Sunday, November 27, 2011:  Updated Saturday August 4, 2012

EV Charging Stations

I recently read an article about the electric vehicle charging stations opening up in Salt Lake City.  They are free (for now) to the public to use for charging their electric cars.
While I applaud the city of Salt Lake for their forward thinking, a large portion of the public opinion is against such things.  They feel strongly that tax payer dollars (or pennies rather) should not be spent to pay for a portion of a few driver's transportation costs.

I was recently near Liberty park where one of these charging stations resides.  While I had sufficient battery capacity to drive back home to Kaysville, I wanted to try one out so I knew what to expect in case the situation arose where I needed to plug in for a quick battery re-charge.  

It was a first class thrill to have a guaranteed parking spot that refueled my truck while I played at the park.  After 20 minutes and at the cost of 3 cents to the tax payers, I was back on the road.
By providing EV charging stations, the State of Utah is qualifying as a place where electric cars can be sold commercially on a much larger scale. 
It's a chicken or the egg scenario.  Commercial all-electric cars won't be sold in markets (like Utah) that don't have adequate charging stations. But nobody wants to support charging stations in Utah because there are not many electric cars here to utilize them.  

Retail Businesses Can Help

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from work in my electric truck when I realized the old extension cord that I used earlier that day to re-charge my truck was faulty and my batteries weren't as full as planned.  I found myself pulling off of the freeway 5 miles before my normal exit.  I needed an extra 7 cents worth of electricity if I was to make it all the way home.  Oh well, I need to buy a new extension cord at Home Depot anyway.  

After receiving permission from the Home Depot store manager to plug in for an hour, I bought a new cord, plugged in and began re-charging the batteries.  At 120 volts, it takes about 1 hour to build back an extra 5-miles.  Three miles from the 1KWH of electricity and another 2 miles by just allowing the batteries to sit a while, rejuvenating them.  

Hmm, what else do I need at Home Depot?  It was during this hour of window shopping that I realized an invaluable, retail business, money-making principle.  I am a captive audience and there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Home Depot may be giving me 7 cents worth of electricity but they received much more from me.  Not only am I that much more loyal and grateful to Home Depot for their service and hospitality, but I ended up spending an additional $50 on other stuff that I needed while I was waiting for my truck to re-charge.  

Businesses that provide free EV charging stations will increase sales and make more money.  This free service will in turn satisfy the charging infrastructure requirements for future EV markets.   This is a Win-Win-Win situation for businesses, electric vehicles and the environment.  

Bring on the Charging Stations!

Stay tuned for my post about the first ever All Electric road-trip to Antelope Island, Utah. 

Update:  Saturday July 7, 2012
The EPA states that there is a 5.7% line and distribution loss associated with bringing electricity from the power plant to the end user.  It is a common misnomer found on electric car detractor websites that the power line losses are closer to 50% not 5.7%.  The correct value of 5.7% loss makes EV's cleaner to drive than what the haters want us to believe.