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California unveils first fast chargers at border crossing truck stop

By MPCO Staff

While the Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry is the busiest commercial port in California — about a million commercial trucks and buses roll through the United States and Mexico border yearly — no one had seen what’s being called the “fueling station of the future” until now.

California Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan said she was excited to help celebrate California’s first-ever DC fast-charging truck stop on the border in an area heavily impacted by air pollution.

“The Energy Commission helped fund this with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and it’s just really cool to see all these trucks. The transition is happening and happening here and now!” she said.

Public chargers for electric vehicles are now common across California’s highways, byways, and shared public spaces like shopping centers, libraries, and parking garages. What is not are public fast-charging stations for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles at a truck stop. That is until this spring.

That’s when Monahan joined a fleet of EV infrastructure trailblazers at the March 27 event to unveil four 250-kilowatt fast DC chargers. On a full charge in a couple of hours, a truck can travel 250 miles or more. And, in case you’re wondering, the chargers are also compatible with passenger vehicles.

Representatives at Truck Net’s Otay Mesa location included San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nora Vargas and Truck Net President David Wick, who noted the company also hopes to add a hydrogen station to expand fueling options.

The cutting-edge charging station is fueled by a $200,000 grant from the California Electric Vehicle Project (CALeVIP) that pays for most of the costs for the chargers. The California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program funds the project, which invests more than $100 million annually to support innovation and accelerate the deployment of advanced transportation and fuel technologies.

Now in its 14th year, the program is vital to California’s leadership in zero-emission transportation. The program has shelled out more than $1 billion to alternative fuel and vehicle technology projects that yield health, environmental, and economic benefits to communities. Funding for the program is set to expire at the end of 2023.

SDG&E’s Power Your Drive for Fleets program built the underlying infrastructure for the Otay Mesa project, connecting the chargers to the grid.

“This is an important commercial point, a transportation corridor hub for our region in San Diego and the state of California,” said Miguel Romero, vice president for energy innovation for SDG&E. “With these types of fast charging investments, we hope to see a lot more conversion of the fleets as those technologies become more and more available.”

Building on the success of this and other projects, EnergIIZE (Energy Infrastructure Incentives for Zero-Emission) Commercial Vehicles program was launched. It’s a concierge-like model that works directly with eligible applicants to help plan and fund charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Up to $276 million is available for projects.

These investments and partnerships support Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order aiming for all operations of medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles to be 100 percent zero-emission by 2045.

Investing in projects like Otay Mesa will help accelerate the state into a cleaner energy future.

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