There are more than 1,200 electric or hybrid cars on the road in Santa Clara. The opening of a new 49-port charging station – centrally located near Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara Convention Center and Great America – will give those drivers another spot to juice up while they are out and about. And it’s in a perfect place: the City-owned parking garage at 2525 Tasman.
“What makes this charging facility so attractive – it is at a destination site,” said Larry Owens, manager of customer services at Silicon Valley Power, which applied for the grant. “Someone visiting this site is likely to spend several hours there.”
SVP and other businesses and nonprofits – including the non-profit Joint Venture Silicon Valley, electric vehicle infrastructure company ChargePoint, and electrical systems company MJR Electric – worked together to secure a $393,000 grant from the California Energy Commission.
Wednesday morning they were on hand with City officials to unveil the charging station. Car manufacturers including Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Nissan, Ford and Porsche were also on hand displaying their latest additions to the electric car market.
The charging center hosts 48 level-two chargers, which can charge a vehicle in two or four hours, and one direct-current fast charger, which can charge a vehicle in roughly half that time. The dual-port electric vehicle spaces are split between two levels of the garage – 11 on the top and 13 on the bottom. Atop the garage is a solar array feeding into a battery system that stores energy to help offset the impact on the power grid from the uptake in electric use.
Mayor Lisa Gilmore said Santa Clara strives to be a “leader in environmental stewardship,” and that “encouraging electric energy is one step toward our goal.”
“This is another step toward a sustainable and environmentally friendly future,” she said. “Santa Clara is doing our part … what is good for the environment is usually good for the environment locally.”
Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said the station’s opening is in line with its 2009 Climate Prosperity initiative, which seeks to convene the “region’s most innovative minds and creative leadership organizations to create a model for a new path to global sustainability.”
Use of the chargers costs 25 cents per kilowatt hour. With the six electric vehicle-charging ports at the Santa Clara Convention Center and the 10 at Levi’s Stadium, the charging station significantly adds to the electric charging availability in the area. Drivers are also able to reserve the ports ahead of time.
Owens said a charging station of this size is necessary because of the how many people in the region have electric cars. Although the amount of spaces in the garage is limited and several spots are now dedicated to electric cars only, Owens rejected the notion that the city is giving preferential treatment to electric car drivers, saying the spaces are not “preferential spots.” He said he’s concerned that 49 spaces might be insufficient.
Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation and energy storage at the Electric Power Research Institute, said although it is not his organization’s primary duty to install electric technology, getting such stations installed go a long way toward reduce the cost of green energy. He estimates the station will provide 200 full vehicle charges per day.
“At some point you can’t just sit and ask ‘which came first the chicken or the egg,’ you have to go out and get infrastructure,” he said.
More than 116,000 electric vehicles were sold in California in 2015, accounting for 40 percent of the electric vehicles sold in the country, according to industry analysts.