eVgo Opens 13 Public Charging Stations in California, and Counting

By · January 27, 2014

eVgo Freedom Station at San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mal

The eVgo Freedom Station at San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mall offers one Level 2 240-volt connection, one CHAdeMO quick charger and one SAE Combo quick charger. The BMW i3, shown here, uses the SAE Combo connection. The station is located in the parking lot on the south side of Bloomingdales. (Photo: PlugShare)

After a slow start, the installation of eVgo charging stations in California is ramping up, giving plug-in electric vehicle drivers in the state more access to Level 2 and DC charging options. “We are moving at a big clip now opening stations,” Terry O’Day, vice president, California business development at eVgo, told PluginCars.com.

eVgo, owned by Houston-based NRG, now has 13 sites open in California and six under construction. Another 22 are going through the permitting process, said O’Day. The stations are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Future stations are planned for other parts of California, he said. More will also be added in those three areas, which are hotbeds for EV ownership.

Combo Cord In All Stations

All open charging sites have at least one Level 2 240V plug and one DC fast-charging connection. The site at Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego has three plugs. Fashion Valley’s additional plug is the SAE Combo Cord connection used by the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Spark EV.

The SAE Combo Plug integrates one-phase AC-charging, fast three-phase AC-charging, and DC quick charging into one vehicle inlet. Eight automakers from Europe and the U.S. cooperated in the plug’s creation. It was unveiled, with some controversy, in 2012. The first stations using the standard were deployed in late 2013.

All of eVgo’s charging sites will eventually have a combo plug, said O’Day. “We are planning our combo rollout,” he said. “We will make an announcement in the next couple of months. You can look at the Freedom Network that we have announced and you can think of that as the combo network that is coming.”

Houston-based NRG is required to invest $100 million in the installation of a network of at least 200 electric vehicle charging stations in California, to be completed by 2016. NRG's investment in EV charging infrastructure is being made in exchange for settling claims for overcharges during the 1999 California energy crisis.

Under the settlement, NRG is obligated to open at least 100 stations in California by the end of 2014, said O’Day. “We are looking to exceed our settlement obligations,” he said.

eVgo offers various subscription plans available, including 60-days of unlimited usage for $7.95 and a 12 month plan for $14.95 a month. There is an additional charge of $0.10 a minute for DC fast charging or $1 an hour for Level 2 charging.

eVgo also offers a home-charging plan for $59.95 per month. That buys a Level 2 charger, installation, maintenance, technology upgrades, and unlimited access to the eVgo public network for 36 months. “You don’t pay a variable cost for electricity and you can budget your fueling costs,” said O’Day.

While O’Day said eVgo is getting “terrific response” to its charging network, it doesn’t yet have usage data. That is being developed, he said.

Teething Problems

Based on comments made by users of PlugShare, a mobile app and website site that allows EV owners to find EV charging stations, at least one eVgo charging station—the station at San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mall—is not getting such a terrific response. (PlugShare, which aggregates and manages charging station use data, is owned by Recargo Inc., which also owns PluginCars.com.)

Users of the station, which opened in October 2013, have variously noted (as recently as last week) that the DC fast charging point does not work, the touchscreen for one plug does not work, and that the station is not open 24 hours.

The Fashion Valley point is the first station in North America with all three types of charging, O’Day told PluginCars. “As with any firsts, there can sometimes be bumps with integrating new technologies, and while the Freedom Station was down, it is operational now,” he said.

The initial users have a trial subscription, O’Day added. “They have helped us to improve our services by providing feedback,” he said.

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