State adds 30 new charging ports to its multi-agency office complex in SLC
By Mat Carlile
One of the biggest hurdles to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EV) is sufficient infrastructure to make charging them as reliable and convenient as refueling internal-combustion vehicles. This month, the EV charging stations at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) headquarters are getting an upgrade. This will increase the number of chargers at DEQ from six to 30 charging ports—including a DC Fast charger.
Electric vehicles have always held the promise of dramatically changing the way Americans travel and the pollution we produce. But most people are unaware of the roots of EVs.
As early as 1828, inventors were tinkering with concepts for an electric car and versions appeared in Europe and America. By the 1870s, practical applications of the electric car started popping up around the country. William Morrison created the first successful electric vehicle in the U.S. His car was little more than an electrified wagon, but it sparked interest in EVs. Thomas Edison even explored ways to improve Morrison’s technology and worked on building better batteries.
Then, in the early 1900s. the mass-production of Henry Ford’s Model T made internal-combustion cars widely available and affordable. This signaled the end of the first incarnations of EVs. Better roads and the discovery of cheap Texas crude oil also contributed to the decline in EVs’ popularity. By 1935, EVs had all but disappeared from American roadways.
Over the next 30 years or so, cheap, abundant gasoline and continued improvement in the internal-combustion engine created little need for EVs or alternative-fuel vehicles. But in the 1970s, gas prices soared. This sparked renewed interest in EVs and automakers begin exploring opportunities for EVs.
In 1990, new federal and state regulations further renewed interest in EVs. Automakers begin modifying popular vehicle models into electric and hybrid vehicles. This enabled them to reach highway speeds and perform much closer to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Then, in 1996, GM released the EV1, the first mass-produced and purpose-designed EV of the modern era. The following year, Toyota introduced the first mass-produced hybrid, the Prius. In 2010, GM upped the ante with the release of the Chevy Volt, the first commercially available plug-in hybrid. Later that year, Nissan released the LEAF, an all-electric, zero tailpipe emissions car.
To encourage the adoption of EVs, the Energy Department is investing in widespread charging infrastructure. This effort includes installing 18,000 residential, commercial and public chargers.
Electric vehicles hold a lot of potential for helping the U.S. create a more sustainable future. If the U.S. transitioned all the light-duty vehicles to hybrids or plug-in electric vehicles, the country could reduce its dependence on foreign oil by 30-60 percent, while lowering the carbon pollution from the transportation sector by as much as 20 percent.
The upgrade to DEQ’s EV charging infrastructure includes a plan to install 15 dual-port Level 2 chargers (30 charge ports total) and one DC Fast charger on its campus at 195 N. 1950 West in Salt Lake City. The DC Fast Charger and 26 of the Level 2 charge ports will be workplace and public chargers, and four charge ports will be dedicated to state fleet vehicles.
There will not be a cost associated with using the new ChargePoint chargers, although all users will need to set up an account with ChargePoint to use the equipment – similar to the system employed at other state facilities. ChargePoint has the ability to notify users when their vehicle is fully charged, set up a wait-list for each charger, and, in the future (if the State begins charging users) to vary charge rate by time-of-day, or (even if there is no cost to charge) begin charging users after a vehicle has been fully charged and is left plugged into the charger for an extended time.
Funding for the new charging stations at DEQ’s headquarters comes from multiple sources including funds from the Volkswagen Settlement mitigation trust, Rocky Mountain Power, and funding through Utah Division of Administrative Services.
While construction of the new charging stations continues through June, it will cause some inconveniences for people already accustomed to charging their EV at DEQ’s headquarters. However, the two stations (four ports) at the newly completed Technical Support Center, just around the corner from DEQ, will be available for visitors and employees during construction. It is also anticipated that the DC Fast charger will also be deployed before the old chargers are disabled.
I have worked with the Utah Division of Air Quality for 14 years. I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University. My wife Carrie and I have four children. I love reading, investigating history, traveling, and playing basketball, volleyball, football, and ultimate Frisbee.