Tech gets grant for car chargers

Photo by Brenda Lin

The Department of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) at Tech has been awarded a grant for almost $40,000 by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for the installation of additional electric vehicle chargers.

There will be another 9 dual port Level 2 chargers installed at visitor-accessible locations and, as per the clause of the grant, be open for public use.

This is in response to an ever rising demand for charging points from drivers of an approximated 150 electric vehicle (EV) cars on campus.

Lisa Safstrom, Campus Transportation Planner for PTS, who solely handled the proposal for the grant, says that an attempt will be made to ensure that all charging points are located at popular locations such as the Student Center, North Deck and the Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Currently, PTS has 2 dual port level 2 chargers and a few level 1 chargers. A level 2 charger works faster than a level 1 charger and hence, requires more electricity. One of the largest costs for the institute is the installation of these chargers.

“Drawing power from a source is most of the installation cost for an EV charger,” Safstrom said. “We try to select locations which are in proximity to power sources. Some places we want to install chargers but cannot simply because they are too far.”

One of the challenges for Safstrom has been estimating the number of EVs on campus. The registration on the parking website, DriveSeat, only recently added the option for such cars.

“People can now update their make of car on the website,” Safstrom said. “So, the only numbers I had were those based on the applications for charging spots. While walking around campus I used to manually note the any electric cars and add them to the record. Please everybody update your profile on driver seat.”

The EV charges are installed in collaboration with ChargePoint, a company which owns nearly 20,000 charging stations across the country. With their platforms, users can get real time data such as seeing which charging points are empty and how much charging time is required for their car.
Users can also get a text alert when their car is charged.

On campus, Safstrom has seen a steady increase in the usage of these charging points. She
explained that owning an electric car is extremely lucrative in Atlanta.

“You get a lot of state and federal tax incentives for owning an EV in Georgia,” Safstrom said. “Most people just lease these cars because of the constantly changing technology in the field. Atlanta is the number one city for sales of Nissan Leafs in the country. Around 90 percent of the EVs on campus are Leafs.”

The state of Georgia currently gives a $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission vehicles, which is in
addition to the maximum allowed federal of $7,500.