by Sanyu Kyeyune
In March, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded $3.6 million to 14 organizations, among them ChargePoint, the world’s largest network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. With more than 200 charging points already in New York, ChargePoint will use its $1 million award to install an additional 80 stations throughout the state by the end of September.
The ChargePoint venture is part of ChargeNY, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to invest $50 million over 5 years in electric vehicle infrastructure. “The investment in an electric vehicle infrastructure will allow New Yorkers to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and greatly cut emissions generated by the transportation sector,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA.
By 2018 ChargeNY aims to create a statewide network of 3,000 public and workplace charging stations and put 40,000 plug-in vehicles on the road. The plan also proposes engaging utilities to offer their customers rate incentives for EV adoption and increasing consumer education around EVs.
ChargePoint users can already use an iPhone or Android to locate and reserve public EV charge points and start or stop charging sessions. The charging ports are compatible with all electric vehicles in North America due to a universal adapter feature. Most EVs can obtain a full charge in less than 4 hours, at which point drivers receive a mobile notification if they choose.
Pat Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, said that partnering with the state energy office will bring even more convenience to those who already own electric vehicles, and motivate others to purchase them.
But as Romano points out, a lack of infrastructure is the largest impediment to EV adoption. The solution, he said, is simple: “Get infrastructure jumpstarted so that people feel comfortable buying EVs. We know that people will buy vehicles once they see an investment in infrastructure that’ll support their buying decision, and I think that’s what the state wants . . . to incentivize people to buy cars.”
One example is lower Manhattan’s Solaire, the first residential building in the country to receive LEED Gold certification and the first to receive a ChargePoint station. “The partnership of ChargePoint and NYSERDA has been an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to make a great contribution,” said Russell Albanese, the developer behind the Solaire project. Albanese has developed two other LEED-certified rental properties in the city that will also receive new chargers thanks to NYSERDA’s investment.
With backing from NYSERDA, ChargePoint is able to offer solutions not only to drivers but also to EV station owners. “Station owners set their own prices,” said Romano. “We take a lot of the pain out of it.” Each station owner can use a cloud-based computing system to monitor how a station performs, while ChargePoint tracks and reports issues and dispenses payment to the station owner.
Romano notes that ChargePoint’s task is not to sell EVs, which “already have a ton of advantages” because they have almost no fuel costs and low maintenance costs, and are completely silent for a better driving experience. What his company is doing is largely behind the scenes—leveraging state funds to spur private sector development. NYSERDA’s buy-in only sweetens the deal, said Romano. “For us, it’s a pretty good endorsement.”
Posted on: May 21st, 2013