BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Driving to cleaner energy one company is building an electric truck charging area with a solar farm, in Kern County.
“We’re cleaning up the environment, we’re actually taking the first step to remove diesel trucks on the roads,” said Salim Youssefzadeh, CEO, WattEV.
The statewide company building this project, WattEV said this will be the first publicly available electrical truck stop in California and it’s in Bakersfield off-highway 65. Youssefzadeh added that Kern County is the right place to pilot the program.
“We were able to find a large enough property in a major trucking corridor in California surrounded by a lot of distribution centers and we can try many different things to test the solar generation,” said Youssefzadeh.
The charging stations won’t just be available to WattEV’s truck fleet, but any electrical truck in the area.
“To those drivers that want to get into electrical trucking, but don’t necessarily have the capital or the know-how, we bridge that gap,” said Youssefzadeh.
So, the solar field is going to have panels and a battery storage facility and be about 115 acres and another area right is where the truck charging station is going to be at about 10 acres.
The company broke ground on the project Thursday morning and said they hope the final project has about 40 charging ports for electrical trucks that can charge about 200 trucks a day and a gigawatt of solar energy charging capacity.
“Next year at this time, we’ll be standing here for the opening for the first phase of the project,” said Youssefzadeh.
One reason the project is important is to help reduce air pollution locally.
“We’re cleaning up the environment, we’re actually taking the first step to remove diesel trucks on the roads,” said Youssefzadeh.
One local group said that it helps people dealing with respiratory issues.
“The heavy-duty truck industry is very dominant here in Kern County. These diesel trucks emit a lot of emissions like particulate matter, black carbon, and all of these contribute to the smog that we see here in the county. So, definitely a project like this really is a step forward in bringing better air quality,” said Janet Herrera, Central California Asthma Collaborative.
According to the website IQ Air, Bakersfield is one of the most polluted cities in the country. In 2020 it ranked number one for annual particle pollution out of 203 metropolitan areas. Bakersfield also ranked number two for 24-hour particle pollution out of 217 metropolitan areas. It also was number three for high ozone days out of 228 metropolitan areas.