from a cord and an outlet rather than a hose and a gas pump.

And despite what auto dealers say is growing popularity among customers, such electric vehicles account for less than half of one percent of all cars and trucks on the road in the Valley. If demand continues to grow, however, researchers say their numbers could put increasing strain on a limited infrastructure of public charging stations at which drivers can power up their batteries – and potentially have consequences for the state’s power grid.

“California’s public charging stations are primarily located around major traffic corridors or highways, or where there is a high PEV (plug-in electric vehicle) density,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists Anand Gopal and Julia Szinai wrote in an analysis released Thursday. “However, public charging station construction has not kept pace with the existing and expected magnitude of PEV deployment across the state. This shortage of charging stations threatens to become a critical bottleneck to mass adoption of PEVs.…”

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