Electric vehicles can charge for no charge

Eleven new electric vehicle charging stations will debut in Burbank this week, and until July 1, motorists will get to plug in for free.

After the “holiday rate” — approved by the Burbank City Council this week — the price to charge a vehicle will be $2 per hour. But any other charging stations that come online after January will also feature a six-month grace period, according to the city.

Burbank Water and Power officials settled on the $2 rate after surveying similar pricing across Southern California, but that could change during the three-year demonstration project funded partly by a $61,000 grant from the California Department of Energy. The utility covered the rest of the total $185,000 cost of installation and software to get the chargers up and running.

The purpose of the grant is to promote and facilitate the use of electric vehicles by encouraging the development of EV charging infrastructure across the country, Xavier Baldwin, assistant general manager at Burbank Water and Power, said in an email.

Officials plan to monitor demand, customer habits, station capacity and customer response to pricing, he added.

”We want to use this demo project to help evaluate the impact of publicly available EV charging on our system,” Baldwin said, adding that the information will help the utility “develop a clearer EV business strategy.”

The three-year demonstration project will also help set pricing.

The manufacturer, Coulomb Technologies, gets a share of the rate charges for handling the billing and maintenance of the chargers.

Coulomb also oversees equipment and management through a partnership with the Department of Energy, Baldwin said.

He estimated the initial $2 rate will cover only a portion of the program costs.

“How much, we won’t know until we gather enough data on usage of the chargers,” Baldwin said.

Data from the chargers will be reviewed after one year, and the price will be adjusted to more accurately recover costs, he added.

A main objective of the demonstration project will be to determine if there are enough electric vehicle drivers to use the chargers, Baldwin said.    

“As more EVs come on to the market this year and in ensuing years, we expect the price of EVs to come down,” Baldwin said. ”Also assuming the price of gasoline continues to rise, as most experts expect, this should be another incentive for consumers to consider electric vehicles, especially for commuting.”

Burbank Water and Power General Manager Ron Davis told the City Council this week that commuters and visitors to the city may make up the largest market for the charging stations.

A ribbon-cutting event is scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Town Center mall, just outside Sport Chalet near the East Garage.

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