Colwood business first on West Shore to offer electric vehicle charging
A Colwood business has installed the West Shore’s first public electric vehicle charging station, one fed by the sun no less.
Members of the community and electric car enthusiasts descended on Royal Bay Bakery on Tuesday to enjoy treats and celebrate the installation of the station.
The charging station is for any member of the public who wants to “fuel up” their electric vehicle for free while they fuel up themselves in the Metchosin Road bakery.
Six photovoltaic panels on the bakery’s roof power the station, and the bakery, as part of an overall system of clean energy installed by owner David Grove.
“I know that this sunlight here is actually (powering) the interior of that building,” Grove said standing outside his bakery, on a sunny afternoon. “There’s something about that that’s so elegant that I can’t resist it.”
When he bought a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle last fall, Grove fulfilled a lifelong dream. When he was 14, Grove fell in love with the concept and even got a book on how to build an electric car.
The vehicles can be plugged into standard 120 volt outlets, but Grove’s level 2 charging station, at 240 volts, provides a much faster charge.
One hour of charging equals about 30 kilometres of range. Grove estimates the panels will produce about 7,000 kilometres of range for a vehicle in a given year.
“These new electric vehicles they’ve got out now in this generation, they just seem to have nailed it,” Grove said. “It’s a real car, they’re efficient and they’re worthwhile. I can make it happen, the numbers work.”
Grove paid the $6,000 for the solar panels out of his own pocket and paid for half of the vehicle charging station, at $500. The other $500 came from the Solar Colwood initiative through the City of Colwood.
Through some quick math, Grove figures the panels help him to bake about 30 dozen small cookies per day, or 10 loaves of bread.
The City itself, funded through Solar Colwood, is looking to build three public charging stations this year. Grove’s station is the fifth in Victoria according to plugshare.com.
Electric car owners in Greater Victoria have formed an informal club through email and members regularly meet and go on cruises.
A few members showed up for Grove’s unveiling of the charging station, including Fred Wissemann from Saanich, the group’s unofficial president.
Wissemann bought his Leaf vehicle nearly four months ago and has put 4,000 kilometres on it.
He said he bought it first for reasons of economy and second for reasons of ecology. He believes society is at a point now where it makes financial sense to buy an electric vehicle and he has plans to complete the loop by buying solar panels.
“I will never, as long as I live, buy another gas car,” Wissemann said. “It drives better than any car that I’ve owned, and I’ve owned quite a few. It’s fantastic.”
Grove said with a laugh that his employees under 25 think that it’s a great idea and a “no brainer.” Anyone over 25 usually wants to know what the pay back time is.
Pay back is somewhat beside the point, Grove shrugged, but when tied to charging an electric vehicle, considering the price of gas, he figures the solar panels will pay for themselves in 10 years.
“In a sense what I’m doing is I’m buying my next 10 years of energy costs ahead,” Grove said.
“It’s like I’m buying an energy contract for $6,000. I’m booking that energy use for the next 10 years at a fixed price.”