The 'green' Penn Pike to have electric vehicle charging at 17 service plazas
By Peter Samuel
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is getting in with the greens - installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers at 17 service plazas. The chargers will be owned and operated by Car Charging Inc of Miami Beach FL but the Turnpike will spend $500k on electrical service upgrades to provide the extra amperage to support the charging units. Car Charging Inc uses EV chargers exclusively from Coulomb Technologies of Campbell CA, part of Silicon Valley so called, in the Bay Area.
And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced a $1 million grant Car Charging Inc to "help develop electric vehicle infrastructure" on the Turnpike.
Turnpike Commission Chairman William K. Lieberman is quoted: "The Pennsylvania Turnpike has a long history of innovation in highway transportation. We are pleased to participate in the effort to expand the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Pennsylvania by offering electric car owners easy access to charging stations at convenient locations."
The first phase of the work will be incorporated into ongoing service-plaza renovations between Harrisburg and New Jersey. Later phases will involve service plazas between Harrisburg and Ohio, and then along the Northeastern Extension.
The project is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2013.
The initial chargers are called Level II units - a step up from overnight home charges - that are 7.2kW and charge 30A (amps) at 240 volts. They'll take about four hours to completely recharge a typical EV battery pack.
They may add a Level III or "fast charge" system at 50kW that takes 125A at 400V DC.
These are designed to recharge a EV battery like that of the Nissan Leaf from 20% to 80# charge in 20 to 30 minutes.
Soft drink or burger buy and bathroom visit time
Of course this would still be slow compared with 2 to 3 minutes refilling a gasoline or diesel fuel tank, but convenient to do while going for a soft drink or burger and a bathroom visit. It is difficult to imagine many motorists being prepared to spend three to four hours at a Turnpike service plaza while their recharging is done with Level II chargers.
No information yet on what the company will charge for its electric juice.
Electric vehicles (EVs) in use throughout the US number less than 20,000 compared to about 2 million hybrids (that use their onboard gasoline engine to recharge.) Hybrids constitute about 2% of vehicles sales and are headed toward one percent of the US vehicle fleet.
The greens urge a build-it-&-they'll-come approach to EVC charging stations.
It remains to be seen if they "come."