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Charging Coops - a dream

Discussion in 'North America' started by richkae, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. richkae

    richkae VIN587

    Jan 15, 2008
    There are 4 kinds of public ( not at my home ) charging:

    1. Government installed. In the US, this means the EV project and other grants. I have been less than impressed with their efforts... because they put in crappy 30amp EVSEs in stupid locations. Most of them appear to actually end up being in poorly run private networks as in #2.
    2. Private networks like Chargepoint and Blink. I am less than impressed with their efforts, because they put in crappy 30amp EVSEs in stupid locations and then charge too much for me to care to use them regularly. If I had a Leaf, and could charge at only 3.3kW, no way would I pay $1/hour unless it was absolutely critical.
    3. Tesla or other EV manufacturers putting in their own networks ( Tesla's Superchargers ). Who knows how good their coverage will be and if they put them in the right places. I hope they do, but we will just have to wait and see.
    4. Private owners installing adhoc free charging, individually or collectively.

    I may be a cynic but I don't trust #1 to do anything right.
    I really don't think the business model for #2 works.
    I hope that #3 pans out, but I can't imagine them covering everywhere I want to go.

    I would pay a membership fee into a Pacific Northwest Charging Cooperative that would grant me several things:
    1) The right to charge at any of the coops chargers. My monthly membership fee should pay for a certain number of plug-hours per month, with limited rollover. Above that, I would pay N cents per additional plug-hour.
    2) Voting rights into the locations for new chargers. I would allocate voting points based on how much I paid into the coop, and once a charger that I voted for was installed those voting points would be used.
    Thus if your choices keep getting outvoted, eventually others points would be consumed and your accumulated points would get you a charger at the location you wanted.
    3) Plug-hours at other Charging Cooperatives that the PNCC has membership agreements with for when I travel out of network.

    I expect that most of the chargers installed will not be utilized enough that if you charged for the electricity they wouldn't be able to pay for themselves.
    What you are paying for is to get the chargers where you want them, in the low traffic locations the others wont serve.

    I believe that the PNCC would have the negotiating strength to get chargers hosted in the desired locations by small businesses. I think one of the two tactics would work:
    a) Get the business to pay for part of the cost to install the unit, and the PNCC would pay a small monthly "rent" to cover the cost of the electricity ( being careful to not buy the electricity due to legal crap ). They would do this because they expect to profit from the PNCC member traffic.
    b) The PNCC pays the full cost to install the unit, and pay a small amount of rent, but the business would pay back to the PNCC a small fee for every PNCC member that visits their business to defray the costs.

    The benefits of the coop is that you get scale purchasing of EVSEs, bargaining power with potential locations due to your membership, a shared network, low overhead with a few part time employees and/or volunteers and EVSEs where you want them.

    Think it would work? Think it's totally unnecessary?
  2. AndrewBissell

    AndrewBissell Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    It sounds well thought out in terms of principles. I am not in your area, but if I was the next thing I'd be looking for would be some numbers.
  3. Norbert

    Norbert TSLA will win

    Oct 12, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    Not sure about all the legal and financial commitments necessary, but in principle I like the idea and like probably many others have thought about something like that. One thing to resolve would be monthly costs such as demand charges and maintenance. Ideally Tesla would go ahead until they have some experience and can give advice on what it takes. Or some level of continuous cooperation.

    As one detail, in point 2), perhaps base voting rights on an offer to pay, rather than on payments already made, since this may involve larger sums. For example someone could offer to contribute $1,000 on the condition that a charger at some specific location will be installed (as otherwise there might not be enough of a reason to contribute this amount).
  4. strider

    strider Active Member

    Oct 20, 2010
    NE Oklahoma
    I have to admit when I read the thread title I was thinking about chickens and those multi-story car elevator garages with a bunch of EV's doing wireless charging or some such...
  5. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    Bradford on Avon, UK
    The tough part is to fund this given the long term nature of the 'investment'... if you run the numbers I think you will find the only people likely to be interested are those on the same wavelength as yourself. Don't get me wrong, I think it's perfectly possible but just tough given the business case.

    I really think the best placed people to do this are the car companies... they have a direct incentive to invest in this area and that's why Nissan have stepped up with their 400 fast charger 'donation' and low cost fast charger development.
  6. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

    May 17, 2009
    I could even see user funded but car company managed chargers. If Tesla doesn't have the funds or doesn't think there's a reason to put a charger somewhere, a group of users could buy the charger from Tesla and have Tesla arrange installation and maintenance of the charger.
  7. richkae

    richkae VIN587

    Jan 15, 2008
    This might work. Tesla probably has a bunch of willing volunteers in their customers and the users of this site. I actually spent a bunch of effort getting a business to install an HPC midway between Seattle and Portland. When Tesla has tens of thousands of customers instead of hundreds, they might get businesses jumping at the chance instead of needing to be convinced.

    Although a network that is manufacturer agnostic and has an even larger user base may be much more compelling to the EVSE host.
    On the other hand, a coop might only capture a small portion of the EV userbase but Tesla could opt all of their customers into their network on vehicle purchase with a "free" intital charging credit.
    The third hand points out that Tesla's own network might alienate the likes of Chargepoint and Blink, but a fourth dismisses them and reminds me that I think their business model relies on milking the government.
  8. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

    Apr 29, 2011
    I tried to purchase one recently. They said, "No Dice".

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