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Like Public Chargers? Tell your Government Reps!

Discussion in 'Florida' started by BenB, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. BenB

    BenB Member

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    This past Saturday's Model S Beta showing and Florida Tesla Club meeting turned out to be a great event. Not only was it exciting to see a near production-ready Model S but I thoroughly enjoyed the number of different conversations we had regarding public charging infrastructure. That got me thinking, what could EV drivers do to help encourage charging stations? The answer is simple, talk to your government representatives.

    There's an old staple that any local government representative (especially a planner like myself) is undoubtedly familiar with. Whenever you hold a public meeting, more often than not, the individuals that show up are generally those that are vehemently opposed to the given project. Sure, on occasion you'll get a handful of supporters but most people don't feel motivated to speak out unless something severely impacts their core beliefs. The same is true for any government-backed charging station initiative. When we first began installing our chargers and a story ran in the local newspaper, we were literally slammed with a barrage of critiques. The blogosphere was alive with comments about how stupid it was that Bradenton would do such a thing, negative letters to the editor were written about how EV's were a sham and there were phone calls; lots and lots of angry phone calls. Vocal supporters - nonexistent. To add insult to injury, day-in and day-out City Council members drive by charging stations that almost constantly sit vacant. Now individuals like us know that EV adoption by the masses is going to be a slow and gradual process but to someone who is on the fence about EV's, which group seems correct? The vocal naysayers or the invisible supporters?

    So Tesla Motors Club Members, here's my appeal to you - do you like public chargers? Do you want to see more of them? Do you hate it when ICE's park in front of chargers? Tell your local government reps! Call your City Council or County Commission members, send them an email or better yet, drop by and see them. For an example, I H-A-T-E the fact that Bradenton is the only municipality in the entire Tampa Bay region that is currently assessing a fee for charging station use. However the Bradenton City Council made it clear, they didn't want to see free electricity being given away to a "select" group of drivers - and why change that? No one has complained. Believe me guys, you have the power to make a difference if you'll only speak up!
     
  2. Kipernicus

    Kipernicus Model S Res#P1440

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    I agree Ben, but I think for me I would want to call up the local governments not of where I live but where I want to go. Question is does that help?
    Someone living in Orlando would need charging to spend a day in Bradenton. Locals, aside from those who don't have garage charging infrastructure, will charge at home.
     
  3. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    I think it does. I told the Mayor of St Petersburg (at their charge station ribbon cutting) that we will visit his city more often now that there are chargers in place. He was delighted.
     
  4. BenB

    BenB Member

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    I definitely see what you're getting at here. Frankly, I'd argue that you should do both. While just home charging alone should be more than sufficient for local travel in a Roadster or the upcoming S and X, I think having an EV-supporting community in your backyard is still a major benefit. There was an interesting article a while back about how Orlando had a bunch of chargers and almost no electric cars while on the flip-side portions of California had a lot of electric cars and no chargers. The unfortunate reality is that the sizable majority of Floridians haven't even seen an EV and at the very mention of it, their mind goes to "golf cart." So while local public chargers may be more of a necessity for Volt, LEAF, and MiEV drivers, having them available to plug a Tesla into functions just as much of a public outreach over here as anything else. Even if you've got enough juice to go about the rest of your daily drive, if you're stopping for a bit and there's a charger near by, plug in to it. On the limited number of occasions that an EV has been plugged in to one of our stations, passersby frequently stop and say "that's the first time I've seen that" and ask questions. Believe me with a Tesla, they'll notice.
     
  5. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    #5 Larry Chanin, Apr 30, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
    Hi Ben,

    Great posting!

    To be honest, perhaps because I don't have an EV yet, up until recently what cities were installing charging infrastructure has been below my radar. :redface:


    Ken Stokes has been very helpful in alerting me to local charger events. For example, I am a member of Plug-In-America and until recently I relied entirely on PIA to send me e-mails regarding local EV events. They told me about theRevenge of the Electric Car event at Burns Court, but PIA never said anything about either the Bradenton or St. Petersburg EV events.

    In other words, here I am a rabid EV enthusiast, but until meeting Ken, and now you, I was pretty clueless about which local municipalities were doing what to expand charging infrastructure, and therefore didn't even have an opinion to share with local leadership. Now that I'm more aware I will be more active as a private citizen, and I expect that our club will start to develop relationships with local governments. Wait until we start getting our cars and start organizing rallies in those cities sponsoring chargers...I think we'll be very effective in getting local leadership's attention. After attending the St.Petersburg event I got a chance to see Warren and Nigel in action button-holing the Mayor and Council members. I'm visualizing an entire squadron of Tesla owners descending on local leaders to provide both attaboys as well as constructive criticism. :wink:

    Regarding charging for chargers, in theory, since again I don't have my Model S yet, I don't have a big problem with municipalities charging a reasonable fee for charging. The big question I would ask myself for any Level 2 charger is,"Will the fees for electricity eclipse the cost of driving an ICE vehicle?" If so, they are sending the wrong signal. Obviously municipalities need to be forward looking and consider eventual economic development issues when they invest in chargers. If the pricing structure is not competitive with other cities, later when there are a lot of EVs on the road, they may actually start losing visitors to their city.

    By the way, what does the City of Bradenton charge?

    Larry
     
  6. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    It's mandatory, see page 41 of the owners manual. ;-)
     
  7. Lanny

    Lanny @Lanny

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    In Howard County, Maryland, they have installed public charging stations and intend to keep them free to use indefinitely. They ran the numbers and consider the cost of the electricity negligible in the scheme of things.

    http://youtu.be/dt5C-X7P9c0
     
  8. BenB

    BenB Member

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    Thanks for the response Larry. Very glad to hear that the Florida Tesla Club is going to try and keep a communication line open with local policymakers, that ought to serve the membership well.

    The City of Bradenton decided on a rate of a $1.50 per hour for our charging stations, which simply covers the cost of providing the service. The ChargePoint network bills the station owner with a $0.50 network access fee and roughly a $0.21 credit card processing fee each time a station is utilized. The Coulomb Level 2 port can put out a maximum of 7.2 kW, so factor in an FPL rate of around $0.10-0.11 an hour, add that to the ChargePoint fees, and you can see where we arrived at our number. Unfortunately the ChargePoint network doesn't currently allow us to factor in differential hourly pricing (i.e. a higher rate for the first hour to cover the initial fees and a lower rate each hour thereafter) but should that feature be added later on, we'll definitely tailor our rates accordingly.
     

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