Fill ’Er Up: Paving the Way for Electric Vehicles

Richard Rose’s daily commute to his office at The College of New Jersey in Ewing is 56 miles, round-trip. Most days, his hybrid Chevy Volt doesn’t use a drop of gasoline. It’s only on cold winter days, when Rose gives in to the thermometer and turns on the heat, that he needs to dip into his car’s gas-powered reserves.

People who drive all-electric vehicles – EVs, for short – don’t have the option of switching to gas if their battery runs dry. And while New Jersey boasts more than 3,000 gas stations for traditional cars and trucks, there is no such network for EVs. Not yet, at least.

Help is on the way. Carmakers are promising electric vehicles with greater range – more miles on a single charge. But eventually, every car needs a fill-up. Even EVs. As EVs grow more popular, the nationwide network of charging stations is on the brink of a major expansion.

The Obama administration has pledged $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to encourage new types of EV charging infrastructure, develop nationwide “charging corridors” and improve charging technology. Earlier this summer, New Jersey launched a $725,000 state grant program to encourage employers to install charging station for employees who drive EVs.

PSE&G is helping to jump-start the state’s EV network with a pilot program that places charging stations at workplaces and other customer locations across the company’s service territory.

In July, PSE&G introduced its latest installation, on TCNJ’s Mercer County campus. The charging station, located in the Metzger Parking Garage, was put to immediate use by faculty and staff – like Richard Rose – who own and drive electric vehicles to campus.

Rose, an early adopter of EV technology, said workplace charging stations go a long way toward relieving “range anxiety” – the worry that a trip will outlast your battery’s last charge. For him, it will mean an opportunity to head home fully charged, and no need to worry about turning on the heat in the wintertime. For those who might be on the fence about trading in their traditional-fuel car for an EV, it’s one less reason for doubt.

“No more range anxiety,” said Rose, who works in TCNJ’s Information Technology department.

Under PSE&G’s pilot program, the utility provides the charging equipment, and partners such as TCNJ pay for installation and electricity. In exchange, partners are able to help the environment, help encourage use of electric vehicles, bolster their reputation as an environmentally conscious organization, and attract and retain employees who drive EVs.

tcnj-ev-charging-photo-2Workplace charging stations will be critical in encouraging more people to try EVs: When a workplace installs a charging station, employees are 20 times more likely to buy a plug-in car, according to a U.S. Department of Energy survey.

“We believe this is a win for everybody involved,” said Courtney McCormick, PSE&G’s vice president, renewables and energy solutions.

As we mark the sixth annual Drive Electric Week (Sept. 10-18), PSE&G’s pilot program has installed 60 EV charging stations at 11 customer locations around New Jersey, including the TCNJ campus – halfway to the company’s goal of 120 charging stations in the program.

“It is critical that we support electric vehicles now, with infrastructure investment that will encourage the adoption of this technology in the future,” she said.
ev-projectBy providing a convenient charging option for EV drivers, PSE&G’s pilot program also allows the company to collect data about how the chargers are used. That data will help the company understand the how people and organizations will use charging stations like these as EV technology is more widely accepted, McCormick said.

Interested in EV charging stations for your workplace? Eligible businesses and organizations must be located in the PSE&G electric service territory; demonstrate an immediate demand for at least five EV charging stations; and agree to pay for installation and cost of electricity used. To get started, contact Mike Savage, Program Manager of PSE&G’s EV Workplace Charging Program, at evworkplacecharging@pseg.com.

National Drive Electric Week
Sept. 10-18, 2016
National Drive Electric Week, now in its sixth year, is designed to accelerate the national adoption of plug-in electric vehicles through events including test drives, parades, news conferences and announcements of new EV policies and programs.
For a list of events, visit driveelectricweek.org/events.php

RESIZED1Jim Namiotka- Lead Corporate Writer, PSEG

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