Today, driving my husband’s Nissan Leaf, I was starting to think, wow. maybe my husband was right _ this electric vehicle life is great. With my gas-consuming car low on fuel, and a full charge in the Leaf, I knew I could easily make the 40- mile round trip to my destination with battery charge to spare, and without using a drop of gasoline. (Any trip over 60 miles on the winding and hilly California Highway 1 would put me in range anxiety mode).
Then, I arrived home. For the record – and not to rub it in too much – but I want to remind everyone that I was the skeptical one in the family when my husband persuaded me that it was a good idea to lease a 2012 Nissan Leaf for three years. For the complete story about our initiation into life with an electric car, click here. He promised that we would receive a free charging station at home thanks to the EV Project, and that we would receive $2,500 of our $3,500 deposit back. So far, however, only half of that promise has come true. Last week, we received a $2,500 rebate from the state of California. That is the good news. And, yes, my husband gets points for that.
But when I got home this afternoon, and plugged the EV into our household 120-volt electrical outlet, my husband explained the bad news. We finally received the estimate for the installation of a Level 2 Blink charger at our home, which would mean we would not have to drag the charging cord into the garage every night, and wait all night before we have full charge. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, we qualify for $1,200 (less in areas outside of the greater San Francisco Bay Area) to cover installation costs and receive the 240-volt Blink charger for free. Here’s my San Jose Mercury News story about the program, and other tips for installing a home charging station
The estimate which landed in my husband’s inbox on totaled more than $1,900! The installation, it turns out, would not be free after all. We would have to pay $740 out of our pockets. And, this is for an uncomplicated installation. We do not need to add a new electrical panel or do any major upgrade to install the charger which will cut our charging time in half, and also hopefully, reduce our electric bill.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that we we waited more than a month to receive this estimate, and the electrician wants an answer by Monday or we risk getting no EV Project help at all because the program – which operates in nine states and Washington D.C.- is winding down.
The actual labor cost is only $330, and the materials are only $100. But we are getting hammered in other areas. The estimate includes $440 for building permit processing, another $130 for a building permit fee and $275 in administrative costs. The company blames part of the high cost on the city where we reside because it requires that the building permit be must be applied for in person, and that the company purchase a year-long license to operate in the city. The company also added charges for travel and overhead.
The electrician says we could reduce the bill somewhat if we applied for the building permit ourselves, but frankly, I am at a loss about what that entails, and what risks we would face if we did this, not to mention the time, hassle, and paperwork.
The frustrating part is that there is little competitive bidding in this process. Either we negotiate a lower estimate with the electrician, accept the bid as is, or go off on our own and lose the $1,200 EV Project assistance.
In fairness to the company, the folks there are frustrated by the rush too. The president of the company said they are being pressured to get the installations finalized even before the project ends in late March.
Still. this is $740 we did not include in the budget or in the promise of living an EV life. Needless to say, my husband is contemplating his next move, trying to figure out how to get this estimate lowered. Who can help him?