A program in San Mateo County has installed 500 electric vehicle chargers throughout the county since its inception three years ago.

The EV Ready Program, led by the county’s official electricity provider Peninsula Clean Energy, is a $28 million effort that was launched in 2020 with the goal of installing 3,500 charging ports at workplaces, multi-family homes and public spaces in San Mateo County over four years.

Creating more widespread access to EV chargers for underserved communities is at the center of the program, as it has employed more cost-effective strategies to get more chargers installed at apartment complexes.

Electric vehicles can reduce transportation costs — which is the second largest expense for typical households — by 50 percent or more, according to a Peninsula Clean Energy news release.

Where a lack of chargers in apartment buildings has been a barrier for these communities, two-thirds of the chargers installed by the program were at multi-family residences, an effort to “fill a major gap in expanding an equitable statewide network,” read the release.

Significant cost savings

The program’s projects are currently averaging $4,400 per charger, which is cheaper compared to similar programs in the state, which range from $10,000 to $18,000 per charger. Instead of prioritizing high-voltage chargers that are more costly, the program has installed mostly low-voltage chargers. This has provided “the opportunity to install much more charging with limited funding,” Peninsula Clean Energy said.

By 2025, San Mateo County is expected to have more than 45,000 EVs, according to a 2020 Peninsula Clean Energy news release. Chargers installed by the program can deliver 50 to 70 miles of charge overnight, surpassing the average daily commute of 25 to 35 miles for most drivers.

While the EV Ready Program has made some headway over the past two years, California is still short of its target of installing 2 million EV chargers by 2030, according to the California Energy Commission.

“The status quo isn’t going to get us where we need to be in terms of making EVs accessible and affordable to all drivers,” Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Shawn Marshall said. “Our right-sizing approach will allow for more widespread access to charging and help us make a sizable dent in transportation-sector greenhouse gas emissions, which are the largest contributors to climate change in our area.”

Lydia Sidhom is a rising third-year at UC Berkeley studying Data Science and Political Science. She is a Dow Jones News Fund intern for Bay City News. Lydia was a lead beat reporter, deputy news editor and projects developer for The Daily Californian and will be a deputy projects editor there this fall. She enjoys telling stories through data. In her free time, Lydia loves to read, bake and travel.