At $2 Per Hour, Level 2 Charging Stations in Venice, Florida Come Under Fire For Being Way Too Expensive

MAR 26 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 71

Would you pay $2 per hour to Level 2 charge your EV?

Matthew Cummings, a Chevrolet Volt owner in Florida, was faced with paying this high fee when he pulled up to a charging station at Centennial Park in Venice, Florida.  Cummings choose not to charge there, as he was appalled by the fee.

Instead, Cummings found a nearby charger that was free.

However, free public charging is quickly disappearing in most states throughout the US.  In place of free we’re now seeing fees attached.  Most seem to be per-hour fees, rather than the preferred per-kWh fee.

Where Should I Charge My Volt?  At Home?  It's Definitely Cheaper

Where Should I Charge My Volt? At Home? It’s Definitely Cheaper

But at $2 per hour, most EV owners feel this is like “highway robbery.”

Cummings is actually glad that the city of Venice installed the chargers and feels that their location is ideal:

“The location is awesome.  I applaud the city for putting these in… But this should be affordable and accessible.”

“I’m not saying I want a hand-out.  I’m willing to pay.”

Cummings claims that a full charge for his Volt at home takes 10 hours and costs him only $1 in electricity.  The charger in Centennial Park would take him only 4 hours to fully charge.  The fee for that would be $8, which Cummings says is higher than the gas cost for the for the same 45-ish miles of driving.

With complaints pouring in, Venice Public Works director John Veneziano seems to be open to re-evaluating the fee.

“I don’t see a whole lot of vehicles there.”

Commented Veneziano.

The chargers in question were purchased with a state grant back in 2012, so it’s not like the city needs to recoup the costs of the units.  Basically, the city just needs to make sure that the electricity is paid for by the EV owners.

As Herald Tribune reports:

When Cummings recently complained to the City Council about the $2 rate, he found a receptive audience.

The council wants the city to get more details about the stations’ usage from ChargePoint, which processes the credit card transactions.

“Obviously, we can reset this,” council member Jeanette Gates said, referring to the $2 rate.

The city expected that the chargers would be highly utilized, provided that drivers consider them reasonably priced, but they’re obviously overpriced now and, as such, aren’t seeing much use.

As Cummings suggests, the per hour fee should be reduced, but the city could still generate revenue by selling advertising space on the charging units.

Source: Herald Tribune

Categories: Charging

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71 Comments on "At $2 Per Hour, Level 2 Charging Stations in Venice, Florida Come Under Fire For Being Way Too Expensive"

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For vehicles like mine that only have 3.3kW chargers, a flat fee stinks. When did we decide that a per-kilowatt fee wouldn’t work?

The fee is as much a usage fee of the station as it is the kWh consumed. What is the motivation for someone to unplug or move their car after they have enough charge if the rate is just based on kWh?

I thought that many states prohibit selling energy per kWh unless you’re a regulated power utility. So instead charge point is just a “service” and charges per hour or a flat fee.

Can’t the charger detect the rate it’s charging at and then have a different “service fee” based on the rate of charge, thus not tying it directly to the kwhs delivered?

Yes, technically speaking. But how do you convey that to the user in a way they understand? The problem isn’t technical, its a communication and education issue.

It’s obviously doable as Target store are free for 2 hours THEN they charge by the hour… so there must be a way using the expensive software that does both per kHR, then starts a per hour after some time frame.

While I find the price outrageous, I also find it amusing that near me they cost $2.49/hour, as well as every other Car Charging Group station throughout the country that doesn’t charge by the kWh.

See also http://www.carcharging.com/ev-drivers/fees/ Apparently now their fees range from $2.00 per hour to $2.99 per hour. Obscene!

The per kWh price isn’t quite as bad, but at $0.49/kWh it’s still not exactly attractive.

It will become far less obscene when the car batteries can charge more quickly, thus bringing the cost down.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Per-kWh fees are problematic in areas that require licensing as a utility to charge per kWh. $2/hr is highway robbery for 3.3kW charging, and high but not unconscionably so for 6.6kW.

Ideally, per-kWh fees for EV charging would be opened up to anyone without regulatory approval.

Except it’s about $.30/kWh to use gas. You start going above that and it gets WAY cheaper to avoid the charging station.

Not to imply I’m for hourly charging but I think it discourages EV owners from staying plugged in when charge is completed. Can the chargers detect 3.3kW charging vs. 6.6kW and adjust the hourly rate accordingly? Say 0.55/hr. for 3.3kW charging and $1/hr. for 6.6kW charging. I would consider paying a maximum of 0.75 per hour to charge my Volt depending on the circumstance.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt#671

Ha, just read your post.. similar to what I posted above.

Need to get some lawyers on this..

There is something to this. A couple years ago when chargers were few but generally free people would occupy charging spots even when they didn’t really need the charge – and sometimes a car would sit fully charged and plugged-in for hours. This was especially annoying in situations where a second car couldn’t be parked to reach the cord or where the car had an alarm feature if unplugged (*cough* … Volt … *cough*).

So some incentive for the user to move the car when charging is done makes sense.

I do like the idea of detecting the charging rate of the car and adjusting the hourly rate accordingly – and I hope that the hourly rate is pro-rated. But given those changes I’d support an hourly rate.

I have never seen an EVSE that continued to assess a fee after the car was charged, so the argument that a high fee makes people move their cars is confusing to me.

All of the chargepoint stations that I have used that are not free charge per time connected, ever after charging is complete.

GSP

Many states are starting to allow per kWH fees. NY was recently added to the list after the PUC ruled that charging stations are not electric utilities and should not be regulated as such.

Would you pay $2 per hour to Level 2 charge your EV?

Would you pay $4 for coffee at SBUX?

Would you pay $4 for popcorn at a movie theater?

Nobody is forcing you to charge there. It is called “free market”. Deal with it!

“I don’t see a whole lot of vehicles there.”
———–
Apparently the free market has spoken… and it’s resulted in a waste of resources.

Sorry … I did not get your point.

If a bus drives by, and there is an empty seat in it, is that a waste of resources? Does an unfilled seat at a sports game bother you?

It does bother me if the empty seats translate into the team/service going away entirely and nobody gets to see/use it. Especially if there were simple ways to avoid it, opportunities squandered.

Good answer. And it bothers me too when I see my city spending billions on a light rail system and most of the seats are empty.

Which means you and I are paying for a great big waste.

My point was, if chargers are so exorbitantly priced that no one ever uses them, then they are a waste (and hopefully not of tax dollars). They just become decorations; and also a talking point for anti-EV people to say “see, no one uses those things”.

Imagine they charged $10 for the local bus seat, they too would empty out… but they aren’t, they are priced around a cost model, not $ we pulled out of our butt.

$2 kWh vs. the $.08 – .12 the utility charges customers (City of Austin ~.08). What the city then does is charge a fixed fee for unlimited usage. In 9 months, I’ve seen 1 car past charging and weirdest ever a Leaf not plugged in. Left them nice notes and moved on…

kdawg, mmci

In case either of you did not realize, my post was intentionally flippant, and every time EV owners complain about how expensive charging is, we look bad.

$2 an hour is way less than it costs to provide L2 charging**, and if we complain about that, then we implicitly say that we are entitled to a subsidy.

(**hint: the EVSE is not free, neither is the installation or maintenance or payment processing)

I agree with ggpa.

The problem here is not that it costs $2/hr. to charge at the station. The problem is that so many EVs out there can only charge at up to 3.3kW (2.7kW for a PiP).

With a 6.6kW charger, that puts the cost at 30.3¢ per kWh, which is steep. With a 3.3kW charger, it obviously cost way too much.

Make it 1$ seems much more reasonable.

$0.30 is certainly steep for home charging, but for convenience charging it’s probably reasonable. In Colorado we pay $0.49/kWh to charge at the Walgreen’s SemaCharge stations. Although a lot of EV drivers here were annoyed (maybe “outraged” is a better term) when the stations were changed from being free, I find I’d much rather have them there at that price for the occasional “top-up” than not at all. An added advantage is that at that price the only cars which use them are those that really need the charge – and with only one station at each location that’s an important advantage.

I travel from Syracuse, New York to Yonkers, New York and have never seen a free charger.

I live in Michigan and have yet to see a pay charger, other than Grand Rapids. There are literally 25 free chargers near me. In Grand Rapids, it’s goofy because they charge for the electricity, but then there’s also a fee for the “premium” parking spot? So basically you could park there and not charge, but you would still have to pay for the “premium” spot. Oh, and all of that is on top of the parking deck fee. So yeah.. getting charged 3 different ways at the same time (Though the charger, through a meter at the spot, and w/a ticket from the parking deck gate).

Rick, have you used Plugshare? You can filter out paid stations. There’s actually a few free ones in Syracuse, such as at a couple of the Chilis restaurants, though I know that doesn’t help much. I would suspect there to be a few free ones along your route and at your destination as well.

For example, a quick search on Plugshare.com shows about a dozen free stations in Yonkers, including Sarah Lawrence College, and Montefiore Moses Center parking garage.

Thanks for the update. I had looked at plugshare a long time ago but not lately. After checking I see Nichols in Liverpool has a free charger. Guess I will have to support them by doing some shopping there. I see one at OCC too. I believe the ones that I probably would use like the mall or downtown still charge 2.40 and hour which as far as I’m concerned are useless to .

Instantly a joke about retired Floridians came to mind, but seeing as some of them are my relatives I’ll let it slide.

Maybe if the price is too high, nobody will use the station, and the owners won’t make any money off of it, driving them to reduce the price. Crazy concept!

Yay free market. Except – we know many will just tear them out and say nobody used ’em.

Costco prematurely electrificated…lol

And they still haven’t found the energy to replace the torn-out EVSEs with new ones that will actually get used.

When is Costco gonna wake up and smell the electrons?

You KNOW someone is gonna “correct” me and school me that electrificated is not a word. So I’ll pre-empt the attempt – and just tell them in advance they didn’t get the humor.

It is a word if you use it and we understand what you mean by it. 🙂

Costco with the giant unused flat roofs of their warehouses has zero excuses not to electrificate with PV panels and charging stations.

Agreed – I know that businesses, particularly the big ones, get huge tax breaks already, but…I think that there should be significant regional, if not Federal, incentives for any business with big roofs to cover them in solar panels…storage centers, big-box stores, factories, warehouses…they would generate enough electricity that the incentives wouldn’t be necessary, but it would get their attention…

I don’t think $2.00 is outrageous. Most pure EVs these days charge at 6.6Kw and so that makes the cost around $0.10 cents per mile. Which is on par with a gasoline car that gets 35 miles per gallon.

Keep in mind that public charging is often a convenience and so people will usually pay more for the convenience, much like the overpriced snacks at gas stations.

If you drive a PHEV with 3.3Kw charging, then you’re probably better off (from a financial perspective) to buy gasoline.

Nissan LEAF S: 3.3kW
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 3.3kW
Spark EV: 3.3kW

I’m well aware of these.. But most Leafs come with the faster charger these days. The other two cars don’t sell in enough volume to count.

Most LEAFs are sold (leased really) in the basic S trim that comes with 3.3 kWh without the QC package, so no, most LEAFs sold today still have the 3.3 charger onboard.

I’ve wondered about that… Do you have actual numbers, and if so would you mind enlightening us please?

Most LEAF S vehicles are sold with the QC package which includes 6.6 kW L2 charging.

Ford Energi = 3.3kWh
Focus = 6.6 kWh

Actually, this seems like a good result! Yes, don’t clog up charging stations with Chevy Volts that don’t really need a charge. Let a pure EV which may really need the charge use the charge station!

It is not a question of “need”, it is a question of being willing and able to pay for the convenience of the service.

And guess what? A lot of Volt owners, including this one, are willing and fortunately able to pay. They use these stations for the same reasons why pure EV drivers got their cars — to not use gas.

IMHO, it *has* to be about need, since an EV is only practical if you can charge it when you *need* to. If Volts are hogging all the EV spots, that makes pure EVs less practical. The cost needs to be high enough to drive correct behavior.

Some day I plan to sell my Volt and buy an EV. When that day comes, I don’t want to be stranded because some Volt was hogging the charger I planned to use.

That is a rather selfish and not a humble opinion. Nothing entitles you to use the stations. You will not be “stranded” because a Volt or another plugin is using the station, or because it is ICEd, or because it simply doesn’t work. You will be “stranded” because you did not plan your trip properly and made a bad decision based on a false assumption.

Yeah, the market is speaking.

However, if you look beyond just lowering the rates at what a reasonably priced charge session nets to the owner of the ESVE, there really isn’t much of a business there. Even assuming a high level of utilization, a given station will result in a pretty paltry net even before maintenance and operations costs are deducted. Throw in capital depreciation and it’s probably running at a loss. Even at $2/hr and 10 hrs of billings a day, the net after subtracting the cost of electricity will be around $5K a year. We know how unrealistic 10 hrs/day is at those prices.

At $1/hr, the net shrinks to $2.2K and that assumes 3.3 KW charging. Model a blended average of 5 KW and it’s about $1500 net. This still assumes an unrealistic utilization of 10 hrs/day.

KW metering makes more sense but the laws have to change.

My bottom line is that I don’t think there is an actual business in charging.

Finally, someone who can see past the price of $/kWh.

Public charging infrastructure companies are fighting an extremely tough business – there is very little to be made (or even break even) even at $2/hr and high utilization rates.

Personally, I am more than willing to pay well above retail rates to be able to charge in public when I need it, which isn’t that often. Here in California, one will pay $0.30/kWh even at home to charge during peak hours, so expecting to pay that rate or less is unreasonable unless whomever paying for the station is offering charging as a perk to attract business.

Other areas will obviously have lower electricity rates and the cost to charge should reflect that.

IMO, the fairest way to charge is to charge per/kWh (adjusting for TOU rates as necessary) but also include a minimum hourly rate (charged by the minute) to encourage people to move on once done.

So for example, charge a minimum of $0.01/minute or $0.35 / kWh, whatever ends up being more expensive.

Charge for an hour at 3.3 kW? $1.15.
Charge for an hour at 3.3 kW but stay plugged in for an extra hour? $1.75.

Adjust prices as appropriate.

The Chargepoint stations that were installed at my office this past November charge $.75 for the first four hours and then $3.00 after that. That seems to solve the problem of fully charged vehicles hogging the spots.

smart

That actually sounds perfect to this Volt owner.

I mention it elsewhere, but this is exactly was Target stores are doing. Free for a while and then strongly encouraging you to move.

Its fine, let the market work. The only real problem is that city governments, freed from the burdens of an economics class and common sense, will announce the removal of the charging stations later with the pronouncement that there is clearly no demand for EV public charging.

Where is the harm if they do that? No one was using it anyway. I don’t think it takes a college degree to see that if it isn’t being used at all, there is no loss in it going away.

granted, a free charger is nearby but even in areas where there aren’t free chargers, paid for chargers have an incredibly low utilization rate (chargepoint and blink, system wide, average less than one session per day per EVSE).

Exactly my point.

If you charge $10.00 to use public restrooms, no one will use them, they will be removed citing a lack of need, use, interest, etc… And in the mean time, the alleys will stink.

Mr Cummings (the complainer) himself said that the location is ideal. So the city should announce that the $2/hr fee is parking fee and that charging is free. Problem solved.

I have a Leaf. Sure I like free charging and I won’t pay $2/hr to charge at some crummy location and have to walk far to where I’ll be for a while. However, if the location is ideal (e.g. the Park where Mr Cummings was at, at the movies, at the mall), I would pay for prime parking (and get free charging).

Makes the supercharger network look better all the time. I wonder how that meeting went. Well what do we charge for them? Various numbers are thrown out, until some bright boy says: ‘cut through the hassle just make them free.’
Just speculation, but it seems like it was a great idea and still is.

Considering Tesla charges $2k for the SC option for the 60kWh Model S, and “includes” it in the 85kWh model, I’d say that Tesla is doing just fine, not to mention the convenience and advertising that the superchargers provide…

…and exclusivity…only Model S and future models can use them…

I want a Model S so bad it hurts…just can’t pull off a $900/mo. car payment…

…for 6 years…

I feel for yah! Love driving it.

Your point about superchargers bring up the way that EVSEs should be thought about – as an adjunct to a separate business. Since a stand alone charging business will never work, it needs to be used to support some other business. With Tesla, it allows for long distance travel and thus increases the value of the Model S (or perhaps better said removes a perceived barrier to entry). Restaurants, Hotels, Resorts and so on could use ESVEs as an enticement to bring in more customers. I know of several of these in Washington State. Since the electricity cost of charging is fairly low, it’s overall a relatively small hit.

The logic behind “free” (more on that in a sec) is that billing and authorizing adds ongoing operations and thus cost. It’s not really free. The actual cost is $2000 if bought with the car. Doing the math at the national average kwh rate gives you about 50K Supercharged miles to break even. Needless to say, hardly anyone will hit that.

Maintenance
Vandalism
Upgrades
Wear and tear
Demand rates
Space fees (parking)

Just because electricity is 10c doesn’t mean it’s a pass-through. If demand-based in Florida, the rate could be much higher.

Would you rather park for $5/hr or park with an EVSE for $7?

Well, at this price, no more “free juice” hogs…

if $2/hr is bad, then the idea that I was pitching some large gasoline retailers will get kill in this site. I suggested that they could installed NEMA 14-50 (or 50 – 70 amp level 2) and charge $10/hr. This would be in gas stations located in the interstate, not near other charging facilities. The idea is that the investment in a nema 14-50 plug is minimal and it would cater to Tesla like vehicles in need of 20-40 miles of charge to make it to their destination. I would likely pay that, if I needed tha miles. The rest of the pitch was that they would likely increase their sales of convinience goods and if nobody used them, they could convert the plug to something else (such as power to their ice freezers).

If you can afford to buy it; you can afford to charge it.