Orlando Selected As Charge Point America City In 2010, Orlando was one of nine cities selected nationwide to be awarded federal funds through Coulomb technologies, as part of the Charge Point America Grant Program.
Coulomb received a 37 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to jumpstart the electric transportation movement and unveiled their first public charging station on June 17, 2010 in front of Orlando City Hall. Through this grant 300 public charging stations were deployed within a 70-mile radius of downtown Orlando.
Public charging stations have been installed at shopping malls, libraries, parks, community centers, public buildings hotels, theme parks and parking garages. GRCF is currently working with the Department of Motor vehicles and Auto Manuafacturers to improve ways to track the number of EV’s in Central Florida.
Throug the partnership between the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) and Coulomb, OUC was able to subsidize the installation costs for Level II (240 volt) public chargers installed in their service territory. 240 volts is the power needed to operate a household dryer, but will charge an EV twice as fast as a level I charge at 120 volts (typical household outlet).
Most of the Coulomb units installed in public locations are duel chargers and can power vehicles at either 120 or 240 volts. They are also able to accommodate up to two vehicles at a time. Level I charging requires a standard extension cord, where-as the Level II cord is specially adapted with a universal connector (J-1772) used for all EV’s sold in North America.
Recipients of OUC’s Charge Point charging stations needed to only provide an easement on their property that is located within 150 feet from a building with OUC power, or an electrical transformer. Orange County and the City of Orlando have already installed seveal EVSE throughout Metro-Orlando. In addition to City Parking garages, Orange County has installed EVSE at the following Orlando locations:
• Orange Cty Convention Center: 9899 International Dr. • Orange Cty Environmental Protection Division: 800 Mercy Dr. • Orange Cty Administration Bldg: 201 S. Rosalind Ave. • Orange Cty Medical Examiner: 2350 E. Michigan St. • Barnett Park: 4801 W. Colonial Dr. • Barber Park: 3701 Gatlin Ave. • Mark Street Senior Center: 99 E. Mark St. • Mid Florida Technical School: 2900 W. Oakridge Rd. • Orange Cty Library (Main): 101 E. Central Blvd. • Orange Cty Library (Southeast): 5575 S. Semoran Blvd. • Orange Cty Library (Herndon): 4324 E. Colonial Dr. • Orange Cty Library (Washington Park): 5151 Raleigh St. • Orange Cty Library (South Trail): 4600 S. Orange Blossom Tr. • Orange Cty Fleet Management: 4400 S. Vineland Rd. • U.F. IFAS Extension Center: 6021 S. Conway Rd.
Progress Energy has also installed EVSE throughout their service territory in Central Florida and North Carolina. Florida Power and Light and other local utilities are closely monitoring the success of these programs and have launched their own initiatives in South Florida.
Orange County Converts Fleet Vehicles to Plug-Ins.
Orange County recently converted six of their fleet vehicles to Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). The vehicles that were selected for this conversion were Series II (2006 – 2009) Toyota Prius hybrids. Although rated at fuel economy of 100 MPG, the best we’ve seen is 92 MPG, but driver behavior (slow acceleration and braking) and routine charging will provide the best fuel savings.
Orange County was awarded funding from the Department of Energy to convert some fleet vehicles to PHEVs. These vehicles get their best “bang for the buck” in heavy city driving. The new battery pack combined with the existing hybrid battery takes about 5 hours to fully charge and can operate completely on electric power at low speeds (<40 mph) for up to 40 miles. For higher speeds the electric drive works together with gasoline engine.
Forgot to charge your battery? No worries – the vehicle will operate as a regular hybrid without a charge using regenerative braking to recharge the battery. For the improved fuel economy it’s best to keep it charged. A standard 120VAC household outlet can be used to charge these vehicles using a standard extension cord. As a safety feature, the vehicles will not start when plugged in. These vehicles will be professionally wrapped and used for demonstration purposes to educate the public that electric transportation is both available and practical.
Preparing Central Florida For Vehicle Electrification – Get Ready Central Florida Is Formed
In 2010, several automakers began selling highway-ready electric vehicles (EVs) nationwide. These new EV’s were released in communities with adequate public charging station capabilities. Get Ready Central Florida (GRCF) was formed in April 2009 and consists of members from local governments, public utilities, universities and industry, with the goal of educating the residents and business leaders about electric vehicles and developing the infrastructure needed to support it.
Since their inception, GRCF has constructed several vehicle electrification exhibits at Orange County’s Convention Center. These ongoing exhibits are part of Orange County’s Sustainable Communities projects and showcases currently available electric cars and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), which are the charging stations being deployed throuthout Central Florida. Here visitors, school groups and the general public can see and touch these demonstration vehicles and learn about electric transportation.
Central Florida Becomes First Community To Join Global Electrification Movement
On February 2010 Orange County’s Mayor Richard Crotty signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rocky Mountain Institute, currently leading the global transportation electrification movement. Central Florida was the first Project Get Ready partner in Florida. Since then, GRCF has assisted other coalitions form throughout the state.
Orlando Was The 21st Stop on Nissan LEAF’s 24 City Tour
In February 2010, the new Nissan LEAF all electric vehicle arrived in downtown Orlando for a demonstration and ride and drive event. Several government and business leaders were on hand to test-drive the LEAF. The Nissan LEAF can be driven 100 miles per charge and reaches top speeds of 90 MPH. Electric vehicles require little maintenance compared to petroleum-fueled vehicles. “You can feel the power and instant torque when you hit the accelerator,” reports John Parker, Chairman of GRCF. Nissan compares the acceleration to that of a V-6 engine.
Easing Permitting For Commercial & Residential Chargers
On September 8, 2010 Get Ready Central Florida (GRCF) met with the Building Officials Association of Florida, the group responsible for setting the standards for building codes & permits in Florida. Discussions regarding streamlining the permitting process for installing EV charging stations at commercial and residential locations were initiated. John Parker (GRCF Chairman) and James Culp GRCF (Technical Advisor) introduced our coalition to the Board and explained the need to streamline the permitting process to expedite the installation of up to 300 public charging stations and several hundred residential chargers. The public stations are to be installed within a 70-mile radius of downtown Orlando within the next two years. These installations will be funded by the Department of Energy through the ChargePoint America grant.
Since this initial meeting and subsequent follow-up meetings with local government code officials, Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), responsible releasing their own ChargePoint America subgrant to install public charging stations in their service territory has already reported that permitting by the Orange County Building Division has been “fast tracked” with the process typically performed online. Although the process is easier in this instance, OUC reports that permitting by other local governments in their service territory can be improved upon. GRCF intends to meet with the building officials in other regions of Central Florida to improve upon the permitting process for Electric Vehicle Service Equipment.
Locating Public Charging Stations
How do I find public charging stations? GRCF is working on three ways you can locate level II (240 volt) public charging stations in Central Florida.
- Using the GPS system that comes standard with most electric vehicles you will easily be able to navigate to the nearest public charging station. GRCF plans to work with vehicle manufacturers to keep their database of public charging stations accurate and up-to-date.
- By logging onto our website and going to the Charging Stations Locator Map.
- Looking for signage in public parking areas with designated Electric Vehicle charging locations. Level II (220 volt) chargers will be strategically located at: shopping centers, restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, hotels, theme parks, apartment complexes, public parks and buildings – basically anywhere people will go for over an hour (shopping, at a restaurant or movie). This is usually enough time to power-up most vehicles to get you on your way.
Unified Signage To Identify EV Charging Stations
Currently, the generic signs used to identify Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), otherwise known, as Public Charging Stations is green with white letters, typically found at area sign shops. Unfortunately EVSE signage can vary from state to state. GRCF would like to see a national sign developed by the Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for designing national street signs. we plans to work with Project Get Ready and the Department of Transportation to develop a national EVSE sign. This would help EV drivers that live and visit Florida easily identifies public charging stations. We also plan to work with transportation planners to have highway exits marked with signs directing drivers to the nearest public charging stations.