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Town to Bid out Electric Car Charging Stations

Stations could be put in three downtown parking lots.

Los Gatos appears closer to gettingafter town officials asked public works staff to bid out three such access points in downtown parking lots.

The town is looking at different vendors and manufacturers, including , which has received funding from a federal Department of Energy grant to help municipalities provide the stations to the public.

Coulomb is looking like the best option for the town, as it would pay for the stations, and the town would pay for the installation.

The locations being considered are owned by the town and include the following:

  • South parking lot across the street from the
  • Parking lot 5, between Elm and Main streets
  • Parking lot 3, between Royce Street and Grays Lane

"All the market research indicates there will be a demand for [electric vehicle charging stations]," said Todd Capurso,, Los Gatos parks and public works director, who's been helping the town research companies that can help the municipality get the stations installed.

There is no deadline to receive the bids, but Capurso estimated he will return to thein May with several proposals.

According to a staff report, Coulomb appears to be the sole option for local agencies to get stations at no cost, but to take advantage of the funding they must be installed before Sept. 30.

Also, according to DOE-certified electrical contractor REJ Electric, which reviewed the sites being considered for the stations, each one would cost about $2,000 to install. The money would pay to retrofit the lots' electrical panels and do trenching.

Parking lot 3, between Royce Street and Grays Lane, could have more than one station at a cost of $4,500, according to REJ Electric.

There would also be additional costs associated with signage and parking lot re-striping, Capurso said, explaining that the stations would be part of a network of systems called ChargePoint America, linking them and tracking their usage through Web-based software.

In December, the town was looking at several sites to install the stations. It was also considering entering into an agreement with Coulomb.

But Mayor Joe Pirzynski cautioned against sole-sourcing and encouraged town staff to look for more options.

"We're looking at a couple of different manufacturers and suppliers to find out what would be the best solution for the town and what would that solution cost us out of pocket," Capurso said.

Los Gatos resident Mike Calise, founder and CEO of EVAdvise—an independent electric car advisory firm that has no partnership agreements with any company—has provided market analysis for the town pro-bono to educate its residents on the emerging technology.

Calise said he spent time with Capurso late last year on the field to determine how many stations the town could have. After further study, they realized some of the initial recommendations would be too expensive to deploy.

"The town can't put big money behind this before demand is understood," Calise noted. "Maybe there's a good way to do this in a small way, with a few stations, get them for free and learn as we go.

"Personally, as a resident, I'm very excited that the town is now well informed to make an intelligent decision," Calise said. "As an adviser, I'm neutral and have no vested interests in the outcome."

Capurso said the town would continue to research whether stations could also be installed at the new parking area of the Library/ site, Balzer Field in the and at the proposed Creekside Sports Park.

Mike Calise April 12, 2011 at 03:01 PM
There may be one caveat... It's true that there is no official DOE/ChargePoint America program deadline in 2011 for the EV charger awarding process. But acting sooner than later helps ensure that the unit allocations don't run out and the grant awards expire prior to the Town getting their chargers. I would urge the Town staff to be vigilant and not delay this process while communicating with Coulomb's DOE program director to manage this. It would be a shame if all this work was done and the Town found out that the DOE funded chargers were gone and allocated to other Cities. This is not likely, but certainly possible. Mike Calise
daniel April 12, 2011 at 03:57 PM
New website http://publicchargingstation.com
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) April 12, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Good suggestion, Mike. Todd Capurso is working hard on this issue and that's a good thing. Thanks for pointing that out. Appreciate your comments in the story and all the work you're doing to help the town come up to speed on this issue. Thank you.
Summer Dales August 26, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Has the City of Los Gatos issued a solicitation for the installation and/or supply of Electric Vehicle Service Equipment? With so many manufacturers, why have they not considered ClipperCreek? The City can also apply for DOE funding themselves which could possibly cover installation cost as well. I am also aware of ABAG receiving grant funding and issuing funds to applicable cities. Los Gatos has many options.

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