Today, at a kickoff event at its headquarters, Kansas City Power & Light Company (KCP&L), a subsidiary of Great Plains Energy Incorporated (NYSE: GXP), announced its plans to install and operate more than 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations, making it the largest electric vehicle charging station installation by an electric utility in the United States.
Over the next several months, KCP&L will install more than 1,000 charging stations throughout the Greater Kansas City region. This network of stations will be capable of supporting more than 10,000 electric vehicles. Through partnerships with companies at host locations and with Nissan Motor Company, the Clean Charge Network will offer free charging on every station to all drivers for the first two years. The stations are manufactured by ChargePoint and will be part of the ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.
“The Kansas City region is quickly building a reputation as an innovative, sustainable place to live and work,” said Terry Bassham, President and CEO of Great Plains Energy and KCP&L. “We’re excited to continue being a leader in support of this growth by providing our customers and visitors to this region with an environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Thanks to our Clean Charge Network, everyone in our service territory will be able to charge up and hit the road.”
Where can I charge my electric vehicle?
The charging stations will be installed strategically throughout KCP&L’s service region, ensuring there will be a charging station near where electric vehicle owners live and work.
“We are committed to the electric vehicle industry and want to give residents and visitors the ability to join the electric vehicle revolution. As a utility, we will place the stations where they’re needed most and support them as part of our electric grid, leveraging our expertise with electrical infrastructure,” said Bassham. “Our Clean Charge Network eliminates ‘range anxiety’ in the region, which is the number one roadblock to greater electric vehicle adoption. Now, electric vehicle owners will have an answer to the question, ‘Where do I recharge my vehicle?’”
Installation of the charging stations began in late 2014 and will be completed this summer. The first stations deployed on the network will include 15 fast charging stations provided by Nissan and KCP&L, which will charge any model of electric vehicle on the market. On the fast charging stations, an electric vehicle like the Nissan LEAF will charge from empty to approximately 80 percent in about 30 minutes. In addition, the Clean Charge Network will have more than 1,000 standard charging stations, which will give most electric vehicles a 25 mile charge for every hour it is plugged into the station.
“The number of stations allows electric vehicle owners to change their habits, charging as they go about their day, and giving them the freedom to drive that much further. It makes it easier for current electric vehicle owners and hopefully will remove the perceived barriers for potential electric vehicle owners,” said Bassham.
What’s in it for me?
“The most exciting part is that everyone benefits,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James. “Not only do the owners of electric vehicles in Kansas City benefit, but with this project, KCP&L is also investing in the economic development and environmental sustainability of this region, which is a win for everyone. I applaud KCP&L for taking this groundbreaking step forward right here in Kansas City.”
Kansas City is the largest auto manufacturing center in the United States, outside of Detroit. That position makes the region well suited for leadership in the transportation of the future. Range anxiety — the fear of running out of power before reaching the next charging station — is a top concern for potential electric car buyers. By alleviating that anxiety and enabling more people to purchase electric vehicles, KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network continues Kansas City region’s leadership as an automotive center by creating new jobs and, ultimately, attracting new businesses and talent.
This project extends KCP&L’s position as an industry leader in environmental sustainability. Along with KCP&L’s environmental upgrades at several local power plants, renewable energy portfolio and its energy efficiency programs, the KCP&L Clean Charge Network will reduce carbon emissions and help the Kansas City region attain EPA regional ozone standards.
“All our environmental investments, including the new network, advance our commitment to a more sustainable energy future,” said Bassham. “We know our customers want more choice when it comes to their energy solutions, and we are committed to providing them with affordable, long-term energy solutions that offer them greater control of their energy use.”
In addition to regional economic and environmental benefits, the Clean Charge Network can help keep electricity costs low for all KCP&L customers. As more drivers adopt electric vehicles, not only will vehicle emissions be reduced but the cost of operating and maintaining the electrical grid will be spread over increased electricity usage, benefitting everyone. Those who drive electric vehicles will see the bill for fueling their cars go down because electricity is less expensive than gasoline, even at gasoline’s low current price. At the same time, increased efficient use of electricity will offset cost increases for operating the grid, which would otherwise become part of customer bills.
“People generally charge their cars at non-peak periods when KCP&L’s electrical grid is being underutilized. By stimulating electric vehicle adoption with their Clean Charge Network, what KCP&L is doing is encouraging people to use the electrical grid more efficiently and drive down the cost of electricity for everyone,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Energy Economist Ashok Gupta. “KCP&L’s efforts to encourage the use of electric vehicles, modernize the electrical grid, increase the use of renewable energy sources and invest in customers through robust energy efficiency programs are all critical parts of a sustainable energy future. More electric vehicles on the road means that people will be using more electricity during times when KCP&L already has enough generation and distribution capacity to meet their demand. That means savings on electricity bills for everyone and cleaner air for everyone.”
KCP&L is not new to electric vehicle infrastructure. In 2011, KCP&L worked with the Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition to bring ten charging stations to the area. KCP&L also deployed additional stations through the KCP&L SmartGrid Demonstration Project. All of these stations offered the opportunity to test technologies and behaviors while monitoring usage, laying the foundation for KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network.
“We’ve learned a lot over the last few years about how our customers use electric vehicles,” said Bassham. “Combined with our knowledge of the electric grid and award-winning reliability, we think we’re well-suited to operate the electric vehicle network.”
KCP&L will install ChargePoint stations as part of this project. ChargePoint operates the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network, making Clean Charge stations part of a nationwide cohesive network and not a series of one-off stations. As a result, electric vehicle owners in this region will have the same experience, the same customer service and a set of transparent and standard pricing options at every station. And for the next two years, charging a car in KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network will be free to electric vehicle owners. KCP&L is partnering with Nissan and the host sites to cover the charging cost to further encourage electric vehicle adoption in this market.
Economies of scale with KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network will help keep costs low. As a utility, KCP&L’s costs are regulated by state commissions. These factors combine to ensure a fair price for the stations. The commissions will also help facilitate conversations to ensure all stakeholders have a voice.
“Our partners helped make this groundbreaking program a reality,” said Bassham. “Each is a leader in the electric vehicle industry worldwide. We look forward to working together on making the Midwest a leader in the electric vehicle industry.”
- Nissan, maker of the Nissan LEAF, the best-selling all-electric car, is providing funding toward 16 fast charging stations, including covering the costs of the electricity necessary to power the charging stations for two years.
- ChargePoint, the world’s largest and most open electric vehicle charging network, will manufacture the standard charging stations in KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network. ChargePoint manufactures the stations and this represents the single largest single installation on the ChargePoint network. ChargePoint provides 24/7 driver support and offers a free mobile app that drivers can use to find stations and start charging.
KCP&L is also partnering with local companies to be host sites for the Clean Charge Network. Host sites have been selected using a variety of criteria, including ensuring KCP&L’s Clean Charge Network is accessible at geographically diverse sites that are convenient for customers to access. There are still a limited number of spots available for sites. Interested business can apply online at www.kcpl.com/CleanCharge. Customers who would like to nominate a location can do so on KCP&L’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KCPLConnect.
How to access the Clean Charge Network
To utilize the stations, all drivers have to do is sign up for a ChargePoint membership (https://na.chargepoint.com/register). Drivers will then have access to the more than 20,000 charging locations nationwide on the ChargePoint network, including these new stations offered by KCP&L. Drivers can find charging stations and see their availability in real-time at ChargePoint.com or with the free ChargePoint mobile app. To use the stations, drivers simply wave their ChargePoint card in front of the station, or use the ChargePoint mobile app.
For more information on this project and to see a map of locations already selected, please visit www.kcpl.com/CleanCharge.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.