Workplace Charging pic of Nissan LEAFs charging at OpConnect

Nissan LEAFS lined up and ready for EV charging at work.

 

Each weekday morning, you will usually see a Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt (and even sometimes a Tesla) plugged into the OpConnect EV charging station at our company headquarters in SW Portland.

While it has pretty cool to be able to provide a place for EV charging at work since January 2012 (who better, right?), we have decided to formally make the “Workplace Charging Challenge Pledge” with Drive Oregon and the Department of Energy.

Almost 650 charging sessions have been provided by the OpConnect charging station at our headquarters (which is also publically available and free of charge). That is more than 15,000 miles driven on electricity, and about 5.6 metric tons of greenhouse gases that have been avoided.

Those stats are pretty telling. We think one of the stories they tell is that you don’t have to be a Google installing a 100 EV charging stations to make a difference. Every station counts.

We encourage all businesses to join us in making the pledge. While I am always a bit nervous signing paperwork with the feds (I did so once before and ended up serving six years on a nuclear submarine), the pledge only commits your business to looking at the

Workplace charging is a key to helping fully transition to electric-drive vehicles. According to the DOE, fully transitioning to EVs could reduce U.S. dependence on imported petroleum by more than 80 percent and reduce greenhouse gases by more than 60 percent.  

What are the benefits for employers? They gain recognition as a sustainability leader, are eligible for LEED points, and can be used to attract talented employees who want to work for a forward-thinking firm.

And utilizing an OpConnect charging station offers some unique features for workplace charging that can sweeten the deal for those employers ready to make the pledge to add EV charging to their workplaces.

EV Reservations

First, OpConnect has listened to EV drivers concerns about arriving to a charging station and finding it already being used. The OpConnect Network offers a reservation and queuing system that allows OpConnect network members – it’s free to join – to simply use the OpConnect website or smartphone app to reserve any available public charging station in the OpConnect network.

Once a reservation is made, a port on the designated charging station will not be accessible to anyone besides the reservation holder for the following 30 minutes.

And if all the reserved station’s charging ports are in use at the time of a reservation, the member is placed into a queue and notified via text or email when a port becomes available. This is especially useful for workplace charging where there may be multiple members that would like to use a station throughout the workday. The folks already charging on the station will receive an email or text message letting them know that their charge is complete, and that someone is waiting in line.

Integrated Credit Card Reader

OpConnect is the industry leader in giving station owners the most options for how to control access to their EVSE stations. That includes controlling what days or hours the stations are available, what groups can use the stations (public, employees, vendors, etc.), as well as making access free to use or charging a fee.

If charging a fee, OpConnect gives drivers the ability to use multiple options for authorizing a vehicle charge, including credit/debit cards, an OpConnect card, their OpConnect app on their smartphone, or even by using the touchscreen on the charging stations.

Unlike many other charging stations, OpConnect EV charging stations include an integrated credit card reader in the station, which means that we do not require drivers to be a part of any network to use the stations and that any driver can simply swipe a card for payment at the station, as opposed to contacting someone by phone or some other means to provide the card data and wait for a station to be remotely authorized. The credit card reader is a fully-weatherized device that has been used in multiple outdoor applications and does not require any regularly scheduled maintenance.

And following industry requirements, the OpConnect credit card processing is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant – we do NOT maintain any user credit card number data on our system – either at the charging station or at our back end.

Surveillance Camera

OpConnect also is the only charging station on the market that features a surveillance camera. This could be utilized in a workplace charging environment to allow drivers to take a snapshot to see if a charging parking spot is actually open and not occupied by an internal combustion vehicle that just took the spot.

Variable Rate Plans

OpConnect allows the workplace employer to set up variable pricing plans. The employer may decide to offer free charging, or a certain price per hour ($1/hr), or they could charge by the kilowatt hour the vehicle is charging. The employer could set those rates for initial charging, say two or four hours, and then charge a different rate for when the vehicle is plugged in longer than that period of time. This second rate could help motivate employees to go out and move their vehicles.

Dual Port Configuration

Additionally, OpConnect stations are available in a dual-port configuration, which allows two vehicles to be charged at the same time. This helps saves on capital expenses of installing a charging station. This is especially useful when the station is sited in a parking lot in such a way that would allow charging to be done in two spots facing the station, and the two spots behind the station.

Load Control

The power-up/down throttling capability of the OpConnect EVSE units is among the most granular and flexible offered in the EVSE industry. Whereas many EVSE manufacturers that offer these features are only capable of throttling in 25% or even 50% increments (i.e. off -25% -50% -75% -100% output power), the OpConnect EVSE units are capable of throttling in increments as small as 1% from 0-100% of output current, or in increments of 0.1 amp, with the choice of throttling in either amps or percent power offered.

Next Steps

 If you have a question about bringing EVSE charging to your workplace, you can learn more at the Drive Oregon and Department of Energy websites. You can also give us a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Those signing up to be Workplace Charging Partners will be recognized at the EV Roadmap 7 industry conference in July.