San Carlos transportation officials on Tuesday will be talking about the possibility of installing lower-level electric vehicle charging stations on Laurel Street and, if enough are fired up in favor of the idea, consider recommending that the City Council take up the idea.

“There’s been quite a bit of interest even as far back as a year ago when the council was talking about Wheeler Plaza. One of the things we talked about for the new parking structure was the ability to require charging stations,” said Public Works Director Jay Walter.

The state dissolution of redevelopment agencies put that project on hold but didn’t dampen enthusiasm for giving electric cars a place to juice up.

Walter said the city looked at its own parking lots but learned from Pacific Gas and Electric that the power poles didn’t have the proper transformer for that purpose.

Back in November, the Transportation and Circulation Commission named EV stations as a priority item for 2014 and in February it learned of California Energy Commission grant funds to buy and maintain the equipment.

San Carlos met the minimum requirements but couldn’t meet the required 25 percent local match needed to apply. Undeterred, the city staff continued looking for possible locations to be ready when funding opportunities came to fruition.

Charging stations are designated by levels one through three and the grant focused on the two higher which require less charge times but cost more. For example, while a level one needs eight to 12 hours to charge, level two takes three to four hours and level three needs only 30 minutes.

Level one stations didn’t qualify for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District grants funded by the energy commission but the commission in February considered looking at them because they are cheaper and could use the city’s existing electrical outlets. The city dismissed the idea of installing stations in the parking garage serving City Hall, the library and adult community center complex because it is already short 245 parking spaces. Instead, the possibility is now moved to Laurel Street.

A level one EV station’s cost is nominal and it requires little more than an existing electrical outlet, Walter said.

On Laurel Street, especially the first three blocks from San Carlos Avenue, there are outlets used for lights during the Christmas holiday season so placing charging stations there would require careful configuring, Walter said.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, the members will discuss ways of making the level one EV stations a reality for the city and whether to recommend doing so to the City Council.

The commission could also recommend seeking a level two station and going after the grant money after securing council approval of the matching funds.

The San Carlos Transportation and Circulation Commission meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 at City Hall, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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