Monday, May 21, 2012

More Level 2 Charging coming to Maryland

Last Friday, a woman calling herself Amanda on the MyNissanLEAF forum posted an urgent request for help in organizing the distribution of one hundred Level 3 Charging Stations.  Needless to say, this caused quite a local buzz as these would be the first L3 Chargers South of the Mason-Dixon Line East of the Mississippi, outside of Tennessee and certainly the first in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Between that and my copy of the Diablo III Collector's Edition arriving it has been one incredible weekend for this EV Reporter!

Amanda reported that the stations in question will be the ChargePoint Level 3, CHAdeMO / SAE J1772-DC dual-gang equipment as pictured.  While the QuickCharge Wars rage between TEPCO's CHAdeMO and the SAE's J1772-DC extension heat up, this unit hedges its bets by supporting both, making everyone happy.  Great choice!

After a bit of digging I found more information about the company Amanda represents.  Thier full name is actually EV Green Stream and they're a Baltimore-based company.  I spoke with Zack at EV Green Stream and he confirms they're looking for homes for about 30 or so units, but nothing is concrete until contracts are signed.  However, some urgency must be added because they need to have signed documents by 1 June so it behoves us all to help out and make sure those wonderful L3 stations find homes that our Nissan LEAFs and Mitsubishi iMiEVs would like to visit!

But wait, the title says Level 2, not Level 3!?

You are very astute or just read the comments and realized that we were in fact being taken for a ride.  You see, on Monday, after I'd posted this, Amanda amended her request to say that in fact it was one hundred Level 2 stations being installed, not Level 3.  Yes, she confirmed Level 3 on Friday even after someone posted a link to the unit pictured above, but what's done is done, and now we know the truth.  Level 2, though great, is pretty common in Maryland and to a lesser extend in Virginia—less so in Washington D.C. since most of the units there are in garages that aren't even opened on weekends.  None the less, we should all help to give these Level 2 stations homes even if they're not quick charging.

But there is a catch; the locations must conform to the following rules:

  1. They have to be installed in the State of Maryland somewhere.
  2. They have to be accessible to the public (this is supposed to be infrastructure buildout.)
  3. It cannot be in an automotive dealership.
  4. It has to be a commercial business.
  5. We will charge for the installation but the charger is free.
  6. We have to have a signed contract on installation by June 1st.

So, no locations in Virginia, Deleware, West Virginia or Pennsylvania!  Also, note that Amanda estimates the cost of installation to be about $3,000.  As for the electricity cost, we know the LEAF for instance takes about 20kWh to go from 0% to 80% on a quick charge (more like 16kWh according to some posts in the MyNissanLEAF forum) and at 13¢kWh that's only $2.60 at Level 2, the Nissan LEAF draws about 3.8kW of electricity so in one hour that represents about 49.8¢ based on 13¢kWh, the regional average rate.  For the Ford Focus Electric with its 6.6kW charger, it comes to about 85.8¢ but most EVSEs can't put out more energy than that so at $1.00 per hour, you won't be making the LEAF and Volt (3.3kW) drivers happy but at least the Focus Electric folks are getting their money's worth.  Overall not a huge loss for the free advertising you get on sites like PlugShare.

Now, for me, my main goal would be to see them put in at the National Harbor, where they held the first Nissan LEAF event in the area and as the perfect first rest stop on the I95 corridor in Maryland going North.  I've also suggested Maryland House and Chesapeake House—need to contact HMS Host about that— but they don't really make sense for Level 2, only Level 3 as people don't stay there for hours.  Others on the MyNissanLEAF forum have suggested the US Route 50 corridor and I would add the I270 / I70 corridor and a site around Bethesda.  Finally, I'd suggest one in Silver Spring where we hold the EVA/DC meetings, though alas not the Library as the Library isn't a commercial business—and hopefully not The Blairs if they're gonna have the same connectivity problems the current EVSEs there do.  What would you suggest?

Oooh!  So excited!  Squee!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Manassas City Utilities Public Comments

My friend and fellow Nissan LEAF enthusiast Kayne Karnbach maintains a wonderful blog about electric vehicle.  In his latest entry, he investigates the charging infrastructure in Prince William County and Manassas city.  I believe Kayne is right about location but would add that movie houses and all those strip malls on VA 234 Business would also make great locations.  The sad thing about the railway station parking is most people will be leaving their cars there for 8–10 hour stretched which would fill even a LEAF from empty.  Seems to me the perfect situation where valet parking would be an advantage, where a Volt could get the first 4-hour shift, and a LEAF the second 6-hour shift on the same outlet, with the Volt coming from thirty to forty miles away and the LEAF from seventy to ninety.  And is the usual case will be much less, the time at the outlet could be even more greatly reduced with the valet managing how long to charge each one to a minimum of need.

Manassas City Utilities Public Comments

Last week I took the opportunity to address the Manassas City Utility Commission regarding their public charging stations.  Manassas has recently debuted public charging stations for EVs and PHEVs.

Here’s the gist of my address.

Don’t trust that data!  Two years from now, the city of Manassas will review usage data on each charger.  The conclusion that data will lead decision makers to is probably one of little or no benefit to having public charging available.  If reached, that conclusion will be wrong, and here’s why.  Public chargers are being installed with little thought on where and why to install them in the first place.  Because of this, EV owners will neglect to use the stations, since they don’t fit their charging needs.

Why don’t they meet EV owners’ needs?  EV owners are looking for places to charge that allow them to be plugged in for at least two hours, providing the kind of charge that will allow for at least 30 miles of range.  Plugging into a charger for anything less will result in 15 – 20 miles of range, hardly a reason to make a special trip to Manassas.

The only viable placement of public charging in Manassas at the moment is in the parking garage at the Virginia Railway station.  It is conceivable that someone could plug in while parked in the garage, presumably during work.  While this does make sense, it assumes EV owners are driving to Manassas from a distance of + 45 miles, since anything less wouldn’t necessitate a charge to make it home.  That would be the equivalent of someone driving from Front Royal to Manassas.  Not likely.

Almost made the 100 mile club…

Coming back from the EVA/DC meeting yesterday I almost achieve what I thought impossible: entry into the elusive 100 mi club.  Normally when I attend the EVA/DC in CO2 Fre Nissan LEAF I need to top off but thanks to my script I was able to verify after a half-hour of battery leveling my LEAF settle on 70.091 mi (112.800 km) range under normal drive (though I drive ECO) or 58.876 mi (94.752 km) with climate control.  In the spring I generally don't use climate control and a quick check on Google showed that the trip home with the stop off in Silver Spring would only be about 54.1 mi (87.1 km) so I should be able to make it.

This, after all, is the ideal option because when I charge at Silver Spring, I have to use the Sema Connect stations at the Blairs and pay $3.00 for three hours of charging when I only need about one.  Of course, that assumes they're actually able to communicate with the network that night, otherwise I don't get to go home!  And yes, that had happened but my friends at the EVA/DC had helped me out so of course I had arrived home and am able to tell you about it.  Thanks to Bryan and Rob (that's Bryan's Volt in the picture to the left), we had been able to get CO2 Fre the necessary electricity even though the sun had long since set at the solar EVSE at Suntrust in Bethesda.  Needless to say I don't like those EVSEs at the Blairs.

Yesterday I got home with 9 miles (14 km) left in ECO mode and one bar remaining.  I didn't even get to the first low battery warning.  But the car did report 6:30 of Level 2 Charging (18 hours of Level 1, 19 after the battery leveling 40 minutes later).  Since I try to keep my charge window at 01:00–06:00 to avoid higher electricity rates, my car finished charging with 30 minutes of Level 2 (50 minutes of Level 1) remaining and eleven of twelve bars.  Knowing that I could probably manage a normal commute with ninety percent battery charge I decided to risk leaving without topping off.  I'm guessing I should have no problem getting home as my car now reads seven out of twelve bars and 3:00 hours of Level 2 charging (8:30 of Level 1), more than half a pack.

The official registrar of the 100 mi / 161 km club is the MyNissanLEAF community which works on the honor system.  As I can't say what I started with nor remember exactly what I ended with even if I had driven 100 mi I wouldn't post it unless I could be sure.  But it's nice to know even with my mostly highway driving that goal is possible.  Who knows, maybe someday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EVA/DC May 2012 Meeting

EVA/DC Meetup

Dear Electric Vehicle (EV) fans and members, Please join our rowdy crew on Wed, May 16 from 7–9 PM and stay for networking afterwards as long as you like.

Please forward this message to others you think might be interested.

Unfortunately, I have a business trip out of town that I could not avoid, so I will not be in attendance, nor will our VP Eric Cardwell, so our President Emeritus and Program Director, Dave Goldstein, will be leading the discussion, with your help.

Here is what I think we should have on the agenda:

  1. Jean Gough from 350Green will discuss their plans for chargers.
  2. Chip Gribben and updates on the 200 mile per hour motorcycle in the &fra14; mile drag race.  Finished in under 7 seconds.  Gobs of postings on this.  Chip will fill us in.
  3. Bryan Murtha has updates on our EVADC license plates for MD.  Bring your checkbook.
  4. Lanny Hartman will tell us about the Maplelawn meet up of EV owners/leasors.
  5. George Lopez, Doron Shalvi, Dave Goldstein and others who brought EVs to the Solar and Wind Expo in Timonium MD this last weekend will tell us about how it went.
  6. John Alder and Lanny have purchased Th!ink all electric cars for the LOW LOW price of $15,000 after the federal tax credit.  Wow.  As seen at the Solar and Wind Expo.  I drove it.  Feels good.  2 seater.

Hang on Charlie.  I guess you were in a hurry here: it's the Mitsubishi iMiev that's a 2-seater.  the Th!nk is a 4-seat (2+2) coupe.  Okay, my good friend and Th!nk driver Lanny has set me straight.  His Th!nk is definitely a two-seater and I've certainly been in an iMiEV 4 seat sedan.  In any case, moving on…

  1. I'm sure I forgot some important items, but you all can work it out.  See you next time.

Charlie Garlow… and now it is joke time!  Get ready for groaners:

  • I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
  • Velcro is a rip off!
  • A cartoonist was found dead in his home.  Details are sketchy.
  • Venison for dinner again?  Oh deer!
  • The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government's fault.
  • They found a body covered in corn flakes.  They suspect a serial killer
  • I'm reading a book about anti-gravity.  Its impossible to put down.
  • Need an ark to save two of every animal?  I Noah guy.

Very punny Charlie. 

Also of note I'll be bringing my newest, oldest charger to show off my NEMA flexibility!

EVs in HOV en Virginie, C'est Fini!

On 30 June 2012 the Clean Fuel HOV easement will end in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The General Assembly failed to pass legislation in the 2011 session that would renew the easement allowing hybrid and electric vehicles access to certain of Virginia's HOV lanes depending on when the car was registered.  This system favored older hybrid cars in lieu of newer, cleaner of fully-electric, zero-emission vehicles.

Clearly, the Commonwealth decided to take me up on the second of my six proposals:

2. End the Clean Fuel HOV easement all together, which although fair would, I suspect, make no-one happy.

And clearly, I'm not happy.  Had I my druthers, we'd have passed item six of that list:

6. Allow only Plug-In Vehicles, vehicles that can be plugged into the wall, to take advantage of the HOV easement.  As a resident of Northern Virginia I find this the best solution for the Commonwealth because it's the exact same rule which governs our neighbor Maryland.  In fact, what would benefit the residents of Northern Virginia most would be if Richmond and Annapolis could set up a joint commission and co-operate on the issuing of this Plug-In easement such that each state would recognize the other's right to use HOV single occupancy within both states.

Instead, the Commonwealth is moving to a HOT-lane model.  First, I495 will be adding an HOV-3 HOT Lane that will work similarly to the Maryland Route 200 Inter-County Connector (ICC).  However, unlike the ICC, the I495 HOT lines will allow cars equipped with a special transponder that can verify the requisite number of passengers (3) it will be able to pass through the toll stations without being charged.  After the I495 HOT Lanes are completed, the plan is to extend these new toll lanes into the HOV for I95/I395 from Edsall Road in Arlington, VA, the first exit after the I495 beltway on I395, to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County, just South of the Marine Corps Base Quantico.

I asked Commonwealth Delegate Tom Rust about allowing EVs, at least, free access to these new HOV/HOT lanes but he said the contracts had already been signed and had no interest in pursuing any perk that would encourage Virginian's to switch to zero-emmission vehicles and thus help clean our state as well as put less pressure on gasoline prices for existing Internal Combustion Vehicles but reducing the demand for Gasoline by moving more people to EVs.  And recently Green Car Reports has taken up my cause, for what it's worth.  Personally, I think it's pretty hopeless but it doesn't mean we can't try to get things right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I know I have support for my favorite option in Maryland.  Let's keep Virginia green and get EVs on those HOVs!  EVs from Virginia, EVs from Maryland and EVs from D.C.!  And then we can all breathe a little easier thanks to a greener Virginia.

Friday, May 4, 2012

EV Gathering in Maple Lawn

Tomorrow's EV Gathering in Maple Lawn is going to be fun.

We are expecting some interesting classic and brand new EVs that you may not have seen yet.  Bryan will be coming in his 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV.  Toyota will be announcing the new RAV4 Electric next week, come see the original!  Mark will be driving a Ford Transit Connect Electric van up from Virginia.  We will have one of the first Mitsubishi iMiEVs to arrive in the area.  You will also see several of only a handful of Th!nk City electric cars that are in private ownership in the US.

Come on out Saturday between 10:00 and noon. Bring lawn chairs and sunscreen.  Let us know beforehand if you are coming from such a distance that you will need a long charge to get home so that we can help arrange that.

EV Gathering/Coffee Meetup

Saturday, May 5, 2012, 10:00 AM
Parking lot with charging stations near Sidamo Coffee
8170 Maple Lawn Blvd, Fulton, MD

Maryland Volts

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Thank you Lanny and good luck!&nbps; Sounds like the best meetup yet.