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Charging the Chevy Volt at the Movies

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I drove to Pleasant Hill yesterday to watch a movie (The King’s Speech if you must ask) and also to enjoy a nice greasy Five Guys Burger.  To my delight I found that the first space in the free parking garage was a ChargePoint America station!  This was fantastic as my battery was running down (only 4 miles left) and I was about 20 miles from home.  While I could have easily made the trip running on gas, it felt great being able to charge up at while eating dinner and enjoying a movie.

What was even better was that it had a 240 v charging station, which means for the 4 hour stay between dinner, shopping and the movie, I returning to a fully charge car!

What a perfect application for a public charging station!  For movies you happen to stay for about the time it would take to take on a full charge.

In any case it was a great feeling knowing that I essentially saved a half gallon of gasoline.  I felt as if I parked in the handicapped space too given that it was at the bottom of the garage in a nice wide open space.  Given the high visibility of the space, I also noticed a bunch of people staring at my car as it was charging – certainly interested in seeing one of the few cars with a plug!

The station itself must have been very new as it hadn’t even registered on the chargepoint network.  (I asked Onstar to search the charge stations and it did not come up)  I also checked when I got home and noticed the charge station wasn’t on the map yet.  My 3 hour 30 minute charge session was also free!  (I did have to use my Chargepoint ChargePass Card though to access the station).

In any case, I had a pleasant surprise in pleasant hill, and yesterday I felt like park of an exclusive club!

Got a public charging story?  Share it here or in the forums!

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3 Responses to “Charging the Chevy Volt at the Movies”

  1. Fred says:

    That’s great! I still haven’t encountered a public charging station. Google maps tells me that Pleasant Hill is a 51 mile drive from my house in San Carlos…darn, if it were under 45 miles I’d try to make it an all-electric trip.

  2. Jeff N says:

    I charged up at a public station for the first time on Saturday after attending the SF Electric Auto Association meeting in the morning. I was meeting up in the afternoon with some other folks in the Chinatown area for a walk around the Telegraph and Russian hills so I parked at the Hilton Financial District Hotel. They got the first public charging stations in the city but I don’t think many folks had used them yet. They are ParkPod Inc. units which is a company headquartered in Germany. I found them using the EV Charger Finder iPhone app. The other public units are at pier 27/29. The units at SF city hall are only supposed to be used for city-owned cars and ZipCars.

    The units were just inside the entrance to the garage but there were no signs describing how to use them. The units themselves had only vague numbered illustrations indicating what to do. I figured out that I was supposed to use an RFID card to enable it but the weekend parking attendants didn’t know anything and my ChargePoint card didn’t work (I didn’t really expect it to). I gave up.

    I was just backing out of the garage to leave and park elsewhere when I was flagged down by a guy who turned out to be a VP from ParkPod. It turns out they have a SF office near the garage and he was randomly stopping by to check up on their installation. He quickly found the magic RFID card that enables “free” charging (after you pay for parking) in the garage attendant’s office and did an impromptu training session on how to use it. The weekday attendants had been trained but not the weekend people. I also ended up paying only the first hour for parking as compensation for the confusion.

    I parked all afternoon for $4 and got about 12 kWh of charge which enabled me to make the entire 80 mile roundtrip up to SF on battery. No gas!

  3. Jeff N says:

    The other day, I also tried out the only other modern J1772 public charging stations in San Francisco right now. They are ChargePoint units and are at a public parking garage run by Priority Parking along the outside of pier 27 facing toward pier 23 (there is no pier 25).

    I had no problem using my ChargePoint RFID card and got a full charge from a nearly empty battery in around 4 hours. The parking fee was $15 for a full day ($10 after 6 pm). Nearby city parking meters were charging $2 per hour but for a maximum of 4 hours. I’m assuming the electricity was free but haven’t verified that yet. So, another ~80 mile roundtrip to SF entirely on battery power.

    I suppose it is intentional that pier 27 is at the intersection of The Embarcadero and Battery Street. :-)

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