State leading the charge on electric-vehicle growth

California is the international bellwether for technological innovation and the green economy: When we achieve something here, the rest of the world takes notice. In no industry is this truer than the electric-vehicles (EV) industry, and we at ChargePoint have been committed to building the infrastructure to support that growth. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown, we now have a series of laws designed to encourage Californians to take advantage of clean, efficient electric vehicles.

Just in the past few weeks, Brown signed a host of EV bills into law as part of his continuing belief that electric vehicles will help reduce statewide carbon emissions. The bills support free or reduced rates for clean air vehicles to use high-occupancy toll lanes, increase the total number of zero-emission vehicles that could use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and give local governments greater authority to allow EVs to utilize high-occupancy lanes in their areas. And last month, the governor put the importance of EV adoption on the world stage at the United Nations Climate Summit.

The commitment of EV growth by auto manufacturers is inextricably linked to the strength of the EV infrastructure and California continues to make the commitment to remove barriers to continue to strengthen that infrastructure. We strongly supported legislation this year that received bipartisan support and was signed by the governor. The bill makes it easier for tenants ofr both commercial and residential buildings to install charging stations. This new law will help the more than 40 percent of Californians who live in multifamily housing, as they can now have easier access to charging stations at their homes.

These new laws directly followed a spate of legislation signed into law in 2013 that extended auto emission reduction programs like the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program that has directed $36 million in projects for EV vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure since 2010, and required the state Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop standards for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure in multifamily housing and nonresidential developments.

Brown has called for 1.5 million electric vehicles to be on California roadways by 2025, a figure that the state could very well meet if EV sales continue to grow at current rates. Three of the six fastest-growing regions for EV sales in 2013 were in California (Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and San Diego), and the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative noted that the state has sold more than 100,000 plug-in cars since the market started in 2010 — figures that represent about 40 percent of all plug-in vehicles sold across the country.

It is those advancements that also led U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to launch a series of global transportation initiatives during his recently hosted Climate Summit in New York. The Urban Electric Mobility Initiative was created with the goal of increasing the number of electric vehicles in cities to at least 30 percent of all new vehicles sold annually by 2030 and — importantly — make cities friendly to their use.

To serve the California EV market, ChargePoint currently operates 8,158 charging stations. This number however, does not meet the needs of the rapidly growing demand for charging stations in our state.

As Californians, we take pride in our state's leadership of an issue of global importance. We've done a great deal, but look forward to a future where charging your car is easier than filling up the tank.

Pasquale Romano is president and CEO of Campbell-based ChargePoint.

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