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Obama’s EV Infrastructure Aims: Many EV Charging Companies Should Be The Solution, Not Just The Big Ones!

By Bill Williams, Business Development Manager at Telefonix, Inc.

The need for EV infrastructure is finally getting national attention, thanks to Obama’s new $4.5 billion loan program. “Public” locations are not the only thing needed to overcome range anxiety, however. “Workplace Charging” was mentioned in the White House press release as well.

Now that the EV industry is expanding outside of California and elite tech companies, we need an “affordable charging” plan for middle class businesses!

Nissan LEAF Charging What to doWorkplace charging for employees who commute in an EV is proven to be very effective, efficient, and beneficial among efforts to accelerate and support EV adoption. Workplace charging also targets the majority of days that we generate pollution: Monday through Friday.

Actually, the Department of Energy’s “Workplace Charging Challenge” survey shows that employees who have access to charging at work are 20x more likely to buy an EV!

More and more companies are considering to the installation of EV charging equipment, but they often find big companies’ plans too expensive. A popular belief is the need for each EV charging station to hook up to a (paid) network to provide access control, data collection, and sometimes collection of payment. With such charging stations, the equipment and network-connected charging equipment costs too much for many small businesses.

Besides years of network fees that can cost even more than the electricity much of the time, this creates redundancies in technology.

Here are some alternative “best practices” that are working at many employee parking locations, without “smart” chargers.

  • Employees can freely access Level 1 or Level 2 EV charging in spaces identified for employee EV parking.
  • Employees can be issued a sticker for EV parking/charging with or without a cost.
  • Controlled parking locations already control access and collect payments, and can provide free or paid Level 1 or Level 2 charging.

Smart Parking vs Smart Charging

Adding EV charging to parking lots and garages that are already payment controlled:

Example: $10/day for parking, or $14/day EV parking+charging.

Or EV charging can be complimentary to support & encourage plug-in drivers and to thank them for helping the garage environment become better for human health.

In both of these applications, it shows that the charging stations don’t need to be computers with a flat screen. They just need to work.

Levels of charging equipment matched to the needs can lower cost and, many times, simplifies the installation too.

L1 (120V) is recommended for dedicated all-day charging. It delivers 40–50 miles of range in 8 hours.

L2 (240V) for visitor/employee short stays delivers 40–120 miles of range in 4 hours

Important statistics:

Save money by matching equipment with the actual needs:

Considering all of the above, a small business (or any business) concerned about unnecessary expenses and capital costs associated with popular charging point equipment with ongoing fees can skip that option and enter this new world of workplace charging via simpler charging equipment.

This is what will accelerate EV adoption the quickest and most effectively. I think utilities, government organizations, and taxpayers would be more likely to support this efficient plan, if provided with the information and context.

Soon-to-arrive 200+ range EVs (Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, etc.) make it even more sensible to install simple, low-powered, non-networked chargers for regular “topping” off at work.

More Bang for Your Buck!

Here are a couple more detailed examples to drive the point home.

Example #1 — installation of 10 popular networked charging points:

Single or dual mainstream equipment costs $2,500 to $5,500 per charging point. So, 10 charging points would cost $25,000–55,000! Also add in installation, which usually costs more than the equipment.

Network fees for those 10 chargers would be $2,800 per year for access control, energy data, and payment collection. These then would require internet connection through your existing IT or cellular modems, which adds another monthly fee, altogether nearly doubling the price per year per charging point to $5,000–7,000 per year.

Example #2 — installing 10 non-networked charging stations (adding EV Chargers to a parking lot or garage with a simple payment scheme or no additional charges):

This would cost approximately $1,200 to $1,800 for each charging point. That means $12,000–18,000 equipment costs. (Basically to ½ the price of the first choice.) Installation will be the same, or less, as no internet connections are needed, nor cellular modems.

If payment is necessary to cover the costs, then the increase of parking fees for those spaces or a payroll deduction for employees can be a simple solution. Overall, this allows many more chargers to be installed for the same price of a few of today’s popular ones.

On a side note about electricity costs:

There are many ways to do energy tracking — for example, with a company called eGauge (or other kWh metering devices) — if needed. Check out this “Measuring without fees” presentation for more info on that. Basically, this allows for the option to charge for the electricity usage, and how much.

The Smartest Way Forward

I think we need to simplify — not overthink — EV charging needs in the years to come. Just because some companies offer more sophisticated (and expensive) charging stations doesn’t make them the best options for the public.

We need to make this “sustainable business shift” financially sustainable for it to succeed. Putting low-cost charging stations or outlets where cars park seems to be one place to start.

Image by Cynthia Shahan | CleanTechnica

 
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