US Green Chamber
Written by Hayley Roder
Under the Obama administration’s plan to reduce oil imports and attend to rising gas prices, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded grants to state and local governments and companies to help kick off the electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
Many of these EV charging stations have been installed under the Recovery Act. The act, passed on February 17, 2009, seeks to create new jobs and spur economic activity through providing federal grants, loans, and tax cuts for families and businesses, according to www.recovery.gov as of May 2011, over 1800 chargers have been installed.
ECOtality, a leading corporation in electric transportation and energy systems based in San Francisco, was awarded $114.8 million to place chargers in 18 cities across the nation. These cities are located in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Washington state. ECOtality selected these locations based on factors such as traffic patterns, locations of employment centers, regional attractions, and retail hubs.
To specifically reduce gas usage by federal vehicles, the Obama administration has implemented the installation of charging stations in Washington, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Here in San Diego, one charging station set put in by ECOtality is in Balboa Park. Three stations are located at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and seven are located in front of the Air and Space Museum. The cost of use is being temporarily covered by the science center, so the stations are currently free to users.
Rates are expected to be established at the Balboa Park charging station set by the end of this year; a proposed price is $2.50/hour.
James Avery, senior vice president of power at San Diego Gas and Electric, said that one of the company’s goals is for consumers to have swipe cards for the charging stations. That way, charges for use can be added to their home electric bills each month.
Looking for EV charging stations? Here are some resources that can help:
MyChargePoint, part of Coulomb Technologies, helps you “manage your electric fueling experience” by providing the locations of charging stations and the opportunity to purchase and manage a ChargePass Card. This card makes it easy for you to activate charging stations and keep track of your vehicle’s charge history.
PlugShare, a free app available for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch users, offers a map of nearby charging stations. It boasts a network of over 2500 charging locations. It will soon be available through the Android Market.
Google offers a feature that helps you find charging stations. Simply type in “ev charging station near ____ (city/zip) to find a local station.