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Council Backs Electric Car Charging Station at Hauke Park

Station will be installed in parking lot on north side of Public Safety Building and paid for through an ABAG grant and PG&E credit generated by the city's solar array.

Seven months after , the Mill Valley City Council approved an alternative plan Monday night. They did so because the new proposal came with much less cost to the city.

“They took our suggestion and went with it and came up with a much better solution than what was offered to us the first time,” Councilman Ken Wachtel said of city staff.

The new proposal is bolstered by a $14,000 grant from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for the installation the station. The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) manages the grant money and doles it out provided that the station is installed on public property and be accessible to the public.

City staff estimated the cost of equipment and installation at $13,000, with an ongoing cost of approximately $400 a year for electricity. The station, which will include both a 120 volt and 240 volt output, will be powered by the Public Safety Building, which is gets most of its power from the large solar array behind it.

City officials said the city has a negative balance of nearly $4,000 with Pacific Gas & Electric as a result of the solar power generated. The city will pay the cost of the electricity using that balance. The grant and the PG&E credit from the solar array provide the city with significant cost savings compared to the .

Dan Hughes, the city’s senior civil engineer, said the charging station would be in an ideal location if the city obtains an electric vehicle of its own. The city won’t charge for residents to use the station but plan to monitor its use to determine if a fee should be applied in the future. The parking spot, which will be limited to four hours at a time, won’t be restricted to electric vehicle parking.

As part of the Bay Area-wide program though ABAG, Arcadia, Calif.-based Clean Fuel Connection supplies and installs the charger. The grant funding is paid through reimbursements, so the city has to front the cost of the equipment and its installation. It also has to pay an annual $230 subscription fee to the ChargePoint Network, which operates the stations. That money will come from the city’s parking fund.

The new proposal doesn’t address the council’s concerns about demand for electric car charging stations in town and staff didn’t present data on the number of electric cars in Mill Valley.

“Staff is trying to gather data regarding the numbers of EV's registered in Mill Valley and in Marin County in general,” staff wrote in the report.

According to a estimate from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, 104,262 of the more than 22 million registered vehicles in California are electric. When extrapolated against the 186,593 registered electric cars in Marin County in 2010, there are less than 1,000 electric cars in Marin County.

Betsy Bikle April 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
So does this mean that the solar array behind the public safety building is producing more electricity than the building uses?
Rico April 18, 2012 at 11:05 PM
That is a great project, the solar array at the Public Safety building. I wonder how much the total costs were for everything ? The charging station doesn't sound like a very good idea for many reasons. There will be a 120 volt outlet to plug in electric cars that have a level 1charger built into them, it takes 16 to 20 hours to charge a small fully electric vehicle. There will also be a 30 amp 240 volt level 2 charger that takes 8 to 10 hours to charge the same small electric car. But there will be a 4 hour limit on both charging stations, and other cars can still park there at any time. And, the city is considering buying an electric vehicle too. The solar array is a great project, but the charging stations sound more like greenwash than anything else as far as the public actually using them.
Lee Kleinecke April 19, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Maybe. But time-of-use metering makes it also possible to send higher priced afternoon power back to the grid to more than offset a net usage of power from the grid. In either case, there is a credit balance to the city, and that is us!
D April 24, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Ricardo, what information do you have that the City is considering buying an electric vehicle? The article does not say this. Regarding the chargers, people who will come will not come looking for a full charge. Do a little research and you will see, folks come to public charging stations to 'top off', not to fully charge. They can park there and get a decent charge up in the time they will be there. Also, it is not restricted to electric vehicles only, that is correct. But why would a non-electric vehicle park there if there are other spots available, which is the case at this parking lot 95% of the time. You say it doesn't sound like a very good idea for many reasons, funny, I think it sounds like a great idea for many reasons. Cost, virtually nothing. Not losing parking. The power comes from an existing solar. Seriously, what is the down side?

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