And so it Begins….


And so it Begins….

I have been musing on the issue of charging stations and how parking space owners are controlling their use. Salt Lake City is reaching out to discover how other municipalities are monitoring the use of on street (and off street) charging stations. Apparently, it’s not that easy.

There are issues. The type of charger (power) denotes the amount of electricity fed into the car’s battery. The car itself makes a difference, as does temperature, and other factors. Most cars, according to a chart I found, get about 20 miles of power for each hour of charging. A Telsa with a supercharging station may get 50 miles per hour, while a Chrysler Pacifica may get less than half that with a lower powered charging station.

The question is just how much power does a city wish to provide. And how long does it wish to allow a car to be parked at the curb. I guess the other question is does a city wish to provide this service for free? If I drive a Belchfire V12 I have to go to the filling station and pay $1.50 a gallon more than anywhere else in the country (I live in California, don’t ask) to fill my tank. However if I paid $100K for a Tesla, can I go to a curbside charging station and get my electron fix for free?

I understand that our betters are promoting the use of electric vehicles and giving away electricity is a way to do that, just as letting them drive in car pool lanes with only the driver is another, but I digress.

If you limit the time one can charge, you are putting a limit on the range of the EV. Let’s say it takes four hours to ‘top up’ an EV, and you limit the amount of time one can charge curbside, to say 2 hours, then you are limiting whether a person can get home or not. These seem like policy issues that need to be addressed.

The problem with letting the private sector solve this problem is that unlike filling stations, where you go and spend five minutes filling up your car, an EV charging station can take a tad longer. Just what are you going to do while your car is charging? That hour or two can take a lot out of your day. Of course if there is a charger in every garage or parking lot, then you can plug in and go to the office, or go shopping and come back in a couple of hours and move your car.

If the charging station charges for the electricity and charges a nominal fee for the first time period ( or 2 hours, say) and then adds a surcharge after that, EV drivers will be motivated to move their car after the first period. My suggestion is that you can’t charge without using a credit card (like at a parking meter) and it will be charged depending on the amount of time you stay. If you stay past the ‘first’ period, the charge could go up exponentially, to $50 or $100. After all, you are taking a space from other EV drivers.

Let’s face it. We have to charge for the use of charging stations. It’s inappropriate to give away free electricity, after all, we all know it isn’t free. That electrical infrastructure will cost big bucks. We are only scratching the surface today. In the future when the EV market share is what, 25% (its less than 2% now) will we be able to afford the luxury of free or subsidized charging?

These are questions that cities like Salt Lake City need to consider. Limiting the time one can use a charger and enforcing it seems like child’s play.

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. I’m still trying to figure out why people have this attitude/idea that parking facilities and/or Cities “should” provide charging stations. If your vehicle can’t hold enough of a charge to get you to and from work, or last long enough for you to run errands then maybe you have the wrong car.

    I can see having them in hotel parking facilities or other “destination” locations where you might go an extended period of time without access to your home charging option, but I fail to understand how someone would not have their car fully charged in the morning when they leave home. If they don’t have access to a charging option at home, then they really made a bad decision to buy an electric car in the first place.

    Just one of those things that bugs me.

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