Mesa installs electric car chargers

August 16, 2012

DENNIS LAMBERT: We’ve been reporting all week on the impact of climate change in the Southwest. One way the City of Mesa is responding is by installing electric vehicle charging stations at the Art Center, the Main Public Library and the Convention Center. I met Director of Energy Resources Frank McCray at the Library to find out how the charging stations help the city respond to climate change.

FRANK MCCRAY: The way it's responding to climate change is through energy efficiency. Making our customers more efficient in their consumption of energy and diversifying the types of fuels they use. The electric vehicles that are available are the equivalent of a 200 mile per gallon vehicle in terms of equivalent to a gasoline powered vehicle, so there's definitely some energy efficiency there. With using energy more efficiently you'll reduce your carbon footprint, that if that is indeed the cause of global climate change, and global climate change is occurring, than that would have a significant impact on a per-person basis. An individual can make a significant impact on what their energy use is.

LAMBERT: What is your goal, what do you hope to accomplish?

MCCRAY: Well the goal initially is to gain some information about the customer acceptance of electric vehicles. There's an issue called range anxiety. Electric vehicles have shorter ranges than conventional vehicles, so is there a way of installing charging stations in locations that will allow them to do the equivalent of a fill-up or top off their tanks so they will overcome the range anxiety and accept the technology and the vehicles more widespread.

LAMBERT: We're standing in front of one of the charging stations right now, show me how this works.

MCCRAY: It's much like going up to a typical gas station device where you can use the wand or some kind of electronic device to begin the charging so it's all push-button related. The vehicles have a fairly standardized receptacle for the charging, it's the same one that you can get for your home. These are Level 2 charging stations, there are three levels of charging stations. One takes 10-plus hours for a full charge, these will take somewhere between 4, probably 6 or 7 hours of charging, and the Level 1s will take about 10 to 20 minutes of charging, maybe 30 minutes depending on certain conditions, to fully charge an electric vehicle.

LAMBERT: Mesa is also using incentives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar generating systems.

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