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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Westport Powers Up First Electric Charging Station

By James Lomuscio

They threw the switch today on Westport’s first electric vehicle charging station, powering up a Chevrolet Volt with electricity produced by 109 photovoltaic panels atop the roof of the office building at 495 Post Road East.WestportNow.com Image
Leo Karl plugs in his Chevrolet Volt today as David Friezo, building owner at 495 Post Road East, and Tony Eason of ElektronSolar look on. The charging station, Westport’s first, is powered by solar panels on the roof. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“They’ve been working on this for the past thee months,” David Friezo, the building’s owner, said of Westport-based ElektronSolar that designed the system and charging station in the parking lot.

“It’s truly green because you’re not taking power from the grid. You get the energy off the roof, and you plug your car in here. It’s the real deal.”

Tony Eason, owner of ElektronSolar, noted that the charging station is one of only a handful in the state, “and I’m sure the only solar powered one.”

Sun Electric of New Fairfield installed the overall system that generates 26 kilowatts that power a portion of the office building and the EV charging station when in use.

The building’s produced power is not stored in batteries. Instead, it back feeds unused electricity to the grid to garner credits from Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P). A flat screen television in the lobby displays how much power is being generated and dollars saved.

“This is what I call closing the loop,” said Eason. “You are closing the loop with solar produced energy.”

Only a few feet high and resembling air pumps found at most gas stations, the electric vehicle (EV) charging station has two cables, allowing two vehicles to charge up at the same time. For a depleted battery, each 220-volt charge takes about three hours. WestportNow.com Image
David Friezo points to solar-produced energy statistics displayed on a television screen in the lobby of his office building at 495 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Using a standard 110-volt plug at home, it would take eight hours.

In addition to Eason and Friezo, head of Lydian Asset Management, present at the switch throwing were First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, who serves on the legislature’s Energy & Technology Committee,  and Leo E. Karl III, president of Karl Chevrolet in New Canaan.

Karl, who arrived in the Volt to be charged, said his company has already sold 16 Volts, which retail for $39,900 and carry a $7,500 tax credit, and that he has eight more on order.

Each charge will allow the vehicle to go 40 miles, after which the internal combustion engine fed by an eight-gallon tank takes over, getting about 350 miles. He said that with current CL&P rates, each charge up would cost about $1.60.

“For electric vehicles, the time is here,” said Karl, adding that he is in the process of installing charging stations at his auto dealership.

Joseloff noted that plans are afoot to install a solar-powered EV charging area at the Westport train station.

Eason pointed out that many car manufacturers are embracing EV. In addition to the Volt there are the Leaf from Nissan, an electric Smart Car, and Eason said, “even Rolls Royce.”WestportNow.com Image
The roof of the building at 495 Post Road East has been equipped with 109 photovoltaic panels that will power the electric vehicle charging station as well as the building. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“Rolls Royce is perfect because the average Rolls Royce diver doesn’t go more than 40 miles at a time,” he said.

“I guess people are going to have to start looking at their electric cars the way they look at their cell phones, making charging them part of their daily routine,” said Steve Guzda, principal of Sun Electric.

Guzda’s company not only installed the panels but six inverters in the building’s attic that convert the direct current (DC) from the solar cells into alternating current (AC) used to run building operations as well as the charging station.

“This is our bread and butter,” Steinberg said about individual and local government efforts to go green.

“We’ve been talking about EV for the entire session, and I’m a freshman, so they’ve been talking about it years before that. Obviously, we’re very excited.”

Friezo joked that once word is out people who own EVs will be lining up at his building for a free charge.

“I’ll let people do it,” he said. “I don’t care. It’s part of giving back and being green.”


Posted 06/29/11 at 05:02 PM  Permalink


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As long as you can make this work widespread before $200 oil, I hope you can!

Posted by Nicholas Weiner on June 29, 2011 at 07:25 PM | #

This is great news. Well done on a terrific initiative, and model for building owners and homeowners.

Posted by Jeff Wieser on June 30, 2011 at 02:02 AM | #