Santa Barbara County will be adding 86 electric vehicle charging stations in the fall; supervisors approved the fee schedule today. | Credit: Jean Yamamura

Santa Barbara County plans to increase the number of electric vehicle chargers by 86 in a project set for this fall. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a fee structure for them.

The new chargers are going into four locations: the parking lots at the county administration buildings in downtown Santa Barbara and Lompoc, and at the Public Health and Social Services buildings on Calle Real. Forty percent of the chargers — or 10 to 30 of them among the four locations — will be for the public and for employees’ personal vehicles.

The fees affect those chargers and also the ones at the county’s Betteravia Government Center. Currently, the cost is 45 cents per hour, which comes to 6-8 cents per kilowatt-hour. Once the new chargers are installed, the fees approved today change the costs to 15 cents per kWh at Santa Barbara’s downtown lot, 20 cents for Lompoc, 14 cents at both Calle Real locations, and 22 cents in Santa Maria. Skip Grey, assistant director for County General Services, explained the county was moving to a per kilowatt-hour charge because the state would mandate that in a couple of years.

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Comparatively, the City of Santa Barbara charges 25 cents per kWh, and $1.50 per hour after the first free 75 minutes. UCSB charges 20 cents per kWh plus parking fees, which range from $3 per hour to $8 for four hours.

To prevent a “hogging” of parking spaces, said Grey, vehicles parked for more than four hours will begin to collect a parking fee of $4.95 per hour. Further, the lots’ chargers would be available to the public outside business hours, or from 9:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m., with only the electricity costs being charged, not the parking fee.

Grey said the pricing was structured to recoup the cost of charging the county’s vehicles and would be a fairly modest $56,000 a year. 

That brought up the question of how long it takes an electric vehicle to charge. Grey responded that it would depend on the amps available from the building they drew the power from. To that issue and the ones about the times of day that were best to draw green power, Grey said they were part of a process that would get more sophisticated as time went on. The PowerFlex chargers were capable of different amperage settings, but for starting out, he said, “We’re keeping it simple.”

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