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USA: ELECTRIC HIGHWAYS PROJECT – FAQ

General Electric Vehicle Charging Information
How did the “Electric Highway” get its start?
Why does the Pacific Northwest embrace electric vehicles?
How is the state’s electric highway funded?
How many miles between charging stations, and why?
Where, when and how many charge stations be available?
Why aren’t you installing chargers in the more densely populated areas like Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma?

Will your charging equipment be compatible with my electric vehicle?
How much will it cost drivers to recharge their car?
How much electricity is used for charging electric cars?
How long will drivers wait for their car to charge?
Information for Businesses interested in hosting EV Charging
How much does installing an electric charging station cost?
Who pays for the equipment?
Who generates the revenue?
Who pays the electricity bill?
Who owns the equipment?
Which locations and businesses will you partner with?
How often will these charging stations be used, especially in rural areas?
I’m a business, how do I participate?
General Electric Vehicle Charging Information
How did the “Electric Highway” get its start?
The Washington State Department of Transportation, through its Transportation Partnerships Office, commissioned an Alternative Fuels Corridor study to see how the state could incentivize station operators to sell alternative fuels along the I-5 corridor in Washington. The study examined the economics of the retail alternative fuel industry and evaluated ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hydrogen. Electric vehicle charging was deemed an economically viable option because electricity is inexpensive and the capital requirement is relatively low. WSDOT originally formed partnerships with utilities and retailers to pursue electric vehicle charging on state property such as rest areas along the I-5 corridor. As the department explored electrification options, it made more sense to make DC fast chargers available at retail locations to support local businesses and give drivers something to do while waiting for their cars to charge. Instead of contributing state right-of way, WSDOT secured federal funding through the State Energy Program to get the “Electric Highway” started. WSDOT coordinated with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Innovative Partnerships Office to develop equipment standards, signage and branding so EV drivers would have a consistent driving experience along the west coast.
Why does the Pacific Northwest embrace electric vehicles?
The Pacific Northwest has among the cleanest and least expensive supply of electricity in the nation. Public Utility Districts in Washington get nearly 82% of their energy from hydropower, which is reliable, renewable and produces almost zero greenhouse gas emissions. When cars are powered by electricity, there are no tailpipe emissions, so the only source of pollutants is in the production of the power. The Pacific Northwest leads in clean power and Washington is committed to being a leader in the transition to a clean energy economy.
The electric vehicle industry recognizes Washington’s comparative advantage for both electricity and early adoption rates for green technology. BMW announced it is locating a carbon fiber manufacturing plant, in Moses Lake, Washington. Now other companies are looking to co-locate near BMW and the comparatively inexpensive, clean Pacific Northwest hydropower.
How is the state’s electric highway funded?
This project is structured as a public-private partnership whereby the costs are shared by the public sector, the private sector, and the users. Much of the funding is provided by the federal government as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Initial funding is provided by the US Department of Energy through the State Energy Program (SEP). The Washington State Department of Commerce leads the program for the State of Washington. Commerce invests this federal SEP funding in projects that achieve energy and environmental policy goals. Commerce is investing $1.32 million of SEP grants as seed funding and WSDOT is developing the partnerships to implement the Electric Highways network. Project funding will be supplemented with contributions from private businesses, other public agencies, and drivers of electric vehicles who will pay for the fast charge services.
How many miles between charging stations, and why?
We expect the ultimate network of stations along I-5 to be separated by no more than 60 miles. However, the spacing of stations will depend on several factors such as road characteristics, topography, availability of suitable host sites, etc.
Where, when and how many charge stations be available?
The charging stations developed under this initiative will be primarily located along Interstate 5 in Washington, outside the Seattle Metro area. There’s also funding to begin an east-west charging network along US highway 2 and perhaps I-90 if funding remains.
All charging stations are expected to be no more than one mile from a highway exit. Exact locations will be based upon partnering with qualified businesses to host the stations, and proximity to adequate electric power supply.
The initial funding should be sufficient to provide charging stations; each with DC fast charge and level 2 chargers. In addition, two safety rest areas will also have level 2 charging equipment.
Why aren’t you installing chargers in the more densely populated areas like Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma?
This project is intended to make longer-distance (i.e., over 40 miles) travel by electric vehicles possible by providing charging stations between major cities. Electric vehicle charging in the urban and suburban areas will be provided primarily through home-based charging, supplemented by charge stations at workplaces, and other publicly-accessible locations such as parking lots.
The main role of the state on the development of a charging infrastructure network is to help enable interregional and interstate travel, leaving to local jurisdictions the lead on providing charge stations in their own cities and towns.
Will your charging equipment be compatible with my electric vehicle?
As with all new technology, it takes time to gain consensus and adopt industry standards. The Level 2 charging equipment will be compatible with most electric cars including the Ford Focus, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt. Major automakers have agreed on a standard J-1772 plug for Level 2 charging, the most common type of charging in homes and public places. Some vehicles such as the Tesla have proprietary charging equipment that is not compatible at this time. The Level 3 fast charging equipment is in its infancy and its standard has yet to be adopted. The goal for the Electric Highway Project is to install compatible and interoperable charging equipment.
How much will it cost drivers to recharge their car?
EV drivers will spend much less than drivers of conventional vehicles. When charging at home, they will typically pay the same price per kilowatt-hour that they pay for the use of any other appliance. The price at a publicly-accessible charging station has yet to be established. Our charging station partners plan to offer both charging subscriptions for EV charging (similar to a cell phone plan), or drive up, pay-per-use via credit card.
How much electricity is used for charging electric cars?
For a full charge, the amount of electricity needed will depend on the size of the battery (i.e. the amount of energy that the battery can store) and the efficiency of the charge. Typically, electric vehicle batteries always keep a minimum state of charge (e.g. 10%), which helps prolong the life of the battery. As an example, fully charging a 25 kWh battery will then consume less than 23 kWh of electricity, plus a small amount to cover any losses during the charging.
As a point of reference, the cost of electricity to completely charge a new Nissan LEAF all-electric vehicle (with a 24 kW battery) is about $1.92 (assuming Puget Sound Energy’s rates are 8 cents per kW hour).
How long will drivers wait for their car to charge?
The time it takes to charge your car will depend on the amount of charge that you need and the type of charging equipment that you use. These stations will support both level 2 and Direct Current (DC) fast charging technology.
Level 2 “medium speed charging” takes 4 to 8 hours to fully recharge the battery, depending on the battery size and how depleted it is. Level 2 is a 220-volt charger typically installed in home garages and at public locations. It’s unlikely that most drivers will wait until their batteries are nearly drained before deciding to charge with Level 2. More likely, drivers will use public Level 2 chargers to “top off” batteries.
DC Fast Charging takes about 20-30 minutes to reach an 80% charge, again depending upon the size of the battery and how depleted it is. DC charge systems are typically installed in commercial areas and high-traffic areas along the highway for drivers traveling longer distances.
Information for Businesses interested in hosting EV Charging
How much does installing an electric charging station cost?
The cost of installing a charging station can vary widely and it depends on a variety of factors, including the type of charging (i.e., Level 2 @ 240 volts, or Level 3 Fast Charge @ 480 volts); the proximity of electrical power lines; the capacity of the electrical panel and transformer serving the site; whether the charging station will be open to the public or only for private use (home or businesses), etc. The total cost to install varies widely depending upon the site conditions. The more remote or rural the site, the more likely the cost will be higher. The following are generic cost estimates for the two types of EV chargers to be provided by this project:
Level 2 Equipment: Commercial-grade, public-access, 240 v, plus required utility upgrades and site improvements: $16,000 – $25,000.
DC Fast Chargers: Commercial-grade, public-access, DC- 480 v charging equipment, plus required utility upgrades and site improvements: $80,000 – $110,000.
Who pays for the equipment?
The minimum cost to businesses is providing one or two parking spaces. Part of the selection process will be other contributions host sites wish to make.
Who generates the revenue?
The main focus of this project is Fast-Charge stations in partnership with private businesses. We expect that drivers will be charged an “access fee” that covers the cost of the electricity, defrays some of the operating costs, and provides a small profit for the equipment operator.
Who pays the electricity bill?
Most of the sites will be Fast-Charge stations with high-powered electrical supply and equipment. The electricity provided at these locations will be paid by AeroVironment as part of the ownership arrangement, with their expenses covered by the fees collected from EV drivers. No state tax dollars will pay for electricity at these sites, and private businesses willing to serve as host sites will not be liable for the cost of electricity.
Who owns the equipment?
Our partner, AeroVironment, will design, build, install, own and operate the equipment for a minimum period of three years. All site and utility upgrades or improvements will become the property of the chosen host site owner.
Which locations and businesses will you partner with?
We first identify segments of highways where drivers are expected to need fast-charging services. Next, we provide basic criteria for businesses interested in hosting a fast-charge station. Some of the criteria is technical in nature (i.e., availability of high-power electricity, the capacity of transformers and electrical panels), and some of the criteria will be commercial in nature (i.e., the businesses ability to host this service for a period of years, the financial stability of the business, etc.). Final selection of host sites will be based on a combination of:
Locations needed for recharging opportunities
Cost of expected utility improvements and interconnections
Land use design and permitting
Contributions made by host site partners (if any); and Amenities available to drivers, such as food, beverages, covered waiting areas, etc.
How often will these charging stations be used, especially in rural areas?
Considering that 80% of all vehicle trips are less than 40 miles, we don’t expect the charge stations along rural stretches of highway to be heavily used. The purpose of these stations is to provide a safety net for long-distance travelers, to ensure that should their batteries run low, there will be at least one opportunity to recharge and continue their trip.
We expect Fast-Charge stations located near population centers to be used more heavily. The main benefit of establishing a network of fast charge stations is to reduce “range anxiety,” where drivers don’t fully utilize these clean vehicles because of concern about being stranded with an empty battery. A landmark test project conducted by the Tokyo Electric Power Company found that once a basic network of Fast-Chargers were installed, drivers increased the number of miles driven in EV’s dramatically – more than ten-fold – because of the availability of these Fast-Chargers in the outskirts. Importantly, the Fast-Chargers were not actually used in direct proportion with the large increase in EV miles. The analysis showed that as drivers became more secure having this basic network, they used their EVs more often, ventured further, and returned to their home base with their batteries more fully depleted. For these reasons, the actual usage of stations alone is the not the complete measure of their effectiveness.
I’m a business, how do I participate?
If you would like to receive more information about this business opportunity, please send your contact information (including reliable email) to: partnerships@wsdot.wa.gov. We will contact you about conducting a more detailed site assessmen
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