The ECOtality charging station

Driving through Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood yesterday, I passed by the Propel biodiesel fueling station. I was struck by two things: The high-cost of the fuel, and the fact that there wasn’t a car in sight. At the time of its opening, it marked the first biodiesel fueling station in downtown Seattle. Now, Vulcan, which brought Propel to neighborhood in 2008, is testing another alternative energy source for vehicles in the fast-growing neighborhood.

The real estate arm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced today that it has partnered with ECOtality to bring 24 electric vehicle charging stations to the neighborhood. The two companies have installed the self-service pedestal charging stations in eight residential and commercial buildings in the neighborhood as part of a national program to build out EV charging infrastructure.

Vulcan’s Ada Healey now says that South Lake Union boasts the largest concentration of EV charging stations in the Pacific Northwest.

“We are proud that South Lake Union is one of the greenest neighborhoods in the country and these charging stations are a reflection of the area’s longstanding commitment to sustainability,” Healey said.

For now, it is free for anyone to charge their electric vehicles at the stations. But, over time, a fee may be instituted.

Using ECOtality’s Blink Level 2 Commercial Pedestal Chargers, owners of vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf will gain approximately 11 miles per hour of charging.

Eleven of the stations have been installed at buildings on the Amazon.com campus.

ECOtality is planning to roll out approximately 15,000 charging stations in 18 U.S. cities, with about 1,000 public charging stations coming to the Puget Sound region.

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Comments

  • Guest

    Congratulations and welcome to ECOtality! I hope that electric vehicles catch on in ways that biodiesel never did.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome! I have a a Leaf, our office is right next to SLU, and I’ve been waiting for some charging stations to hit town. Excellent news.

  • http://www.bluebox.net Jesse Proudman

    For what it’s worth, that’s my defacto Diesel station in town.  The price is better than most non bio-diesel pumps.

  • Zach

    Just to be clear about the comment in the opening statement of the article, biodiesel (B99) at Propel is $0.10-$0.15 less than petroleum diesel.  The SLU station only has B20 and B5 so the price difference may not be that noticeable, but the value is in the higher blends.  Its important to clarify this, because the article implies that biodiesel is expensive, which currently is not the case.

  • Zach

    Just to be clear about the comment in the opening statement of the article, biodiesel (B99) at Propel is $0.10-$0.15 less than petroleum diesel.  The SLU station only has B20 and B5 so the price difference may not be that noticeable, but the value is in the higher blends.  Its important to clarify this, because the article implies that biodiesel is expensive, which currently is not the case.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the additional context, Zach. I was comparing the prices I
      saw at Propel to what I’ve seen at other gas stations around town, not
      to the price of petroleum diesel. It appeared to me that the cost of a
      gallon of the high blend biodiesel at Propel is higher than the more
      traditional gas that most Americans put in their cars today.

      • Jake

        Mr. Cook,

        The fact that you are comparing biodiesel to gasoline further exemplifies that you continue to know nothing about biodiesel or other renewable liquid fuels.  
        Electric Vehicles score a 104 in terms of “carbon intensity” according to the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (http://1.usa.gov/9jh5cG) aka the most comprehensive analysis of transportation fuels in the world.  This is due to the intensive production emissions of lithium batteries as well as the fact that half of electricity in the US is produced via coal.  I have no doubt that EVs will catch on in a big way for yuppies to roll around metropolitan areas, but I cannot stand how delusional most EV proponents continue to be.  How is that electric airplane coming along?  The next time you drive your EV to Whole Foods, just remember that everything in that store arrived by various forms of diesel transportation. 

        You have always hated biodiesel for no good reason.  Get over it.  

        -Jake

        • johnhcook

          Thanks for the follow up. I’ve never said I hated biodiesel, so not
          sure where that’s coming from. You make some good points about EV, and
          like any emerging technology there will be drawbacks that you point
          out.

          I’ve not studied the issue as closely as you. But here’s what I do
          know: For the average consumer (who drives a gas powered car in this
          country) seeing prices that are 10, 20 or 30 cents higher per gallon
          than the traditional gas pump makes for a tough sell.

          I think for biodiesel or EVs or any other technology to catch on, it
          has to be at a lower price point than the traditional pump.

          • Rob

            Biodiesel is a replacement for petroleum diesel, Ethanol is a replacement for gasoline. They are both less expensive than the petroleum option, at least right now. 

            24 is a good number for EV chargers. Allowing for two charges per day, about right since I’d guess a total of 50 EVs in SLU area by the end of 2012. 

        • johnhcook

          Thanks for the follow up. I’ve never said I hated biodiesel, so not
          sure where that’s coming from. You make some good points about EV, and
          like any emerging technology there will be drawbacks that you point
          out.

          I’ve not studied the issue as closely as you. But here’s what I do
          know: For the average consumer (who drives a gas powered car in this
          country) seeing prices that are 10, 20 or 30 cents higher per gallon
          than the traditional gas pump makes for a tough sell.

          I think for biodiesel or EVs or any other technology to catch on, it
          has to be at a lower price point than the traditional pump.

        • Guest

           Jake,

          I don’t care that half the electricity in the US is produced via coal. I live in the Pacific Northwest where only 7% of my energy comes from polluting sources — and I make a small contribution to offset that every month. My vehicle therefore has no tailpipe emissions and no impact to the environment.

          As I leave Whole Foods with a Nissan LEAF full of reusable shopping bags filled with locally-sourced sustainably-produced food items, I know that it is I who leads the charge towards an environmentally sound future.

          You’re welcome, Jake.

  • DarkJedi

    So who picks up the tab for all that electricity?  It’s like a drug dealer. First few are free. Then you pay heavily from then on.

  • DarkJedi

    So who picks up the tab for all that electricity?  It’s like a drug dealer. First few are free. Then you pay heavily from then on.

  • Joe the Coder

    I sure don’t get the fuss over EV charging stations.  These are level 2 chargers that take forever.  The ford focus electric takes 4 hours to charge and the LEAF – 8 hours!  So, the reality is that this big deal announcement will handle very few cars per day – I’d guess the average utilization will be between 2 and 3 cars per day per station. 

    The recharging issue is the Achilles heel of the EV.  I think the vast majority of charging will be done at home.  And road trips, fuhgetit.  Probably this shuts out many, if not most, apartment dwellers.

    On the point that “coal is used to create the electricity”.  That’s true to some extent but expect to see an increasing rate of conversion to NG fired generators and the continued investment in wind and solar. 

    To be clear, I believe that EVs are here to stay and will surely make up a significant percentage of the commute miles in the US in 10-15 years.  But gas and diesel vehicles will take a long time to go away.

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