California’s next step: 1 million electric vehicle charging stations

One of the most common things you hear in conversations about electric vehicles (EVs) is that people worry about running out of battery somewhere without a place to charge.

Written by Kayla Brandt.

One of the most common things you hear in conversations about electric vehicles (EVs) is that people worry about running out of battery somewhere without a place to charge. “What if I have to take a longer trip? There may not be a charging station where I have to stop. What happens if I get stranded?” 

It’s a valid concern — if we’re going to put more EVs on the road, we need enough places to charge them. That’s why EV charging stations are the focus of our newest campaign.

What happened: This summer, Environment California launched a new campaign to convince California to commit to reaching 1 million installed EV charging stations across the state by 2030.

Why it matters: Americans have depended on traditional gasoline-powered cars for decades, but these vehicles emit greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are hurting both the planet and our own health.

Transportation accounts for 41 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in California, making it a major contributor to climate change and its devastating effects — many of which we’re already seeing in the form of droughts, wildfires and heatwaves. At the same time, we’re damaging the health of our own communities, with heavy smog from vehicle emissions causing high rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses.

By electrifying our transportation system and adopting the widespread use of cleaner EVs, we can slash our emissions, which will benefit both the environment and our lungs. But it’s not enough to put more electric vehicles on the road — we need more places to charge them, too. That’s why we’re calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to commit to the goal of building 1 million EV charging stations in California by 2030.

The big picture: California is no stranger when it comes to leading on clean energy and climate change solutions. Among our victories in recent years, we’ve built 1 million solar roofs, banned single-use plastic bags, and we’ve committed to 100 percent zero-carbon energy by 2045. 

In 2014, former Gov. Jerry Brown set a goal of putting 1 million EVs on the road by 2023. In 2018, he raised this goal to 5 million EVs by 2030. As of this January, California has more than 655,000 EVs on the road, yet fewer than 22,000 charging stations — and you can’t travel far in an EV if you have no place to charge it. So, in order to keep up with our state’s groundbreaking goals, we have to build the charging infrastructure necessary to get us there. 

How did we decide on 1 million? Experts say that we need one charging station for every five or so EVs on the road, so 5 million EVs on the road by 2030 means we need 1 million charging stations by the same date.

And we’re not stopping there — in addition to building more charging stations, we need to improve the system we already have in place. That means we’ll be advocating for policies to make existing EVs and charging stations more accessible, visible and usable for all Californians. 

This includes:

  • Expanding public charging capacity.

  • Making EV chargers more accessible by increasing interoperability (essentially, ensuring that charging stations can accommodate different vehicle and plug types). 

  • Increasing the visibility and price transparency of public charging stations.

  • Ensuring EV spaces are open for EVs.

  • Expanding access to other forms of electric mobility.

At the end of the day, we’re working to build a clean energy future for California, and 1 million charging stations is the right step in that direction. To reach this goal, we need the support of Californians far and wide.

What you can do about it: Take action by asking Gov. Newsom to adopt a goal of installing 1 million charging stations throughout California by 2030. Sign the petition today.

Learn more: Check out our website to learn more about our campaign.

Photo: Environment California is launching a campaign to convince California to commit to reaching 1 million EV charging stations across the state by 2030. Credit: Matej Kastelic via Shutterstock


Katrina Riley

Deputy Editor, Editorial & Creative Team, The Public Interest Network

Katrina creates and edits materials with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network that tell the stories of our campaigns to protect the environment, stand up for the public interest, and more. Katrina lives in Boston, where she enjoys running, hiking and trivia.

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