Sunday, January 11, 2015

Demand for charges at work increases

 My company recently installed enough level-2 EV chargers to meet the electric-car driving needs.  While not always available, it was usually easy to find an open spot or two after 3:00 or so in the afternoon.  And, since all of the new chargers are hooked into the ChargePoint network, it was easy to go online and see which, if any, of the chargers are available at any given time.  Finally, there was EV peace on the campus.

Then, in a cost-cutting effort, one of the other campuses (which also was home to a substantial EV population) was closed and all the folks moved to the site where I work.  Now, the infrastructure that was barely adequate to meet the needs of its employees is now taxed and stretched thin as twice the number of people make a vailed effort to cooperate and share the charging spots.  Each charger is set to charge for free for the first four hours, and then the cost jumps to $10/hour while connected (whether drawing current or not).  So, there is a financial incentive to not remain hooked up to the charges for too long, but this is still inadequate.  A mailing list has been set up so that the early arrivers can announce when they disconnect (as a heads-up to others), but only two or three people use it regularly.  Every day there is rivalry for the charging spots (to the point of bad behavior).

Recently, people have been sending out reports of being disconnected, of others not moving their vehicles as soon as they have finished charging, and people parking in spaces not designated for parking in order to connect their car while someone else neglects their now fully-charged vehicle.  (After all, once you have your charge, your own needs have been met.)  I see some possible solutions to this big problem, all of which may be needed to remedy the situation.  (1) Add more charging stations, both free and some that are reasonably priced (for all-day recharging).  (2) Reduce the number of free-charging hours from four to three (or two and a half?).  (3) When installing chargers, cluster two units with four hookups so that eight (or more?) cars can share them without having to move the cars (think spoke and wheel pattern).  This would allow busy people to leave their cars a little longer while others responsibly take over their charging connections.  Whoever designed the one-car-per-connection model was clearly not thinking about maximizing use among busy employees.

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