By Jaimie McCormick
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Since their installation in 2014, use of the six charging stations for electric and hybrid cars at Camden County College has steadily increased.
Camden County received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build the stations at county-operated facilities. Camden County College is home to two stations on the Blackwood campus, two on the Camden campus and two on the Cherry Hill campus. All stations are outside except for the stations in the parking garage on the Camden campus.
These stations helped Camden County College achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Other changes to make the college more environmentally friendly included installing LED lights put on a timer and motion detection lights.
The charging stations are Blink Level 2 Pedestal Chargers. These chargers have Wi-Fi network capability allowing the county to see when they are used and when they need to be serviced.
Biology Professor Gail Stewart has had her Chevrolet for two years and said she uses the stations every school day. Four parking spots are dedicated to the two stations but only one station was working early this month.
“At the beginning of the semester all four spots were full,” Stewart said Oct. 11.
When someone is using the station, it can cause difficulty when someone wants to charge. Luckily, those who use the stations on campus have a system.
“Usually, standard practice is to leave a note,” Stewart said.
Most electric and hybrid car owners know when the lights on the dashboard are green it means the car is fully charged. This gives them the approval to go ahead and unplug the car and leave a note that they did so. Those who use the stations will text each other if they unplug each other’s car or if they’re done using the station for the day. There’s also an app that can be downloaded for owners to see when their car is fully charged.
The app is available to everyone, even those who don’t go to Camden County College. The app allows travelers to see free stations close to their location. Those travelers come to the campus and charge their cars for free, which can create issues for faculty members and students who need to charge their car.
Christopher Waldron, director of the Camden County Office of Sustainability and Shared Services, is responsible for the installation and operation of these stations. It costs about $2,000 a year to maintain all the stations in the county, including a connectivity fee for the Wi-Fi network on the stations.
The county also recently received a second grant from the state to upgrade and install more stations. Waldron did not say if the college would get any of those stations.
More companies are producing electric and hybrid cars at a cheaper price, which leads to an increased need for charging stations. Waldron said he believes electric and hybrid vehicles are going to continue to be popular as they are increasing in sales.
According to ChargePoint, an electric vehicle charging network, charging stations on college campuses increased by 35 percent this year.
“I think there’s been a pretty steady increase in electrical vehicles around the country,” Waldron said.
Environmental and emission concerns are rising within the general population, creating a need for more affordable environmentally friendly cars.
“Electrical vehicles are here to stay for sure,” Waldron said.