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San Francisco will charge your electric car for free until 2013

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San Francisco will provide electric car drivers free charging at public stations until 2013, as a way to reduce range anxiety.

Electric car charging station

To promote the use of electric cars, San Francisco will provide free charging for plug-in vehicles at city-owned parking garages and at San Francisco International Airport until the end of 2013.

Considering most drivers are likely to charge their cars at home, these 90 or so chargers will be a back-up for consumers. Currently, electric cars make up a small fraction of San Francisco's traffic, but California is likely to see the highest number of early adopters in the coming years.

Installation will begin next month and the chargers will be ready to go by the end of the year. By giving drivers access to charging, the city is hoping to reduce range anxiety. Mayor Lee said in a press release that the chargers were meant to “build confidence in the new technology.”

Bob Hayden, the clean transportation adviser at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, told SF Examiner that the program’s goal was to continue reduction of the city's carbon emissions.

The stations will also help the city gather data on how frequently public charging stations are used and where they are needed.

Funding for the stations comes from a $300,000 bill that includes federal, state and local grants. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District granted $3.9 million to four companies earlier this year to install public charging stations.

In the end, the the Bay Area will get 2,750 new chargers, including 30 fast chargers -- which can power an electric car in about 30 to 45 minutes.

The Mayor's Office is hoping that the new efforts will reduce San Francisco’s greenhouse gas levels to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

San Francisco's charging hot spots:

  • Civic Center garage
  • Ellis O’Farrell garage
  • Fifth & Mission garage
  • General Hospital garage
  • Golden Gateway garage
  • Japan Center garage
  • Lombard garage
  • Mission Bartlett garage
  • Moscone Center garage
  • North Beach garage
  • Performing Arts garage
  • Pierce Lombard garage
  • Polk Bush garage
  • Portsmouth Square garage
  • SFO garages
  • St. Mary’s Square garage
  • 1600 Mission Street garage
  • Stockton Sutter garage
  • Union Square garage
  • Vallejo Street garage
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Ami Cholia

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Ami Cholia has written for AltTransport, Inhabitat, The Huffington Post and Sunday Mid Day in India. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure