Almanac

News - July 10, 2013

Portola Valley: Some free EV recharges to end soon

by Dave Boyce

Over the last 15 months, the town of Portola Valley has given away 4.758 megawatt-hours of electricity to those owners of electric vehicles who've taken advantage of the battery charges available at Town Center.

But with increasing use of the two charging stations, increasing popularity of electric vehicles, and the December 2013 expirations of the warranties and $22,000 in grant-funded subsidies, the town will be resetting the usage fee sometime over the next couple of months. Free battery charges will be available for the first hour only; a fee of $4 an hour will take effect after 60 minutes.

The Town Council agreed to the change after a June 12 presentation by Brandi de Garmeaux, the town's coordinator of initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fee revenues would go toward recovering estimated annual operating costs of about $2,420, replacing equipment when necessary, discouraging use of public facilities as primary charging stations, and encouraging prompt disconnection once a vehicle has been recharged, Ms. de Garmeaux said.

Recharging requires a credit card and can take several hours. The website of the ChargePoint network, based in Campbell, shows station locations, whether they're busy and the fee, if any. A ChargePoint website map shows 144 stations in the Bay Area and 75 within 10 miles of Portola Valley, including 13 in Redwood City and 20 in and around Palo Alto.

Portola Valley's two stations are located in the parking lots of the public library and the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road. Each station can charge two vehicles at once. (The station at the library is currently out of order.)

Over the previous 365 days, according to a staff report, vehicles were connected for an average of 4.5 hours per day. Thirty-nine percent of the sessions lasted less than an hour, 40 percent lasted between 1 and 2.5 hours, and 21 percent went beyond 2.5 hours.

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