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Electric Vehicles Take Charge in Laguna Beach

The Laguna Beach City Council formally activates the city's first electric vehicle charging stations.

The air was charged with excitement on Tuesday in the northeast parking lot at Forest and Broadway in Laguna Beach. Two dozen people watched as Noah Rosen, 13, approached a ceremonial ribbon, which was tied between two new electric vehicle charging stations. 

Mayor Toni Iseman said, "Here's to a healthy environment and progress."

After they watched Rosen cut the ribbon, members of the crowd cheered and whooped with joy. On hand at the opening ceremony were electric vehicle drivers and industry specialists, government leaders, residents and interested citizens.

"This is a really great day, and I’m so happy to see so many people here," said Iseman. "How many of you rode here in an electric vehicle?"

Applause and shouts were heard from the audience after Iseman asked the question.

"Congratulations on being cutting edge," she continued. "We’re delighted to have charging stations here. For those of you who don’t live in Laguna, you have a really good reason to come here."

The two ChargePoint charging stations cost $36,000. $15,000 was received by the City of Laguna Beach from a U. S. Department of Energy grant and the remainder was paid for by the City.

To create the two charging stations, several companies worked closely with the City of Laguna Beach. These companies included Charge Harbor, Coulomb Technologies and the Linc Group (ABM Company). Linc EnergyHub Vice President Ken Sapp, Charge Harbor President Ryan Grady and Coulomb Technologies Western Region Director Michael Jones were all in attendance at the station inauguration.

Several electric vehicle owners were on hand to celebrate the opening of the two stations. They drove their Nissan LEAFS, Tesla ROADSTERS, NEV's (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles), a BMW MINI E, and Chevrolet VOLTS to the commission ceremony.

Toni Iseman commended people for making the stations possible. 

"There are a number of faces in this crowd," said Iseman, "that have pushed us forward and made sure we do the right thing ... Tom Osborne, Chris Perlitz and Les Miklosy. This wouldn’t have happened without the City Council. There are two council members here ... Verna Rollinger and Jane Egly."

There are various levels of credit cards that can be used at the charging stations. At this time, the charging is free. Laguna Beach is offering free parking and free charging for four hours for electric vehicles.

"I want to thank the City of Laguna Beach and all of you," said Michael Jones. "This is so exciting for me to see so many people in so many cars. This is a day long awaited. As far as our charging stations go, our ChargePoint family is basically a part of the Department of Energy grant project that we received last year. It’s a $37 million project to put in 5,000 stations across the United States."

Jones said, "We’re partnered with Ford, GM and Smart on working with this. This project couldn’t have been done without the work of Charge Harbor, who did a lot of the administrative work with the City and getting the grant stations processed."

"The Linc Group," said Jones, "has done just a fantastic job getting the installation of these stations moving. I want to thank you all. We’re changing the world and building a sustainable industry here. And that’s what this is all about. It’s about local energy production and local jobs."

Jones told the audience members that there are still stations available through the grant program. He encouraged them to host a station by visiting chargepointamerica.com.

Jones said, "Sign up and help us out in building a fueling infrastructure that’s going to reduce our dependencies on foreign oil and create jobs that we need here locally."

"Coloumb was founded," said Jones, "because we saw electricity as a fuel and it needed a control application level to make it all happen so you could, as a driver, find a station, know whether or not it’s in use, and potentially be able to reserve it either through your car or your phone. This is a great way to go when you realize you’re spending $4,000 a year on fuel, and you could spend $400 instead."

Ryan Grady said, "Today is just wonderful for both the plug-in community and the City of Laguna Beach, because what plug-in drivers always tell me is that we need to open up south Orange County. Particularly, they want to be able to go to Laguna Beach."

"That’s what these two charging stations do," Grady continued. "All of the electric vehicles that are here in Orange County will for the first time be able to drive here and enjoy the City of Laguna Beach. That means for all of us in Orange County, we can visit the best beaches around, the best restaurants around, and the best shopping around."

Grady said, "The way that plug-in drivers I know really catalyze this process is to use these stations as often as possible."

"Our goal is to help make these programs successful," said Ken Sapp. "It goes from having the willingness to install them here and then helping with the outreach to the community. It’s becoming very real. It’s very cool, and as an Orange County resident and a business leader here, I’m really proud of you for taking this step. Thank you for letting us be a part of it."

"Hopefully this is the beginning of a big thing," said Will Holoman. "This is drawing people in to use local businesses and to come to the festivals, the Pageant of the Masters, to visit the beach. These stations are designed to bring the people in as well as serve the local people here because a lot of these electric vehicle owners are here in town."

Nissan LEAF owner Lisa Rosen said, "I wanted to drive electric and this is the next generation. I’ve been a part of the electric car group since the mid-'90s. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but things are looking up now."

Noah Rosen's mother, Bree Burgess Rosen, owns a Nissan LEAF.

"The LEAF is fast," said Rosen. "I’m in the honeymoon stage. I feel smug every time I  go past a gas station. I feel good about driving it, but honestly, the best thing about it is how affordable it is."

Rosen said, "We figured it’s costing about a penny a mile to drive, and I was driving an SUV that cost 38 cents a mile. Also, the LEAF passed the Costco test, meaning I can go shopping at Costco and buy everything and it fits in the car."

Noah Rosen, 13, said, "I didn’t think this day would come this soon. We had the first Nissan LEAF in Orange County. Then it really started picking up, because now I think there are 9 LEAFS in Laguna Beach alone."

"I knew the City would put in [a charging station]," said Noah Rosen, "just because it’s really efficient in Laguna with all the Priuses. But I suspected it would be probably a year, not this soon."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vidagrant June 23, 2011 at 11:36 AM
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steveg June 23, 2011 at 02:49 PM
A great first step, and a tribute to Laguna Beach's forward thinking - NOW, we need to install solar panels out there to get the charging stations off of the electric grid, as coal fired electricity takes more energy to create and is dirtier than oil/gasoline. The longer term ideal will be solar powered recharging at each person's home for biodiesel (from algae and switch grasses) / electric hybrids
Rich Kane June 23, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Good points, steveg -- thanks!
Bob Rohwer June 23, 2011 at 09:13 PM
Congrats to city for growing green. So, is it free to consumer to use the city's charging stations? Or is the cost the same as he would pay if he was plugging in his car at home? How long does it take to charge a typical car? Just wondering how long someone might have to wait in line to use the facilities.
Kathy Ochiai June 24, 2011 at 04:17 AM
I believe the City of Laguna Beach is paying for parking and charging fees for four months IN THE TWO CHARGING SPACES ONLY. They will pay for four hours of charging/parking at one time. This will happen for the next four months. After four months, they will reevaluate costs. I have asked an EV specialist to answer your other questions.
Kathy Ochiai June 24, 2011 at 04:24 AM
You're right steveg. All in due time. A wonderful example of solar collecting in public places can be found at two North San Diego County campuses. Here is a link to an article about them... http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/nov/28/solar-panels-rise-two-north-county-campuses/
Kathy Ochiai June 25, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Bob, I am forwarding Plug In America ( http://www.pluginamerica.org) Director Linda Nicholes' response to your question... "Hi, Bob. Chargers that will charge your car in less than an hour are being developed and some already exist. Look for charging times to get lower and lower as the technology advances. To answer your question, charging time depends on what kind of electric car you are plugging in and the amps the car allows you to utilize. For instance, I can choose to charge my Tesla roadster anywhere from 12 amps to 70 amps at home in my garage. At the 70 amp level it takes 3 1/2 hours. At 12 amps it would take over a day. The newly installed chargers in Laguna Beach allow you to choose Level 1 (120 Volt charger plug) or Level 2 charging (240 Volt charger plug) As an example, if a Leaf electric car were totally "empty" and you were able to utilize the 240V plug, (Level 2) it would take you about 7 hours to get a full charge. However, four-hour charging time will meet most people's needs. Charging stations are not like gas stations where you stand around looking vacantly at the pump. When charging, you would normally go eat at a restaurant or go shopping or go to the beach while your car charges. At home in your garage, of course, you simply plug the car in while you sleep and every morning you leave with a full "tank" With a gas car you have to go elsewhere to get your fuel -- and by that I mean schlepping down to the gas station ; ] "

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