DCFC Stations Bakersfield to the Sierra Nevada East Side Coming

By Paul Gipe

Long overlooked by California’s electrification effort, the vast area east of Bakersfield will soon be getting its first public DC fast charging (DCFC) stations for electric vehicles (EVs).

Drivers of non-Tesla EVs traveling east of Bakersfield currently find a veritable charging desert. There are no public DCFC stations east of Bakersfield until you reach Baker on the route to Las Vegas–and that station only recently opened. Tesla operates private fast charging stations, what they call superchargers, in Mojave, Inyokern, and Mammoth Lakes, as well as elsewhere.

However, three programs are underway to locate stations on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Two are being developed by the state of California. The third is being developed privately by the Volkswagen (VW) subsidiary Electrify America.

Two of those programs should see construction begin on several stations this summer. All stations should be completed by the end of 2019.

The California Energy Commission (CEC)’s Interregional Corridor contract GFO-15-603 awarded grants to two companies, ChargePoint and EV Connect, for installations in Tehachapi, Mojave, Inyokern, and Kramer Junction.

CalTrans, the state’s transportation department, will be installing stations in its 30-30 program at safety roadside rest areas at Coso Junction, and Independence, as well as at its district headquarters in Bishop.

ChargePoint plans to install a DCFC station in Tehachapi in the Capital Cities development north of Hwy 58, another near Inyokern and Hwy 14, and another at the Kramer Junction of Hwy 58 and US 395.

EV Connect is responsible for installing a station at the airport in Inyokern and another in Mojave. They are expected to break ground on the Inyokern station this month.

VW will be installing a number of stations under its consent decree for Dieselgate. VW’s Electrify America hired Black & Veatch to build the sites–the same people who built Tesla’s supercharger network in the state. Though VW builds cars using the CCS standard, Electrify America will install both CHAdeMO, the Japanese standard, and CCS connections. They will future proof the stations with the capability of raising charging capacity up to 350 kW. Typically, non-Tesla stations charge at no more than 50 kW per connection. Electrify America’s stalls will accept RFID, mobile pay apps, and credit cards for payment.

All 600 chargers for VW’s first cycle of development in California have been ordered. Manufacturers selected include ABB, BTC Power, Efacec, and Signet. Permitting for the selected sites begin this quarter.

Electrify America’s deliberately vague maps don’t provide much detail, but it appears they plan a station somewhere between Bakersfield and Mojave. They also have stations planned for somewhere between Inyokern and Olancha and a third station somewhere around Bishop.

CalTrans has yet to award contracts for its stations. Nevertheless, they are scheduled to be on line by mid-2019.