The Atherton City Council gave the go-ahead for staff to purchase electric vehicle chargers for installation in Holbrook-Palmer Park for $54,000.
The City Council decided on Wednesday, April 19, to put eight charging ports with four, Level 2 chargers at the park's entry lot and four, Level 2 chargers in the Jennings Pavilion parking lot. Clean Energy is offering a $5,000 rebate for each charger and the total cost would be $90,000 without the incentives.
The purchase is part of a greater effort to help the town reach its climate action goals of a 49% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
EV adoption is soaring, and nearly 50% of personal cars purchased last year in San Mateo County were electric, according to the town. Roughly one of every seven, or 14%, of 6,261 vehicles in Atherton were electric as of 2021, according to a CalMatters analysis of data from the Energy Commission. This is the highest percentage of electric cars per capita in the state.
The council considered putting 10 chargers, spread throughout three locations in the park, located at 150 Watkins Ave., near the entry of the park, near the Jennings Pavilion and near the main house. It would have cost $77,000 to install chargers at all locations.
The council opted not to install chargers near the main house. It was estimated it would cost $33,000 to install two chargers in this part of the park without rebates.
Council member Rick DeGolia said 10 chargers would probably not be heavily used, noting that the two EV chargers with capacity to charge four vehicles at a time as a part of the new Town Center aren't used a lot. Installed in August 2022, they have an average of 50 charging sessions per month, according to staff.
"I do think as time passes they're (the chargers) going to get more use because as time passes there's going to be more and more EVs," DeGolia said. "There's potential for change (adding more EV) as we add in solar to the Pavilion."
Mayor Bill Widmer said that it doesn't seem worth designating 10 parking spaces in the park for the chargers and noted that the spaces can only be used for electric vehicles and handicap spaces by state law. There are a total of about 50 parking spots in the park now.
Staff noted that installing the chargers near the parking entry was the most cost-effective option.
Level 2 chargers typically deliver a full charge in four to six hours, according to Peninsula Clean Energy.
In spring 2022, Clean Energy provided Atherton free site design assistance and generated a charging evaluation report for EV charging at three sites in the park.
The town is also closer to enacting a ban on 2-stroke gas-powered leaf blowers, which would begin in July 2024.
Staff introduced the ordinance to council on April 19. The ordinance is up for adoption on May 17.
Town staff is recommending the council set up a $25,000 rebate program for residents during the 2023-24 fiscal year. It plans to offer one-time, individual rebates of up to $250 toward eligible zero-emission equipment (such as batteries and equipment).
Residents could use the rebate to purchase equipment for themselves and their personal use; equipment for their landscapers; and/or equipment for the landscapers to use on their property only.
Watch a video of the meeting here: