What a mess, but they are trying! March 30, 2012 update:
Rueben H. Fleet Science Museum:
(fixed, 3/20/12, down
again 3/24 self test fail)*
(fixed, 3/20/12) >the handicap spot<
Pan American Plaza / Palisades / Aviation Museum:
Note: all 7 went down Wed, 3/28, when the breaker was tripped (or deliberately switched off)
(down 3/21, up 3/24, won't read card
3/27) >the handicap spot<
(down 3/24, up 3/27)
(down, 3/21, up 3/24)
(fixed, 3/20, down
, 3/21, intermittent 3/27)*
From: Tony Williams <TonyWilliams AT LoveMyLeaf DOTT com>
Date: March 18, 2012 1:54:44 AM PDT
Subject: One Year of Failed Electric Car Charging Stations
Blink Network Contact Center
Dear Ecotality / Blink Network,
Today, I drove my Nissan LEAF electric car to the City of San Diego's Balboa Park, where the first 10 of your company's Blink EVSE's (commonly referred to as chargers) were installed almost one year ago. In the time since their installation, I have used those chargers many times, and in that time, there has routinely been a failure of one or more units.
When these units were installed last summer, there were 100 Nissan LEAFs in all of San Diego, in addition to a small number of other cars that could use the chargers. Now, there are almost 1000 Nissan LEAFs and over 200 Smart electric vehicles from Car2Go fighting for these spots, in addition to other electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Mitsubishi iMiev.
When I plugged in today, I was not surprised to see another charger failure in Balboa Park. What struck me as odd is that almost a year after their installation, 40% of the Blink chargers on this day had obvious failures. I didn't test the remaining 60% to actually verify that they would work, but its a reasonable guess that not all of those would work either.
So, I called your customer service, as I have done many times previously to report failed Blink chargers in Balboa Park, and spoke to one of your representatives. She listened to me bemoan what she already knew. She verified that there are outstanding service tickets, and that your company was working to "fix" these chargers. She went on to suggest that the San Diego area power outage that happened on September 9, 2011 (over six months ago) was somehow to blame. In addition, she said that electrical "noise" needed to be filtered out at the site, and that the Blink membership card readers (RFID) were somehow interfering with the SD card memory chip. It sure sounds like a lot of issues.
Just to be clear, these units at Balboa Park routinely failed long before the single power outage of 2011. I can only imagine how poorly they would handle places where winter power outages are somewhat routine. If they are so poorly designed to not be able to withstand a simple power outage, that is itself a huge problem.
Here's the overall problem. It doesn't take a year to fix these problems. After a breathtaking amount of taxpayer money that has been spent by the US government (your company has drawn over $30 million of the $100 million in DOE grant money for electric vehicle chargers) and money spent by the City of San Diego to have these chargers, they should all work now. If you cannot somehow make your units work, and that clearly is the case, then within a few hours, you should have a working replacement installed. Or your company could use one of your competitor's EVSE's / chargers mounted and operational that can now be purchased in retail locations all over San Diego, including Lowes and Home Depot. Or eBay. Or overnight shipped from California manufacturer Clipper Creek, whose units are the standard of durability.
It is not unprecedented that your company use a Clipper Creek CS-40 model electric vehicle charger to replace one of your failed units. This has been done by your company with residential customers in the past who also have failed Blink chargers in their homes. Edit: Your recent DC quick charger installations in Oregon did not include your Blink units, either, but instead are DC quick chargers from competing company AeroVironment, even though your company reported building and shipping 61 of your Blink DC quick chargers in fourth quarter 2011.
After almost a year of continuous, documented, repeated failures, it's time for an intervention. I am, today, notifying the appropriate government agencies involved in this unfulfilled government contract. Your failed chargers neither charge cars, nor report the data of their charging, which is also your contracted task per the DOE specifications.
No technician was at the Balboa Park site repairing or replacing these units yesterday, or today, and most likely won't be tomorrow either. It is time for the respective government agencies to ENFORCE the provisions of your government contracts. If your company cannot fulfill them, there are others who can. Government funds need to be frozen until such time as the terms of the contract are met, or those funds given to another company or companies who can successfully complete and comply with the terms of the government funding.
I don't expect a response from your company that these units at Balboa Park will be operational on Monday, like they could be. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday.
Since it is a relatively simple task for a technician to replace these units in minutes to hours, from any number of available sources, I'll check each day until Wednesday to see if they are operational.
Then, should they not be, I intend to contact the various news sources like Fox News, that would love nothing more than to get a story of "fleecing America" with yet another failed government program. Failed programs with solar or electric cars seem to be quite popular now. We can explore a wide range of issues related to your company's performance with regards to not only durability of your products, but also timelines as to the numbers of chargers deployed, et al.
I hope the best for you and your company, both now, and after the DOE money has ended.
*San Diego Developed Regional Parks Division
*San Diego Mayor’s Economic Growth Services
*U.S. Department of Energy
On Mar 18, 2012, at 2:44 AM, "Support, Blink Network" <email@example.com
Thank you for the time you’ve taken to write to BLINK Network, and to express the frustration you are feeling with the BLINK units in Balboa Park.
Your email, in full, will be forwarded to the project manager for the San Diego ECOtality field office, along with a list of currently-in-process tickets and the serial numbers they refer to. In addition, a copy will be forwarded to the corporate office.
We here at the Contact Center are sorry for the problems with the public charging stations that you’ve encountered. We take all matters reported to us about the BLINK EVSEs very seriously and we do appreciate knowing the locations where significant problems are either not being addressed after escalation, or are repeatedly re-occurring after the units have been serviced.
Blink Network Contact Center
| d: +1.888.998.2546