Electrify America to install car-charging stations

A national company will be installing electric car-charging stations in parking lots, according to Patricia Whitney, assistant vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning.

In an email interview, Whitney said, “We were contacted by the state in January by the Department of Energy Resources, who said there is funding available for certain campuses to be able to get car chargers.”

The charging stations will be placed in both Salem End and Maple Street parking lots “over the next couple of weeks,” added Whitney.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, the “Volkswagen Group of America has created Electrify America, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary,” after losing a lawsuit filed against them by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

A 2015 press release from CARB said Volkswagen was accused of manufacturing “vehicles containing undisclosed software, which deliberately shut down emission control equipment.” This meant that car emissions appeared lower during testing than the actual output during driving.

Whitney said, “They had to pay millions of dollars in a settlement and one of the uses for the settlement is car chargers throughout the country – Massachusetts got a piece of it.”

Electrify America has been forced to invest “$2 billion in Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure, access, and education programs in the United States,” as well as work on installing charging stations across the U.S., according to its website.

Also according to the website, the company must invest in “ZEV infrastructure and awareness to support increased adoption and use of ZEV technology, and to show more Americans that going electric is not only possible, but beneficial today.”

Eric Friedman, director of the Leading By Example program of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, said in an email that FSU was on a list of state sites that “meet certain criteria that could be host to at least four dual -plug level 2 electric charging stations under a workplace charging effort.”

The company would cover the “full cost of equipment, installation, and 10 years of maintenance, while the site [FSU] would cover the cost of electricity,” said Friedman.

Electrify America partnered with Greenlots, a company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Greenlots supplies “electric vehicle charging software and solutions” for 13 countries.

Together, Greenlots and Electrify America will provide “deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure for up to 900 stations in metropolitan areas, including Boston,” according to a Greenlots press release. 

An FSU parking permit will be required, restricting charger use to FSU faculty, staff, and students. The chargers will not be available for those not affiliated with the school.

Cellular-based charging stations will be placed in the Maple and Salem locations because of the placement of local electrical boxes.

“We were looking closer to campus at Maynard’s parking lot, but it had bad cell reception,” said Whitney.

Only two chargers will be in each lot to conserve space. Users will have to pay to charge their cars.

“The money will go toward the school to pay for the charging electricity bill. We are not going to be making a profit,” said Whitney.

More information, including the cost to charge, will be available later, said Whitney.

She added while she is unsure of the number of FSU community members who drive electric cars, she “did get several faculty and staff that are interested.”

The “incentive to buy electric cars” may come from charging stations being available near work and school, added Whitney.

Students had mixed opinions about the installation.

Junior Kaileigh Franklin said, “No one has an electric car – unless you’re loaded. They aren’t affordable at this age.” 

Senior Christinia Lambropoulos said, “It is a great idea because there’s no cost to it and that might get people to want to buy electric cars, because they’ll know we have the stations on campus.”

Senior Tim McDonnell said, “I don’t see how getting electric chargers would be an inconvenience. If anything, it will help students who need them.”

Junior Kaitlyn Cullen said, “I think it’s a good idea in theory, but in actuality, it will be a waste of time and space. I don’t think it will be as useful as they think it will be.”

This project is expected to be completed by the end of the fall semester.

Whitney said, “We like to see ourselves as a green and sustainable campus, so it’s something we’d like to do.”

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