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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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More Charging Stations Arrive in Winthrop

Plug-In NCW received word today from David Rudholm, Maintenance Manager at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, that they now have three new charging stations up and ready to go.  Rudholm said thanks to Tesla’s charger program, Sun Mountain Lodge now has two Tesla chargers online and one level 2 Clipper Creek charger.

If you have any questions, you can contact Sun Mountain Lodge at 1-800-572-0493 or visit their website here

You can also view a full map of all charging stations in North Central Washington on the Plug-In NCW station locator page here

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Rototiller Conversion Complete

Jack Anderson and Randy Brooks are wrapping up their latest conversion project - bringing an old 1984 Troy-Bilt Horse model rototiller back into action through battery power.

Check out the full story here

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Banks Lake Brew is Boiling!

We are very pleased to announce that the 80A charger at the Banks Lake Brew is about to become a reality. Electricians have now completed the installation process. This unit is the second in a series of units that will connect Wenatchee with Spokane. Waterville was first and when Coulee City is completed, we fully anticipate that within the next two months we will have identified and signed up a Host in Davenport, which will complete the series.

When finished, Highway 2 will be Washington State’s first and only EV80 drivable East-West route that is equipped with haL2 EVSE J1772 units. We also have a really excellent potential Host in Grand Coulee which is the town next to Grand Coulee Dam. While not on the cross state route, it is a heavily visited tourist attraction and only about 30 miles from Coulee City.  So really, why wouldn't the largest producer of electricity have an electric car charger? We intend to fix that soon.

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Your Help is Needed Now!

Plug-In NCW has established haL2 (>70A) EVSE stations along the scenic tourism routes throughout central Washington with the donations of EV drivers and supporters. It seemed easy because so many people want to take their electric vehicles around the Cascade Loop and enjoy the many activities the northern Cascades offer.

We are now striving to connect Spokane to our recreational paradise by placing haL2 EVSE units in Coulee City, Davenport and Grand Coulee. Our criteria for a Host site requires that there are activities to participate in while charging. As we move further eastward it is more difficult to find a site that meets these objectives. In Coulee City we have a golden opportunity at the Banks Lake Brew. It is located on Highway 2 across the road from the beautiful city park on the shore of Banks Lake. There is a crosswalk from the Banks Lake Brew to a hiking path that follows the lake shore, they serve excellent coffee, food and maintain an up-scale environment. And it's only a few blocks walk into "downtown" Coulee City. We have an installation bid that is more than the owner can afford so we are asking you to help.  

Please make a donation now! Checks should be made payable to Plug-In North Central Washington, and sent to PO Box 4107, Wenatchee, WA 98807-4107. You can also use the "Donate" button here. Please indicate that your donation is to help with installations on Highway 2. We will recognize your donation with a federal tax compliant receipt.

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Gov. Inslee Declares Start of 2015 EV Tourism Season

Gov. Jay Inslee was in Wenatchee last week to give a proclamation kicking off the 2015 Electric Vehicle Tourism Season. Representatives from Plug-In NCW, WSDOT, city of Wenatchee and over 100 community members helped make the event a big success. Thank you to those who attended and all who plan to visit North Central Washington during this year's tourism season. 

Check out coverage of the event from local radio station KOHO 101.1 FM here.

And here's the official proclamation from Gov. Inslee:

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CS-100 is Operational at Newhalem

The 80A charger at Newhalem is operational. Plug-In NCW validated a CS-100 charger at Seattle City Light's Newhalem site June 9. This unit is a temporary public use charger loaned to SCL until their four Eaton units are powered up later this summer. There is no cost for using this charger. It is located on the outside of a large warehouse near the water tower. Exit Highway 20 at the store proceed to the "T" intersection and turn left. Weather is fine, come on over. 

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Newest Addition to my E-Stable

By Gary Taylor, PINCW Board Member

I want to introduce the newest members of my EV family - the EGO 56v Lithium Ion mower and blower. I’ve been thinking I need to replace my 20 year old gas mower for quite some time now and have been casually looking at options. 

I saw a review of this mower online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LABnyPzxB8E which peaked my interest so the research began. I can’t find one single review anywhere that doesn’t put this platform of lawn tools at the top. I’m thoroughly pleased with my decision to purchase these products and the only drawback I see so far is…….I have to wait another whole week to use them! Absolutely a five star rating.  

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Newhalem Update: 26 May 2015

It's been a long process, but according to our source at Seattle City Light's Newhalem site the Eaton chargers are now physically installed. The hold up is installation of a new transformer. The expected opening date is "... before the 4th of July."  Sounds like a great reason to visit Newhalem!

Plug-In North Central Washington  worked closely with Seattle City Light to finish this last segment of the Cascade Loop needing EVSE units installed. Because the North Cascades Highway is open and the EV tourism season is already happening we have offered to lend an 80A Clipper Creek unit for use between now and when the Eaton units are energized.  Check here soon for more information....

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Plug-In NCW Completes Spring Cleaning

One little known benefit Plug-In NCW provides our Host Association members is the April and October cleaning. 

We visit each car charger in our network to check its physical appearance, serviceability, any needed maintenance and monitor the battery replacement service. The charger is cleaned and the batteries used in the energy monitors are replaced. We also download the energy use data in order to share that usage information with the Host. 

Plug-In NCW has 13 haL2 (>70 A) EVSE active throughout North Central Washington. This month board member Randy Brooks and haL2 coordinator Jack Anderson made "the circuit" to perform this maintenance.  We are happy to report that all our stations are ready for your visit.

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Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance Nominates PINCW

Plug-In North Central Washington was excited to learn we are a nominee for the "2015 Tech Savvy Business Award." 

According to GWATA (Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance), "A Tech Savvy Business is an organization or entity that has successfully applied technology to one or more aspects of their operations to improve their efficiencies or differentiate their product or service for a competitive advantage. Nominees will be judged on their level of innovation, success of technology integration, contribution to the local economic base, and the impact of the improved product or service on internal and external constituent.

The top three candidates were announced February 20.  Awards will be presented March 17 at GWATA’s 2015 Innovator Awards Luncheon, held at the Wenatchee Convention Center from 12pm-1:30pm.  

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2014 - Record Year for EV Sales

According to "Inside EVs," nearly 120,000 electric vehicles were sold in the United States during 2014. With more EVs out-and-about, many additional people will have the opportunity to learn about the excitement of driving electric. Our New Year's prediction is that the trend towards electrification of automobiles will increase during 2015 even with $50 a barrel oil!

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