By DOMINIQUE CHEW
It may come as a shock to people that Goshen College has had an electric vehicle (EV) charging station for almost a year. On the north side of the Chairman Building at the college sits the first public level-two charging station in Goshen.
The EV charging station came from a $5,000 grant that GC received from NIPSCO in 2013. The college spent half of the grant on the charging station. Glenn Gilbert, utilities manager and sustainability coordinator at the college, said that for the college, it was a sort of “cart before the horse” situation.
“Electric vehicles need to be a part of moving away from a carbon-based energy environment,” Gilbert said. “In order for that to happen, charging stations need to be available.”
According Gilbert, the charging station fits perfectly into the college’s values, encouraging sustainability, environmental responsibility and promoting getting off of carbon-based fuel.
“Coupled with the fact that Goshen College purchases renewable energy credits for 100 percent of our electricity, installation of this electric charging station provides a truly fossil-free transportation option,” Gilbert said.
Andrew Shields, head of technical services, systems and serials at the college’s Good Library, uses the station three or four days a week to charge his electric Ford Focus.
Typically, Shields can make a round trip from his home in South Bend to the college on one charge. He says, however, that there are factors that have significant impacts on the amount of energy the car uses, such as weather, road conditions and the speed he drives. Even though he’s confident he can make the trip on one charge, he still plugs in the car while he’s at work because it uses power to keep the battery in a safe temperature range.
There are other EV charging stations in Northern Indiana at schools or car dealerships where electric cars are sold. Goshen College’s station is available to anyone and is currently free to use, but at some point will begin charging users. NIPSCO, says Gilbert, is really just giving away energy while the college covers the rest of the costs to encourage the Goshen community to use it.
Using the machine is easy. Users simply need a ChargePoint card, which is free through the ChargePoint website. Drivers pay nothing to charge their electric vehicles. The station can charge two cars at a time.
While drivers of electric cars can plug in to any 120-volt (level-one) outlet, the college’s 240-volt (level-two) ChargePoint EV charging station charges more than twice as quickly as a wall outlet, depending on vehicle. The amount of time it takes to an electric vehicle depends on many variables, like how low the vehicle is on electricity and what type of vehicle it is, as some vehicles draw current faster than others.