Los Altos' EV Vehicle Charge Stations Are A Go!

The finishing touches on the parking stalls for Los Altos' first public EV charging stations were completed Tuesday. At $1 an hour, Los Altos falls on the less-expensive side of the equation, but not exactly free, like several other cities.


Los Altos' first public electric vehicle charging stations are ready to get you on the road. If you have an electric car, that is.

On Tuesday afternoon, city workers were stenciling on the last of the "EV Charging Only" signs on the parking spaces in two spots—behind the Bus Barn Theater and in Parking Plaza 3 across from Lulu's restaurant.

"They were all installed by Friday, but only one was running, said city Economic Development Manager Kathy Kleinbaum, explaining the other charging stations had some software glitches that have since been resolved.

Kleinbaum said members of GreenTown Los Altos had been swinging by to check the progress, and finally tried a test charge. 

GreenTown member Gary Hedden sent in a photo taken by resident Joel Bartlett, commemorating the moment as one of the first cars to get a public charge. Bartlett's BMW Active E, plugged into the charging station by the Bus Barn Theater, is shown in photos above.  

Since the ChargePoint wasn't fully functioning, the city footed the bill for the six-minute charge, said Kleinbaum. At $1 an hour, the rate that Los Altos established, that amounted to a whole 10 cents.

By Tuesday, that had changed.

"The ChargePoint is now operational so no more free charges!" wrote Hedden.

How does Los Altos' $1 an hour fee stack up, compared to other cities' charging stations? Here's a list that Kleinbaum compiled: 

  • Free – Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Campbell, Portola Valley
  • $0.50 per hour – Los Altos Hills
  • $1.00 per hour – Saratoga, San Jose
  • $1.50 per hour – Cupertino
  • $2.00 per hour – Stanford University
  • $2.50 per 24 hours – Los Gatos


Editor's note: This story was corrected Wednesday to reflect that Joel Bartlett was the photographer who took the picture of his car at the Electric Vehicle charging station.

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Gary Hedden April 03, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Actually Joel took the picture - I just sent it in. The $1 per hour is actually a pretty good rate. For an EV with a 6.6 kWh on-board charger, this will give 19.8 kWh in 3 hours, good for about 80 miles. That works out to 3.8 cents/miles. A gas car at 20 mpg with $4/gal costs 20 cents/mile. The best deal is charging at home with your own paid for solar panels - FREE!!!
bruce dp April 04, 2013 at 05:18 AM
The signage is weak. Those parking spots will be ice'd (lazy gas cars in EV spots). Los Gatos had many plugin driving citizen complaints of their EV spots being ice'd. Now, they put tow-away signage up at windshield height, and set city fines for ice'd EV-spots. Los Altos should nip that in the bud and put up strong signage. $1/hr is a fair use-fee for plugin vehicles with 6kw on-board chargers. But it is unfair for the majority of older Leaf EVs that have half-powered on-board chargers. What the city should do, is change the use-fee to cost by the kilo-Watt-hour (kWh). A $0.15 per kWh use-fee is fair for both the new plugin vehicles with 6.6kW on-board chargers, and the old with half-powered 3kW on-board chargers. The cost to the city of Los Altos is the same. 3.3kW draws half the power, but takes twice as long. {brucedp.150m.com}
Gary Hedden April 08, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Hello Bruce, The city can't charge by the kWh, only the power company can sell energy. Nice idea though.


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