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Workplace charging: Why is it needed and why it is not happenning fast enough

For those of who have longer commutes and a life after work, the availability to charge at work can be a lifesaver. On the other hand, those of us who do not have that opportunity it brings the term “range anxiety” to a whole new level.

As for myself, despite my workplace (a federal government agency) having a Level 2 charging station, it is currently reserved for only GSA owned vehicles. This is basically a punch in the gut if you have to charge to get home. I lease a Chevy Spark EV and the 74 mile official range is too close for comfort for a 32 mile commute each way. I have had to on multiple occasions go to a nearby charging station to make sure I had enough range to get home.

Now you may say what’s the big deal?

To start with, if I could charge at work, I would gladly pay a competitive fee for it as I would rather not have to leave as the area in which I work is not the safest. The other pin prick of it all is that the argument is that you are “stealing” electricity. By that logic, every employee with a toaster, coffee maker, fan, space heater etc... is stealing electricity.

FAST (No so FAST act) ACT

Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel since the passing of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), there is now a law on the books requiring that federal agencies have charging stations available for their employees. However, at least for me, this process seems to be taking forever. I am starting to suspect that the powers that be are purposely holding an action to see if the current administration will overturn the law.

If you happen to be in the same situation the DOE (Department of Energy) does have a pretty nice page listing some resources that be used to push your respective authorities to get this going. See links below:

Workplace Charging at Federal Facilities


Steve (not verified)    August 30, 2017 - 2:43PM

Why should your employer pay your transportation? Why is this different than insisting my employer fill-up my car while I am at work? What you are saying in addition to paying your salary with my taxes I should pay for you to drive into work? Why would you buy a car that you knew wouldn't be able to get you to work and back? Millennial right? Let's be honest you bought the car because it allows you to drive in the car-pool lane without actually car pooling and gets you a parking spot close to the entrance.
By the way in the private world employees typically aren't allowed to have coffee machines, toasters, etc at their desks. A few may however if you look in most large companies there are rules against it, it's a fire hazard, health hazard, etc.

Jeff Schneider    August 30, 2017 - 4:14PM

Steve, if you had actually read my article carefully, you would have noticed that I'm not asking for a free fill up. I just want the opportunity to pay for the electricity I would be using. My point with the toasters etc. is that these "personal" device are also connected in the common kitchen areas drawing electricity and employees are not paying for it.

WadeTyhon (not verified)    August 30, 2017 - 10:13PM

In reply to by Jeff Schneider

Have you asked your employer if they have a standard wall outlet you can use? My last employer wasn't interested in a L2 charger but they were perfectly fine with me using of of the exterior outlets when necessary. It would only net you 3-4 miles per hour. But after 8 hours of work that would be enough to give you 25-30 miles of extra buffer.

Steve (not verified)    August 31, 2017 - 11:16AM

In reply to by Jeff Schneider

I see that now, true you're willing to pay however while you want to pay a competitive price for electricity, I'd suggest you'd also need to contribute to the cost of installation of the charging hardware and ongoing maintenance. While the home charging stations are relatively inexpensive putting something out meant for public consumption must be far more durable and resistant to vandalism. A better model might be have a third party come in and handle this and work out a contract directly with those in need. Also I resent the charging stations are always the most preferable locations in the parking lots and I think if I as a non electric car user need a spot to park and the lot is full I should be allowed to park in the charging spot. IMO Hybrid vehicles are a preferable solution, owners of EV's that allow their vehicles to run out of fuel on highways and cause backups should be subject to significant fines.

WadeTyhon (not verified)    August 31, 2017 - 1:47PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

As long as gas cars are fined when they run out of gas? No problem! Although with all EVs they go into turtle mode. They warn you and slowly reduce propulsion for about 10 miles so there is ample time to exit a highway.

For charging as an EV owner, I want the station as far away from the place I am parking as possible. Incredibly thoughtless people intentionally park in these spaces because they 'resent' the preferential treatment.

But the reason they are closer to the store is because it is cheaper for installation than running power out to the far end of the lot. I have only used public charging twice since getting a Bolt. And only at fast charge CCS stations for about 45 minutes. I start each day with 270 miles of range since my apartment complex has 4 EV stations. Long range EVs and 30+ mile plug-in hybrids will kill off any need for the sub-hundred mile EV.

WadeTyhon (not verified)    August 30, 2017 - 10:12PM

I drove a Spark EV for 2 years. Fun little car! I lease a Bolt now so I don't plan on ever worrying about range.

But at the time I had the Spark, my commute was about 10 miles each way. All city miles so range was never an issue and I usually had 90+ miles of range every day. I would not have felt as comfortable if my commute were 30+ miles so I understand your concern.

"74 mile official range is too close for comfort for a 32 mile commute each way."

Just a minor point, the official EPA range is 82 miles. Unless you are referring specifically to highway range? I believe that is in the low 70s.