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Gilroy
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March 29, 2020

Gilroy’s electric future

The future of transportation is electric—and Gilroy is in a unique position to benefit from it.

At a recent special city council meeting in Gilroy, a nondescript new commercial site proposal was presented to the council for potential deployment at the intersection of 10th and Chestnut streets just off the busy 101 freeway.

The site proposal featured a hotel, an assortment of fast food restaurants, a 7-11 and a car wash. Yes, you heard that right: a car wash. Regardless of the fact that there are three other car-washes attached to gas stations in a 2-mile radius, and that the city receives zero tax revenue from car wash businesses, the developer believed that this unique facet was the anchor point of this proposed installation and the main driving factor of its success.

I disagree with this assessment. Mayor Roland Velasco and Councilmember Fred Tovar also disagreed. However, it was Councilmember Tovar’s observation quoted in a recent Gilroy Dispatch article that caught my eye. During his commentary he made a strong case for the developer to consider an electric vehicle charging station for that space rather than a car wash, citing the demand for such facilities, as seen at the Gilroy Premium Outlets.

Gilroy is already known for its friendly people, its many incredible wineries and of course, garlic, but what if it was also known as a potential leader in deploying electric car charging infrastructure?

A recent study on electric car adoption by JP Morgan predicts that by 2025 30 percent of all new vehicle sales will be electric or electric/gasoline hybrids, with predictions of over 50 percent by 2030, which is in line with manufacturing expectations from global car firms.

With the expectation of a larger fleet of electric vehicles hitting our freeways and local city roads in a ten-year time frame, it makes sense to start planning for this expansion now. Did you know that a city can generate revenue from city-owned and vendor managed electric vehicle charging stations, from vendors such as Charge Point?

 Through the scoping out and deploying of electric charging stations in partnership with companies like Charge Point—a vendor that deploys, maintains and gives back revenue from electric vehicle charging to the cities they contract with—cities like Gilroy can not only proactively prepare for the upcoming electric future of transportation, but stand to economically benefit as well.

Charge Point’s own marketing clearly outlines the benefits of deploying these stations: “EV charging attracts desirable consumers. EV drivers make 2X the average income. They shop, dine and visit communities that make it easy for them to charge.”

While researching and writing this article, I thought it prudent to reach out to Councilmember Tovar directly, to see if he had any additional commentary he may wish to include in this article. He responded with the following statement: “Electric vehicle charging stations will help reduce emissions and transition our city to a cleaner future. In addition, charging stations will help to keep customers for longer duration, provide a benefit for residents, and help generate revenue directly from people who use the station’s services.”

The electric revolution is already in full swing. Will the City of Gilroy choose to embrace this future proactively when we have choice land parcels near the freeways to develop or reactively when ideal locations are fewer and harder to come by?

Patrick Flautt is vice chair of the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission and a member of the Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee.

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