Caltrans Shandon Solar-Powered DCFC Station In Service

By Paul Gipe

We stopped at Caltrans Shandon rest area on Hwy 46 as part of a road trip from Bakersfield to the Salinas Valley. Caltrans District 5 has installed another of its solar-powered DCFC station using Beam Global’s EV Arc. The station was up and available to charge.

This charging location has been problematic for some time. The rest area was closed for quite a while as it was being rehabilitated. (It gets a lot of use.) When the rest area re-opened, the DCFC station, on the ChargePoint network, was frequently down. Comments on PlugShare don’t reveal whether the station is down because of a failure in the ChargePoint 62.5 kW dispenser, or the site’s batteries are depleted.

Caltrans District 5 uses a number of these EV Arcs on the central coast. And Santa Barbara County recently installed one of Beam’s EV Arcs in New Cuyama, the back of beyond. (See New Solar-Powered Level 2 Station in New Cuyama—the Back of Beyond.)

While the stations are free, you can’t depend on them. We stopped at the Southbound Camp Roberts rest area on our return and the station was down. Comments on PlugShare show that it was up into mid January. We’d use these for “opportunity charging” only. If they’re up, get a charge, but don’t plan on using them.

Like other ChargePoint 62.5 kW dispensers in southern California, the screens on the Camp Roberts stations are sun damaged and difficult to read. The dispenser at Shandon rest area was still new and the dispenser’s screen clear and readable.

While I waited for Nancy I took the time to look more closely at the installation. Each solar array includes tracking motors. Each pod beneath the solar array contains the storage batteries. Each stand-alone array also includes covered receptacles for battery-backup emergency power at 120 volt or 240 volt up to 6 kW. This was a feature I hadn’t noticed before.

There’s open parking below each array, though there’s a sign warning against the low clearance.

While free, you do need a ChargePoint account to operate. This station, like the others, is throttled to 25-30 kW.

Caltrans, ChargePoint, and Beam should tell users why the system is down, whether the batteries are simply depleted, or the dispenser is down. Users could then report this to PlugShare so other users could benefit.

New Solar-Powered Level 2 Station in New Cuyama—the Back of Beyond

Bakersfield to Santa Cruz via the San Andreas Fault