Oakland airport installs free chargers for electric cars
on May 19, 2011
Electric car drivers parking at the Oakland International Airport’s premier lot can now charge their vehicles for free.
On Wednesday morning, Oakland City Council President Larry Reid and Mayor Jean Quan’s senior policy advisor Drew Lisac joined with airport officials to celebrate the operation of eight newly installed charging stations, which can charge a total of fifteen cars simultaneously. The stations are located in the premier lot, directly opposite the terminals. Customers can either get a short charge while parking there temporarily or leave the cars plugged in until they come back from the trip.
Marco Garbarino, a businessman living in Marin, was invited to the celebration to give a “testimonial” as an electric car driver. Garbarino said he travels through the airport twice a month; he drives an electric Tesla which he previously had to leave sitting uncharged in the parking lot while he was gone. When he returned from a trip, he usually had only enough battery power left to carry him home.
Garbarino said he was not certain about the future of electric cars when he decided to buy one two and a half years ago. “Was it just a great donation to an idea that I believe in?” Garbarino mused. But now Garbarino said the chargers give him more commuting options and reduce his range anxiety. “When I come back from a business trip I can go on into the city or down to San Jose and do things without having to go directly home,” he said.
Oakland International is the first airport in Northern California and the second in the nation to install such chargers, said Deborah Ale Flint, aviation director of the airport. Flint said the airport “is truly committed to improving our environment” and added that the airport’s Terminal Two is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified terminal in the U.S. The new control tower under construction is also being built in accordance with strict green standards, she said.
“It’s the most progressive airport in the nation,” said Richard Lowenthal, the chief technology officer of Coulomb Technologies, a company based in Campbell, California that manufactures the electric chargers.
Each of the devices can provide both Level One and Level Two charging (the levels of charging power as classified by the Society of Automotive Engineers) and send the car’s charging status to customers by text messages or emails.
“This is for the new generation of electric vehicles like the LEAF and the Volt,” said John Addison, a journalist specializing in electric automobiles on Wednesday. Addison said that in one hour, using Level Two charging, a car can get the energy it needs to run roughly ten miles.
Lowenthal said a single charger costs about $3,500, but instead of adding any costs to the airport’s budget, these eight chargers were paid for through stimulus funding from the federal government. “They’re progressive and smart,” said Lowenthal.
Lisac, the mayor’s policy advisor for economic development, said the charging service will not only be an encouragement for people to invest in electric vehicles but also “ the beginning of a wonderful new initiative in a whole new industry that’s being created right here in the East Bay.”
“We’d love to see more electric vehicles manufactured right here in Oakland,” Lisac added.
“They’re just the first,” said Lowenthal of the airport’s new chargers. His company plans to help install more electric chargers in Oakland’s garages and shopping malls. “I’m sure we’re going to do more at the Oakland airport, too,” he said.
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