VACAVILLE — Annette Cook’s world became a little bigger Friday. At the same time, Vacaville’s carbon footprint got a little deeper.
Both happened at the opening of the new Eaton DC Quick Charger for electric vehicles at the Bella Vista park-and-ride lot. It is one of only 161 in the United States.
Cook, and many other electric vehicle owners, gathered Friday morning with several business and city officials to officially open the new quick-charge station that will make driving an electric vehicle between Sacramento and the Bay Area a more timely event.
“This is another shining milestone for Vacaville,” said Brian McLean, the city’s fleet and transit manager. “This is the future.”
McLean pointed to a line of electric vehicles parked in front of the older Level II chargers at the Bella Vista park-and-ride lot off Davis Street, the site of the new quick charger. The Level II chargers can take up to six hours to charge, depending upon the vehicle, while the new quick charger takes less than 30 minutes.
That’s about the time it can take to wait in line at a gas station, get gas and then get something to eat, Cook said. She owns a Nissan Leaf, which her husband usually only drove around the Sacramento area. She can now drive the vehicle from Sacramento to the Bay Area with a quick recharging stop in Vacaville.
“For just a quick trip to San Francisco, the Leaf was not an option but now it is,” said Cook, whose other vehicle is a Toyota Prius.
The city incurred no financial costs for the installation of the charger. In addition, there are no utility costs because the bank of chargers, including the new quick charger, run from solar panels installed at the park-and-ride lot.
Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy said that being given the opportunity to add the quick-charge station was the next logical step for a city that has long been a proponent of electric drive transportation. The city earned the nickname “Voltageville” a few years ago when it installed 40 charging stations and added 24 electric vehicles to its city fleet.
“We’re really trying to make an effort to help the atmosphere out,” Hardy said. “These cars are really coming into their own now.”
The nearest quick-charge facility is in San Ramon, but the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is set to install about eight within the next year, said Efrain Ornelas, transportation services fleet engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
The project, which also included upgrading Level II chargers up and down the Interstate 80 corridor, cost about $416,000. Of that, about $175,000 came from an Air Resources Board grant given to PG&E. The remainder, Ornelas said, was a shared cost between partners PG&E, Mitsubishi and Tokyo Electric Power Company. The city, also a partner, provided the site.
Ornelas estimated that about $100,000 of the project money was spent in Solano County.
The project started a few years ago, with a Japanese prototype from Tokyo Electric Power Company. The company wanted to see how it would work in a U.S. market. It was installed in 2010 at the Bella Vista location, but was not for public use. At the time, it was the first in the U.S., Ornelas said.
The prototype, which did not meet U.S. standards, was removed and the new unit, licensed through Eaton Corporation and worth about $60,000, was installed last month, Ornelas said.
“We really have a vested interest in continuing to push forward with alternative fuel modes,” McLean said.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.