The most recent electric vehicle (EV) charging station was recently installed in the Shop Rite Plaza parking lot at 2333 Nott Street East in Niskayuna, NY. It is accessible to the public and currently there is no charge to charge your vehicle! According to store management Shop Rite Corporate picked the Niskayuna store “because General Electric is nearby and into the renewable energy business.” Also note, the unit is a GE charging station; unfortunately it is the only one in the Capital Region that I’m aware of.
One of the neat things about electricity is that it is everywhere. Even grid-electricity (especially here in the Capital Region) produces less pollutants in transportation than does gasoline, according to James Kliesch in his Feb/Mar 2011 Mother Earth News article, “Why Electric Cars Are Cleaner.” Everyone who buys an electric car will be able to charge at home. To extend the range of an electric vehicle, a charging station network will be needed. There are three levels of charging: 110, 220 and 440volts. The higher the voltage and amperage the faster a battery can be recharged. A full charge at 110 volts could easily take overnight, depending on the battery size. Only what we now call gas stations, which I expect we might come to call “power stations,” will have the capability to deliver 440 volt charges. The problem with quicker charges is they will shorten the life of most batteries, so a regular diet at 440 volts, high amperage charges would not be a good idea. Also, not all vehicles will be able to take advantage of the higher charge, but most should be able to accept both 110 and 220 volt charging. With one noted exception all the stations shown here provide 220 volts.
It is hard for the casual observer to tell if all or any of these charging stations are necessary today (overall Capital Region capacity is to charge ten cars at one time). The Prius I saw charging at NYSESRA had no special “Electric Vehicle” markings that I could discern – it may have been an aftermarket conversion. The capital region is probably following suit with the apparent national strategy of wanting to be progressive and ready for the cars that are expected in the next few years. See Wall Street Journal article:
There are at least four other charging station locations in the Capital Region. I took a little tour last Sunday morning and captured the following pictures of the current state of Capital Region EV Charging!
Holiday Inn Express at 300 Broadway, Albany has a single charger and two reserved spots.
NYSERDA main offices at 17 Columbia Circle, Albany has two chargers apparently capable of charging three cars at a time. One car actually caught in the act of charging – what a great sight, it was the same as the first time I took a shower with solar heated water, exhilarating! No please don’t get me wrong, driving an electric powered vehicle would be more exhilarating, but just seeing what can be was pretty darn good! See for yourself below.
Saratoga Technology & Energy Park at 10 Hermes Rd, Malta has a single charger (on right) that appears capable of charging two cars at a time, though there were no cables present at the time of my visit (Sunday morning remember).
HVCC Tec-Smart at 345 Hermes Rd, Malta has the most modest station (below), a dual 110 volt receptacle on a treated post, but they also have the biggest statement with plans to have a 24 car lot capable of charging 12 cars at a time!
The Wall Street Journal has a nifty Charging Station Locator map. It shows hundreds of charging stations throughout the U.S. This is how I found the above four; an OEIC news spotter called in the Shop Rite installation. However, in spite their intent to show what will be coming over the next year or so, they did not have Shop Rite’s charging station listed.
Do you have any plans to acquire an electric vehicle? Right now my plan is more in the “hope” stage, but still for the multitude of short trips we make it would be a lot better using the sun than oil. And IF the battery does not present an undue financial burden, then electric vehicles are much simpler to build and maintain, and at about 3 miles per kWh should be much less expensive to operate; therefore, they should be more economical – but only time will tell.
If you have an electric car or are planning to get one, please let us know by commenting. Thanks.
Update 5/8/12: I was just informed that there are three charging station spots at the downtown Saratoga Springs Price Chopper. Currently they are free for Price Chopper customers!
Dan Gibson is the Reporter and Chief Coordinator of Our Energy Independence Community (www.OEIC.us). Previously he performed home energy audits for five years in NYSERDA’s Home Performance program and new home ratings in the New York ENERGY STAR Home program. He is currently building a 100% Solar Home. He can be reached at DanG@OEIC.us