Stockton: a Stop on the ‘Electric Highway?’

Electric vehicle adoption is being supported by not-for-profit Community Choice agencies in program’s such as Sonoma Clean Power’s Drive EverGreen and MCE Clean Energy’s SmartCharge. Revenues to local Community Choice agencies that result from installation of charging stations in their service territories can help strengthen local economies since more of those dollars remain local. The following story emphasizes the private sector role in expanding charging infrastructure in the Central Valley.   – Clean Power Exchange

 

A Southern California energy firm says it wants to install the Stockton area’s first group of high-powered public charging stations for electric vehicles.

The question is where. Venice-based Recargo says it will partner with property owners within a mile or so of Highway 99 anywhere from Lodi to Manteca.

 “It could be hotels, it could be restaurants, it could be shopping centers — honestly, anyplace that’s got a parking lot that is large enough,” said Norman Hajjar, the company’s chief strategy officer.

According to a federal database, Stockton has only two of the highest-powered public chargers, capable of recharging a vehicle in about 30 minutes. The region has about two dozen lower-powered chargers, but they take hours to get the job done.

The lack of charging stations is one reason electric cars have been slow to catch on in California. But with the arrival of somewhat more affordable vehicle models like the Chevy Bolt, equipped with batteries whose range exceeds 230 miles, Hajjar says the time is right to install the infrastructure that long-distance drivers will demand.

“We feel an urgency to get it in as quickly as we can,” he said.

Recargo intends to build an “electric highway” of sorts up and down California, with recharging stations located about every 120 miles. The company earlier this year was awarded $1.6 million by the California Energy Commission to install stations along Highway 101 from the Bay Area to just north of Santa Barbara, but is working with investors on other funding sources as well, Hajjar said.

Recargo isn’t the only game in town, either. The energy commission awarded millions to three other firms to install stations along Interstate 5 and Highway 99; El Segundo-based EV Connect, for example, won more than $850,000 to build 15 stations on Highway 99 between Sacramento and Fresno.

Recargo’s Stockton-area station will feature six chargers, Hajjar said. That should reassure travelers that a charger will be available, even if one is down for maintenance or other drivers are fueling up at the same time.

 Today, the only high-powered public chargers in Stockton are single units at the Econo Lodge on March Lane and at Stockton Nissan on Hammer Lane, according to a map maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy and updated by electric vehicle drivers.

“Nobody wants to rely on a single charger when you’re on a long trip,” Hajjar said. “They’re terrified it won’t be working.”

Recargo would buy power from the utility company and sell it back to drivers. The station would serve those who drive cars other than a Tesla, which has been building its own network of chargers, including a cluster in Manteca.

Stockton: a Stop on the ‘Electric Highway?’, by Alex Breitler, Recorder.net, October 23, 2016.

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