California Officials Unveil Plans to Turn San Francisco into Electric Car Capital

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

California Officials Unveil Plans to Turn San Francisco into Electric Car Capital

Schwarzenegger proposes move from traditional fuels • At least $1bn to be spent on improving green infrastructure

by
Bobbie Johnson

Hybrid electric cars on display in front of City Hall in San Francisco, California. (Photographer: Kimberly White/Reuters)

SAN FRANCISCO - Officials in California have
unveiled ambitious plans to turn the San Francisco Bay Area into one of
the leading centres of electric vehicles in the world.

If it
succeeds, the strategy announced yesterday will see billions of dollars
poured into a new power infrastructure that will turn the region away
from fossil fuel and to renewable energy - and convince millions of
people to switch to green technology.

The plan, which will see
the Bay become the first region of California to switch its transport
systems entirely away from traditional fuel, is being supported by
local government as well as the state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"California
is already a world leader in fighting global warming and promoting
renewable energy," he said in a statement. "This partnership is proof
that by working together we can achieve our goals of creating a
healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time."

At
least $1bn is expected to be spent on improving green infrastructure to
make the Bay area - which encompasses more than 7.6m people in the
cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose and throughout Silicon
Valley - the leading centre for electric vehicles in America, and
potentially around the world.

The scheme involves a number of
ground-breaking proposals to encourage the adoption of electric
vehicles, including speeding up the installation of electric vehicle
charging outlets on streets and in homes, and offering incentives for
companies to install charging stations in the workplace.

Local
government will also work to harmonise standards across the region so
that drivers of electric vehicles can travel the length and breadth of
the Bay Area - roughly equivalent to the south-east of England -
without being concerned that they cannot find the right charging
station.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme yesterday,
leading politicians said it was time to start turning their words into
real action.

"Forty percent of our greenhouse gas emissions
state-wide come from transportation, but in cities like San Francisco
it's substantially higher," said Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San
Francisco.

"If we're going to get serious about advancing our
local climate action plans, we've got to get serious about getting into
the business of alternative transportation."

The strategy is a
partnership with private businesses including Better Place, a project
to introduce new standards across the automotive industry that can
convince people to move away from petrol-fuelled cars and into electric
vehicles powered by renewable energy.

Officials say the plans
will put California on a footing with other countries leading the
attempt to switch away from dependence on oil, such as Israel, Denmark
and Australia.

"What happens in San Francisco and in Oakland and
in San Jose results in what happens in California - and what happens in
California affects what happens in the rest of the nation," said Jared
Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's department for the environment,
who has helped make the city one of the greenest in the US.

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