Charge Me

To fill up your car, you have to go to a gas station. Maybe it’s in your neighborhood. Maybe it’s on the way home from work. Maybe it’s far enough out of your way that you decide to fill up later. Which can lead to jumping into your car in a hurry only to discover you need to get gas. And unless you live in Oregon or New Jersey, once you do get to the gas station, you’ll have to get out and pump your own fuel, no matter what the weather’s like.

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With an electric car, you can “fill up” at home while you’re sleeping. Nothing could be more convenient. Just plug it in and walk away. Because electricity is virtually everywhere, you can charge your EV while you’re at work, while you’re shopping at the grocery store, dining at a restaurant …charging stations can be installed in places you’d never find a gas pump. Erin Mellon understands this better than most people.

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As the Communications Director for ChargePoint, the world’s largest commercial charging network, Mellon is fully versed in electric vehicle charging. ChargePoint started offering public charging in 2009, when there were barely over 11,000 electric vehicles on the entire planet. Today, the company has 27,500 charging spots worldwide (there are now over 1 million EVs on the road). Although ChargePoint operates the network, they don’t own the charging stations. Companies, retailers, parking lots, apartment buildings, cities, government agencies and utilities purchase the stations from ChargePoint. According to Mellon, many give the charging away free, either to entice customers or reward employees.

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But ChargePoint isn’t the only commercial charging option for EV drivers. If you own a Tesla, you have your very own proprietary Supercharger network. For everyone else, there are nine1 public charging networks in the USA (depending geographical availability). Each has its own membership requirements, payment system, and rates. It’s like pulling into a gas station, only to discover they won’t accept any charge card but their own – a practice long abandoned by the fossil fuel filling station industry.

But that’s all changing thanks to ROEV.

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Mellon explained how ChargePoint, along with Blink, EVgo, BMW and Nissan, have banded together as founding members to create ROEV (Roaming for EV Charging) – an industry trade organization intended to make public EV charging simple. ROEV will allow EV drivers to use any member network without needing multiple accounts, cards and billing. Since 91% of public networked EV charging ports in the USA (17,500+) are operated by ROEV founders, there’s a good chance that if you drive an EV, you’ll be using ROEV. It’s a logical step in helping to speed EV adoption, which in turn will benefit commercial charging companies.

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Even though she works for ChargePoint, Mellon often feels like she’s selling cars, instead of car charging. People still ask a lot of questions about owning an EV, and she’s more than happy to answer. Her daily commute between San Francisco and Campbell in her VW e-Golf gives her first-hand knowledge of the many advantages of owning an EV, not the least of which is the cost of operation. Even with gas under $2 (for now), it still costs a lot less to operate an EV. Not only is the “fuel” less expensive, there are no oil changes, and less maintenance overall.

Plus, there’s the unique advantage of being able to bypass the long wait at the gas station and simply plug in when you get home.

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1. [Plugshare lists AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, EVgo, GE WattStation, Greenlots, JNSH, SemaCharge and Sun Country. However, OpConnect and Shorepower are also networks. There seems to be no definitive list. If I’ve missed someone, please let me know.] ↩

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