No Charge for You!

Since I bought my Volt two weeks ago I have periodically charged at the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) HQ building in Tumwater, WA. It’s next door to my employer, Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries, which only has one 110V EV charging parking space.

I chose to park periodically at WSDOT after looking at the BLINK and PlugShare apps on my iPhone. There was one particular check-in write up on PlugShare that related the EV owner checking with the security office. They were told they just needed to sign up for the BLINK network.

Today I got this warning citation:

I checked in with the security office and explained that I work next door at L&I and had been parking in their EV spaces periodically for the past week. The security person politely said the spaces were for Corrections and WSDOT employees (Dept. of Corrections is in the same building). I suggested they mark the parking spaced for “Employees Only.

He thanked me for the suggestion and said I could finish charging today.

After I left the building, my wife and I were discussing the situation and came to the conclusion that until this week the parking for employees only was not enforced because there were plenty of spaces for EVs. However, in the past week, I’ve noted one new Ford Fusion Plug-in, my own new Volt, a new Gray Volt and a new blue Leaf. Apparently, the south Puget Sound has reached a tipping point for EV buyers and WSDOT has chosen to enforce the employees only situation. It is, incidentally, marked for employees only indirectly:

You can see the red Leaf and the charging stations in the background.

That eliminates not only the two BLINK chargers but the dozen or so, 110V outlets for the adjacent parking spaces. I am now limited to the one 110V EV space at L&I and the two Dept. of Parks’ BLINK chargers at $1.00 per hour.

Given more than one of the EVs that had been parking at WSDOT are owned by L&I employees, there will be a few of us competing for the three available spaces. This probably means I will need to choose, on occasion, between spending the $2.00 for two hours to charge at the BLINK chargers or running a little more on gas.

I usually have about 13 miles available on my battery when I arrive at work. That means I would need to charge for an hour or burn a quarter gallon of gas to cover the remaining 11 miles to get home. The cost is a wash. A gallon of gas is running $3.85 right now.

The real challenge charging would be making it out to the charging state within the hour so I don’t get charged for two hours. A $1.00 per day additional cost for twenty work days each month would more than double my cost. Instead of saving $237 per month I will only save about $217. I still can’t complain.

This is the down side right now that comes with an increase in popularity in EVs. L&I does plan to put EV parking in place but I don’t know if they will pass on the cost or not.