BENICIA -- It looks exactly like a fuel pump at the gas station. However, instead of dispensing gasoline, the new addition to the City Hall parking lot is the city's latest electric vehicle station.
The dual-compatible charger station was unveiled Wednesday during a short ribbon-cutting ceremony in the parking lot.
Placed next to the two existing "level two" charging stations, the DC Fast Electric Vehicle Charging Station is now available for public use.
"This would not be here today if it wasn't for the foresight of the community," City Manager Brad Kilger said, referring to the Community Sustainability Commission.
The installation is part of the city's Climate Action Plan. Adopted in 2009, it set a goal to reduce emissions by 2010 and 2020.
"We really hope this can be a model for all the cities in California," Climate Action Plan coordinator Alex Porteshawver said.
The "EV Pump" fast charger and battery storage system was designed by San Francisco-based Growing Energy Labs, Inc. and funded with a $79,200 California Energy Commission grant and support from many other project partners.
The charger also uses the existing solar technology available at City Hall, making it one of the first of its kind in the country, officials said. The project was approved by the City Council in June 2013.
The level two charging stations take about four to six hours to fully charge an electric car, depending on the level of charge at arrival, and use 220 volts.
In comparison, the new station uses 480 volts and takes only 20 to 30 minutes to do the same charge, Porteshawver said.
The public is charged $1.50 per hour plus a one-time transaction fee of 62 cents to use the level two chargers. The fast-charging station's fees are based on what the city pays Pacific Gas and Electric for electricity per kilowatt-hour at the time of the charge and a transaction fee to cover third-party payment costs and maintenance.
"(The cost) depends on the time of the day," Porteshawver said. For example, a 12 kwh charge during "peak summer hours" would cost $7.93, and the same charge during "off-peak winter hours" would cost $2.89.
The fast-charging station will mostly be used for supplemental charging, with most of the charge done at home, she added.
Although there are no plans to add more fast-charging stations in the city, there are plans to add three more level two chargers, she added. The project will be presented at the City Council meeting in July for approval, Porteshawver said.