These days, Nancie Hamlett has an easy, hassle-free way to recharge her Chevy Bolt. She can drive into Becketwood’s basement garage and plug her all-electric Bolt into a standard 110 outlet.
Right now, electric vehicle (EV) charging at Becketwood may be convenient, but it is also time consuming. A full charge for Hamlett’s Bolt, which has an average driving range of 230 miles, can take 24 hours. But that will soon change
This year, Becketwood is upgrading its charging capability in an effort to boost EV accessibility. The upgrade will replace the current system, known as a Level One charger, with the higher powered Level Two charger that requires a 220 outlet. The upgrade has the capacity to cut charging wait time by 75%. A full charge that now takes 24 hours will be reduced to six hours once the new system is in place.
EV access is not a new issue at Becketwood, says Bob Kirk, one of the co-op’s early EV boosters. “As far back as 2010, several of us recognized that EVs represented the wave of the future.
“We wanted Becketwood to prepare for that wave, but not many other co-op members shared our views. Back then, our board had little appetite to invest in EV accessibility. During those early years, no one here was driving an EV so the issue seemed more abstract than real. Now we have people who are driving all-electric so we have a better understanding of EVs and how much they cost to operate.”
“Attitudes here have clearly changed,” noted John Pegg, who helped promote Becketwood’s new EV plan. “EVs are gaining wider acceptance here and in the broader automotive market. As a result, EV availability has increased as more manufacturers convert their production to all-electric vehicles.”
Bob Ochtrup, who helped draft Becketwood’s current EV plan, said that operating costs for the charger will be user-funded on an on-going basis. “Our co-op is purchasing the equipment and installing it, but we won’t be covering the cost of the electricity that powers the charger. That will be the responsibility of the EV owners who will pay for the electricity they use through a sub-metering arrangement.”
Initially, Becketwood will install a Level Two Charger in a dedicated parking space in the Becketwood garage. EV owners will get weekly access to the charging station on a rotating basis.
“At some point, our board of directors may decide to put a charger in one of our outside parking lots, but that improvement won’t happen for a while,” Ochtrup noted. “Depending on future demand, we may get another charger in our garage. If so, it is likely to be another Level Two system. We are not planning to go with the highest capacity EV charger known as a Level Three. That equipment is incredibly expensive and it can degrade batteries if it is overused. Level Three chargers are really meant for long-distance driving. That need will be met through the new federal incentive programs that are just starting to roll out.”
“In the short term, those programs will boost costs for charging equipment as the EV industry gears up to meet a surging demand,” Ochtrup said. “Because we will face higher costs over the next few years, we decided to purchase and install the new equipment now, before the price increases kick in.”
Ochtrup added that Becketwood’s marketing needs are also prompted the co-op to upgrade its charging capability this year. “More and more, people are asking about our EV compatibility when they consider moving here. Having a Level Two charger will be a real marketing ‘plus’ for us.”
Glenna Dibrell, who chairs the Becketwood Marketing Committee, agreed. “We need to offer as much flexibility and accessibility for EV owners as our facilities and resources will allow. The market for senior housing is changing as technology evolves. We need to adapt to those changes.”
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