Campus employee charges electric vehicle at Sinkin, saves money

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Bae-B-Safe peer adviser Ben Pelayo charges his car at a Level 2 charging station Dec. 3 at Eco Centro. V. Finster

Eco Centro staff plans to calculate how much the charging stations have reduced the city’s carbon footprint in a year.

By V. Finster

Sinkin Eco Centro has two charging stations for electric vehicles providing four outlets for any driver to use.

“We have at least three cars charge every single day, and sometimes we have up to 30 cars in a day,” Meredith Miller, director of Sinkin Eco Centro, said in an interview Nov. 7. “How crazy is that?”

She said some people stop for a quick-charge, staying in their vehicle for 15-20 minutes while they take a phone call or read a magazine. Others come daily and leave their vehicles overnight for a full charge.

The center plans to calculate how much the charging stations have reduced the city’s carbon footprint in a year.

“That’s one of the metrics we really want to capture,” she said.

Ben Pelayo, peer adviser with Bae-B-Safe in the advocacy center, charges his fully electric 2016 Nissan Leaf at the center several times a week.

He said there has only been one time where he has had to wait to charge his vehicle.

Pelayo earned an associate of arts in sociology from this college in fall 2017.

Pelayo said his car doesn’t have an exhaust pipe, transmission or gas tank, so he doesn’t pay for gas, oil changes or cost to maintain a transmission.

Pelayo said the decision to purchase an electric vehicle stemmed from his experience with the gas shortage in the San Antonio area in September 2017, following Hurricane Harvey.

“When I saw the gas shortage, it really concerned me,” he said.

Pelayo said he didn’t want to go through another gas shortage while being dependent on the non-renewable resource.

“If global warming keeps happening, there will be more gas shortages,” he said.

Pelayo said before purchasing his electric vehicle he attended a Drive Electric Day event at the Pear, where owners and enthusiasts brought their electric vehicles and offered test rides.

Pelayo said although Teslas were out of his price range as a student, the Nissan Leaf was an affordable option, priced at $18,000 for a pre-owned vehicle.

Pelayo said he consulted his parents, Victor Pelayo and Gloria Mendez, before purchasing the vehicle.

“They said, ‘If you want to, go ahead, but we don’t know anything about it,’” Pelayo said.

Pelayo said there are learning curves to purchasing an electric vehicle.

“The biggest thing with owning an electric vehicle is what’s called ‘range anxiety,’” Pelayo said.

Range anxiety happens when people think their electric vehicle will not have enough battery and may stall on the road somewhere.

He said while at the Drive Electric Day event, he learned about Charge Point and Plug Share, apps mapping charging stations in the area and station availability.

Pelayo said he can drive 125 miles on a full charge.

“For me and my driving habits, it works well,” Pelayo said. “I’m always in the city, I’m always around an electric charging station or I can charge overnight at my house.”

Pelayo used Austin and Dallas as examples of ways he plans ahead when taking his vehicle for a longer drive.

“I need to be strategic on those key points of where to stop and charge up,” Pelayo said. “While I’m waiting for the charge, I’ll grab some Starbucks or grab a lunch or something.”

Pelayo said he learned recently the brakes wear out much slower in electric vehicles.

“The electric vehicles have regenerative breaking, so as I deaccelerate the car the battery harvests the wasted energy and puts it back into the battery,” he said.

Pelayo said there are three charging station levels, which impact how quickly a charge can take.

“That’s something I want to educate people on,” he said.

Pelayo said Level 1 charging stations use a 110-volt outlet.

“That’s the one I have at my house,” Pelayo said. “I charge overnight and I’m good by the morning.”

Pelayo said when reviewing his electri,c bill the cost of charging is nearly undetectable.

“I would recommend students do this,” said Pelayo. “It’s so cost-efficient in the long run.”

Pelayo said most of the charging stations around the city are Level 2, using 240-volt outlets.

He said Level 2 charging stations, which are at Eco Centro, can charge a dead battery completely in five to six hours.

Pelayo said Level 3 charging stations are rare.

“Those are quite expensive to have,” said Pelayo. “Those are called DC currents, which stands for direct currents and charges my car in 20 minutes.”

Level 3 fast-charging stations send 120 kW to the battery by being directly connected, resulting in a much faster charge.

He said the vehicle does not waste energy unless it’s moving.

“These vehicles are fantastic in stop-and-go, dense urban traffic,” he said.

He said the most challenging part is considering the mileage range and being adamant about planning when and where he charges his electric vehicle.

He said his favorite aspect of owning an electric vehicle is the cost-efficiency.

“I really do feel a lot less guilty driving around the city, idling in drive through or sitting in my car,” Pelayo said.

Pelayo said additional benefits of owning an electric vehicle include no harmful emissions, free or low-cost charging stations and little maintenance.

“I still feel like I’m getting a good deal,” he said.


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