According to the San Francisco Chronicle, environmental leaders in the Bay Area are hoping a $1 billion investment from the local firm Better Place will help the region become the first in the country where the wide-scale use of electric vehicles is practical.

Better Place, a venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on oil, said its charging-station network for electric vehicles will cover the region by 2012, and the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, Calif., are planning to take part in the effort by creating cohesive regional regulations for electric vehicles.

San Francisco is planning tax breaks to promote electric vehicle sales and encourage businesses and homes to make charging stations available widely.

“We’re going to get serious about advancing our local climate action plans, about getting into the business of alternative transportation,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “I don’t believe halfway is good enough. I’m a guy driving a hybrid [vehicle] and I don’t feel too good about that. For us to get to the next level, we need unprecedented regional collaboration.”

Better Place has built other charging-station networks in Israel, Denmark and Australia, but this will be the first network in the United States, allowing drivers of electric vehicles to make long trips without worrying about finding charging places. Bay Area leaders are considering the addition of electrical outlets for low-voltage vehicles on all public buildings along with higher-voltage equipment at city parking lots, curbs and sidewalk streetlights.