Many reading this will have no idea where Santa Ysabel is. Some reading this will know where Santa Ysabel is, and will never use this fast charging station. Santa Ysabel is about 54 miles Northeast of downtown San Diego. When we say the greater San Diego area, we really do mean the greater San Diego area.
Yesterday a group of about 50 or so enthusiastic San Diego area LEAF owners met in Poway, a north county inland location, to discuss developments in the infrastructure development and to exchange information of interest to other LEAF owners. It was interesting to discover that there are at least two bodies looking to develop a DC fast charge network in Southern California – Charge Bliss and EV Oasis. Based on the presentations that we saw, and a quick look at the web sites of these two entities, we would say that we are watching more out of curiosity at this point than anything else. It seems unlikely that either entity will have anything operational prior to mid-2012, if then.
Of more interest was the announcement that a Blink DC fast charger will be installed in Santa Ysabel, perhaps by the end of March. This announcement was made not by ECOtality, the company behind the EV Project whose Blink charger will be used, but by Randy Walsh a representative of Meissner Jacquet a local property management company. They are representing the property owner in Santa Ysabel. So the big question is, why Santa Ysabel of all places. It seems that the property owner was very motivated to have this charger installed here. A quick look at the businesses operating on the property show that the Julian Pie Company is located here, along with a couple of other businesses. Our guess is that this location was selected to encourage EV owners to drive to Julian, an east county village not far from Santa Ysabel that offers fresh apple pie in apple season, along with some rustic folk arts and crafts, and relies heavily on this tourist season to sustain local businesses. From the sounds of it, the EV Project also may throttle back the performance of the DC fast charger to avoid California Public Utility Commission electricity demand charges. This would mean that the theoretical 80% charge in 25 minutes could be reduced by as much as 50%, so it might take as much as 50 minutes to receive an 80% charge. Also, no mention was made of what kind of pricing structure would exist for use of the DC fast charging station.
We have nothing against businesses wanting to boost and maintain profitability, as long as those goals do not include creating an ever larger economic differential between owner and worker. In fact, the Cracker Barrel installation of a dozen DC fast charge stations in Tennessee is expressly designed to have electric vehicle (EV) drivers dine and shop at their restaurants and stores while their cars charge. The difference there is that those charge stations facilitate movement around the state. This station facilitates movement essentially to one destination – Julian. So for those inclined to drive to Julian in their LEAF or other EV, this will be a useful installation. But as you can see by the map, it does nothing to facilitate travel to Orange County to the north or Yuma to the east of San Diego. For those inclined to visit the Anza-Borrego desert it will also be helpful. But if this installation serves as a driving force to any others considering the installation of a fast charger in other more useful locations, we say let’s get it in there.