Silicon Valley has a proud history of groundbreaking discoveries and trendsetting in the areas of digital technology and energy use.

Carrying on that tradition, the city of Palo Alto has recently embraced one of the latest green-energy trends with a package of new policies supporting the development of a network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

In December, the city council approved a report from its Policy and Services Committee that contains an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Policy consisting of seven specific policy statements or goals for facilitating the development of a public EV charging network.

The goals include such measures as partnering with and/or leasing city-owned spaces to organizations and individuals who can install and manage EV charging stations. Another policy would have the city encourage EV owners to inform the city of their ownership or use of EVs, so the city can gather data and plan for its EV infrastructure needs. The city will provide a quick and efficient permitting and inspection process for the installation and construction of residential and commercial EV charging stations. Staff also will consider establishing mandatory requirements for incorporating EV infrastructure in residential and commercial development projects.

These and other goals will help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to a level 15 percent below that of 2005.

According to the report, costs to the city will be minimal. The city has applied for and received two grants totaling $35,000 from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the California Energy Commission to install an EV charging infrastructure. The city has already installed five new chargers in the downtown area. Two chargers at the city hall have each been used at a rate of four cars per day, at a cost to the city of about $100 per month. The electricity is provided free to users.

The changes are well-timed. The report estimates between 3,000 and 10,000 residential and commuter cars charging in the city by 2020.