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Thinking green: Ventura County gets largest push in its history to expand electric vehicle use

Ventura County is adding hundreds of new EV charging stations through a new $4.8 million dollar program.
Lance Orozco
Ventura County is adding hundreds of new EV charging stations through a new $4.8 million program.

$4.8 million program will add hundreds of new EV charging stations in the county.

He has a shiny, gleaming Tesla. Angus Simmons of Camarillo is one of the latest to jump on the electric car bandwagon. He did his research first about one of the big EV questions. Are there enough places around to get it charged that he won’t get stranded?

"You know, I really haven't had a problem," said Simmons. "The number of new charging stations is coming along every day. I know people really do think about it, but I think it's wonderful to have more and more charging stations around the county, and the state."

Now, there’s a new push to make hundreds of additional public charging stations available in Ventura County, to get people to buy into the idea of going electric. It’s a $4.8 million project involving the Clean Power Alliance, the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, and the state Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project.

"The county's needs are pretty significant. A study back in 2018 said the county would need about 3,000 publicly available chargers," said
Ted Bardacke, the CEO of the Clean Power Alliance. "By the end of this investment (the $4.8 million coming from the three sources) we'll be about halfway there. We'll be adding just about 400 chargers."

There’s a special push to add chargers in underserved parts of the county.

The current program includes adding more than 50 electric vehicle chargers in Oxnard. The project offers rebates for the installation of chargers in commercial areas, with the largest funding grants available for those in low-income areas.

"We all know that in order to get to a greener environment, we need to add more (chargers), so people have confidence that they won't run out of energy when they are driving their vehicle," said Ventura County Supervisor Janice Parvin.

Ventura County Air Pollution Control officials say this initiative is another big step towards improving the region’s air quality.

"As you know, Ventura County is designated as non-attainment for compliance with 2015 standards for ozone," said Ali Reza Ghasemi, who is Ventura County’s Air Pollution Control Officer. The district kicked in part of the money for the new chargers.

"87 percent of nitrogen oxide (pollution) is contributed by mobile sources, or transportation sectors. Nitrogen Oxide is a precursor for ozone formation," said Ghasemi.
In addition to the environmental benefits, there’s another factor which is pushing growth in the use of EV’s. Those involved with this new project say high gas prices have made electric vehicles more attractive to many drivers.

EV’s currently only make up a small percentage of the vehicles on the road in California. But, Bardacke said you should look at what people are buying.

"The real statistic from my perspective to look at is what percentage of new car sales are EV's, when you are talking about market transformation. In the last quarter in California, a full 25% of new vehicles sold were electric, or plug-in hybrid," he said.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.