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City To Add Electric Vehicle Outlets to Local Lots

The Santa Barbara City Council voted Tuesday afternoon to install six modern electric vehicle charging stations in three downtown parking structures for vehicles including the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Coulomb Technologies will provide the city with six “ChargePoint” stations located in downtown parking lots Six and Seven and the Helena Avenue Lot. The program is part of a ChargePoint America program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which will last until Dec. 31, 2013.

City Councilmember Cathy Murillo said adding charging capabilities for electric vehicles would benefit local residents and visitors alike.

“What we are hoping — because we are putting it in our downtown parking lot — it will serve local residents who have electric cars and also help out tourists,” Murillo said. “And you know we are a big tourism destination, so when we have people visiting from out of town, we want them to be able to charge up their electric cars here in Santa Barbara.”

According to Jim Dewey, Facilities & Energy Manager for the City of Santa Barbara, the city will provide three types of charging stations offering varying levels of energy and charging rates. At home, electric-car owners can charge their vehicles overnight for about a one dollar per gallon equivalent. Dewey said the council will determine the appropriate hourly fee, taking into account Coulomb’s 40 cent fee per session. According to Dewey, customers can obtain a ChargePoint card, pay by RFID-based Smart card or a standard credit card.

Coulomb Technologies has obtained a grant from the Dept. of Energy to install 4,600 charging units throughout the nation, according to Dewey. Solvang and Ventura have three and ten charging stations installed, respectively.

According to Dewey, the break-even hourly rate for Santa Barbara ChargePoint stations will be about $5 in addition to standard parking rates. Although the five dollar fee is far more expensive than Solvang’s current $1.25-$2 fee at similar charging stations, Dewey said the possibility to generate revenue will be more viable as the demand for these services increases.

“Electric vehicles are not going away,” Dewey said. “The demand for them will continue to increase, and we will probably be in this business in some form or another.”

Michael Chiacos, member of the the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara and lead author of CEC’s Transportation Energy Plan, said electricity-powered vehicles can be up to three times more efficient than a gasoline car, achieving an energy equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

However, Chiacos said a high charging fee in Santa Barbara lots could drive many customers away.

“If we set the price at $5, [as opposed to the $1-2 in Solvang] we are not going to get very many wanting people to charge up here,” Chiacos said. “I think having a lower price and trying to get more people to adopt this technology would be beneficial.”

Schneider said she is excited to finally move forward with the initiative and hopes the additional charging stations can be installed in the future.

“I think it is going to be a great opportunity to provide for folks who want to come here and have an electric vehicle,” Schneider said. “It is a convenience for them to have something available in our downtown parking lots and we hope that can be a draw.”

Schneider said she supported the proposal, but agreed to monitor prices in other local cities over the next few months.

“I appreciate and understand the rationale behind the $5 [per-hour fee], but if it means no one shows up because they go to Goleta instead, then we have just lost the whole point,” Schneider said.

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6 Responses to City To Add Electric Vehicle Outlets to Local Lots

  1. David Harkness

    April 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Rather than the excessive $5 fee, EV drivers may do as I do with my GEM car and use the 110 Volt outlets. They are available on every floor of lot 7.

  2. Jay Hennigan

    March 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    $5 per hour PLUS the pay fee for the lot is out of line. The electricity cost is at most 25 cents per hour. Encourage tourism, innovation, and green technology. Go like Rabobank and others and don’t gouge EV owners at rates substantially higher than gasoline. And dump Chargepoint’s proprietary card-based EVSE for open standards. Leviton, Tesla, Voltec, or GE are far less maintenance and don’t need to “phone home”.

  3. Tim H.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    As a very happy Nissan Leaf driver, I strongly urge Santa Barbara to follow the lead of cities like Burbank, which recently installed about a dozen EV charging stations in several locations – and I believe all of them are in free parking areas. Furthermore, Burbank is offering charging for free until at least July of 2012, at which time they may implement a modest fee for their use.

    Five dollars an hour is certainly too high, while free charging is too low, if only because that would encourage all-day parking by EV drivers, so the parking space would not be freed up for other electric vehicles.

    My suggestion: one to two dollars per hour is about right. One hour of charging a Leaf provides about 20 ~ 25 miles of driving – still a bargain compared to the price of gasoline for the same amount of driving, but it more than compensates for the cost of the energy to the city.

    • matt

      March 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I think they should charge us what it cost. and no more. WE are after all in that local area spending time , Money waiting for the car to charge up. So we are one more Wallet to help that Star Bucks, or Movie Theater that other wise would not have stopped by. Common Sense Charge me the True cost of the Power, and a small Maintenance fee and I will be happy to pay.

  4. matt

    March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Leave it to the city of Santa Barbara to mess up a Great thing. $5.00 fee to charge? I can go to Robo Bank in Goleta and Charge for Free, Or I can go to Solvang 3 times and change for the Same $5.00 the City of Santa Barbara Wants.. Not to Mention all of these in Santa Barbara are in Pay Lots.. SO Ill have to pay 1.50 an hour to park and 5.00 to charge.. ???

    Why is it that the City of Santa Barbara Thinks that the EV users should pay so much!..

    The City of Santa Barbara should be embarrassed that Ojai and Solvang are being realistic why the City of Santa Barbara is simply Greedy.

    EV drivers Skip Santa Barbara, GO to Goleta or Ventura or Solvang or Ojai for Fare EV charging Rates.

  5. Lloyd Marcm

    March 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

    The $5 fee makes charging not economically feasable for the volt owner. When charging a Volt one full charge replaces about 1 gallon of gas. It would be easier for the Volt owner to just let the Gasoline engine charge the battery and not charge at all. Other cars will be able to use more electricity and may be willing to pay the fee!