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August 21, 2014
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Sierra College offers electric car stations

When the Sierra College Nevada County campus installed two electric vehicle charging stations in their parking lot, David Madrona, an IT Technician at the school, wanted to take advantage of the savings and benefits of using an electric vehicle.

“It made me think that I should get an electric car,” Madrona said. “So when my wife’s car broke down, she talked with her friends about a Nissan Leaf that had a three-year lease deal for $200 a month. I thought ‘Wow, I could spend that on gas.’”

Madrona, 57, said he began driving the electric car the first week of August and said using an electric vehicle has big incentives from the state, which gives rebates for the use of clean energy.

“Its been easy to access at the college, the ones we have here are ChargePoint,” Madrona said. “The charging time I’m experiencing is probably three to three and a half hours. I charge it at work and I don’t know if they’re going to start charging, but at this point it’s free. So I’ll come to work and I’ll charge it twice a week and be just fine.”

Sierra College Nevada County Campus Operations Supervisor Donna Brazil-Bloche said the EV stations were available to faculty, students and the public in May, and were paid for by the Special District Bond Fund, a $50 million fund that county voters approved in 2004 for Sierra College to use in renovating and expanding their campus facilities.

“We’re down to under $100,000 to spend right now,” Brazil-Bloche said. “But we basically doubled the size of our campus with six new buildings and renovated probably 60 percent of the campus.”

Brazil-Bloche said the EV stations are located in the campuses’ parking lot 5, and are associated with the ChargePoint brand, the world’s largest EV charging network with more than 18,500 public level and DC fast-charging spots.

All ChargePoint locations are placed on a map accessible to drivers from the Web or a mobile app, giving electric car operators an easy way to find EV stations in their vicinity.

In order to use Sierra College’s ChargePoint EV stations, drivers must sign up with the company and activate a card.

“We’ve had quite a few inquiries from the Roseville and Sacramento area, from people who commute to western Nevada County,” Brazil-Bloche said. “And they’re actually coming to this campus and using our stations for their vehicles during their lunch hours or over the weekends whenever they travel up here.”

According to Brazil-Bloche, the school’s EV stations, which provide a 208-volt charge, are one of the only high voltage stations available in the county. Brazil-Bloche said the stations are available to the public for free as long as they purchase a daily parking permit during paid hours, as the stations are on a first come, first served basis. On weekends parking is free.

“It is a high voltage charge versus just plugging it into a 110-volt outlet,” Brazil-Bloche said. “So it’s a pretty fast charge.”

Sierra College Nevada County campus Dean Stephanie Ortiz said the EV stations contribute to the college’s ongoing efforts to demonstrate care for the local environment through sustainable energy practices.

“As institutions of higher learning, colleges have a responsibility to demonstrate sustainable environmental practices in every way possible,” Ortiz said. “We offer courses in environmental sustainability and solar energy both in credit college classes, and our noncredit classes offered through Community Education. Many faculty make sure their curriculum includes coverage of environmental issues.”

Brazil-Bloche concurs, saying that the EV stations are just one piece of the campus facilities attempt to be green.

“We’ve already installed solar panels that feed about a third of our campus, and we’ve changed over to a boost auto scrubber, that reduces our water and chemical consumption by up to 70 percent,” Brazil-Bloche said.

Brazil-Bloche adds that since the school has 150 part-time faculty, half of which commute from out of the area, the new EV stations will give their staff an opportunity to change their carbon footprint.

“For them, it’s an opportunity to obviously save on fuel and it’s a matter of when the time is right to get their next vehicle,” Brazil-Bloche said.

“But it’s been very positive to have some of our staff members go out and buy hybrid or electric vehicles, it’s a pretty fantastic response, and hopefully more do it.”

For more information, call Brazil-Bloche at 530-274-5327 or go to https://www.chargepoint.com.

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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The Union Updated Aug 21, 2014 01:01AM Published Aug 21, 2014 01:01AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.