Plug. Drive. Repeat.
April 30, 2012
The Physical Plant* is leading the charge in the pursuit for eco-friendly transportation with the installation of five new electric vehicle charging stations around campus.
There are four stations located in the south Spartan Stadium parking lot and one in the parking ramp of the Kellogg Center.
Electrical Skilled Trades Supervisor John Nurenberg said he and his fellow electricians enjoyed the project. The crew took extra care to make sure none of the trees at Spartan Stadium were disturbed when installing the stations. Welder II Dale Schmitt and Maintenance Mechanic II Randy Boutell used a directional boring machine, which is a method of installing underground conduits with minimal impact to the surrounding area, to eliminate the damage to trees and landscaping.
The electric vehicle charging station at the Kellogg Center is part of the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Community Project.
The BWL received funding for this project through the Department of Energy using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from the Department of Energy. The goal of the program is to provide communities with electric charging station infrastructure in order to increase the use of green transportation.
In exchange for the charging station, Michigan State University will partner with BWL for three years. During that time MSU will provide BWL with charging data from the station, collect customer feedback, and periodically take surveys about the station.
There are currently two MSU staff members that drive Chevy Volts, but having the stations is beneficial to visitors on campus who need a charge, Nurenberg said.
“If we have students, guests or faculty that have electric cars, we have stations where they can charge them,” he said.
The way the station works is simple. Drivers can use a credit card or a key fob to access the station. Then all they have to do is plug in the vehicle
“That’s as simple as it is,” Nurenberg said. “Plug it in, swipe your card and it charges it up.”
The station takes about four hours to charge an electric vehicle, and it is compatible with the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Transit Connect, Ford Focus Electric, BMW ActiveE and Nissan LEAF. These vehicles can be charged by plugging into a regular outlet, but it will take much longer.
There are many benefits to using electric vehicles. One of the main perks is that they are better for the environment. Energy and Environmental Engineer Lynda Boomer said combustion engines are not fuel efficient, so electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“With electric vehicles, even though you are plugging in and charging it with power plant electricity, it’s still fewer emissions than burning the fuel directly,” she said.
Many electric vehicles can use gas for longer drives when the owner cannot charge it as frequently, but they get more miles per gallon than all-gas vehicles. The Chevy Volt, for example, gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway when using gas.
Another benefit of electric vehicles is the money drivers save at the pump.
“As fuel cost goes up, eventually I’m sure we will see more of these cars,” Nurenberg said.
New cellular phone technologies have also made driving an electric vehicle convenient. There is a cellular modem installed in every station that allows drivers to find charging stations, see if they are available for use and even find out if their vehicle is done charging with mobile applications. ChargePoint America has an app for this and other similar apps include EV Charger Finder, Plug Share, Recargo and CarStations.
MSU’s charging stations won’t be the only ones in the area. The City of East Lansing is considering installing electric vehicle charging stations of its own. One would be located at the East Lansing Public Library and the other would be downtown. If approved, the stations would be open for public use this year.
Green Issue 2012
*Prior to the creation of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities in January 2013, several IPF departments were a part of the now-dissolved MSU Physical Plant. Some historical articles on this website reference that former unit.
Employees involved in the installation: