History is being made with the first major stimulus grant approved by the California Energy Commission for building a network of electric vehicle chargers in both Northern and Southern California. A $50 million federal stimulus grant is being matched by approximately $15 million in state funding and $49 million in private financing to make one of the largest single investments in renewable fuel technologies in the country.

The goal is to test the impact of electic vehicles on California's electrical grid, the effectiveness of a variety of charger types, and the potential for quickly scaling up California's electric car infrastructure. A deal with Nissan (which will be providing 1,000 test cars and thousands of chargers) hope to pave the way for about 240,000 Nissan Leafs to enter the market by 2015.

There are three projects in the approved deal, the largest in San Diego which expects to save 1.7 million gallons of gas and prevent 5,000 tons of CO2 per year. A second, smaller project will install chargers in San Francisco, Sacramento and L.A.

A 3rd project is hoping to build infrastructure for ethanol E-85 filling stations across California. The stated goal is to replace 24 million gallons annually and reduce emissions by an estimated 170,000 tons per year, but that does not seem to factor in CO2 emission from the production of the ethanol fuel crops, not to mention the water required to grow all that corn.

So California has once again become the laboratory for the rest of the United States.. If successful these test projects will provide much needed research on how other states can break their reliance on oil as the one and only transportation fuel available.

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