Chevy Bolt EV Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the way fast charging a non-Tesla EV should be. Pull up, plug in, tap a few numbers on an easily readable screen and start charging. Easy peasy. No RFID card, no credit card, no app. Plug in and go.


That’s what we found on one of our recent Covid-19 escapes when we needed to charge at a new Caltrans DCFC station in Kettelman City on our way back to Bakersfield. We pulled up, plugged in, and then simply keyed in our phone number on one of the two charging kiosks at Caltrans’ maintenance yard.


That this is noteworthy says something about the state of intercity travel with a non-Tesla EV in the great green state of California. We’ve been driving electric for more than seven years and this is one of the simplest systems for charging we’ve encountered.





As with most things EV related, Tesla has done it right from the get go with their Supercharger network. Tesla cars communicate with the great Tesla in the sky. Drivers don’t need to fumble for their phones or other paraphernalia. They plug in and go for a cup of coffee.


Caltrans’ Kettleman City station is one of nine the state’s department of transportation opened at the end of January 2021 in the Central Valley. Most stations include two charging kiosks (dispensers), though Caltrans installed four kiosks at the busy rest area on I-5 in the Tejon Pass. (Unfortunately, they are only on the southbound side of the freeway. Northbound travelers must exit and loop over the freeway to access the kiosks.)


The stations at highway rest areas offer some amenities, including toilets and vending machines. Other locations do not. The station at the park-and-ride lot east of Bakersfield on Highway 58 has no shelter, toilets, or anything else but a trash-strewn parking area.


Similarly, Caltrans Kettleman City station offers no amenities, but it does have lighting for use at night. For that alone non-Tesla drivers can be thankful.


Again, the contrast with Tesla is striking. Some of Tesla’s bigger superchargers in California, such as the one in Kettleman City offer covered parking, toilets, and a barista in the customer lounge—or they did before Covid-19 hit.


Caltrans $4.5 million Central Valley project was funded by the state and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. It was part of Caltrans 30-30 program begun under the Jerry Brown administration to install DCFC stations at all of California’s highway rest areas and district offices.





For example, Caltrans District 5 has completed several novel fast-charging stations. They’ve installed a single solar-powered kiosk at each Camp Roberts rest areas on Highway 101. The Monterey Bay Air Resources Board chipped in $1.2 million to the project, which includes long-term system maintenance by ChargePoint.


District 5’s ChargePoint kiosks are limited to charging at a maximum of 30 kW when there’s sufficient charge in the solar-powered station’s battery. While not ideal, it’s adequate—unless the battery is drained. Then you’re simply out of luck.


In contrast, the Central Valley stations use 125-amp BTCPower kiosks that are capable of charging non-Tesla EVs at about 43 kW rain or shine.


Though each kiosk or dispenser in the Caltrans program has two cables, only one vehicle can charge at a time using either the CHAdeMO standard for Japanese cars, or the CCS standard for German and American cars.





Tesla vehicles can use the chargers with a special adapter.


Because of restrictions on how federal highway funds can be used, Caltrans can’t bill for the cost of charging. That is, charging is free with no time limits. This could pose a problem in the future. Some drivers have been known to abuse free charging when it’s been available, though it seems unlikely someone would want to hang around a Caltrans rest area just to get a cheap charge.


The outlook for Caltrans’ District 9 DCFC stations is finally looking up. Originally intended to be complete by mid 2019, the long-awaited stations on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada on the Highway 395 corridor are still not operational. However, Caltrans now expects the charging kiosks to be installed in the coming weeks, powered up, and in service by early March 2021.


Let’s hope that Caltrans’ District 6 maintains their DCFC stations as a priority. If they do, the stations’ simplicity and accessibility will add greatly to driving a non-Tesla EV in the San Joaquin Valley.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,052 Posts
Thanks, Paul. You hit on a lot of good points there, and in my opinion, these chargers should really be reserved for emergency/opportunity charging. Unfortunately, though, I'm sure they're probably going to be abused. Both by EV owners and by EV haters (i.e., vandalism). So I'm reserving judgment for how these chargers hold up long term.

Unfortunately, I can't give much of an update on the CalTrans 30-30 chargers in Northern California because the four sites closest to me are all located at rest areas that will be closed until October of this year. Complete the charger installation and then close the rest area for 8 months. Business as usual in California.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
292 Posts
I wonder if it would have been more optimal for the California and CalTrans budgets to build these with adjacent solar panels and electricity storage. Potentially a closes system that does not need to consume electricity from the grid. Sure, higher initial cost, but all amenities that CalTrans provides along roadsides are free, whether drivers use them or not, and CalTrans spends money to maintain all of them. As an added bonus, the solar panels could cover the parking spaces, which would be especially helpful during summer months.
 

·
Registered
2017 Bolt EV LT purchased used, previous vehicle was a 2015 Chevy eSpark
Joined
·
216 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Are these chargers part of the Caltrans network and do we have any timeframe for when they will be done? My buddy and I want to try to get a Spark out to California just for kicks but these two units are critical.

Those stations are in a different maintenance district. You'd have to contact them directly. As implied in the post above, the Caltrans stations should not be relied upon as the sole charging location. If there's a back up nearby ok, but if not don't count on them.

Paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Paul. You hit on a lot of good points there, and in my opinion, these chargers should really be reserved for emergency/opportunity charging. Unfortunately, though, I'm sure they're probably going to be abused. Both by EV owners and by EV haters (i.e., vandalism). So I'm reserving judgment for how these chargers hold up long term.

Unfortunately, I can't give much of an update on the CalTrans 30-30 chargers in Northern California because the four sites closest to me are all located at rest areas that will be closed until October of this year. Complete the charger installation and then close the rest area for 8 months. Business as usual in California.
I think it's district 5 that has installed the solar-powered ChargePoint single kiosk stations. At Camp Roberts rest areas they have a bank of solar panels and batteries to power one kiosk. It's not enough but it's better than nothing. You can see checkins where there's no power towards the end of the day--and obviously they don't recover overnight. ;)

But yes, a big solar array would be warranted. We're lucky Caltrans did this as Jerry Brown is no longer in office.

Paul
 

·
Registered
2017 Bolt EV LT purchased used, previous vehicle was a 2015 Chevy eSpark
Joined
·
216 Posts
I think it's district 5 that has installed the solar-powered ChargePoint single kiosk stations. At Camp Roberts rest areas they have a bank of solar panels and batteries to power one kiosk. It's not enough but it's better than nothing. You can see checkins where there's no power towards the end of the day--and obviously they don't recover overnight. ;)

But yes, a big solar array would be warranted. We're lucky Caltrans did this as Jerry Brown is no longer in office.

Paul
That's so cool you have solar+battery DCFC. I was talking with an old friend who used to work at UDOT. They were talking about installing offgrid supers in Goblin Valley State Park but couldn't figure out the logistics.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's so cool you have solar+battery DCFC. I was talking with an old friend who used to work at UDOT. They were talking about installing offgrid supers in Goblin Valley State Park but couldn't figure out the logistics.
from
Bakersfield to Santa Cruz via the San Andreas Fault

Eric Way and others have reported on this station. It uses one CP Express 62.5 kW kiosk. What's unusual is that the station is part of CalTran's 30-30 program and it's solar powered. It uses four cantilevered arrays with built-in battery storage. Because of this, the station is throttled to deliver only 30 kW and if you get there late in the day the batteries may be exhausted and you'll have to drive on to Paso Robles to charge.





The station's array is marketed as EV ARC for Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger by Envision Solar. Since this installation, Electrify America has announced that they plan to use EV ARCs in rural areas of California.

Paul
 

·
Registered
'19 Bolt Premier; '13 Leaf SV w/premium
Joined
·
1,096 Posts
The station's array is marketed as EV ARC for Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger by Envision Solar. Since this installation, Electrify America has announced that they plan to use EV ARCs in rural areas of California.
Solar EV Charging-Fastest to Deploy and Lowest Total Cost of Owership | Beam is the current product page for EV ARC.

Electrify America Increases Access to Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Charging for Rural Californians - Electrify America NEWSROOM says they installed 30 such stations in Central Cailfornia.

I first learned of this when I came across PlugShare - Find Electric Vehicle Charging Locations Near You. Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Charging Stations | Silicon Valley Power has more info w/a typo. The array power is 4.3 kW, not 43 kW!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
EA has put some of theirs here in Kern and neighboring Tulare County I believe. Not a lot of use I see but it makes the county governments look like something is happening and EA gets CARB off its back. ;)

Paul
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top