How to set up a public electric vehicle charging station, the fast charging
November 14, 2017  Sami Grover

The Alliance Center/Rebecca Ann Photography
EV showcase launch ribbon cutting photo
EV charging station launch event photo

As electric vehicle use spreads, demand for more—and faster—charging
stations will grow too.

So far, when businesses have looked at installing electric vehicle charging,
most have opted to go for slower, Level 2 charging which provides most
vehicles with about 20 miles of charge in an hour. (A little more for Tesla
destination chargers.) As the number of electric vehicles grows, however,
and as their range/battery capacity increases, there's a high likelihood
that drivers will have more demand for faster charging options too. It's one
thing, after all, to sit around for an hour or so to "fill up" your 80-mile
Nissan Leaf. It's quite another if you need to replenish 200+/300+ miles of
range in your Tesla or Chevy Bolt.

So what does it take to install a DC fast charging station that's open to
the public? We got on the phone with Chris Bowyer, Director of Building
Operations at The Alliance Center in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood
of Denver, to find out. The Alliance Center—which offers LEED Platinum
certified office space to 50 mission driven organizations—recently took the
plunge and installed a ChargePoint Express 200 50kw charging station in its
parking lot, which it made available to the general public.

As Chris explained, however, the original plan was actually to go with a
slower, Level 2 station:

    "As an innovator in the sustainability industry, we wanted to capitalize
on the growth in electric vehicle use and provide a resource for tenants,
visitors and the community around us. Given that most users were likely to
be tenants who spend their whole day here, our original plan was to install
some slower, Level 2 charging stations that tenants' employees could use to
fill up while they work. When we applied for a Charge Ahead Colorado grant
managed by the Regional Air Quality Council and funded by the Colorado
Department of Transportation to help pay for it, however, we didn't get the
Level 2 funding. But they strongly encouraged us to go for Level 3."

When the unit was installed, it was the first Level 3 charging station in
LoDo. That has since changed, as REI also installed two DC fast chargers, as
well as two Level 2 charging stations, about 1.5 miles away. Nevertheless,
Chris sees the addition of the charging station as an important piece of
infrastructure—not just for tenants and guests of the building, but for the
surrounding community too:

    "As soon as we started exploring the possibility of adding charging
stations, we were adamant that it should be for everyone. I don’t care if
you live in Grand Junction and just want to plug in to get what you need to
get home. Come by, charge up, and pop in and say hello while you are at it."

The total cost of purchase and installation came in at around $50,000, says
Chris, with $16,000 of that coming from the Department of Transportation
grant. But The Alliance Center saw this as an important investment in
staying ahead of the sustainability game. Crucially, because The Alliance
Center wanted the unit to be highly visible to people who might not
otherwise know about or visit their offices, the organization decided to go
with a networked charging station from ChargePoint. That means it appears on
the ChargePoint app, can be monitored and diagnosed for any downtime or
faults, and also communicates whether it is currently available or in use by
another driver.

This networked option also allows The Alliance Center to charge for use—a
feature that just about covers the cost of electricity, and also
incentivizes drivers to move on once they have charged as much as they need
to. The cost, currently, is $8.50 for a two hour session, with a $1 discount
for tenants of the building. The Alliance Center also pays ChargePoint both
an annual operational fee and a small percentage of each charging session,
but Chris says that the fees are relatively nominal compared to overall
project cost.

In terms of where to locate the unit on the property, Chris explains that it
really wasn't as much of a headache as you might think:

    "We had to make sure we were near to one of our main electrical rooms,
as this reduced the need for trenching and wiring—which can add significant
cost and hassle—and we also had to coordinate with our utility to ensure
that demand for charging didn't overpower the transformers for that
particular block. Realistically, though, that was only about a 15 minute
conversation on the phone, and a few emails back and forth."

So far, the station has seen steady use—with about 20 charging sessions in
the first month since installation. As Chris points out, however, and as I
have noted in my own posts about range and range anxiety, a charging station
like this serves an important utility even when it's not in use:

    "Confidence is a major piece to it. Even if most EV drivers charge at
home most of the time, we need to have charging stations available so folks
know they can get home if they get caught in a pinch. If there isn’t network
availability, adoption will not continue. Truthfully, stations like this
might be a giant paperweight in 20 years time—range will just be so big that
it won’t be needed. But it's important that they are here now so that folks
feel secure in opting for an EV."

That's a point I would strongly agree with, and I would say that, by adding
charging stations in convenient locations, it also makes it possible for
folks to buy electric vehicles with only as much range as they realistically
need—a critical component of making sure that electric vehicles deliver
fully on their environmental potential.

It's early days to say whether or not the station has directly influenced
any tenants' or neighbors' decision to buy an electric vehicle (some
evidence does suggest workplace charging significantly boosts sales), but
existing drivers are certainly happy. Madeline Bachner, Program Director at
The Cottonwood Institute, puts it this way:

    "I am excited about the rapidly improving EV industry and its growing
popularity. It feels good to know that my workspace and employer are on
board with this important trend and support it by investing in a charging
station. I love my EV and knowing that the infrastructure for charging it is
growing so rapidly makes me feel even better about my decision to drive one
and the forward progress of EVs and alternative fuel transportation! The
Alliance Center also has amazing support for secure bike storage and access
to public transit, which I use on a regular basis as well."

Ultimately, says Chris, the entire experience has been positive for The
Alliance Center, and the organization may even add more stations if and when
demand grows. He strongly recommends that other organizations take the
plunge, too, whether that's Level 2, DC Fast Charging, or even simply an
outlet in the wall:

    "I would encourage EV stations wherever people can do it. It’s going to
increase adoption of EVs, which reduces greenhouse gases, which is our
highest priority as an organization. Wherever we can continue that adoption,
we are going to do so."

For EVLN EV-newswire posts use:


Sent from:
Please discuss EV drag racing at NEDRA (

Reply via email to