Electric vehicle charging stations among transportation improvements

Drivers of electric vehicles can zap their rides at CSU Monterey Bay, and it’s as easy as plugging in a toaster.

Nissan LeafThe university has installed two electric vehicle – EV, in car lingo – charging stations on campus, accessible by the CSUMB community and the public.

The project is an effort by Campus Planning and Development to reduce vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions and promote transportation that is consistent with the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

“People on campus love them,” says Megan Tolbert, the university’s transportation planner. “We are averaging over three charging sessions per day.”

One station is located on Fourth Avenue, behind the Alumni and Visitors Center. The other can be found in the lot adjacent to the Student Center. Both can charge two vehicles – cars, motorcycles, electric bikes – simultaneously.

Electric motorcycles can charge up on campusThe spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Vehicles must display a university parking permit.

Drivers can sign up for a ChargePoint access card or they can use a credit card (except Discover cards) to open the locked door to the charger connection. The service is free, but a card is necessary to access the connection.

CSUMB's chargers provide a J1772 240 volt connection as well as a 110 volt standard electrical outlet so that any type of electrified vehicle can get a charge. While standard outlets will suffice for charging an electric vehicle, they’re slow for higher performance freeway-speed vehicles. The J1772 charging station connector can fill up an entire battery pack in a matter of hours rather than overnight, although most EV's on campus don't need a full charge.

“The CSUMB charging units are quite robust,” says Marc Oehlman, associate director of the Center for Academic Technologies and a Nissan Leaf driver who uses the stations daily. “They carry a better flow of power than other Level 2 units I have used.”

Oehlman says he typically gets 70 to 80 miles on a charge, assuming a driving speed of 55 to 60 miles per hour. But, like other cars, that can be reduced if the windows are open or the air conditioner is used.

“Your driving habits on longer distances need to change, and to a certain extent, in everyday driving as well,” Oehlman says. “But it’s well worth it to drive by a dinogas store.”

Tolbert points out that no matter what kind of car you drive, your driving habits make the biggest difference for fuel economy, cost and pollution.

CSUMB’s charging stations were largely funded by the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance, using grant money from the California Energy Commission. CSUMB provided about 20 percent of the cost of installation. They are part of a plan to install 40 charging stations throughout Monterey County.

Due to increased public awareness, government subsidies and rising gas prices, the number of electric vehicles on American roads more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. When major automakers began producing electric cars in 2010, the number of charging stations skyrocketed in response. Over the course of a year, the number of stations rose by 2,853, a 527 percent increase, according to the EIA.

Other campus transportation-related projects have come online recently:

• The Bike Bunker, which provides secure, convenient, indoor bicycle parking, opened in February. It’s located behind the Otter Cycle Center. There are still a few spots available for reservation.

• A real-time bus arrival display has been installed at the library stop. And a smart phone app for finding bus stops and schedules is available for download.

• Free and unlimited access to services offered by Monterey-Salinas Transit over its regular bus routes is more convenient than ever. Riders need only to swipe their Otter ID cards and take a seat.

Learn more about transportation resources on campus.

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Photos:
Top: Staff member Marc Oehlman's Nissan Leaf gets a charge

Bottom: Campus visitor Terry Hershner zaps his motorcycle while visiting campus