DC fast charging coming to Southern California – slowly

by Ernie Hernandez on June 10, 2012

Nissan four DC Quick Chargers

Unofficial word on the status of DC fast charging in SoCal

While it would be wonderful to report that we will be seeing banks of DC fast charges as pictured above awaiting our use as electric vehicle (EV) owners, that is not likely to happen anytime soon. So what is happening? A much slower progress, with units going in that will likely not produce optimum charge times due to reduced capabilities and less than ideal locations based on the needs and/or desires of various interests.

On Saturday we joined a local group of like minded LEAF enthusiasts – owners and potential owners – at a local restaurant for some discussion and a little breakfast. We came away with a little more knowledge than we went in with, but also the realization that the developing infrastructure is not going to be developing nearly as quickly as most LEAF owners would like.

Pull up the map at PlugShare.com (our currently favored charge location mapping service) and filter by QuickCharge stations. Zoom out to look at the entire United States and you may be surprised at the number of stations in place to date. A quick count showed 12 states with Quick Charge capability. Sadly, not many of these stations are in California.

Currently there are two public stations in the greater San Francisco Bay Area (with a VW unit on the way), three in the (stretched) Greater Los Angeles area with none to connect the two geographically distant areas. San Diego currently offers no public DC fast charge stations but San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has one in the Kearny Mesa area for their fleet of a dozen or so LEAFs which are used as service pool vehicles.

We learned that in the not too distant future we can expect to see at least two DC fast chargers south of Los Angeles. Possibly three. Don’t get too excited just yet, because one of these will be in a relatively remote location which will be of little use to most of the general EV owning public, although the other one or two may prove useful for day trips up to the LA area. Also, information about additional station installations was sketchy at best with little firm new information. One other bit – prepare for at least some of the early DC fast charge stations to throttle back their capability from its maximum potential. Due to what is called a demand charge, which can be substantial, some providers will reduce the maximum voltage draw to avoid said demand charges. If electricity demand exceeds a certain amount, the demand charge kicks in. If the threshold is not reached, the additional charge is avoided. This could be a significant factor for a small business providing the service. The reduced voltage could lengthen the time needed to charge, though initial state of charge when plugged in is a factor.

So, are DC fast chargers coming? Yes. Are they coming soon and in vast quantities? Not so much. For now, photos like that seen above remain the domain of warehouses and publicity shots.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom K June 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Ok. I’ll comment now… I believe Blink now has an operational QC (dual unit actually) in the east side of downtown LA (Mateo St.) which is depicted on both the Blink and PlugShare sites. The QC at the 7-Eleven in San Bernardino remains operational but is throttled to 16kw. Of course, Mitsubishi HQ in Cypress on Katella has been graciously operational for us LEAFers for a year now. That is the extent of SoCal’s QC infrastructure…. I’m still waiting patiently while cruising at 3.3kw charge rate… :-/

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