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WeHo charges ahead with electric cars

By Edwin Folven, 12/27/2012

New charging stations installed in parking lots

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Electric vehicle drivers will find it easier to get powered up in West Hollywood after eight new charging stations were installed over the past couple weeks at Plummer Park, the Kings Road parking structure and in the parking structure at the West Hollywood library.

The city of West Hollywood has replaced its older model electric vehicle charging stations with an easy-to-use model with a universal adapter that can accomodate more vehicles. (photo by Edwin Folven)

The state-of-the art charging stations were installed to provide more options to electric vehicle owners, according to Chris Corrao, associate planner for the city of West Hollywood. The new charging stations are compatible with more electric vehicles models, which are now equipped with a standardized universal plug-in modules.

“West Hollywood was one of the first cities to offer electric vehicle charging stations,” Corrao said. “We have had them for at least the last ten years at city hall. These will be accessible to more different types of electric vehicles. There are also less risks of safety issues.”

The new chargers will make it easier for electric vehicle owners who live in apartment buildings or condominium complexes and are unable to charge electric vehicles in their buildings, Corrao said. The chargers also further the city’s goal of increasing environmental sustainability. Known as Blink Pedestal Chargers, the stations charge $1.50-per-hour, and a vehicle can generally be charged in three hours.

Corrao said the new charging stations are also equipped with technology that allows drivers to track the charging level using a smart phone application. In addition to knowing when the vehicle is charged, drivers can use the app to locate an open charging station.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said electric vehicles are very popular in the city, and having the new charging stations provides incentives for more people to switch to electric vehicles.

“This will make it easier for all those folks who want to plug in,” said Prang, who drives a hybrid electric and gasoline vehicle. “Electric vehicles offer zero emissions, and ideally that is where we want to be. The city is very environmentally conscious. In our city, as well as all cities, you need to have the infrastructure in place.”

The new stations are operated by Ecotality Inc., which funded the installation through a U.S. Department of Energy EV Project grant. The new charging stations are located in the main parking lot at Plummer Park, on the third floor of the Kings Road parking structure and on the second floor of the West Hollywood Library structure. The city is currently evaluating whether to install more chargers, and will use data collected at the new stations to identify future needs.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and Edison International are working with the Southern California Public Power Authority to create a system of electric vehicle charging stations throughout Los Angeles County. The utilities are currently developing a blueprint for the best ways to implement a system of charging stations. The DWP also offers a rebate program for electric vehicle drivers who purchase home charging systems.

“Los Angeles is the car capital of the world, and there is no better city or region to pioneer the early adoption of plug in electric vehicles,” DWP general manager Ronald O. Nichols said. “Charging your electric vehicle should be as easy as filling up your tank at the next service station, or using an ATM to get cash when driving from one utility service area to another. We are working on a regional solution to simplify the customer experience.”

 

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