Photo credit: Marc Geller, Seacliff State Beach Ribbon Cutting
“The True Meaning of Life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” –Nelson Henderson
I started Adopt a Charger with some friends, back in 2011, to install electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) at places I like to go. Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by broadening charging infrastructure. I jokingly say “It was pure selfishness”, but in reality, it was to serve the EV driving community, raise awareness of plug in vehicles, and inspire others to consider electric transportation. At the time, the Electric Vehicle Service Providers (EVSP) were crowding EVCS at commercial locations in metropolitan areas. Hey, it’s great that there is an EVCS at the drug store a half mile from my house, but I am never going to use it. Where I needed EVCS was at popular destination locations, where people routinely drive 40+ miles to visit and stay 2-3 hours, long enough to add significant range at a Level 2 – 240-volt charger. Adopt a Charger solicits funding to cover the cost of installation, operation, and maintenance, for at least 3 years. The goal by offering “fee free” charging is to encourage drivers to connect. When a member of the general public sees a car charging, and is able to interact with the EV driver, then I am WINNING. There exists a real disconnect at the dealerships when it comes to selling plug in vehicles, and actual owners have proven to be the best sales people for the new technology. By enabling this interaction, I am furthering promoting a fossil free future.
Why offer charging as a gift? The simple answer is to incentivize right behavior. The longer answer is because I did not see the business case for a middle man between the utility and the EV driver. In every situation, it’s cheaper to give away the electricity than it is to try to recoup the cost of energy. In an effort to commercialize EV charging, the result has been public charging that is more expensive than gasoline. Take for example the Blink Network, which was started with grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding . The service charges $0.49 per kWh for members, and $0.59 per kWh for non-members. According to Wikipedia one gallon of gas equals 33.7 kWh, if you multiply that by $0.59 per kWh, the gas equivalent of these charging stations is $19.51 per gallon. I approach the equation a bit differently. Assuming that a driver can add 18-20 miles of range in one hour of charging at 6 kWh. By my calculations, it would cost $3.54 to drive 20 miles or $0.18 per mile at these EVCS. The average fuel economy for a gasoline powered car in 2019 is 25 mpg, the average cost of gasoline is $2.55 per gallon which equates to $0.10 per mile. Don’t lament if you are considering the purchase of an electric car. Over 80% of EV charging still happens at home at night where the average cost per kWh is $0.13 per kWh, which equals $0.04 per mile.
The result of commercialization efforts is that a relatively inexpensive regulated commodity becomes too expensive in the public space. The challenge is that an electric vehicle cannot spread the gospel while parked in someone’s garage, people need to see it to believe it. Highly visible EVCS in the public space is necessary for the average consumer to accept that EVs are ready for prime time. If public charging is too expensive and not being utilized, we are missing out on an important chance for outreach and education. Level 2 – EVCS are glorified electrical outlets, and are more like a drinking fountain than a gas pump. It is no surprise that many of the big oil companies are entering this space. Shell Oil, BP, and Exxon have all invested in EVSPs in the last couple years. To many this may sound like they are succumbing to the inevitable, but the skeptic can argue that this is a strategy to control the rules of engagement and slow down the electrification of transportation. When public charging is more expensive than gas, it is more challenging to convert people to plug-in cars. The good news is we don’t need them! Adopt a Charger has facilitated the installation of hundreds of fee free chargers in 8 different states. I will never get a chance to charge at most of these chargers, but I hope you do! If you feel called to contribute to the expansion of the Adopt a Charger program there are a number of ways you can support us:
- Make a donation to Adopt a Charger here.
- Share or retweet this post
- Encourage Credo Mobile to support our cause
- Reach out to site hosts in your area that may be willing to host a charger
- Check in on PlugShare to help keep the EV driving community connected
- Move your car from a charging station when it is full to open up the space for someone else.
- Practice gratitude and spread loving, kindness.