EV chargers bloom at San Diego Botanic Garden

EV chargers bloom at San Diego Botanic Garden
One of three EV chargers that was just installed at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — Those who dread “range anxiety” — the fear that their electric vehicle’s battery will run out of juice — now have another charging option: the San Diego Botanic Gardens. 

Residents can use three EV (electric vehicle) stations that were recently installed upon paying admission to the Botanic Gardens. The new charging stations are part of The EV Project, a nationwide push to put more than 14,000 charging stations across the nation to promote electric and hybrid cars. The project is funded through a public-private partnership and federal stimulus money.

ECOtality, a San Francisco-based clean technology company, has been working to supply the EV chargers throughout San Diego County. Andy Hoskinson, the San Diego area manager for ECOtality North America, said the cost for installing the EV chargers has been reduced thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. He noted many have been eager to take advantage of the installation subsidy because it may not be in place next year.

More and more businesses and nonprofits are choosing to install the EV chargers, Hoskinson said.

“It’s beneficial in that their location becomes more of a destination, and people are more likely to stay,” Hoskinson said.

“People can charge their cars and explore the gardens,” he added.

He said the Botanic Gardens is a good location for the EV chargers, citing the demand for “eco-friendly transportation in that stretch of Encinitas.”

In Encinitas, public charging stations were also recently installed at commuter parking lot B at E Street and South Vulcan Avenue.

According to Hoskinson, the charging stations are compatible with nearly all electric vehicles. Most EV batteries take two or three hours to charge, but may demand up to five or six hours for a full charge if the battery is completely drained, he said.

For those who have paid admission to the Botanic Gardens, using the charging stations will be free until the end of August, according to Hoskinson. Following that, users can choose from three different plans, ranging from $1 to $2 after registering at blinknetwork.com (monthly fees for the plans have been waived for the time being.) Residents can also view a map of EV charging stations locally and around the nation at blinknetwork.com.

The Botanic Gardens covered a portion of the installation cost, while ECOtality, along with federal funds, paid for most of it.

The EV chargers are located near the Hamilton Children’s Garden part of the Botanic Gardens. According to Rudy Stuber, director of development at the Botanic Gardens, those using the EV chargers should pay the entrance fee at the main entrance off of Ecke Ranch Road. They will then be directed to the EV chargers.

“We’ve always been about eco-consciousness,” said Julian Duval, president of the Botanic Gardens. “This means we can walk the walk and talk the talk.”

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