New Profit Center: Recharging Electric Vehicles

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May 6, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Wade Elliott

Attendees at the Texas Association of Campground Owners’ (TACO Spring Convention received a briefing this week on how to provide recharge services for travelers with electric cars.

Wade Elliott of Preston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group said the prices for electric vehicle recharge equipment as it becomes available range from $700 to $3,500 for each station. However, such equipment could be available at lower prices in the future, according to a news release.

In the meantime, Elliott said, there are several ways park operators can accommodate travelers who need to recharge their electric vehicles.

Perhaps the best way, he said, is to install a dedicated 50-amp GFCI protected/240-volt outlet on the side of their camp store or office that is solely to be used for electric vehicle recharging. This method, which is already being used by some campground operators, enables the park to provide the service without tying up a campsite.

If that option is not available, Elliott recommends that park operators refer their electric vehicle recharge customers to unoccupied campsite loops with 50 amp / 240 volt electrical hookups. This way, electric vehicle owners can recharge their vehicles without overloading the circuits or competing for electricity with other RVers who are plugged into the same electrical circuit. In either case, the electric vehicle owner will need an adapter to connect to their car, though most electric car owners already have such adapters.

It is possible for electric vehicles to be recharged with 50-amp/240-volt RV hookups. But Elliott said that no more than one vehicle should be allowed to do this per electrical loop so as not to overload the circuits. There are typically two to 10 campsites per electrical loop, he said.

Elliott provided the electric vehicle recharge seminar Tuesday at TACO’s Spring Convention at Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville because consumer interest in using campgrounds as electrical vehicle recharge stations is growing.

Elliott said electric vehicles typically require about 40 kilowatts of power for a four-hour charge, the price of which varies across the country. Park owners, for their part, are charging anywhere from $8.50 to $15 for a four-hour charge, with most charging about $10.

“You’re not just selling power. You’re selling convenience,” Elliott said, adding, “A lot of RV parks sitting alongside highways and interchanges are in a perfect position to take advantage of this.”

Lucas Hartford, president of Evergreen USA, said in a separate interview that he does not foresee any increased liability for park owners that allow their RV pedestals to be used for electric vehicle recharging, so long as their equipment meets the relevant electrical codes.

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