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Driving the Dream on Sunshine

By Bill Moore

San Francisco-based non-profit Charge Across Town is opening up a trio of free charging stations powered by sunshine to any and all electric car drivers.

Charge Across Town executive director Maureen Blanc has a dream: get off oil and drive on sunshine. Starting this past week at three locations in San Francisco, California, she now can 'drive the dream,' charging her leased BMW i3 electric car for free on energy generated by the sun.

The 'Driving-on-Sunshine' program is being funded by a $200,000 grant for the Eleven Hour Project, an initiative funded by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. The money is being used to purchase and deploy a trio of Envision Solar EV-ARCs: 100% off-grid solar charging stations for electric cars.

As a non-profit, Charge Across Town, was one of six grants to be awarded with the goal being to not only provide free charging for Bay area EV owners, but to educate the public to the concept of powering your transportation needs with clean, renewable energy.

Each of the EV-Arcs is composed of a solar-tracking photovoltaic array, a single Level 2 (240V) charger and a 22 kWh battery pack, or roughly the size of a battery in a Nissan LEAF, for example. Ms. Blanc and her group are hoping to charge between 4 and 6 electric cars per day; battery storage allows drivers to also charge at night. Charging sessions are limited to 2 hours.

"We don't want Tesla Model S owners plugging in all day," she explained. Between their rollout last week and the end of the year, the trio of stations, each costing between $45-50,000USD, will be relocated every three months to give as wide an exposure to the public as possible, and to also help better determine the best locations around the Bay in which to install future charging stations.

"We hope to install them in 9-12 neighborhoods." At the end of the year, the units will be donated to the city.

The group is working with Plugshare to have them listed, so they are findable by the Plugshare app, as well as on their web site. The stations are open to anyone with an EV.

Our interview with Ms. Blanc is just over 20-minutes in length and available via our embedded MP3 player or by download.

Times Article Viewed: 5941
Originally published: 22 Apr 2015

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