[Oeva-list] EV charging considerations

nscale7 at aol.com nscale7 at aol.com
Mon Jul 26 20:19:49 PDT 2010


stevel at fern.com writes:
>my employer has already decided that they aren't willing to install charging stations, due to liability concerns.
 
This is not an uncommon problem. In fact, it seems to be standard operating procedure. I think that the expectation that charging can be done at workplaces is wildly over optimistic as long as it is optional; from what I’ve seen most employers are highly resistant to workplace charging. PCC refuses to install chargers, PSU refuses to install chargers, even the BPA, which stands to gain from EVs, refuses to install charging stations. If employers that stand to gain from EVs, like the BPA, or that are nationally renowned for their sustainability, like PSU, won’t allow workplace charging stations, what does that tell us about the rest of the employers in the city?
 
Portland State University, nationally renowned for their sustainability and actively researching EVs, refuses to install charging stations for faculty and students, because they claim the reserved spaces would be used less often than the rest of the spaces in the garage, causing them to lose money, as much as $300 a month per EV space. For an institution whose annual budget is in the hundreds of millions, and that just spent nearly half a million dollars to plant twelve trees in the urban center plaza, $300 a month is a pretty poor excuse. Further, that the spaces they’ve already reserved for PSU’s Xebras, Plug-In Prius, and RAV4 EVs sit empty half the time, and so could theoretically be made available to students during the day, is apparently irrelevant.
 
The Bonneville Power Administration refuses to install charging stations because they claim it would be an illegal use of government resources, akin to using public money to buy gas for a private car (although BPA does exactly that all the time, in addition to giving away free bus passes.) Portland Community College, which offers EV technician training in their automotive program, basically said the same thing. That other government entities like ODOT, OHSU, Multnomah County, and the Cities of Portland, Hillsboro, Gresham, etc. have established legal precedent to the contrary is apparently irrelevant.
 
I suspect the bottom line is not that employers are unable to provide charging for legal or liability reasons, it’s simply that they don’t want to, no way, no how; Thus my belief that the expectation that charging can be done at workplaces is wildly over optimistic so long as it is optional. In this case, perhaps what is needed is a change to the building codes to require EV charging for buildings over a certain size, much as handicapped and bicycle parking are required, not optional. The city of Vancouver, BC now requires 10% of spaces in new residential parking garages to support EV charging; perhaps we could convince the City of Portland to adopt similar codes.
 
The Portland city council recently passed a resolution to support electric vehicles, (Available here: http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=309915 ) and an amendment to the building codes requiring EV charging on new construction would be a straightforward way for the council to put that resolution into action. Of course, lobbying for code changes might conflict with our non-profit status, so it may require some creativity.
 
>I wonder.. Will AAA tow a EV with a dead battery to a charging station?
 
 Yes. If AAA will tow a bicycle with a flat tire, why wouldn’t they tow an EV? Remember, AAA wants to make money, and providing customers with needed services is the way you make money. They may even eventually develop an emergency charge (EmergiCharge?) truck with a built in fast-charger, running off of batteries or a gas generator. It wouldn’t have to recharge you fully, or even to 80%; just enough to get to a real charging station under your own power, and two or three minutes of fast-charge would give you several miles of range with which to do so. Sort of like how they don’t fill the tank if you run out of gas, just a gallon or two to get you to a gas station. Of course, ultimately the plan is to populate the entire world with charging stations, so you’d never be more than, say, a half-mile from one, but that won’t be realized for a while yet, and in the meantime AAA can make some money.
 
-Chase
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