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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are public electric car chargers finally coming to Fresno?

It's amazing to think that almost three years ago, I wrote about Fresno finally getting its first public electric car charging station. As the region with the worst air quality in the country, the lack of support for electric vehicles was alarming.

And here we are in 2015, and the situation is almost the same as it was in 2012!

In that post, I wrote about how the first public car charging installation was coming to Blackbeard's. Well three years later, it hasn't actually happened. Here's what progress looked like last month:

 photo IMG_1183_8202_zpsefhbxtfd.jpg

The solar panels were never installed, nor was the charging station.

To be fair to Blackbeard's, they're a mini-golf and arcade place, where revenue arrives in the form of quarters. But how are everybody else doing?

Here's what the charging map looked like in 2012....two Nissan dealerships.

 

Here is what it looks like today.

 photo ev1_zpsfaazwrbk.jpg

Good amount of growth right? Well, not really. Other dealerships got in on the action (Toyota, Fiat, Mercedes)  but it's unfair to count them, because they exist primarily to charge their cars for test drives. There's also an RV park shown, and a couple that are only available to employees of the company (Pelco, and Air District), which means they're not really public.

So removing those out, we are left with...

 photo ev2_zpsh9wf6vdg.jpg

Two Best Westerns, a highway rest stop. a DMV, a hospital and a gas station. A grand total of 6 public charging stations in a metro area with 1 million people.

That's shameful.

For comparison, here's the significantly smaller Santa Cruz

 photo ev3_zpsyhnognkt.jpg

Obviously, places like San Francisco are on a completely different level. You can explore the country with this cool website: http://www.plugshare.com/#

Why are public chargers important? Because so many people will never buy an electric vehicle due to range anxiety. You can drive almost anywhere in the world and know you will find a gas station, but the fear of running out of power can be enough to scare someone away from a non-polluting vehicle. This is even more true because their range is so much less than a gas car.

To truly be wildly adopted, chargers are needed everywhere. And unlike gas stations, they need to be in places that people plan on parking in anyway, like the mall or a favorite restaurant.

Fortunately, a solution may be coming, as announced last month:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company asked state regulators for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country.

The chargers would be located at commercial and public locations, including multi-family dwellings, retail centers, and workplaces. Approximately 10 percent of the chargers would be installed to support disadvantaged communities. PG&E would also provide tools and educational materials for site hosts and customers to learn about the benefits of electric vehicles.
PG&E
 One would assume this means a good deployment in Fresno.

However, there's reason to be worried. When Walgreens announced a nationwide roll-out, Fresno was excluded.

And Tesla loves to trumped their super high speed charging network.

Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots. Each station contains multiple Superchargers to help you get back on the road quickly.
Tesla
Here's their network as it exists today, and with all planned 2015 locations.

 photo ev4_zpsnx1d4ayt.jpg

But look closely, and you'll see the only charger in the Central Valley is on I-5, at the Harris Ranch store and rest stop. Nothing along the 99 at all.

Tesla thinks their car buyers will never set foot in Fresno, Bakersfield, or the National Parks. Hopefully PG&E doesn't limit their deployment in the same manner.

4 comments:

  1. Fresno State is supposed to get an EV charging area later this year. According to the Collegian (in their article about the Barstow Ave Bikeway project):
    "Another project aimed at greening the campus is the installation of an electric vehicle charging station. Scheduled to open in September 2015, will see six EV stations, including two rapid chargers that will be the first of its kind in the Valley.

    The chargers will be located in parking lot P2, west of the Save Mart Center. Gaffery said this location means it will benefit students and faculty, as well as the public. Being adjacent to Highway 168, CALTRANS will erect signs on the highway alerting citizens of the charging stations availability."
    http://collegian.csufresno.edu/2014/09/18/grants-to-be-used-for-barstow-bike-lanes/

    Parking lot P2 is the area with the solar panels along Shaw Avenue. But the article does not make it clear if the EV charging station will be under the panels or uncovered adjacent to the panels.

    FYI, the University will also begin removing trees this week along Barstow Ave starting at Cedar Ave and heading east. The removal is supposedly connected to both the Barstow Ave bikeway project as well as the campus electrical infrastructure upgrade project.

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  2. I fully agree with the author of the article. To encourage the spread of electric cars is necessary to create a network of public charging stations and above all it is necessary that they are positioned at strategic points such as shopping malls and parking areas. Only in this way it will be possible to ensure a sufficient autonomy to motorists, that will not remain without electricity along the way. Keep up with your great blog!

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  3. It's just great news for the citizens of Frenso. The first public electric car charger is finally going to be installed. I just heard little about this but reading your article made me updated. Finally the people of Frenso will feel little relaxed. It's really a great and profitable project for the city. Thanks James for sharing this info.

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  4. Electric cars are the main attraction in the auto industry. Today we can find a major part of cars running on the road are the EVs. Due to low maintenance and to save fuel, this is the best option now. A public charging station is the most important for EV users. Thanks for sharing this fast about Fresno and explaining the things so clearly with map. Keep sharing.

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