EV Charging Stations For The Garageless

The basic assumption is that most electric vehicle (EV) owners will do most of their charging at home, overnight. 350Green, by contrast, sees a world of urban drivers who don’t have garages. So the company is angling to lead the way with public charging stations, beginning with “fast charging station plazas” in the Bay Area cities of Albany, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sunnyvale. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is helping make these stations happen with funding through its “Spare the Air” program.

The precise locations haven’t been announced, but 350Green said it will focus on “parking lots of select, high-traffic retail locations” for charging plazas that will go in at no cost to the hosts. According to the 350Green website, its PowerDock offers up to four simultaneous charges, and it has an “Express Plaza” that can work off solar panels.

2011 Chevrolet Volt Battery Animation

image via Argonne National Laboratory

And how does 350Green hope to make money? Well, getting governments to fund its stations is a start in cutting costs. Beyond that, the company said “account holders can either pay by the charge or by the month, depending on their expected levels of use, and can use any of the 350Green stations in the local, national or global network.”

While 350Green is positioning itself as something of a renegade in pursuing an away-from-home charging-station strategy, it’s hardly alone in looking for retail and other public locations. In Arizona alone, for instance, Ecotality plans to install some 920 publicly available Level 2 charging stations and 40 fast-charging stations, which can fully charge most electric vehicles in under 30 minutes. The company, which is also in deals with BP and Best Buy to do public charging stations, has  said it plans to offer its service on a subscription model similar to the one outlined by 350Green.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.