2014-11-13 / Community

Need a charge?

City installing new and improved public stations for electric vehicles
By Becca Whitnall


FILL ’ER UP— The City of Thousand Oaks is replacing its existing electric vehicle charging stations with new units that will recharge electric cars in less time than the older units. 
Courtesy of the City of Thousand Oaks FILL ’ER UP— The City of Thousand Oaks is replacing its existing electric vehicle charging stations with new units that will recharge electric cars in less time than the older units. Courtesy of the City of Thousand Oaks Electric vehicle owners will get a charge out of the city’s latest efforts to cut greenhouse emissions. Thousand Oaks will replace nine public charging stations throughout the city with speedier Level 2 chargers.

The city is also installing one Level 3 charger, which can fully recharge a car in well under an hour.

But there’s one catch: The charge will no longer be free.

The new chargers will have their own meters and, unlike the ones the city has used up to this point, the new ones will charge users for the electricity at a rate of 59 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“(The free electricity) was provided as part of an incentive, but as more electric vehicle owners come online and more charging stations are being put in, it’s become more of a standard” for users to pay for the service, said Grahame Watts, senior projects manager for the city.

Like the existing charge stations, the nine new plug-in units will be paid for with state energy grants.

They will be installed at the Civic Arts Plaza, transportation center, Hillcrest Center, municipal service center and the Janss Road park-and-ride. The Level 3 charger will be at the transportation center.

According to Watts, demand is increasing for chargers as more and more people opt for electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S.

The new stations will be maintained by Blink Network, which will pay for the cost of the electricity used by the sites and collect money from users, who can pay right at the charger. Blink also offers a membership that gives users a slightly discounted rate of 40 cents per kwh. Blink will return a portion of the revenues to the city.

Watts said it’s not unusual for municipalities’ stations to be managed by a third party like Blink.

He said he expects most users will probably continue to fully charge their electric vehicles at home and only use a small amount of electricity at the charging stations to top off a charge.

In the past, different makes of electric vehicles used a variety of plugs, so providing charging stations to drivers had been a problem, Watts said.

“It’s like some were VHS and some were Beta in the past,” he said.

But now, with the exception of Tesla, most use a standard plug, and adapters are available for Teslas, Watts said.

In all, there are nearly 20 locations in the greater Conejo Valley area where chargers are available to the public, according to PlugShare.com, an app that shows where public stations are and which are currently in use.

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