Josh Stone standing next to an electric vehicle charging station
Josh Stone, director of parking and transportation services, next to one of the seven new electric vehicle charging stations VCU installed over the past month. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

New electric vehicle stations add charging capacity on campus

VCU has installed seven new charging stations in parking decks over the past month as part of its ongoing work to build EV infrastructure and curb carbon emissions.

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As part of its ongoing work to curb carbon emissions, Virginia Commonwealth University has added more charging stations for electric vehicles to parking decks on its Monroe Park and MCV campuses.

For several years, the university has had four charging stations, two on each campus, but Josh Stone, director of parking and transportation services at VCU, said the stations did not provide any data on their usage.

“We see people parked, and that they are plugged in,” Stone said. “But other than that, we got nothing. We have no idea how long they are plugged in or how much electricity is used.” 

Electric vehicle use has been increasing over the past few years, and Stone thought there might be a need for more charging stations at VCU. A university Redcap survey conducted in February 2021 about electric vehicle usage showed demand for additional charging stations and found that as many as 100 electric vehicles use the parking facilities at VCU, split between daily, weekly and monthly usage. Most take place on the MCV Campus, but the Broad Street parking deck on the Monroe Park Campus also sees electric vehicle traffic.

Based on the survey findings and with costs subsidized through a Dominion Energy rebate program, VCU installed seven new charging stations over the past month, five on the MCV Campus and two on the Monroe Park Campus. Each station has two ports (the four old stations had one each), increasing charging capacity in the decks from four vehicles at a time to 14. Stone said the main advantage of the new charging stations is the university now can understand the usage at each station. 

“There is a whole back-office software that we get, which is great to track the charges,” Stone said. “We track how long they are used. We can track how much electricity is being used. We can track our impact on the environment.”

The installation fits with VCU’s long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions. The university wants to see more usage of alternative vehicles and alternative modes of transportation. Besides the new charging stations, VCU has also purchased two new electric vehicles, and the new stations and vehicles are part of ongoing work to increase use of public transportation, provide a safe and bikeable experience for students, employees and visitors, and improve pedestrian safety throughout campus.

“For us it’s really about establishing a baseline,” Stone said.

Stone said it is important for VCU to build its infrastructure for electric vehicles, as their use is expected to grow over the next decade. There are an estimated 315,000 electric vehicles on the road in the United States today, and that number is growing at about 2% annually, according to International Council on Clean Energy. But the growth of electric vehicles is limited by the availability of infrastructure, including charging stations.

“We need to figure out what infrastructure people need to make that switch,” Stone said. 

There is no fee to use the charging stations, and the vehicle owner also receives the data associated with the charge. Stone said the new stations will help the university make more informed decisions about electric vehicles.