Illinois gets 26 of 73 fast chargers to come

by Ernie Hernandez on March 30, 2012

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Four Tollway Oases get eight chargers

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced the official opening of these stations yesterday. Ultimately all seven Tollway Oases will offer fast charging, with one fast charger being available in either direction. The four active locations host eight stations and are at the 7-Eleven stores at the Des Plaines Oasis, Lake Forest Oasis, O’Hare Oasis and Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis.

26 fast chargers have been installed of a total 73 units planned. 280 stations are slated for installation, including 240-volt Level 2 charging docks throughout the greater Chicago area. The installation is being overseen by the Chicago-Area EV Infrastructure Project.

350Green will be the operator of the DC fast charge stations. In order to use the stations, a pre-paid card must be purchased to provide access. The card costs $21 for three 15-minute charging sessions. With rates like this, we don’t see these as everyday use devices. The Fact Sheet does not provide any additional information, such as if one uses only a portion of the 15 minutes are the remaining minutes still available. At that rate, $7 will get you about 40 miles down the road in a LEAF. If you drive a gasoline powered car that averages 20 miles per gallon, the cost equivalent would be the same as gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. With residential electricity in the Chicago area priced at about $0.15 per kilowatt hour, it should cost roughly $2 to cover that same distance were one to charge at home. Given that, we would think most will be reluctant to use the fast chargers on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see the level of usage seen by these stations over time.

If any of our Illinois readers would care to comment, we would like to hear your opinion.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sasparilla March 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm

It basically seems whether public Level 2 or Level 3 (fast) charging the business model is to charge at gasoline or higher prices for public charging – who thinks there’ll be many people plugging into those?

It’s nice that they are there for emergency use – unfortunately at 250% markup over public electricity rates that’s all they’ll be used for – emergency use.

It’ll ensure that people only use these things as a true last resort. That doesn’t seem to be a good thing. It would seem these guys are setting themselves up for financial issues, JMHO.

There should probably be a regulatory limit on how much over the current (at the moment) electricity price these guys can charge (as in less than 100% markup) – 250% markup is obscene.

I live in the Chicago area, don’t have a plug-in yet (eyeing one greedily of course), but in this case I’d probably get one of those $21 cards (if I had Leaf since it looks like these guys run all the chargers being put in around the Chicago area) and throw it in the glove box never to be used (if possible) – I’d also sure as heck figure out whether the Level 2 stations are any cheaper per kWh to use for emergencies instead (probably not). If I had a Volt I’d just laugh at all this ridiculous gouging and not consider using the public stations till they are down to 100% markup or less.

That markup is so outrageous, if I had a Leaf, I would be very open to putting my charger in a social database for emergency use by other EV drivers (i.e. something you could lookup in your phone) – phone call first to make sure its okay etc. – just to flip the finger to these guys.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) March 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I understand that Level 2 is currently offered at no cost, but don’t know how long that might last. In California, only the utility companies can sell electricity (likely the case in Illinois as well). What the operators are doing is charging a convenience fee (or some other similar word-play) to use their equipment. I expect that many of these operators will find that they are being woefully unrealistic in their expectations. The PlugShare iPhone/iPad app does exactly what you described.

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