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NextEnergy, Calstart To Host Midwest’s First Workplace Charging Workshop

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An EV charging station (File)

An EV charging station (File)

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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DETROIT — NextEnergy, the state of Michigan’s renewable energy accelerator, and Calstart, the Pasadena, Calif. clean transportation nonprofit, will host the Midwest’s inaugural Workplace Charging Workshop June 18 at the NextEnergy Center in Detroit.

By 2020, it is expected that there will be millions of electric vehicles on the road, and most experts agree that these vehicles will not be supported by a traditional “gas station model” when it comes to charging infrastructure. The expectation is that the top two places owners will charge their vehicles are at home and work.

In response to market pressure and new technology developments, electric vehicle supply equipment that supports vehicle charging is becoming more available and affordable. This trend is highlighted by the recent announcement by Bosch that it will introduce a 240-volt home charging unit priced at under $450 — half the cost of comparable units — to the market in June 2014.

Conversely, little attention has been given to workplace charging, which is often considered third behind home and public charging infrastructure. Although the equipment and installation services are available, the majority of employers are either unaware, or have yet to recognize it as a valuable employee benefit.

In an effort to change this perception, and with an ultimate goal of increased adoption of personal electric vehicles, the U.S. Department of Energy has issued a Workplace Charging Challenge. After residential charging, workplace charging is being emphasized as the second most important charge point. In contrast to public charging infrastructure, workplace charging is less costly to implement and maintain, and will be much faster to roll out.

Gary Gauthier, Director of Transportation Initiatives at NextEnergy explains, “Our vehicles on average are parked 22 hours a day, 12 to 14 at home and 8 to 10 at work. If workplace charging were prevalent, the daily range EVs could be driven would be increased significantly, providing the opportunity for many more people to view them as practical for their own use.”

There is now a growing list of companies that offer workplace charging: Google, Quicken Loans, Intuit, Qualcomm, DreamWorks and Mattel — all named to the 2013 list of Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For.” Earlier this month, global technology powerhouse Texas Instruments announced they will install 46 Blink Level 2 charging stations at 12 office locations throughout Texas, including nine at its corporate headquarters in Dallas.
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“The Workplace Charging Workshop will provide Michigan employers insight into why it’s important and will give them the tools and resources they need for implementation,” explains Jasna Tomic, Director of Research Programs at Calstart. “Ultimately, this is an opportunity for businesses to literally ‘lead the charge’ in an effort that will have a positive impact that goes far beyond providing an attractive benefit to employees. A mass adoption of workplace charging will lead to more PEVs on the road resulting in increased energy security for our nation, and a cleaner environment for our children.”

After a successful workplace charging event launch at Google in Los Angeles, the California-based Calstart joined with Detroit-based NextEnergy, to bring the event to the Midwest. According to Geoff Ryder, Sustainability Principal, Transportation and Energy, SAP Labs, “The Calstart workshop at Google brought together the top public and private sector stakeholders for workplace charging from across the state. As a result, everyone learned something, and came back with a real understanding of how to make progress. It offered a unique chance to network with experts and decision makers, and months later, we continue to see ongoing benefits from the relationships we made at the event.”

Ryder is quick to share the positive outcomes SAP has seen as a result of offering workplace charging,

“The 12 Level II charging stations at our facility are in constant use,” Ryder said. “They motivated employees who were undecided to buy electric vehicles, and in the very near future, we will soon have over twice the number of EVs as stations. While these stations are important to attract and retain employees who are EV drivers, our other employees appreciate our company’s commitment to sustainability, so the stations contribute to employee recruitment and retention. Our workplace charging initiatives bring other business benefits. Important customers and prospects from around the world ask to visit our location to learn about our networked parking and EV charging infrastructure, our growing fleet of connected cars, and our best practice policies for sustainable transportation.”

The Detroit workshop will provide attendees with a full overview of workplace charging and the opportunity to hear best practices, challenges and successes from those who have implemented workplace charging at their own facilities. Additional speakers include technical, market and regulatory experts who can help guide the process and provide a look into the future, including the integration of renewable energy sources.

The hands-on portion of the workshop features a showcase of products and solutions from suppliers and service providers, and electric vehicle test drives. There will also be an opportunity to network with other employers pursuing workplace charging, and tours of NextEnergy Center showcasing its current advanced -technology demonstrations. A catered lunch and a reception at the close of the event are compliments of the Pew Charitable Trust.

Event sponsors include: General Motors, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Clean Energy Coalition and the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program.

To learn more about the Midwest’s inaugural Workplace Charging Workshop, or to register, visit www.nextenergy.org/workplacecharging or call NextEnergy (313) 833.0100.

Since its inception in 2001, NextEnergy has helped attract more than $1 billion of new investment in the state of Michigan, including programs in xcess of $150 million in which NextEnergy has directly participated. For more information, visit nextenergy.org.

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