Palo Alto car-charging station leads new program

'California is leading the charge and will soon have thousands of network charging stations,' executive says

California's first electric-car charging station under a new national program was unveiled Thursday afternoon at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto.

The unveiling was done with some pomp and ceremony by officials as they also announced a $3.4 million state grant to install other stations in the Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

The EPRI station is part of a plan to install thousands of such stations at companies across the state and nation under a program called ChargePoint America (, created by Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies.

The EPRI installation is the second such charging station in America, with the first plug-in for electric cars and hybrids installed in Orlando, Fla. Similar programs will be launched in nine metropolitan regions nationwide.

Businesses of any size may apply for free installation of such stations, Coulomb spokesperson Anne Smith told the Weekly today. Individuals may also apply. She said that there are about 100 charging stations already in the state, but this is the first on the West Coast under the new ChargePoint America networked program.

Coulomb Thursday announced the $3.417,000 grant from the California Energy Commission, through matching funds that will bring the overall $12 million project into California. The total includes $5 million in federal funding, announced earlier.

Nationwide, the ChargePoint America program is expected to cost $37 million, funded in part by a $15 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, specifically through the Transportation Electrification Initiative of the federal Department of Energy.

More than 1,000 new public charging stations are expected to be installed by the end of 2010, with more in 2011. Owners of the stations may charge for the charging, although the stations also can be configured for free access to drivers of electric vehicles.

People may request a station for their area via .

"California is leading the charge and will soon have thousands of networked charging stations thanks to this grant from the Energy Comission," Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal said at the plug-in ceremony.

Coulomb Technologies has installed similar charging systems in cities and organizations around the world.

Others attending the ceremony included state Energy Commission member Jeffrey Byron; Edwin Owens, a U.S. Department of Energy supervisor of the Office of Vehicle Technologies; Bryan Hannegan, EPRI vice president of environment and renewables sector; Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino; and Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement praising Coulomb Technologies for the program and for creating jobs.

"Electric vehicles are one of the most exciting green technologies on the markert and a vital part of California's developing clean-energy economy," he said in the statement.

-- Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by drill baby drill
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 9, 2010 at 11:49 am

Why does Palo Alto hate drill baby drill?

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Progress, baby, progress. Or do you still hitch a horse to your carriage every day?

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Has anybody at EPRI determined the amount of electricity needed if, say, 50% of California automobiles become all electric? How will this enormous new demand be supplied?

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Pages 32-34 of the California Energy Commission's 2010-2020 Energy Demand Forecast outline the state's estimate of electric vehicles and their effect on the grid.

They forecast 1.5M electric cars statewide by 2020 creating 4500 GWh of new electricity demand. They peg electric cars at just under 5% of statewide residential electric demand by 2020 in Form 1.1 on p37.

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

It takes over an hour to recharge the smallest electrical car. A Japanese firm has just announced that they will start building new recharging stations that take only 10 or 15 minutes.

Which kind of recharging stations will we get, the old fashioned kind that takes over 1 hour to recharge or the new updated kind that takes only 15 or 20 minutes?? In any event to recharge your battery will take much longer than topping up your has tank.

Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2010 at 9:21 am

I like the Better Place approach (a Palo Alto company btw) of setting up battery switch stations that apparently take a few minutes, similar to a fill-up today. Recharging then can take place overnight, which also cuts peak time demand.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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