The city of Calexico celebrated the groundbreaking of an electric vehicle charging station, a significant step towards embracing sustainable transportation. However, this development is not without its fair share of skepticism and doubt. Some residents are concerned about the decision to give away a historic site for this purpose, while others question the potential lack of demand from residents.
Despite the debate, Calexico will become the first city in Imperial Valley to have a public charging station the public right away that organizes say it will be ready in 4 to six weeks and operate at 800 voltages.
In 2023, Comité Cívico Del Valle launched the Lithium Valley EV Charger Equity Initiative. This initiative is a community-owned non-profit model to construct and operate an EV charging station network in the Imperial Valley. With Imperial Valley having the lowest rate of EV chargers per capita of all 58 California counties, Comité Cívicos’s goal is to install 20 publicly accessible charging stations across the Imperial Valley.
“These EV chargers will support new clean transportation infrastructure for Calexico residents with proceeds from the EV chargers being reinvested in Comité Cívico del Valle’s public health and education programs for the community,” said Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comité Cívico.
Since February 2023, the City of Calexico was approached by Comite Civico del Valle, Inc. to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the City of Calexico. A list of proposed locations was provided to Comite Civico Del Valle and after careful review, both parties have agreed that the best location for the installation of the EV charging stations would be on the corner of Fifth Street and Mary Avenue due to its proximity to public facilities such as City Hall, Fire Station No. 1, Police Station, Rockwood Plaza Park, and its It is near the San Diego State Campus.
On March 1, 2023, the City Council of the City of Calexico approved the following:
Authorize the Designation of Four (4) Parking Spaces at the corner of Fifth Street and Mary Avenue for the installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Adopt Budget Amendment Resolution for Fund No. 255 – American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in the amount of $38,000.00.
The City of Calexico will provide the space for the charging stations and their associated equipment at 411 5th Street. Comite Civico del Valle, Inc. will provide the construction and fund lID’s installation of power, through a separate connection, to the charging stations. Comite Civico del Valle, Inc., will comply with all City requirements for encroachment and other permits, as well as those of IID. After the construction, the City will maintain the property, and Comite Civico del Valle, Inc. will maintain the charging stations and pay for the power to them.
In response to the criticism of this project, Olmedo said that those are politically motivated and are trying to put bad information out there. He added that no one from those groups has approached them to respond to their concerns.
“California already decided about electric vehicles. Calexico suffers from the worst air quality that concentrates from all the pollution coming from Mexicali,” Olmedo said. “The long lines are not only affecting the businesses; it’s affecting your lungs.”
Calexico Mayor Raul Urena responded to those who say this project is only for rich people.
“This project comes at such a crucial time. Starting January 2024, an electric vehicle tax credit will apply directly at the dealership as electric vehicles are getting cheaper than gas-made models,” Urena said. “The naysayers that want to cloud this vision don’t realize how needed this is for our community that has the worst air quality.”
In August, the California Energy Commission (CEC) issued a draft staff report assessing California’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The CEC projects that by 2030, 7.1 million plug-in electric passenger vehicles will need 1.01 million chargers, including 39,000 direct-current fast chargers. By 2035, CEC estimates show that California’s 15.2 million plug-in electric vehicles will need 2.11 million charges, including 83,000 direct-current fast chargers.