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Electric vehicle charging stations

Q

Are there any plans to set up charging stations at UCAR/NCAR for those of us who would like to use our electric cars? It would be a great add-on if the stations were attached to solar panels for sourcing the power.

Answered on August 15, 2011

A

Over the past few years, Facilities Management & Sustainability (FMS) has watched the market for electric vehicles (EVs) develop and, in anticipation of future demand, has taken initial steps to understand the infrastructure requirements and costs to install and manage EV charging stations. In fact, when we upgraded the lighting in the Mesa Lab parking lot last summer, we installed electrical conduit that could be used for EV charging stations, and also installed extra electrical conduit at the Anthes Building. Still, public EV charging is in its infancy and there are a number of questions and concerns to address before we move forward with potential installations of charging stations.

The items to address include:

Physical Infrastructure & Technology

  • Charging stations currently come in slow-charge (Level 1) and fast-charge (Level 2) models, and EVs are manufactured with different types of plugs. We would need to know which technology to support.
  • We need to understand what types of physical infrastructure, such as transformers and meters, are necessary and what they cost to install.

 Financing & Maintenance

  • We currently do not have funding to install EV stations. Assuming funding is identified, we would need to determine whether it's best for UCAR to own charging stations, or to contract with an outside company to install, operate, and maintain stations.
  • We would need to investigate charging stations that support a fee model, and determine if an EV owner can pay directly or if payment would be through a chargeback.
  • Charging stations could be connected to our building power systems, directly to an Xcel Energy meter, or to a photovoltaic (solar) panel array. Each option would have different cost and infrastructure requirements.
  • UCAR's electricity rates include higher charges for electricity used during peak daily usage (roughly 9:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.), which is true for most businesses. If charging stations were connected to our Xcel Energy electrical meters, we would need to determine how to address any additional demand management charges connected to EV charging.
  • We also need to investigate the existence of any government or energy provider programs, grants, or rebates that may be available for charging station installation.

In a nutshell, we're doing our homework and anticipating a future with EVs. Installation of charging stations could be several years in the future because we'll need to see enough demand coupled with a proven installation method/system/track record, financing options, pay-for-charge transaction structure, and maintenance model that is cost-neutral for UCAR.

You'll be interested to know that UCAR is currently developing a comprehensive Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) to help us set sustainability goals, and to evaluate and prioritize the wide range of energy efficient and sustainable actions we can take as an organization. The SMP will include specific metrics to guide us in the comparison of "apples to oranges" decisions, helping us prioritize opportunities like EV charging stations. Our overarching goal is to stretch our limited dollars and resources to go further with efficient, green buildings and practices that use less energy, water, and other resources, while enhancing employee wellness and productivity.

Dave Patterson
Electrical Engineer and Energy Demand Manager, FMS

Kimberly Kosmenko
Sustainability Program Manager, FMS

Matt McMullen
Director, FMS