5/22/12 Update: I was just sent images from Christopher Lane, Assistant Director of Marketing at the Stanford Shopping Center, who helped produce this press event so I'm updating this blog with one of his images. (A link to all the images is given at the end of this blog.)
On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 15, 2012, I hitched a ride with my closest friend from San Francisco out to Palo Alto to attend the ribbon cutting for the first public fast charger in California for electric vehicles in Stanford Mall. This was definitely a green carpet event as it took place in the shopping mall’s garage within walking distance of the fast charger. Many people drove in zero emission cars to attend and the podium was lined on both sides with electric vehicles. Out of the many electric vehicles that were parked, most of them were Nissan Leafs, the same model we drove in from San Francisco. I counted 17 electric vehicles in all which I was told was a modest turnout at a EV event!
Now I’m not new to electric vehicles and the infrastructure. I tagged along with Obrie Hostetter, the Northern California EV Infrastructure Director at 350 Green, a developer of electric vehicle (EV) charging station networks. Her company, along with a partnership with the city of Palo Alto and John Ryan Company, Inc., was responsible for the permitting and construction necessary to place the Level 3 Fast Charger.
A level 2 charger will take about 7 hours to fully charge an EV battery; the Level 3 fast charger can charge the battery up to 80% in 30 minutes. Most EV owners do the majority of their charging at night at home and stay within a close proximity mitigating “range anxiety”. To give you an example: the ideal range of a Nissan Leaf for freeway driving is about 100 miles. With an infrastructure of fast chargers, that range can be increased without spending a lot of time to recharge the battery. This is just the first step in a fast charger infrastructure, as plans are in place to install 25 public fast chargers near retail locations by the fall of 2012.
EV drivers sign up for a payment card from 350Green to use the fast charger station. Use of the card and how to properly use the station was demonstrated after remarks from Palo Alto's Mayor Yiaway Yeh as well as the partners involved in making the public charging station possible. There were quite a few statistics that came out that were enlightening about this new technological movement: 1) There are over 3000 EVs in the Silicon Valley making Palo Alto a great corner stone for the EV infrastructure; the fast charger has already gotten quite a bit of use -- since being turned on, it’s been used 3 to 4 times a day; 136 EV drivers have already signed up for the payment card to use at the station and the infrastructure to follow.
So what is the best ribbon to cut at such a green event? Applause went up when a gas hose was cut in front of the fast charger station and the Nissan Leaf it was charging with 100% renewable energy!
More photos of this event can be found here.