First EV charging station for city parks under construction
11/03/2010 10:00 PM
Electric vehicle owners visiting Northerly Island will soon have a place to recharge their batteries while taking in a concert, walking grounds or visiting the nearby museums.
The Solar Charge-Port, built by CarbonDay Automotive, is a green, zero-emission addition to the Chicago Park District grounds. The solar-powered charging station is a partnership between the park district and CarbonDay, and is the first project of its kind for the city.
Based on a “smart grid” infrastructure, the station turns sunlight into electricity, which is stored in a nearby battery bank until the next electric vehicle owner plugs in for a charge. The design completely removes fossil fuel and nuclear power-produced electricity from the user.
“It’s completely carbon free,” said Kyle Powers, project manager for the Chicago Park District.
The charging station will open within weeks, Powers said.
CarbonDay is the leading builder of electric vehicle infrastructure in the Midwest. They have built stations throughout the city including 22 for a major parking company downtown. A “smart plug” at each connection sends a text message to the EV owner when the charge is done or interrupted. In addition, an iPhone app will tell a driver where the nearest charging station is and if it’s occupied.
Company Vice President Brian Levin said the next five years will see a major push by government and industry to meet a federal goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the nation’s roads. That means corporate fleets, private fleets, government fleets and individual owners will have to make the switch to electric cars and trucks, he said.
Levin estimated that between 300 and 400 electric vehicles are on the road in Chicago.
“There are 60 or 70 Teslas alone,” he said.
The park district, which spent $70,000 on the project, has two electric vehicles and 13 Segways in their vehicle fleet. Powers expects that fleet to grow. The park district started an Office of Green Initiatives in 2009, which is responsible for greening city parks. At the moment 25 percent of all electricity in the park district comes from wind, solar and biomass production. The Northerly Island project fits nicely in the parks carbon footprint and is in keeping with the city’s Climate Action Plan.
Any electric vehicle owner will be able to use the Northerly Island charging station by accessing it through a membership network that charges for kilowatts used to fill an electric vehicle’s batteries.
The smartly designed station is set up for Phase 1 and 2 charging systems, 110 and 220 volt, and will charge an electric vehicle in four to 12 hours, depending on the phase used. Phase 3, which will charge a car in about one hour, was built into the system so that it will be ready for those cars when they come online, Powers said.
Northerly Island is a great location to introduce the solar station to the city and increase the overall understanding of the possibilities of carbon-free transportation in.
“It’s a great spot to get people interested,” Powers said.