Range Confidence: Charge Fast, Drive Far, with your Electric Car

By David Herron

How do I pay for energy consumed in charging my electric vehicle?

Electricity may be cheap, but it ain't free. Decades ago "they" were bragging electricity might become too cheap to meter. Never happened. That means charging station owners will want to be reimbursed for electricity consumed to charge your vehicle.

Paying for charging at home

At home your charging station is connected to the household power. Energy consumed through the charging station is simply added to your household electricity bill.

This tells us the general rule of who pays for the electricity: The charging station connects to a service panel, that's connected to the grid through an electricity meter. Electricity consumed through that meter will show up on the associated electricity bill.

If your home is an apartment complex, and you see a random power outlet near your parking space, you might think "I can use that outlet". That's going to cause a problem when the landlord discovers what you're doing. The landlord pays for what's called the "house power" coming through that outlet, and won't appreciate having to bear the cost.

Using a free public charging station

Some public charging station owners do not charge a fee to use their station. A business might want to earn goodwill by giving free charging, for example.

In such a case simply plug in to the station.

In some cases using the station will be free (no cost) but you still have to swipe a membership card.

Credit cards at public charging stations

Using a credit card is very rare at public charging stations. The typical charging session fee is small enough to be impractical to bill through a credit card.

This is one of the rationales for charging network membership cards. The network operator can keep prepaid money in your account, and bill your card on (say) a monthly basis.

For stations that do support credit cards, you'll have to swipe the card through the station. In some cases you must instead call an operator, and read the credit card particulars over the phone.

Charging network membership fees

The typical way to pay for charging is through membership fees. Each network structures their fees to suit both themselves, and local laws.

As just mentioned, it's common for the network operator to bill your credit card account on either a monthly basis, or whenever your pre-paid funds are too low. Of course you must register a credit card with the network operator.

Usage fees - by the hour - by the kiloWatt-hour

Depending on local laws, and charging network operator preference, you may be charged by the hour or by the kiloWatt-hour or a combination of both. Some governments prohibit sale of electricity, except for electricity utility companies. In such areas, charging networks cannot charge by the kiloWatt-hour for electricity and instead must charge some other sort of usage fee.

Fees pay for energy AND the parking space AND charging network fees

The energy isn't the only cost incurred by the charging station owner. Parking spaces are expensive, and parking lot owners want to recoup that expense. Often, part of the charging station fee goes to paying for the parking space.

In some cases charging stations are owned not by the charging network operator, but by the host site. It's the host site that sets the policies, fees, etc, for the station. The charging network imposes a fee on the host site, which the host site typically passes on to users of the station.

Electric car charging at shopping areas benefits store owners

How would an electric car charging station benefit any business (shopping center, etc) that hosts a charging station?

Many businesses have “green” or “sustainability” initiatives and are doing things like getting LEED Certification for their buildings, or optimizing the energy footprint of the delivering products to stores, or even adding solar panels to the roofs of stores and warehouses. Such a store could add electric car charging stations to their stores under the guise of these sustainability initiatives. But will a store ever be serious about electric car charging stations if it does not provide any economic benefit to the bottom line?

Turns out there’s a widely recognized benefit – people using a store-provided charging station tend to stay in the store longer than others, and are therefore more likely to spend more money.

The operative phrase is: Increasing customer “dwell time” while increasing customer loyalty.

Offering a charging station also builds goodwill in the mind of their customers.

Customer Attraction and Retention, Corporate Branding: Offering charging is a direct way to attract and retain new, electric-vehicle-driving customers. In addition, many consumers believe it is important to purchase products with environmental benefits and to frequent environmentally responsible companies.

User Charging and Parking Fees: Charging-station hosts have the opportunity to generate revenue directly from people who use their services. Although the selling of electricity by non-utility organizations is prohibited in most parts of the United States, there are various ways to collect revenue for charging, such as subscription-based, pay-per-charge, and pay- for-parking systems. Using these types of systems typically requires installation of advanced EVSE products.

Contribution to LEED Certification: Installing a charging station contributes toward attaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. LEED is an internationally recognized system for rating the energy and environmental performance of buildings. Becoming LEED certified may contribute to improving an organization’s image and thus attract environmentally conscious customers and employees.

Retail Stores: Retail stores can reap many of the benefits discussed in the Charging Station Benefits section, including customer and employee attraction and retention, corporate branding, user charging and parking fees, fleet cost savings, advertising opportunities, and contribution to LEED certification. Each retailer must decide which benefits are most important and design its station and business model accordingly. For example, some may offer free charging to maximize customer attraction, whereas others may generate revenue directly via charging or parking fees.

Electric vehicle charging station costs

Level Electrical Supply Charger type Cost Discussion
AC Level 1 120 volt AC at 12 amps is 1.4 kilowatts, at 16 amps is 1.9 kilowatts, etc. NEMA 5-15, 5-20 Cheap This rate is common in the U.S. but other countries have 240 volt circuits as the common power supply instead.
AC Level 2 240 volts AC, at power levels up to 80 amps, for 19.2 kilowatts maximum NEMA 6-20 and other 240 volt outlets, typically though this is handled through a J1772 EVSE $500-2000 This is a typical normal power circuit available in most homes, however the 80 amps level can be hard to come by in a normal home.
AC Level 3 240 volts, single phase or three-phase AC, at higher power levels unknown - The ABB Terra 53 supports 3 phase AC up to 43 kilowatts unknown The SAE committee hasn't specified charging equipment for this power level. However, both Smart and Renault are delivering cars with three phase AC 22 kilowatt and 43 kilowatt charging systems
DC Level 1, 2, 3 Electrical service to the EVSE is probably three phase AC, at 480 volts, at really high amp rates CHADEMO and Tesla's Supercharger are the only existing system's, the SAE Combo Charging System has been standardized but no existing cars are on the market to use it $10,000 or more This is otherwise known as DC Fast Charge. See [EV Fast Charging, whether standardized or not](../chap8-tech/ev-dc-fast-charging-standards-chademo-ccs-sae-combo-tesla-supercharger-etc.html) for details.

Range Confidence is Copyright © 2016-17 by David Herron

How do I pay for energy consumed in charging my electric vehicle?

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