Fresno State goes green with electric car-charging station

The Fresno BeeApril 11, 2014 

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In a March 16, 2012 file photo, a Nissan Leaf tops off it's battery in Central Point, Ore., at one of the charging stations along Interstate 5.

JEFF BARNRD — AP

Fresno State is planning to give electric car drivers more options to "charge up" under plans announced Friday to build a six-stall charging station on campus.

University officials say the station located west of Save Mart Center will have two quick-charge pumps -- a car's battery could recharge in 20 to 30 minutes -- plus four more for longer charges. It's being paid for through a $397,000 grant from the California Energy Commission.

Bob Boyd, Fresno State associate vice president for facilities management, said the station will be convenient for drivers and could help boost interest in electric cars.

"The potential of our region is practically untapped," he said in a statement.

The university's station is scheduled to open in September 2015. Electric car drivers can currently power up at just a few public locations, including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District office, Schneider Electric, and Lithia Nissan on Blackstone Avenue.

The chargers look a lot like regular gas pumps, but pack an electronic punch in place of regular or diesel fuel.

But don't expect the ease of spending five minutes gassing up and paying at the pump. Martin Baskind, Internet sales consultant at Lithia Nissan, said it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 21 hours to get to a full charge.

The difference depends on the type of charger a customer uses. The "trickle" charger, for example, is slow but typically free for electric car buyers. Consumers can get a faster charger installed at their home at the price of about $2,000, he said. Charging at public stations is free, he said, but usually takes around a half-hour using a quick charger.

"It is a little bit of a time commitment, but there are definitely a lot of benefits to an electric car," Baskind said. That includes no fuel costs and low maintenance: electric cars are built without spark plugs, engine oils, filters and other breakables.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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