Update February 29: We received an email from Linda Rappatoni of the California Energy Commission telling us that the West Coast Electric Highway project is in the planning stage and has not yet obtained final approval. This is what Linda had to say: “This has not yet happened. These are proposed grants, recommended by staff, that the California Energy Commission will consider approving at a meeting between now and July. Once it happens, we’ll be sending out a news release and we’ll be as excited as you are to spread the word.”
The story has been amended to reflect this new information.
The California Energy Commission may award nearly $9 million to 4 companies to complete the West Coast Electric Highway. The project is intended to make it possible to drive an electric car from Vancouver to the Baja peninsular. Once approved, the new funding — $8,875,457, to be exact — will be used to create DC fast-charging stations along Interstate 5, State Route 99, and Highway 101, according to EV Obsession.
42% of the money will go to ChargePoint ($3,739,615). EV Connect will get 21% of the money ($1,843,179). NRG EV Services will get 19% ($1,659,928) and Recargo will get 18% ($1,632,735). The request for proposals for the work went out last July and resulted in 35 proposals in all. The solicitation defined 7 primary areas for the work to be done and 2 secondary segments.
For the primary sectors of the West Coast Electric Highway, each charging location must have at least one CHAdeMO fast charger, one SAE CCS Fast Charger and one J1772-compliant Level 2 charger. Fast chargers are not required for secondary segments, but proposals that included them received priority in the bidding process.
Each ChargePoint location will include a 50 kW Express DC fast charging station equipped with both SAE Combo and CHAdeMO connectors as well as Level 2 charging stations, according to Charged EVs. ChargePoints’ part of the project will also include two showcase sites with scalable intelligent energy storage management systems and a solar generation system that can charge the stationary storage and/or export power to the grid.
“The West Coast Electric Highway is key to expanding access to infrastructure, especially in rural, disadvantaged communities, to drive EV adoption,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. “This project will support EV drivers in their daily travel and give drivers range confidence for longer distance travel.”
Fast charging is vital for motorists traveling long distances away from home. Level 2 chargers can only add about 15 miles of range for every hour of charging, but a fast charger can usually restore a depleted battery to 80% of its capacity in a hour or less. Fast charging is considered a vital part of convincing mainstream drivers to consider driving an electric or plug-in hybrid car.
Projects like this are much easier to put in place on the west coast, which has only three states from north to south as opposed to the 13 states that line the eastern seaboard. Getting cooperation among all those political jurisdictions is like getting Chris Christie to lose weight — not impossible, but very, very difficult.