A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Getting a charge downtown? Still checking

Written January 30th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The City of Albany’s EV charging station off Water Avenue on Jan. 21, 2023.

The City of Albany’s public electric vehicle charger downtown is on my riverfront bike route, so I look at it every few days, wondering if it’s working again.

As of Sunday, it wasn’t. The little display showed an “alarm” and an error code. I looked up what the numbers “005008” mean. They mean “communication with auxiliary power module is broken.”

The time I checked before, last week, the display said: “Initialization. Please release emergency button.” I have no idea what that means, and there’s nothing on the machine labeled “emergency button.”

Another error code has shown up now and then. It means “3G connection is disconnected from backend office.”

Good thing I was on the bike (pedal-powered) and wasn’t stuck with my battery drained.

Part of the EV Connect system, the charger is in the city-owned parking lot behind the former J.C. Penney Building. Pacific Power paid to have it installed at the city’s request, and it was formally made available for public use on Sept. 29, 2021.

Much of the time since then, though, it has been out of order.

Last week, Sophie Adams at City Hall told me by email: “Rick Durst (our contractor, Durst Energy) has been a great advocate to EV Connect and the equipment manufacturer on our behalf, but needless to say we have still not been able to get even close to satisfactory function from the charger.”

EV Connect has recommended another fix, she added, and if that doesn’t work the remedy might be to replace the charger.

As I’ve said before, this experience can’t be typical with public electric vehicle chargers. If it was, EVs would not be gaining in popularity, as they apparently are.

But charging problems are not that rare, either. Motor Trend, the magazine, has just published an account of taking five different EVs on long-distance drives. Charging the vehicles was among the  challenges the drivers found.

One, driving north from Los Angeles, stopped at Harris Ranch on I-5, almost out of juice, and found all the chargers occupied. He saw three unoccupied chargers across the highway, went there and discovered none of them worked.

Among the other problems the drivers encountered was the effect of winter temperatures on their batteries, something that may interest Oregon residents this time of year. To learn more about that and the other aspects of taking EVs for a road trip, you can look up the article on Motor Trend’s Facebook page.

Whatever the problems inherent in EVs are today, maybe they will all be overcome before 2035, when Oregon and California intend to ban the sale of new cars running on motor fuel. Or not, in which case one hopes the next generation of drivers will learn to cope.

I’m wondering: When gas-powered vehicles came in more than a century ago, was there any trouble finding a place to buy fuel? Or did private enterprise rise to the challenge without much fuss or the government getting involved? (hh)

Is one of those two things the “emergency button”? Probably not.

9 responses to “Getting a charge downtown? Still checking”

  1. Cap B. says:

    What does work anymore? Beats me. I just got rid of a 6-month-old smoke alarm that was supposed to last 10 years since it has a lithium battery. Battery is probably fine, except that you can’t remove it or change it!!! The smoke alarm itself is so sensitive that dust or a spider walking across it can set it off, blaring loudly.

  2. MarK says:

    This whole “electricity” kick is just an unrealistic scam. “Ban ICE vehicles”, “Ban natural gas stoves”. Just where do they think the energy is going to come from??? When we have power outages, we won’t be able to cook, drive, heat or cool our homes. Another example of “nice try”, but not very well thought out.

  3. Al Nyman says:

    As an owner of an EV, I can attest to the fact that my battery rating of 300 miles per charge goes to 220 per charge in Oregon in the winter. If you lived in Eastern Oregon where it gets to zero or below. I doubt they would be usable. I would never attempt a trip across country because of the charging problem as my home town in South Dakota has no chargers! The electric autos are way cheaper than a gas auto to operate which I like immensely but they cannot replace gas autos at this time.
    As Oregon gets 7% of it’s power from green energy, let us hear from Hartman, Anonymous, and all the others who are in love with the decision to ban gas stoves, gas automobiles, and anything else produced by oil products and go back to living in the 12th century.

  4. Larry Brodkorb says:

    Right now, if my battery dies on my car, its a pain but I can afford. Has anyone stop to think that if an EV battery goes, it almost ( and in some cases, does) total the car

  5. Adam says:

    EVs are the current shiny bright object, albeit very expensive. I put this in the category of the great push to require E85 gasoline as a way to reduce the use of oil and save energy. What a failure that was. The production of alcohol to make E85 gasoline (the stuff you put into your car) uses more energy in the manufacturing process than straight oil-based gasoline. Wastes millions of tons of corn that is grown specially just to produce the alcohol. Ruins millions of acres of crop land that is used to grow genetically altered and heavy fumigated corn. Not a problem though, companies like ADM make mountains of money on it and the environment is absolutely no better off.

  6. Richard Vannice says:

    I’ve been wondering for some time why, if EV’s are so great why hasn’t the Federal Government replaced the Presidential Limousine and all the security vehicles that accompany him to EV? How about the State of Oregon? Does the Governor travel in an EV? I think not.

  7. CHEZZ says:

    I, in my 2010 Toyota, 96,000 miles – this particular engine is currently rated as going to 300,000 miles, outlasting me! It’s a gas…


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