Goodlettsville is one of the first communities in Tennessee to install public access Electric Vehicle (EV) charging. The new library which opened in July 2011 was selected to receive two ChargePoint EV charging points. Each of the pedestals is capable of supplying either 110v or 220v to an electric vehicle. Level 1 charging can take 20 hours or more to charge an EV such as the Nissan LEAF from empty. The 220v Level 2 port however can do the same in 6-7 hours.This sounds like a long time, however most EV users frequently ‘top off’ their vehicles whenever presented with the opportunity, topping off typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. One reason to ‘top off’ like this is because many public charging stations such as the one at the Goodlettsville library are free to use, essentially giving the vehicle owner free motoring for a number of miles. Another reason is to ensure that enough range remains in the vehicle for unplanned trips throughout the day.
The chargers are more compact looking than the Blink chargers installed at hotels and businesses in Nashville TN and are manufactured by ChargePoint. Currently there are only 4 ChargePoint chargers in Middle Tennessee. ChargePoint have installed hundreds of chargers already in California and other western states.
I did try and use the charger to charge my Nissan LEAF, unfortunately I wasn’t successful. I have ordered an RFID card which is required to activate the charger for use. The use of RFID cards is to ensure safety to the general public because electricity only flows through the charging ports after activation. So if your kids play with charger, they will not come to any harm. It is also possible to activate a ChargePoint charging station if one installs a smart phone application, which identifies nearby chargers using GPS and allows you to activate either the 110v or 220 v charging ports. The phone application also allows you to ‘reserve’ a charger for a planned visit.
I tried to turn the charger on using the app on my smart phone, but because I do not have an RFID card associated with my account yet, it would not work. I could not find a phone number on the charger to call for manual activation. This illustrates one barrier to adoption of Electric Vehicles. Safety is important, but we should not be making if difficult or impossible for a genuine user to charge their vehicle. I was not desperate for a charge, I went out of curiosity to see this brand charger for the first time. I will return once I have an RFID card to activate the unit to make sure I can make use of it if I am in need of a charge at another time in the future.
The library has three Electric vehicle parking spaces dedicated for the purpose, they are opposite the front entrance and share the two chargers. Five additional spaces are reserved for Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, or other ‘low emission’ vehicles (not sure what the low emission category includes).
Why more spaces than chargers? Once a car is fully charged, another EV user can disconnect your vehicle and connect theirs. Many EV users employ the use of ‘protocol cards’ which they put on the dashboard of their vehicle. The card indicates the time after which it is OK to disconnect the vehicle should someone else need it. The card also includes a cell phone number to reach the vehicles owner. Use of protocol cards should ensure EV owners share the chargers responsibly.