Electric vehicles in eastern Iowa now have a place to get re-charged. The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, with funds from the city of Cedar Rapids, installed a level two electric vehicle charging station in one of its parking stalls.
Hotels around the country are just beginning to install charging stations for their guests and the public who own the vehicles.
“The Hotel at Kirkwood Center hosts guests from around the country, and even around the world,” said General Manager Lee Belfield. “More of these guests are now driving electric vehicles, and we want to make sure they have a full battery to get back home after their stay with us.”
The charging station will be available to more than just guests. Anyone who owns an electric vehicle will be able to rent the parking stall with the charging station to power-up his or her vehicle. It’s expected that the number of electric vehicles on the roads in eastern Iowa will increase, as they’re now being sold in the Cedar Rapids area.
“The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are now for sale locally,” said Brian Brownfield, Kirkwood Automotive Technology instructor. “As we see more of these electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles hitting the road, we need to see more charging stations pop up, so the technology can continue to expand.”
Brownfield hopes the charging station at The Hotel will help in educating the public about the new technology. The Automotive Technology program owns four hybrid vehicles for training students on the technology.
Brownfield is now developing curriculum for diagnosing and repairing hybrid and electric vehicles, and wants to offer classes to the community to teach about the technology and safety of the vehicles.
“As the technology grows, the auto industry will need more technicians who can repair electric and hybrid vehicles. We’re positioning ourselves to supply the market with graduates who have experience working on these vehicles,” said Brownfield.
The charge station is just the second level-two station for public use in eastern Iowa. The college has one currently for charging its training vehicles. Level-two chargers take four hours to completely charge a dead battery, versus the level-one chargers that take more than 10 hours.
The station, which is connected to the hotel’s power grid, uses cellular phone technology to send text messages to the consumer to update the status of the charge. Smart phone applications show consumers whether or not the station is available, and can also update the charging status. People can also call to rent the parking space that uses the charging station. More information on the smartphone application can be found at www.chargepoint.net/mobile-apps.php.
“The Hotel is green in everything we do,” said Belfield. “The energy efficient products at The Hotel save about $140,000 per year, versus the standard code base. This charging station is just one more way we position ourselves as a college, as being there for the community and doing the responsible thing with energy consumption.”
The City of Cedar Rapids delegated $12,000 of Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant program dollars to the project, with Kirkwood covering the additional $2,500.
For more information on The Hotel at Kirkwood Center and its green initiatives, visit http://www.thehotelatkirkwood.com. For information on Kirkwood’s Automotive Technology program, visit www.kirkwood.edu/industrialtech.