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IID Board Analyzes Electric Vehicle Charging Services in Imperial County

-Editorial

The installation of electric vehicle chargers in a public park in Calexico has sparked controversy. At the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting on January 9th, the board heard a presentation regarding electric vehicle infrastructure in Imperial County. This was a topic that IID Director Javier Gonzalez requested to be put on the agenda as an information item.

The presence of these chargers at Calexico’s Rockwood Park has raised concerns among residents who argue that they will disrupt the aesthetics of the park and are not aligned with the park’s intended purpose.

The Imperial Irrigation District has been exploring opportunities to support the region with electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Connecting IID customers with information about electric cars, vehicle chargers, charging stations, and incentives.

Matthew Smelser, energy manager, gave a presentation regarding electric vehicles.

This item will be presented to the Energy Consumers Advisory Committee at its meeting on January 22.

In a bid to bolster the transition towards sustainable transportation, Imperial Irrigation District (IID) has streamlined its process for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging service requests. The district encourages interested customers to initiate the application process by contacting the IID Customer Operations Unit.

The application requires customers to specify the type of service needed, the location of the service site, and the size of the electrical service requested. IID meticulously reviews these applications, considering electrical system requirements, and IID standards, and conducting a system impact study.

Furthermore, California’s commitment to zero-emission transportation is evident in funding programs such as SB 671, SB 643, and Assembly Bill 2127. These legislative measures analyze and assess the infrastructure essential to achieving the state’s goals for zero-emission trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles.

Collaboration between local governments, including Imperial County and its cities, with both private and public entities, plays an important role. This joint effort identifies suitable locations and facilitates the development of electric vehicle sites. IID actively engages with public agencies and private groups to establish service requirements, ensuring a smooth process for permitting and identification of electric vehicle sites, Smelser stated in his report.

In regards to the EV Charging station in Calexico, the city 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.

Director Gonzalez said that residents are concerned that this project is being built in a historic designated park that is close to a playground and a residential area and said he was concerned about the safety of residents who live nearby.

Former Calexico Mayor Maritza Hurtado, who is also leading the recall election against Mayor Raul Urena and Gilberto Manzanarez, has denounced this project arguing that a city council majority gave a part of their park to Comité Cívico Del Valle without a proper environmental study or community input.

“Comité Cívico took our land for free and paid absolutely nothing. There is nothing to prove that Comité Cívico has site control because you won’t find a lease agreement or purchase agreement,” Hurtado said and added how the American Rescue Plan Act money sent to Calexico has not been used to address the infrastructure needs that are a huge priority.

In 2023, Comité Cívico Del Valle launched the Lithium Valley EV Charger Equity  Initiative. This initiative is a 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 counties in California, Comité Cívico’s goal is to install 20 publicly accessible charging stations across the Imperial Valley.

Journey to the Electric Vehicle Age

California agencies are taking a multi-faceted approach to ensure the move toward zero-emission vehicles is equitable. This includes increased incentive amounts for new and used ZEVs, new assurance measures to ensure that used ZEVs meet the needs of drivers as well as more directed equity actions from private industry.

Also, of the state’s investment in zero-emission transportation, a proportion is dedicated toward low-income consumer vehicle purchase incentives, affordable and convenient zero-emission vehicle infrastructure access in low-income neighborhoods, and to support sustainable community-based transportation equity projects that increase access to zero-emission mobility in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

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