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Platte River Power Authority recently installed two level II charging stations at their headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado. Platte River is a not-for-profit wholesale electricity generation and transmission service provider owned by the cities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Estes Park.
The charging stations— a part of the Renewable Energy Electric Vehicle, or “REEV” pilot study—are designed to inform consumer charging decisions by comparing electric vehicle (EV) charging behavior against hourly renewable energy generation data. The stations have been funded by a grant from the Colorado Energy Office and by the City of Fort Collins, with Platte River agreeing to provide public access to the charging site during normal business hours.
Joel Danforth, the program manager at Platte River Power Authority, recently spoke to Drive Electric Northern Colorado about his experience owning an electric vehicle and charging at the Platte River stations. Joel, who drives a Chevy Volt, said that the charging stations at the Platte River headquarters have worked great. “I live in Longmont and commute to Fort Collins Everyday,” says Joel, “The ‘trickle charger’ I use in my garage at home provides all the juice I need to drive to work in the mornings, but I need a top-off charge to make the return trip home in the afternoon. Workplace charging enables me to make the entire commute on 100% electricity without relying on the Volt’s gasoline generator for backup power.”
Dispatching renewable energy to customers has traditionally been fraught with inherent difficulties due to the variations and fluctuations in renewable output on the grid. Platte River Power Authority and the city of Fort Collins hope that studying the hourly load trends of charging stations will provide a better understanding of the alignment between EV charging and Platte River renewable energy generation. By monitoring the data collected from charging stations, Platte River will also be able to better understand the extent to which EV charging may be used as a “demand response resource” to help integrate renewable sources of energy.
The charging stations and tracking are important, says Joel, “[because] the new Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards will require a dramatic increase in vehicle hybridization and electrification by 2025, which means significantly more drivers will need access to public charging infrastructure.” Knowing where all that extra energy is coming from could really help Fort Collins and Platte River determine how to utilize renewable sources more efficiently.
According to Danforth, the charging stations will be available to the public at a nominal cost. The city of Fort Collins will collect $1 dollar per hour to help pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the charging stations. With a rated output of 7.2 kW, that’s enough to fully charge most electric cars completely within four hours. “Wholesale electricity prices in Northern Colorado are the lowest in the state, and those prices don’t change every time there is a geopolitical event somewhere else in the world.”
Even though the stations are located at Platte River Headquarters, the city of Fort Collins will maintain the stations, so if you experience technical difficulties with the charging stations, please contact the City of Fort Collins at (970) 221-6700.