Swansea optometrist Michael Murphy has installed an electric vehicle charging station outside his office and is inviting other electric car owners to feel free to re-charge their vehicles there.
"If we're going to get off our dependence on foreign oil, we need to support these things and put the infrastructure in," says Murphy, an optometrist with Vision Care Associates at 4933 Benchmark Centre, Suite D, in Swansea (628-3939)
Murphy has been practicing since 1985 and at his Swansea office for the past seven years. He installed a dual charger last September and recently talked to business writer Will Buss about it:
Why did you install a car charger outside your practice?
"I bought a Volt 14 months ago and I had been plugging into the 110-volt outlet on the side of the building, and that was fine, but the thing is that it is a Level 1 charging station and is 120 volts. Level 2 is 240 ... you get a faster charge and there are times when I would run on errands and things like that and it would take a lot longer to charge on the 120. That was one incentive to do this, so I could get a little bit faster charge. But from a standpoint of serving other people, I have several patients already who are driving electrical vehicles. I have one patient who lives in Virden, Ill., which is 80 miles away. Another lives in Montrose, Ill., which is 100 miles and another who lives in Chicago, which is 300 miles away. The ones from Virden and Chicago are from this area, but they have since moved away and have bought Volts because I bought a Volt and they're friends. So I put that in, and the guy from Montrose I actually picked up as a patient because I heard that I had one."
How much did the charging station cost?
"The total cost of the dual station, acquisition and the labor and materials was about $5,600. A single station would have been less expensive, but I wanted to be able to plug in and have a port available for people to be able to plug in. So there two (plug ins). It's a dual station. A single station would not have been half as much, it would have been about 40 percent as much. It is on 24-seven so anybody can come and plug in anytime they want to and they don't have to pay anything to do it. It just doesn't cost me that much to do it and it's supporting the electrification instead of sending money over to OPEC. I see a lot of military dependence and I do the disability determination eye exams. I'm just tired of sending soldiers to defend oil. So it's an advantage to everyone to start using domestically produced energy to drive our cars. And oil, yes, is going to be needed for some things. There are a lot of things that we can't get away from oil for, but if we can just stop burning it up and use it for things that are reusable and recyclable like plastics and petrochemicals that are needed and things of that sort, it makes a lot more sense."
How long does it take to charge your car?
"The Volt only takes a 15 amp, so it takes about four hours to fully charge it once it is completely depleted. With a (Nissan) Leaf, it takes about eight hours at that charge rate."
How often do you charge your car?
"I do it everyday. I charge at home, I charge here."
How far can you go between charging?
"I have over 20,000 miles on my car and almost 18,000 of it is on electricity. So it's not like it's an impractical thing. People say I only want to go 35 or 40 miles on an electric charge. Realistically, most of us don't drive much more than that everyday. The 2,400 miles I have on gasoline was actually three trips to Indiana, one to Lake of the Ozarks, and another trip to Missouri. That was 2,700 miles, and I got electrical charges at both ends and so not even all of those trips were all on gas."
How much does it cost to charge?
"Around here, we are actually below the national average on electricity costs. People whine about their electric bill, but they don't realize how good we have it around here. The national average is around 12 cents a kilo-watt hour. It takes about 11.5 to 12.5 kilo-watt hours to charge the car. So at the worse case, the national average is about $1.40, $1.50 to charge the car. Around here, where I live in Missouri, the winter rate is about 75 cents to charge the car and in the summer it raises to about $1.25 to completely recharge."
How far can you go between charges?
"On average that will get me about 40 miles. It all depends on the temperature and it depends on the speed. If I'm babying it, I've gone 54 miles on a charge when I didn't have to run the heat or air conditioning and stayed off the highway. When it gets down to single digits and you're running the heat, you may go 25 miles at a charge. The thing is when it gets that cold, the engine will actually kick on periodically just to warm the battery and things like that. But even last week when it was really cold, in a week and a half I used 16 gallons in gasoline. The rest of it was all electricity. I haven't filled up since Oct. 6. I have 4,300 miles in the car on a gallon and a half. So if I can plug in, it costs me lot less to plug in than to burn gas and it's just better for the air. Now around here, a lot of our power is generated by coal, but the thing is when you are using coal power plants, the smoke stack emissions are lower than the tailpipe emissions in a gasoline vehicle. The other thing is at home I actually have solar panels on my garage, so about a third of my power is generated by solar, so it's not even all smokestack emissions there, either."
What has been the charging station's effect on your practice?
"The EV charging station is only the latest high tech addition to my practice. I have been on the leading edge of the application of technology to better care for my patients. I have a significant investment in technological advances in my office, including electronic medical records since I opened my office, automated visual fields, OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), corneal topography with wavefront analysis to aid in fitting complex contact lenses, VEP (Visual Evoked Potential) to aid in the diagnosis of neurological problems that may be interfering with good vision and many more."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.