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New Alternative to Tire Chains Gaining Traction Among EV Drivers

Washington state law requires  all motorists carry tire chains during winter. When “tire chains required” signs are posted, two-wheel drive vehicles are required to have chains on the drive wheels, even if they have approved snow tires. All-wheel drive vehicles with approved snow tires are usually exempt, but in severe conditions “tire chains required on all vehicles” may be posted. In this situation even AWD vehicles with approved snow tires are required to have tire chains on. So it’s important to always carry tire chains during winter.

Many modern vehicles have very little clearance between the tire and fender well, including our newly acquired pre-owned 2013 Tesla Model S. It’s important to follow manufacturers recommendations when choosing tire chains, to avoid damage to your vehicle. The chains Tesla recommends on their web site are pricey - $450. So I looked for alternatives.

I came across a page on the WSDOT web site listing legally-approved alternatives to tire chains (http://www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/images/traction/alt_traction_device.pdf). The one approved for most vehicles was the Auto Sock. I had never heard of these before. They are a fabric wheel cover, similar to a wheel sun cover but enclosed all around the tire. They have a kevlar fabric over the tire tread. Checking on amazon.com and youtube.com, I found information about how they work, that they work very well on compact snow and ice, and that they are readily available. They have been used in Norway for over a decade. Comments mentioned checking the manufacturers web site to insure you order the correct size for your tire size. At around $100 (depending on size), and assuming I would rarely need “tire chains”, I decided to give them a try.

After confirming what size would fit, I ordered a pair on Amazon Smile (selecting NCWEDD, the parent organization of Plug-In NCW as my non-profit for Amazon to donate to) and received them in a few days.  

Jack Anderson and I tried them out on our snow covered driveway, over the stock all season radial tires. They were a little tight to get on and off, but significantly improved traction, so I felt comfortable using them.

A week later Anne and I travelled to the west side, over US 2, Stevens Pass. I prefer Stevens Pass over Blewett/Snoqualmie passes, not only because US 2 has L3 chargers along the way (essential during our Leaf days), but because I feel Blewett is poorly engineered and unsafe, and Snoqualmie has heavy truck traffic.  

While on the west side, with pass conditions deteriorating, we decided to get snow tires and were fortunate to find what we needed at a reasonable price at the Redmond Discount Tire store. With our newly installed snow tires, we headed back over Stevens Pass.  

Tire chains were required, so we installed our Auto Socks, but they were really hard to get on.  Our new snow tires were obviously slightly larger than our well worn summer tires. The Auto Socks worked great though! But when it came time to get them off, despite our best efforts, we could not get the off! We finally had to cut them off! Fortunately, a pair of sharp scissors did the job quickly.

As we were finishing cutting our Auto Socks off, a small sedan pulled up behind us in the “chains off” pullout, also with Auto Socks installed. The middle aged woman driver hopped out, wearing slippers, grabbed her Auto Socks with one hand and pulled them off! Obviously ours were the wrong size!

After returning home, I contacted Amazon and they authorized a return and refund - even though I told them the Auto Socks had been cut in half and were ruined! Impressive return policy!

I e-mailed the Auto Sock manufacturer in Norway and they assured me the size I had ordered was correct, but also suggested I try ordering the next larger size. I ordered the next larger size, through Amazon Smile, and they go on and come off much easier.

Even though we had a steep learning curve, I feel the Auto Sock is a great, legal, alternative to tire chains.

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Plug-In NCW Welcomes Garrett Brown to the Committee

Garrett Brown has been driving electric in a Cayenne Red Nissan Leaf since 2011 and is current president of the Mid-Columbia Electric Vehicle Association, a southeastern Washington chapter of the Electric Auto Association. Although he enjoyed racing toy electric trains and cars as a child in the 1960s, Garrett's real interest EVs emerged dramatically when Iraq invaded Kuwait during the 1st Gulf war.  While bicycling home from University one day and seeing an antiwar demonstration, he ironically noted that everyone had driven gasoline-powered automobiles to attend.  Throughout most of his college and work years, he primarily commuted by bicycle, including below zero temperatures, snow, hail, lightning and rain storms, and only drove his grandmother's 1972 Dodge Dart sparingly, knowing that every dollar spent on gasoline was going to a cause that he did not want to support.  In 1991, he purchased his only ICE vehicle, a Nissan Pickup and retired the Dart so it wouldn't have to haul so many yard and garden supplies.  He boldly told his wife that their next vehicle would be "electric" and they began saving $50/week for that eventual future.  Knowing his ability to tinker and "repair" things without being able to quite put them back together in working order, he even promised to wait until real commercial EVs could be purchased.  It has been a long twenty year wait, but now there are numerous EV choices, from neighborhood EVs to Tesla super luxury cars.  What started as a personal resentment against the oil industry, has resulted in a more enjoyable driving experience.  EVs are simply superior over ICE vehicles in every category.  They are powered by American-made electrons, increasingly generated by solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.  They are less costly to operate, fuel, and maintain (total cost of ownership).  They are quieter, smoother, cleaner, accelerate quickly, and cannot fake or fail emissions testing.  Best of all, they can be filled nightly, while the owner sleeps, pre-warmed in the garage, ready for each day's adventure.

In addition to his day job as an Analytical Chemist, Garrett's current interests include educating the public about the benefits of EVs, increasing the number of people driving EVs, and increasing the number of EV charging stations in southeastern WA State.  He still enjoys the great outdoors by gardening daily, filling his yard with native and non-native flowering plants, hiking/camping on occasion, and bicycling as fair weather and old bones allow.

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Electric Auto Association Membership Drive

 

Starting this month the Electric Auto Association is offering to let you join for free!  Well, for six months anyway.  Annual membership is $35 at the basic level which means taking the option to read "Current EVents" in digital form but really no other difference with the next higher option which is to have the publication mailed to you.  If you have not read "Current EVent" you are missing the nation's best reporting on what's happening around the frontier of electrification.  You can preview past editions by visiting the EAA website,  www.electricauto.org.

When you decide to join please indicate Wenatchee Electric Vehicle Association as your home chapter.  Doing this will put you in contact with other EV drivers in the greater Wenatchee area.  To join at the reduced rate use Promo Code;  EAABEVPHEV2017 (all upper case and no spaces.) 

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Plug-In's Randy & Anne Brooks Welcome New Tesla S

Anne and Randy Brooks, and Heidi. 

Yes, it's a Tesla!

We've been electric vehicle advocates for many years, doing conversions and being active in Plug-In NCW since 2005. We just ended a four year lease of a Nissan Leaf and wanted a longer-range EV to allow environmentally-friendly cross country travel.

We've always considered the Tesla to be way outside our price range, but after considering alternatives like the Chevy Bolt (months away, if we're lucky) or the Tesla Model 3 (years away), we started looking at used Tesla Model S's with Supercharger capability.

When we learned that Tesla Motors has "pre-owned" vehicles (lease returns and trade-ins) on their website, we checked it out. Not only can you order new vehicles, but also "inventory" vehicles (new loaners and demos) and pre-owned vehicles.

We found two vehicles at the Seattle Tesla SoDo store that were within a carefully crafted budget. Coincidentally our credit union sent us an ad saying we prequalified for a low interest auto loan that would cover the vehicle cost after our down payment. It was fate!

We went to Seattle and test drove the vehicle we were interested in. It was in perfect condition, a late 2013 60kWh battery (200 mile range) with only 28,000 miles on it. We would have driven it home, but Tesla insisted on going through a 200+ point inspection and reconditioning process.

We paid our deposit and went home where we anxiously waited almost four weeks for the car to be ready. When the big day arrived and we went to the Bellevue Tesla store to take delivery, we were not disappointed. The car looked brand new! We received a very thorough orientation to the vehicle operation and all my technical questions were diligently answered.

The ride home was surreal. We are still a little awe struck. It really happened. We own (along with the credit union) our dream car! If we can do it, so can you!

But even if you can't afford a Tesla, there are lease return Leafs available for less than $10,000! Remember that the majority of climate changing emissions, in Washington state and the U.S., are from transportation. The single greatest thing we as individuals can do to have a positive affect on climate change emissions is to drive an EV instead of a fossil fuel vehicle!

We already had an L2 charger (240 volt, 30 amp, J-1772 plug) installed in our garage for our Leaf. It works just fine with the J-1772-to-Tesla plug adapter provided with each Tesla. The car comes with a “Mobile Connector” cord which allows L1 (120 volt, 12 amp) charging, and L2 (240 volt, 50 amp, NEMA 14-50 plug) charging. Other L2 plug adapters for the Mobile Connector can be purchased. We also purchased a Chademo-to-Tesla adapter so we could use Chademo L3 DC quick chargers in the area. Then there are the 744 SuperCharger stations nationwide! With all these charging options, we’re looking forward to our first road trip!

EV grin!

- Anne and Randy Brooks

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Davenport Charging Station Now Operational!

After more than two years of effort, the haL2 charger (80 amp) in Davenport, WA, on U.S. 2 is now operational. This closes the last gap on Highway 2 from Everett to Spokane, making it possible for small battery EVs to easily travel across the state.

The installation was a cooperative effort of Plug-In NCW, Lincoln County Museum and Visitor Center (the host), Lincoln County Economic Development Office, the City of Davenport and the Davenport Lions Club. The installation was done by Back Roads Electric and Construction, Almira, WA.

There were a number of iterations and obstacles over the last two years, but through it all Margie Hall, of the Lincoln County Economic Development Office, coordinated the local effort, and kept everyone informed and involved.

The Clipper Creek CS-100 (80 amp) charger was funded by donations to Plug-In NCW. Thank you donors! The installation was funded by Plug-In NCW donors, in-kind work of Davenport area residents, and a donation by the Davenport Lions Club. The City of Davenport has agreed to pay for the electricity used.

Jack Anderson, Plug-In NCW;   Terry Fox, Davenport Lions Club;   John Coley, Lincoln County Museum and Visitor Center;   Margie Hall, Lincoln County Economic Development Office

Donations to help pay for electricity are gladly accepted at the Lincoln County Museum, 600 7th St, Davenport, WA 99122, 509-725-6711, May - Sept, Tu - Sat, 9 - 5; Oct - April, by appointment.

The charger is posted on PlugShare and is accessible 24/7. There are public restrooms in a small public park about half a block away. Free high speed WiFi is available at the bench outside the Library 24/7, also about a half a block away. Several places to eat are within walking distance. Enjoy “small town” Davenport!

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Pledge for Power

Plug-In North Central Washington and the Chelan Public Utility District have completed an agreement making Plug-In NCW responsible for the cost of electrical power dispensed from the PUD's current and planned EVSE installations in Chelan County.  Washington State law prohibits public utilities from "giving away electricity" so to make the PUD project possible Plug-In NCW stepped forward to "pay the bill."

Plug-In NCW is more than excited to announce that Cascade Auto Center a retailer of new and previously owned vehicles from several manufacturers has become the soul sponsor of this endeavor.   Cascade Auto Center is the Wenatchee area Chevrolet dealer and is aggressively preparing for the 238 mile range, Bolt EV that Chevrolet will begin shipping within the next few months.  Sponsoring electric vehicle chargers is a fantastic way to encourage people to give the Bolt a look.  Cascade Auto Center will benefit by having their message and logo in the sponsor's space on each PUD installed car charger.  Electric vehicle drivers will benefit by having even more charging opportunities available in Chelan County. 

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Low Gas Prices “Create” Higher EV Sales

It has often been said the price of gasoline is the key to electric vehicle adoption by the general public. Critics of EVs have gloated recently as the price of gasoline declined saying the EV revolution would die now that the main cause of atmospheric pollution was so cheap and available. However, take a look at the record for this year. The only conclusion to be drawn is that the “general population” is beginning to understand that electric drive vehicles are faster, quieter and way more fun to drive than their ancestors. What do you think?

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Ice Age Floods EV Tour (Pledge for Power) Tickets on Sale Now!

Eventbrite Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ice-age-floods-ev-tour-pledge-for-power-tickets-23462727650

Plug-In North Central Washington welcomes EV drivers to tour the fantastic geologic imprints left by the Ice Age Floods.  Imagine a raging flood so powerful that towering waves studded with glacial icebergs toss giant boulders downstream like pebbles, and the landscape is irreversibly altered as eroded soil is carried more than 500 miles to the ocean.

It might sound like a scene from a Hollywood movie – but it’s real. And it happened in the Wenatchee Valley between 13,000 and 18,000 years ago, as water from glacial Lake Missoula raged across the landscape at 65 miles-per-hour when the ice dam blocking its path gave way to pressure, releasing the violent deluge.

http://www.iceagefloodsinstitute.org/floods.htmlfor more of what this tour will explore.

 Plug-In North Central Washington is hosting this tour as a fund raising EVent.  Our goal is to underwrite the cost of electrical power dispensed from the Chelan PUD operated haL2 chargers that they are planning to install around Chelan County.  We have pledged to underwrite up to $5,000 for this.  Tax qualified receipts will be issued for donations.  Ken Lacey will be our tour guide he is very knowledgeable of the geologic events and local agriculture.  He is also full of interesting stories about the people and history of the area.  We will conclude the tour with dinner, wine tasting and dancing at White Heron Cellars.

The Marriott Springhill Suites has blocked twenty rooms for tour attendees; reservations must be made directly with the hotel.  Miguel.Cuevas@marriott.com  is ready to talk with you about lodging via e-mail or, call and ask for Miguel (509) 667-2775.  We have 20 rooms blocked for this EVent.

Driver and EV registration includes some L3 charging for your EV in Wenatchee and L2 near Cresent Bar.  Wine tasting fees at White Heron Cellars and entry to the Mushroom Festival are also included..  Full details of tour will be sent when registration is received.  If you have questions please contact us.

Hope to see you here!

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The Joys of Volt Ownership

By David Morgan, Wenatchee, WA

About 18 months ago we bought a 2013 Volt, which had been leased for two years by the original owner. With only 15,000 miles it was practically new, which was important seeing how our other car was 20 years old and probably on its way out. We considered a Leaf, but since we had to assume we might soon have only one car for a family of four, that wasn’t a good option.
We had it home for about two days when we realized we’d never again consider having a car we couldn’t plug in. It came with a 120v charger to use with a regular outlet. Kind of like our cell phones, only a little bigger, and out in the garage. We experienced that about 10 hours and 45 cents later we’d have a full battery, good for 25 to 50 miles, mostly depending on how cold it was outside.
As time went by, it just kept getting better. The car was comfy, responsive, silent, fine in deep snow, and solid as a tank. In the first year we drove 12,000 miles, buying gas exactly 9 times and each time it seemed so long that I’d almost forgotten where the nozzle went. One time my dad was visiting so we gave him the Volt. I needed to take our 5-year-old someplace in our old car, which mostly just sat in the driveway like a relic, which I really consider it to be, like a time machine to a primitive era. It was cold that day and my daughter asked, “What’s that smell; it smells good?” and I said “exhaust fumes”, then I realized that in her mind the Volt is a normal car and since it almost never uses gas, how could she know? Later around Christmas I got stuck in traffic during a snowstorm. I looked around at the beautiful flakes falling in the dark, and all the not so beautiful plumes of pollution rising into sky from every car except the one I was driving. Did I mention that at its lowest point the car’s lifetime mpg, covering 31,000 miles, was 189? No, you did not misread that. Most of the time it’s over 200 and when you get to 250 it just reads “250+”.  How cool is that?


Enough bragging. Part of the reason is there are so many “Level 2” chargers (240v) set up in public places in the area. So it’s not difficult in to drive well over 50 miles in a day, charging while you’re parked, never using a drop of gas. Many of these are free to use, installed by Plug-in NCW. In order to maximize our electric-only potential, recently we decided to buy our own and have it installed in the garage. Then we’d have the ability to get a full charge in less than 4 hours, meaning realistic potential to log 100+ battery-only miles in the same day. We bought a charger called Juicebox, made in CA for $475, delivered to our door; a model we chose because we can bring it with us and plug it into RV-type outlets when we’re on the road. We hired Salcido to install it for $325 (they did a great job, and no sales tax by the way). Next year when we do our taxes we’ll get 30% of this back.


Speaking of back, by now I’m sure you get the idea that in my opinion there’s no going back(wards). Part of me is amazed to see so many “normal” cars still rolling around, which is a bummer when I think about what it was like last summer when it was nearly 110 degrees several times in Wenatchee and it seemed like everything was on fire. But hey, that just makes it easier for me to find an unoccupied place to plug in wherever I go. Not! Seriously, I’d really be happy to share. Make the switch. If you’re curious enough to be reading this in the first place it’s a safe bet once you do you’ll look back and think what a no-brainer…..

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Promoting Electrification at 2016 Chelan Earth Day Fair

By Gary Taylor, Plug-In NCW Board Member

Mother Earth provided us with gorgeous sunny skies and fragrant blooms as we celebrated this year’s Earth Day Fair in Lake Chelan. Our new location (across from where we were last year) provided us more visibility and yielded better display space for our various examples of EV tech. We had everything from the Chelan County PUD’s new commercial grade mower to a local who refurbishes old golf carts into custom works of art. 

The crowd was steady all day and we had lots of opportunity to spread the word about our cause. I had a couple stay with me for at least a half hour discussing my Volt and I’m pretty sure they’ll be ordering one soon. As always the Tesla contingency served well as the centerpiece (we had two model S) attracting people like flies to honey. 

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The event organizers do a great job and made frequent personal visits to be sure we were well taken care of. All in all I’d call it a great success and feel confident that more than a few minds were opened to the realities of the future and began to realize we are in it right now!  

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Polaris Dealer Converts a Ranger EV to Lithium

Wenatchee PowerSports took a very large step towards electrification of agricultural field vehicles today as they delivered the first Polaris Ranger EV Li to Amos Rome Vineyards of Manson, WA.   Chris Bergman, Service Manager stated that the Voltronix, USA conversion kit was easy to install and that they would be more than interested in performing more conversions.  Plug-In North Central Washington is involved in this project as we see that Lead Acid battery packs can not offer the reduced maintenance costs most fleet operators require.  Lithium batteries are simply charge and use, they cause no corrosion and have a service life that is about three times longer than Lead Acid chemistries. 

Our congratulations to Voltronix, USA and Wenatchee PowerSports on this accomplishment.  We look forward to converting many more Polaris Ranger EV side-by-side machines in the future.

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National Battery Day?

By Jack Anderson, haL2 Coordinator

I've heard it said, “There’s a day for every event.” Now I believe it.  February 18th is National Battery Day!

What can you do on a day to honor a battery? Well, it is a day set aside, according to the Battery Manufacturer’s Association, for all Americans to appreciate what batteries do for them and how batteries have improved their everyday life. As I thought about battery day I wondered about recycling in the Wenatchee area, so after a quick Internet search and a few local visits, I am happy to tell you that on this National Battery Day you could recycle your batteries.

It was very encouraging to talk with the manager and some employees at Pacific Power Batteries (742 South Mission St., 509-663-6100) about their battery recycling capabilities. They will take nearly any and all rechargeable batteries - even those pesky little hearing aid types. Most rechargeable batteries use Nickel Metal Hydride or Lithium chemistries and for a very long time no recycler would accept them.  Now, these small rechargeables are collected, sorted and processed to repurpose the metals and chemicals that make up the cells. Pacific Power Batteries will accept these batteries from individuals for no cost.

When did this need to recycle small batteries start? The first battery-operated watch was produced in 1957 by the Hamilton Watch Company. Batteries and electronics have become quite ubiquitous over the last 70 years. So as you take inventory of all the battery-powered devices you and billions of people use every day, consider recycling them when they die. 


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haL2 - Two Years Later

By Jack Anderson, HaL2 Coordinator

Projects funded by private contributions rarely get scrutinized to see if the results attained meet the claims made during the appeal for funding. The purpose of this article is to check up on Plug-In North Central Washington's two-and-one-half-year-old effort to promote EV tourism throughout central Washington. The haL2 Project had an objective of placing 12 high amperage (70A or higher) EVSE units along major travel corridors in our area of interest.  While planning started in early 2013, our first fundraising activity was in August that year. The "Electromotion EV Winery Tour" proved very successful and the first haL2 EVSE unit was installed in Winthrop during September 2013. The first image below we used during fundraising pitches; it shows our "intended" locations. Compare it with the second image showing our results. We are not "mission complete," but we are on track!

The City of Tonasket approved funds to install an 80A EVSE last week and the City of Davenport is actively seeking funds for the provisioning of the electrical power needed to install an 80A unit there. Plug-In NCW has the chargers on-hand and has worked closely with both cities as they develop their plans. Speaking of plans, you will notice we did not envision four 80A chargers in the popular tourist town of Chelan! We also did not conceive the Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee would become a host. The "golden" check marks show locations with at minimum one haL2 charging opportunity. Places with the "targets" represent our two currently active projects. Just a note; Seattle City Light is still operating one of our haL2 (80A) EVSEs at their Newhalem site. 

My conclusion is that Plug-In North Central Washington did pretty much what they claimed they would do. How do you see it?

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PINCW Purchases JuiceBoxes for Trial Run

If you have been reading our posts on this site for very long you know that Plug-In North Central Washington is all about haL2 charging. We choose 70-80A chargers because our goal is to encourage EV tourism and foster EV adoption throughout central Washington. The majority of EVs in Washington can travel about eighty miles on a charge, so we sought host sites that were about fifty to sixty miles apart. Our electrification of Highway 2 from Wenatchee to Spokane is about to be completed with installation of an haL2 80A EVSE at the county museum in Davenport. 

As we've now driven this route several times, we realize EV80 drivers might want some "assurance" on the Coulee City to Davenport segment. While there are no good haL2 host site candidates, there are some RV Parks. The question of how to provide L2 charging at an RV park at the least expense was answered by the JuiceBox 40 from eMotorWerks (Electric Motor Werks, Inc.). These units have an NEMA 14-50 compliant connector that is the main stay of RV park receptacles. Protected by a 50A breaker these outlets can provide 40A continuous charging. The 24-foot delivery cable ends with a J1772 handle enabling connection to all commercially available EVs.

Plug-In NCW purchased three JuiceBox 40 units with the intention of demonstrating their effectiveness. We believe RV park operators may purchase these to enhance appeal to EV drivers. It is also our intention to demonstrate these EVSE units for the Washington State Parks Department as a potential answer to their interest in offering EV charging opportunities at their parks. Finally, we are planning an Ice Age Floods Tour for 2016 that is over 100 miles in length. Our three JuiceBox 40s will enable EV80 vehicles to join the tour as we can charge them at RV parks. It is an understatement to say, "we are energized by this purchase of JuiceBox units..."

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EVSE Maintenance and Data Collection

Jack Anderson and Randy Brooks, Plug-In NCW volunteers, just completed the semi-annual inspection, service and data retrieval of high amperage Level 2 (haL2) electric vehicle charging stations. These chargers are hosted by communities and businesses encouraging use of zero emission EVs and encouraging EV tourism to North Central Washington. 

These chargers are listed on PlugShare.com and we strive to keep their postings up to date.  Thanks to all those who donated to Plug-In NCW to support this effort.

Below is a summary chart of the charger use sessions. Sites are listed in order of in-service date. A couple sites had no data due to monitor battery failure. We’re working to avoid those problems in the future.

We are currently working on a haL2 charger in Davenport, which will complete the “electrification” of U.S. Highway 2 between Wenatchee and Spokane.

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Learning From The Past - The Future of EV Charging Stations

By Jack Anderson, haL2 Project Coordinator

On December 1, 1913, Gulf Refining Company opened a new type of retail store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed expressly for the purpose of selling gasoline as a fuel for motorists, the kiosk-like building was also the first architect-designed fueling station and the first to distribute free road maps to drivers. The use of pumps and meters was also introduced at this station, earning it the first use of the term "gas station." On its first day of business, the station dispensed 30 gallons of “Good Gulf Gasoline,” selling it at a price of 27 cents per gallon with net sales of $8.10 for opening day.  
Before Gulf Oil “upped the ante” with this purpose-built gas station, filling stations were simply curbside locations where “tins” of gasoline were poured into the customer’s automobile. Standard Oil of California claims the second filling station in America was in Seattle at what is now Pier 32. It was a curbside operation and opened in 1907. With just 500,000 automobiles on the (mostly) dirt and gravel roads of America in 1913, demand for gasoline was still relatively low. From these humble beginnings, an entire industry was spawned, and by the end of the decade filling stations and curbside gasoline pumps dot the landscape, providing convenience for the growing population of automobiles sold each year. Today, approximately 153,000  gas stations smug the landscape.  
So why, you ask, am I writing about gas stations? Simply to point out the fact that internal combustion engine vehicles gained traction (pun intended) with the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908 and it was five years until there were enough cars to warrant a purpose built gas station. Even then the Gulf Oil and Refining Company was putting capital into what it forecast to be an emerging market.  
In 2015 we know that hosting an electric car charger will not “make money” by selling electricity because the density of users is not there. There are other benefits, including some secondary financial rewards like hotel rooms booked, meals sold and merchandise purchased because there was a charger at or near the location. I believe that over the next five years the demand for charging opportunities in our communities will propel the evolution of pay for use EVSE stations. What do you think?  

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Plug-In NCW Goes to Olympia

This Thursday Oct. 22, Plug-In President Ron Johnson-Rodriguez, Director Gary Taylor and haL2 Project Manager Jack Anderson will be in the state capital to address the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC). The JTC was created during the 2005 Legislative Session with the purpose of reviewing, researching and informing policymakers and legislators on transportation programs. Plug-In NCW will be on the JTC Agenda as "EV Tourism at Work." The committee members are interested in hearing how EV tourists have been attracted to North Central Washington.

Our answer is really pretty simple: Provide charging opportunities and EV drivers will seek them out. The railroad analogy is appropriate. Seattle was just a lumber supplier to San Francisco until 1893 when the Great Northern Railway announced Seattle as its western terminus. C. T. Conover, veteran Puget Sound historian, writes "Nothing that had happened before had meant so much to Seattle -- it was a shot in the arm without precedent. Seattle went marching on by leaps and bounds." It is our proposition that strategically-placed Level 3 charging opportunities will result in additional Level 2 stations being placed by local businesses and organizations. EV tourism will develop quickly when there is an abundance of charging opportunities.

We will provide a full report on the presentation to the JTC following Thursday's visit to Olympia. 

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The BIG Question

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The BIG Question

Plug-In NCW Treasurer and haL2 coordinator Jack Anderson and his wife Charlene are on a cross-country road trip in their Tesla Model S. Jack is keeping us all privy to their travels with this daily log.

DAY FIVE: We Made It: We arrived at the Carlisle House Bed and Breakfast at about 8:30 p.m. This establishment took advantage of the Tesla Destination Charging Program and has an 80A charger for guests. This feature is very slick, with the destination charging opportunity showing on the navigation system. When the icon is tapped, the option to phone or set as destination appears. We called, they had a room so we set the destination and drove though the Appalachian Mountains to a town style house built in 1826. This 2,541.3 mile trip has answered the “Big Question” for us. Yes, you can drive an electric car across the country without much more planning than you would if you drove an ICE. It takes a little more time, but it definitely is more enjoyable. We had the time to talk with people in towns and places we would have never stopped at and the opportunity to get out of the car every two or three hours is just the best. We are looking forward to the drive back to Washington.

DAY FOUR: A Long Day Tolling: Whoever came up with the scheme to charge a toll for using a highway should be condemned to employ half of their eternal afterlife to driving on one! In fact, they should have to do this with only a $20 bill to present the toll road worker, or are they trolls? In any event it took nearly 12 hours to make 580 miles because of the slower speed limits and the constant stop to throw varying combinations of coins and bills to the toll keepers. Using our onboard navigation has proven the wisdom of the Cold War adage – Trust but Verify. We have experienced three anomalies. The first can happen with any system, it tried to route us through Notre Dame University on a road that has been closed. Of course this is at night at the end of a long segment. Charlene’s map-savvy skills saved us as she saw an alternative that got us to the chargers. Second event was after leaving a Super Charger we drove as directed for about fifty miles only to be routed back to that charger for more charging. We did not take that advice as we had plenty of energy to make the next charging opportunity. Finally, after keying in our destination we started driving and at some point the system recalculated the route without the previously identified Super Chargers and promptly warned us that we did not have enough charge to drive the 420 miles needed! We cancelled the trip and selected the destination again and all was well. Looks like tomorrow is more Tolling!

DAY THREE: Warning-Warning-Warning: Driving an EV long distances can result in sore feet. “Oh, really?” you ask. Let me explain. Our travel pattern is set by the distances between Tesla Superchargers. On this trip we seem to drive for about two and a half hours, then charge for fifty minutes. Charlene and I can walk a long way and back in that time and because the weather has been so pleasant, walk is what we have been doing. I am estimating that today we covered about six miles, and my feet are claiming it was more. Talk about stopping to charge. I saw a replica of a 1950-era advertisement in a coffee shop today. Its purpose was to promote highway safety by informing the reader that a coffee break every two hours reduced the risk of accident by 80%. If this is true, then EV drivers should have really excellent safety records. It looks like eastern Wyoming and South Dakota got most of the rainfall Washington was supposed to get. For miles on either side of the freeway the grass is pale green and the water impounds are full. The cattle look very happy. We had to drive until nearly 9 p.m. because our “eat while charging” plan was derailed by the RV Park stay last night. This morning there was no place to eat breakfast as the office/store did not open until 8 a.m. No problem, we would just drive the 70 miles to the Rapid City, SD Super Charger and eat there. Catch #1 of the day – this Super Charger sits on the edge of a massively large parking lot that services an older shopping mall.  There are three chain restaurants near but no breakfast places. Catch #2 – while charging we met the occupants of a westbound Model S who have been camping their way around the country. Turns out Walter has “blogged” their experiences at a site named “Tesla and the Tent.” Check it out here, pretty fun read. Catch #3 – when we finished charging we drove to the far side of this parking lot, honestly it was nearly half a mile, and there sits “America’s Diner” a Denny’s. We spent about an hour there…Thus, the later-than-usual stop for tonight.

DAY TWO: With temperatures in the high 70s, clear skies and little wind, it was a perfect day to face, “the Gap.” The Gap, as we have been calling it, is a 243-mile stretch between Sheridan, WY and Rapid City, SD that has very few published charging opportunities and no Tesla Super Chargers. We departed Butte, MT at about 7:45 a.m. with the intention of driving 520 miles. Our destination was the Mountain View RV Park in Sundance, WY which is about 70 miles short of Rapid City. We arrived at our reserved cabin at 6:50 p.m. with 528 miles on the trip odometer. Heading east from Butte we drove at the posted speed limit of 75 mph. The idea was to see how fast the battery would run down. We were stunned to see that our kW/mile was not much worse than our usual highway average of 311/mile. On the segment between Bozeman and Big Timber, MT we actually achieved 293/mile driving at 75 MPH. Topography and winds have a lot to do with this and I am sure we will end up using much more energy when driving this same segment westbound. At the Sheridan, WY Super Charger we bumped into the couple we met yesterday who are headed to Wisconsin. We talked with another driver from California who has going to Toronto and a local EV driver stopped by to say “Hi.” This really is an enjoyable way to travel. I will say the Tesla Super Chargers are so fast they may hurry your lunch time! We were only halfway through enjoying ours today when the APP indicated that the car was ready!

DAY ONE: We anticipated traveling about 500 miles a day, so ending the first day in Butte, Montana with 482 miles on the trip odometer is pretty satisfying. We traveled Highway 2 from our home in Orondo, WA to Spokane, stopping for breakfast at the Banks Lake Brew in Coulee City because they host an 80A charger. We discovered they serve a really tasty ham and cheese breakfast sandwich and excellent coffee. We rounded out our hour of charging by taking a walk along the lake side trail. From this point forward we would be using Tesla Super Chargers. Our navigation system pointed us to Couer d’Alene, ID. The Super Chargers are not far off the freeway. We were one of four Model S vehicles charging there. We walked for a while then had lunch.  We will likely run into one couple we met, as they are on their way to Wisconsin. We talked about the “Gap” between Sheridan, WY and Rapid City, SD. We will work a solution for that when we stop for the day. We used the Superior, Missoula and Butte Super Chargers. It is interesting that at each charging stop we actually spent more time walking and talking than was needed for the charge. It is true - EV travelers actually spend time in the locations they find a charging opportunity. It is also true the faster you drive the faster you use charge. We have found our comfort zone at 65 MPH. Battery drain is not too bad and it strikes a good balance between driving time and charging time. We have only been charging to 80% so far. So, it has been an enjoyable first day for us. However, today we saw about twelve road kill skunks; my conclusion from this observation is that it was not a good day for skunks.

PREFACE: Charlene and I have been driving an EV since March 2013, accumulating more than 50,000 miles of smile-producing enjoyment. From this starting sentence you can determine that we are enthusiastic about EVs (Electric Vehicles) and therefore everything I write about should be considered somewhat biased! So, this disclaimer now exposed, let me get to the point. Every EV trip longer than 300 miles we have made has been proceeded by careful planning - how much energy used on a segment, where to charge, what capacity of chargers are available, how long to charge at each charging opportunity and what to do while charging were always evaluated and planned for. This is more like the Pre-Flight planning I learned to do at Fort Wolters, TX rather than planning a car trip. 

In the last two years there has been an explosion of charging opportunities across America.  The "BIG Question" now is, can you drive across the continent in an EV with no more pre-planning than the typical ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car trip. Charlene and I intend to get an "up-close and personal" answer. Starting Wednesday Sept. 9 we will head East. You are invited to learn the answer along with us, as we intend to post our experiences here each day.

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