Blink Ends Free Charging In California, From Now On Users Pay $1* to $2 Per Hour

5 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 24

Blink Lineup of Charging Stations

Remember when you could drive up to a commercial, level 2 Blink station and get a free charge in California?  Well, that changes on Wednesday, August 22nd, as Blink gave consumers a day’s notice to notify them that the “trial of fee-free” charging has ended.

Blink Level 2 Pedestal Charging Station

Rates will now range from $1 to $2 per hour to receive an L2 charge in the state (the few DC fast chargers in existence are still free).

In order to qualify for the $1 per hour charge rate, a membership must be opened with Blink that also carries a $30 “membership dues” levy.  However, in a statement announcing the new charge-per-hour standard in California, Blink reminds us that for the rest of 2012 that fee is currently waived.

Users can also sign up for a membership and elect out of the $30 free.  However, they will charge their EVs at a rate of $1.50 per hour.  For unregistered users, they will pay $2 per hour.

Blink’s statement on the pay-per-hour changes in California:

California: L2 Fees Will Start Weds, August 22nd

We recently rolled out our fees to Arizona, and now starting this Wednesday, August 22nd, the trial of fee-free charging for California will end as well. – (These fees are for L2 charging, only – DC Fast Charging will still be free!)

If you have yet to sign up for a membership plan – now is the time to register!

Don’t forget: Blink PLUS’s annual fee of $30 is currently waived and allows for charging as low as $1/hr.
Thanks and please let us know how your charging experience is!

If your crunching the numbers to work out how much a $1 per hour charge would equate to in pump pricing at a Blink L2 charger.  A Chevrolet Volt will take almost 4 hours to receive a full charge and will go 35-38 miles electrically, and a Nissan LEAF will take about 7.5 hours to net a range of 73 miles.  Using an average compact or small compact car as a comparison, you will be paying about $4 a gallon equivalent.  $6 if your a registered member, and $8 if you just happen to stop by a Blink charger to get a boost.

Many states do not allow for non-authorized companies to charge by the actual kWh used, so new vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric, and the upgraded 2013 Nissan LEAF can receive a charge at a higher rate (6.6kW vs 3.3kW), so these cars will receive a near 50% discount at these Blink chargers, based on the equipment they come equipped with.

InsideEVs recently did a piece on pay-per-use charging rates vs. pay-per-kW or if public/commercial charging stations should be free as an enticement (or loyalty perk) for consumers to frequent particular businesses.  Feel free to check that out here.

Blink Account/Membership signup page can be found here

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24 responses to "Blink Ends Free Charging In California, From Now On Users Pay $1* to $2 Per Hour"

  1. Nelson says:

    I’d rather charge at home and pay 18 cents /kwh. Utility companies are the ones that should be rolling out their own charging infrastructure.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. Dave R says:

      Your home rate of 18c / kWh doesn’t include the cost of providing the charge station – cost to install, repairs, etc, never mind a small return on investment.

      Just like you pay $2 for a soft-drink in public, but can get the same thing for $0.50 at home, charging in public will be more expensive.

      Utilities are not allowed to sell directly to the public – they would have an unfair advantage compared to other providers.

      $1-2/hour is a fair rate for public charging. Personally I’d prefer to see a rate that uses a combination of energy consumed + time plugged in, but a flat rate is good enough for most cases. Minimum should be $0.50 as well.

      1. Tyler says:

        $1-2 per hour is ridiculous. If I use these chargers, It will negate any savings I expected to see from not paying high gas prices. The federal government has already paid these guys (in fact, they have yet to deliver on thier end, as the article mentions). If you want to argue costs, they probably see rates much lower than Nelson’s 18 cents/KwH (BTW Nelson, it’s more like 9 cents/KwH where I live). They probably get a discounted rate of 5 cents/KwH. Assuming the charger is pushing out ~4Kw per hour you’re talking 20 cents per hour of charging on a 220 volt system. Add maybe 2 cents per hour for maintenance and I’m still wondering where the 2.00/hour cost is coming from.

  2. vdiv says:

    Does this open up space for a competing charging network to come in and charge less, say $0.80 per hour? Also will this encourage businesses to install and operate fully subsidized charging stations to attract customers with EVs?

  3. Steve says:

    I find this to literally be highway robbery. Charging should not be over $0.50/hour. That leaves pleny of room for the cost of electricity, infrastructure and profit. Greed this early on will certainly stall the EV movement. I’m just glad that I own a Volt and don’t have to rely on public charging infrastrucutre.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Public/commercial charging can be looked at in three ways, or from three different perspectives and charging rates:

      1) the EVSE owner supports or promotes the green movement
      —pricing is as close to cost as possible, maybe free
      2) the EVSE owner wishes to use public charging as an enticement to use/frequent his place of business or as a loyalty perk to him employees/customers
      —pricing is free
      3) the EVSE owner/provider is a business and they want to not only directly recover the cost/install of their machine, but to turn a profit
      —pricing will be a multiple of cost, with $1 likely being the lowend of the threshold

      We actually did a piece on ‘what the market will bear’ and where it will end up here at InsideEVs, you can check it out here:
      http://insideevs.com/market-will-force-cuts-at-ev-charging-stations/
      (I also just added that into this story as a reference part as well)

      1. Steve says:

        Perhaps when some of these studies have been done, the owners responding were not fully informed about the equivelent costs. Heck, I used an overpriced station once, just to show my support. However, I will never use it again. At $1/hour, that’s the equivalent of $4/gal gas. That’s way to high given the invonenience of having to have the vehicle sit there for 4 hours. There’s a concept of Cost-Quality-Speed, and this pricing is off the continuum. If you have to wait 4 hours to do something (charge for 40 miles) in public, where the alternative (pumping gas) takes 1 minute, the cost for the slow event should be far less, not equivelent. This is one of the reasons that I predict consumers will not “settle out” for $1/hour once educated on the true costs involved. It will be more like $0.25/hr or $0.50/hr.

        1. Open-Mind says:

          You seem to feel entitled to public charging at the expense of others. Please spend $10K of your own money to install a couple these 25-cent/hour public charging stations and let us know how that works out.

          In the mean time, I will happily pay $2 for an hour of charge instead of being stranded 10 miles from home.

          1. Steve says:

            Again, I drive a Volt, so the alternatve for me, still gets me home safely and comfortably. If being stranded were my only other alternative, of course, I would be willing to over-pay for a charge too. Given that the Volt is by far the top selling plug-in vehicle, our logic will have more impact on the free-market pricing over time ,bringing prices down below $2/hour. And that’s better for the electric-only drivers out there too.

            1. Open-Mind says:

              I don’t own ether yet, but will probably buy a Volt as well.

              My point is, the opportunity cost (hence, the fair price) of a charge can vary greatly depending on what you drive. A Leaf owner on empty might gladly pay $5/hour. Likewise, that stranded Leaf owner gets no value from a 25-cent charger that’s in use by a Volt. Until fast chargers become ubiquitous like gas pumps, this will always be an issue.

              The best equitable solution I can think of is multiple identical chargers, but each with a different price. Maybe 50-cents, $1, $2, and $5. That way the consumer can make a fair decision based on their opportunity cost, and the provider has a chance to recover their investment.

    2. THebb says:

      Steve, with all respect to you and your Volt, I’m not sure your dependence on the privately controlled, capitalist gasoline market is any better than us Leaf drivers having to “rely on public charging infrastructure.”

      I agree with you entirely otherwise, and condemn charging rates higher than 50 cents an hour. I for one will avoid Blink’s network like the plague from now on until they halve the fee.

      BTW, unlike some advocates of pure EV’s like the Leaf, I don’t look down on the Volt; any road that leads to more freedom from oil and more sustainability is better than the existing road that only furthers gasoline dependence, air pollution and climate change.

  4. Mark says:

    The typical Coulomb or Blink Public charging station costs about $4,000. Installation can easily be $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the amount of trenching, cement work, paving and electrical work needed. If anyone here thinks a site can charge Less than $1.00/hr to charge and even cover their costs they are terribly mistaken. Even at $2.00 or $3.00 per hour the site will never recoup their investment plus electric and future maintenance costs. The only hope the owner has is that people will use the charger to patronize the businesses on his site and they will make money that way. Public chargers will never be a profitable business and to hear people whine about $1.00 per hour for the convenience of charging on someone else’s equipment because the electric only cost them $.50 is really disheartening and will only set electric cars back (again). If you have a plug in hybrid like the volt than you don’t need to plug in when you are on the road, so don’t. Hybrids are absolutely great for having the flexibility to run on gas as much as you need to so I can see why a volt owner doesn’t want to pay more than they do at home for electric. However EV owners don’t have that luxury, and they all (except the LEAF and that changes this year) charge at double the Volts rate (and faster) so they will be getting more electric for their dollar anyway. I car that charges at 6.6kW can accept $1.20 of electric per hour if the electric rate is .18/kWh which is common in many areas. EV drivers than don’t have the gas engine back up that the plug in hybrid has should have no issue paying $2.00/ hour for $1.20 worth of electricity. If they do, they don’t deserve the convenience of plugging into and charging off somebody else’s equipment. Let them catch a tow truck home.

  5. KeiJidosha says:

    At an EVProject site today with 6 Blink “chargers”. 3 were broken. Is that changing too?

  6. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Using gas in the Volt is cheaper than $2 per hour charging…. that’s only getting you 5 miles per dollar vs. 10 miles for gas. Eventually people will figure that out and economics will drive the price lower for charging…

    MrEnergyCzar

    1. I agree that there will be a learning curve as to what pricing the market will support but I do not believe we can really use the the volt and what their owners are willing to pay as a fair barometer for this. As Mark pointed out above, plug in hybrids like the volt don’t need to use public charging infrastructure. The owners might like to because most have the desire to drive on electric as much as possible, but they really can do just fine charging overnight at home. Also, the 3.3kW charging rate the volt uses is fine for it because it has such a small battery but every BEV will charge at at least double that rate (the LEAF will in 2013 onward) and many will charge at three or four times as fast. This will get the user more electricity per hour and make public charging at $2.00 per hour a much better deal. Obviously the ideal way to charge is by the kWh but it’s currently illegal to do so in a about 75% of the States because you aren’t allowed to resell electricity. The public charging stations are very expensive to install and maintain, you aren’t going to get them to charge $1.00/ hour in many places. We will pay a premium to charge in public and personally I’m fine with that. If $2.00 L2 charging bothers you, wait till you see what we have to pay for level 3 DC quick charge stations!

      1. MrEnergyCzar says:

        I donated a charger at work, they installed it for $300. Unit and labor cost was $800. They are cheap to install. The problem is they feel the need to have these giant fancy looking things….forcing them to charge a lot…..

        MrEnergyCzar

        1. Mark says:

          So the EVSE cost $500 and installation was $300. You are obviously taking about using a residential EVSE in a commercial environment. The unit must not have the ability to charge anything for use and the installation had to basically be plug and play. You can’t get a qualified electrician to come and install a dedicated 40amp circuit, run the cables and hang the unit for $300 in 99% of the applications. Plus you are obviously not talking about a parking lot situation where 95% of the time you need to trench to bring the feed to the EVSE. How about insurance? Your boss is going to be very disappointed if someone somehow gets hurt using the unit(low probability but someone could trip over the cable very easily) and he hasn’t added this charger to his general liability policy (which will increase his insurance costs) Because if he didn’t his insurance company can deny the claim leaving him to pay the claim out of pocket.

          In public settings there is maintenance, vandalism repairs and insurance expenses in addition to the electricity cost. Saying a site can install an EVSE that is open for public use can be done for $800 and that all it cost is fantasy and probably hurting EV adoption because it’s the same as saying EV’s are all zero emission. They do have zero tailpipe emission but in the majority of circumstances, powering them does cause emission. Much less than gas cars generate, but obfuscating the truth in any way only gives the doubter ammunition when they argue against the electrification of automobiles. Installing public chargers that have the ability to charge people for using them in public and private parking lots costs many thousands of dollars and while the price will go down a little will remain in the “thousands of dollars” range they will also cost a fair amount of money to maintain and power and if people want to see these continue to be installed, they need to patronize them or people will simply stop installing them.

          You certainly don’t need to do so with a PHEV like the volt, and since it has such a slow charger I can certainly understand why you don’t want to pay $2.00 for $.50 worth of electricity, but I also know many volt owners that happily do so. To them, it’s not about paying a couple bucks more for electricity once in a while, it’s about supporting an industry that is in a very uncertain period and could contract as easily as it could expand if people don’t think there is a way for the stations to at least pay for themselves let alone make a profit. Right now, even charging $2 or $3 per hour there isn’t a station in the US that is even paying for itself let alone making a profit. Perhaps in the future when there are millions of EV’s and people are plugging in all day they can lower the rates or maybe by them they will be able to charge more fairly (by the kWh, not by the time there) but for now the best thing anyone can do is plug in and use a public EVSE when you have the chance to and show the site operators that people want and will use these if you install then.

  7. vdiv says:

    As a Volt driver I would rather have an available charging station at my destination that costs $2/hour than not have one at all. I did not buy the Volt to save on the cost of the car or the cost of the fuel/energy, I bought a Volt so that I can use as little gasoline as possible. Please do not hold it against me that I didn’t buy a pure EV and instead got one with a dirty ICE in it — I intend to use the ICE as little as possible, can only afford to have one car, and do drive longer distances than pure EVs can reasonably cover.

    Now, I am not the only one who decided on a Volt. It is the best-selling and frequently found plug-in on the road. A look at any location with multiple charging stations in use will reveal that. As such the public charging infrastructure does have to take the Volt into account. After all these are the infrastructure’s significant number of users (whether they have to charge or not).

    At the same token $4000 for an EVSE and another $4000 for installation is way too much. With the government slowly pulling out of subsidizing these the market will force the prices down.

    And here is another factor. Some EVSEs do have Level 1 charging (120V 15A) that is frequently used by home conversions or electric bikes/scooters or people sharing the EVSE. Is it still reasonable to charge $2, $3, or $4 an hour to use Level 1 charging?

    1. Dave R says:

      You have a great outlook on why it’s worth it to occasionally pay more to drive on electricity than gas when the infrastructure is available.

      Unfortunately, too many people are quick to compare the price of public charging to the incremental cost of charging at home (and during off-peak rates at that).

      As you said – you’ve already paid a lot of money for the ability to run on electrons – occasionally paying a cost similar to the cost of gas when charging in public is reasonable. If I had a PHEV – I certainly wouldn’t mind paying more than the cost of gas to run on electricity if it lets me avoid burning gas. There are plenty of other reasons to prefer running on electricity whenever possible.

  8. vdiv says:

    Let me offer another viewpoint. For the same amount of EV driving, the Volt and the PiP with shorter EV ranges would need more places to charge than pure EVs with much longer ranges. For example, driving 30 miles from home and back on battery only in a Volt to see friends requires charging at the destination. Driving the same distance in a Leaf, Focus EV, Tesla, does not.

    1. Mark H says:

      Although there is some validity to this statement, the amount of gas burned (at least by Volt owners) is minimal in such cases. Many EV owners BEVs included still cut their grass, drive an additional ICE, and possible even support an ICE recreational vehicle. All of us want to move toward the next generation of energy but we are in the transitional years. In the end, there will only be BEVs but for at least a decade, and in the first round of battery technology, there are some PHEV owners who are gambling that slow charging will extend the life of their battery and don’t use charging stations for this reason. The truth of whether this is valid or not will probably be flushed out in the next five years and by then the battery technology will most likely have changed to adapt anyway. This logic may slow the charging station growth but will not kill it nor have long term effect on the cost of charging stations.

      The second best step any EV owner can do is to produce their own electricity. Hopefully the near future will bring changes to land share agreements for those unable to install at their residence.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    I usually carry a passenger in my Roadster so that when the battery goes dead I can pay her $2 to push the car home.

  10. Leaf Owner says:

    Thank you for the article, but I am soooo tired of reading that the Leaf charges at 3.3kW.

    Many Leafs (including mine) have another charge port right next to the Level 2 port which will charge up to 62.5kW.

    If you are going to put specifications of the vehicle in your article, please make sure they are complete and correct.

    End of rant…

    1. Jay Cole says:

      This article, and the new charging price structure from Blink only applies to their Level 2 commercial charging stations. The article does reference this in the 2nd paragraph:

      “Rates will now range from $1 to $2 per hour to receive an L2 charge in the state (the few DC fast chargers in existence are still free).”

      As well as quotes a statement from Blink themselves on the subject:

      (These fees are for L2 charging, only – DC Fast Charging will still be free!)