Electrify America Goes Solar In Rural Fresno County

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Electrify America is now the “largest open DC fast charging network in the US,” according to Electrify America, and the claim checks out based on number of charging stalls (EVgo is #1 based on charging locations, and ChargePoint is #2 based on locations). Naturally, Tesla’s Supercharger network beats everyone, but it is not “open,” since only Tesla drivers can use it.

While we may have some issues with Electrify America that we’d like to see fixed, we are happy overall to have such a big, broad ultrafast network serving non-Tesla electric cars across the country. And the network keeps growing quickly.

What many may not know is Electrify America is also in the slow charging business to some degree, and it has a good story to share this week about that.

The latest news is that rural Californians in Fresno County just got 8 solar-powered, off-grid charging stations from Electrify America, and 22 more are on the way.

“This infrastructure is an important part of Electrify America’s commitment to expand access to clean and financially sustainable EV charging to low-income, disadvantaged, and rural communities within the state of California,” the company notes.

Electrify America has some partners on this project — Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) and Beam Global (Nasdaq: BEEM, BEEMW; formerly Envision Solar). The stations use EV ARC™ charging stations. There are initially 8 standalone Electrify America Level 2 EV chargers and they will be free to use. You can find the locations here.

Each of the 30 stations being put in across Fresno County includes two Level 2 chargers able to charge up to 3.5 kW each. The one notable downside of this news is that 3.5 kW is really too little. Even slow chargers should offer at least 6 kW of power capacity.

The charging stations all have solar panel canopies, and they also have stationary energy storage onsite in order to provide full off-grid EV charging access — particularly useful if there happens to be a blackout at the moment.

Eager to use a solar-powered charger? Electrify America makes it extra easy by including a sun icon on those charging stations on its charging station map.

While fast charging is great and can be critical for some trips, the vast majority of charging is done on slow chargers. Much of that is via home charging and workplace charging, but local destination charging is also a great support. I have lived with electric cars and no home charging for two years, relying fully on local destination charging and occasional superfast charging. Having chargers at stores, parks, restaurants, and coffee shops is a top way to promote and support electric vehicle ownership, in my opinion. So, it is inspiring and exciting to see this fun series of projects in Fresno County, even if it is on the other side of the country from me.

What’s more exciting is this is just the start of something much bigger. Electrify America is investing $2 million into solar-powered EV charging stations in rural areas of California, part of Volkswagen’s settlement with the US government and California government for its years-long diesel emissions scandal.

To close, here are some comments from executives at the partner organizations:

“Our work to expand access to sustainable, affordable electric vehicle charging options to communities that are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change is incredibly important” said Nina Huesgen, senior manager, Home and eCommerce at Electrify America. “Providing this access to charging that is independent from the grid is particularly key to rural areas, which may lack sufficient access to infrastructure, and can increase the confidence of local EV drivers in need of public charging options.”

“FCRTA is pleased to partner with Electrify America in hosting eight EV ARC™ units in Fresno County. These cities are ideal locations for rural residents to use this technology in improving the air quality and health standards,” said Moses Stites, general manager of Fresno County Rural Transit Agency. “This is a collaborative effort in reducing greenhouse gases and promoting a sustainable environment in disadvantaged communities.”

“Electrify America is an established leader in the EV charging industry and we’re thrilled to continue to deploy our EV charging infrastructure products with them,” said Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Beam Global. “At Beam, we’re committed to rapid and scalable deployments of EV charging infrastructure. Working with Electrify America to bring the driving on sunshine experience to underserved communities, where air quality is often worse than in more affluent districts, gives us another great opportunity to demonstrate the value of our off-grid products. The on-board emergency power panels will contribute to energy security in the area as well.”

Image courtesy of Electrify America

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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