At the 2012 Earth Day celebration, Valencia made a significant contribution to cleaning the air: The college began installing five electric vehicle charging stations on its West Campus.
These chargers are being provided by Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) as part of a ChargePoint America grant. The publicly-owned utility is providing the chargers in an effort to study the impact electric vehicles (EVs) will have on its electric distribution system.
At Valencia’s West Campus, each of the charging stations is capable of recharging two electric vehicles at a time. Two of these dual-mode stations have been installed near Valencia’s Allied Health Sciences Building, and the other three will be installed near the Valencia/UCF Joint Use Building (Building 11) by mid-May.
EVs and PHEVs (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles) can be charged using a standard 120-volt outlet and an extension cord, which is called Level I charging. However, the chargers located on Valencia’s campus carry 240 volts, the power needed to operate a household dryer. This allows a faster charge and is called Level II charging.
To use the charging stations, the driver pays for a few hours of charge at OUC’s current residential rate of 14 cents per kilowatt hour, or about 50 cents per hour, depending on the type of vehicle. Drivers can pay using either a ChargePoint Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card or a contactless credit card, such as VISA’s PayWave or MasterCard’s PayPass cards (which operate using the same “wave your credit card at the pump” technology used by Mobil’s Speedpass.) Drivers can also pay by calling the toll-free number on the charging station.
Funding for the charging stations is part of a larger grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Coulomb Technologies. Coulomb received a $15 million grant from the DOE to jump-start the electric transportation movement and unveiled its first public charging station Feb. 2, 2010, in front of Orlando City Hall. Through the ChargePoint America grant, public charging stations are being installed at shopping malls, libraries, parks, hotels, community centers, public buildings hotels, theme parks and parking garages.
OUC has partnered with Coulomb and instituted its own sub-grant to subsidize the installation costs for Level II dual voltage (120/240V) public chargers within its service territory, including the new charging stations at Valencia College.
There are about 300 public charging stations located within a 70-mile radius of downtown Orlando, and about 12 new stations coming on line each week.
An electric charging station locator map is available on the Get Ready Central Florida website at www.plugandgonow.com. Drivers can also find all ChargePoint charging stations on their smart phones, using a mobile phone application available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Using the app, drivers can make a reservation at the ChargePoint station directly from their smart phones.
Valencia’s West Campus is located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando.