gavinsolar.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom celebrated this afternoon the installation of the first commercially owned electric plug-in vehicle charging stations in the city.

The two stations, located in Priority Parking’s lot on Pier 27, are part of what Newsom said was a “long-term commitment we have made to address greenhouse gas emissions and the way we use energy.”

The charging stations, built by Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies, are also the first to feature the MasterCard PayPass system, which allows electric vehicle drivers to pay for parking and charging by simply tapping their MasterCard PayPass cards at the station, similar to how Clipper cards work on various transit systems in the Bay Area.

People without MasterCards who want to charge their electric vehicles can also sign up for Coulomb’s ChargePass payment cards, which draw from a bank account.

The stations are the first of 12 that will be installed in Priority Parking facilities throughout the city.

They are in addition to about 20 publicly owned stations that are already installed around San Francisco, including outside City Hall, Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal said.

Charging stations are also located in 13 other Bay Area cities, including San Jose and Walnut Creek.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty was also at today’s launch of the two stations, which he said will hopefully encourage more people to buy electric vehicles.

“Like many people in San Francisco and the Bay Area, I’ve been thinking about getting an electric vehicle, and the infrastructure that’s going to be made over the next year is going to help more and more people make that choice,” Dufty said.

Lowenthal said a $15 million grant from the federal stimulus bill is allowing the company to install hundreds more charging stations in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

He encouraged local businesses or individuals to sign up to have a public charging station installed for free, thanks to the federal stimulus grant, by visiting and completing an application form.

The stations allow about 25 miles of travel for every hour a car is charged, with the owner of each station setting the price.

Electric vehicles cost about 3 cents per mile to operate, compared to 13 cents per mile for a conventional car, based on gas at $3 per gallon, according to the mayor’s office.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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