Charging ahead: Gulf Power helps travelers “plug in” at Pensacola airport
Airport management turned to the company’s experts for guidance on installing electric vehicle charging stations for its customers.
PENSACOLA, Florida - With its slogan “Fly Easy. Fly Pensacola,” the goal of Pensacola International Airport’s management is to put services into place to make it is easy for the 1.6 million annual passengers to get to the airport, park and make their way to and from their gates as well as accommodating the millions of other people picking up and dropping off passengers.
Airport Director Dan Flynn read a recent newspaper article earlier this year about where electric-vehicle drivers could find charging stations in the Pensacola area and thought the airport would be a great addition to that list stating “When you think of the need out there for something like a charging station for electric vehicles, you’d typically think about your major transportation providers.”
Flynn and his staff decided to act on a talked-about plan to install charging stations but didn’t know where to start. They reached out to their Gulf Power Commercial & Industry Energy consultants, who had worked with the Airport on many projects over the years.
Gulf Power’s Electric Vehicle Program team sprang into action evaluating the airport’s needs, selecting the best parking spots nearest to existing power infrastructure and directing them to the best providers of chargers and designers of EV parking places. Within a few months, six parking slots -- four in the parking garage and two in the economy surface lot – were transformed into EV charging locations.
The right fit
The biggest challenge, said Flynn, was figuring out the right type of charger and number of chargers that would best fit passenger needs.
Since most users would be flyers, Bryan Coley, Gulf Power’s Electric Transportation Program manager, said his team recommended a level one charger – which is sufficient to fully charge an EV while it’s owner travels and is less expensive for the airport to install than other charging options.
“We also encouraged the airport to get a charger with an attached supply cord verses the customer supplying their own cord,” Coley said. “A hard-wired, attached supply cord is more convenient for drivers who can simply pull-up and plug-in, and both permanent and safer for the airport.”
This level one option has allowed the airport to provide the charging service for free.
Charlie Driver, Electric Transportation Program manager, said the look of the parking spots was important to Flynn.
“He wanted clearly marked spots and highly visible sites … like an advertisement that states ‘we’re environmentally friendly’,” he said.
Indeed, Flynn said being a gateway to Pensacola and Northwest Florida, the airport is all about appearance and image. “The way a local grocery
designed their parking space, we felt really fit with what we would like the image to be here as well,” he said.
Another challenge was spreading the word that the airport offered charging stations to electric-vehicle drivers and the public thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle. Coley helped in that effort by adding the airport to the popular app PlugShare, a database of more than 50,000 charging stations.
Paving the way for EVs
Flynn is thrilled that the City of Pensacola-owned airport is helping to populate Northwest Florida with electric-vehicle charging stations, which he says will spur the growth of electric-vehicle drivers.
The airport has joined a growing list of businesses that have installed charging stations, mostly free to their customers as an added incentive to shop or dine, added Driver.
In addition to the Pensacola Airport, EV drivers can also find charging stations at Ever’man Grocery, Red Fish Blue Fish restaurant, The Hampton Inn on Pensacola Beach, along with Destin Commons, and many other destinations along the Gulf coast.
“EV drivers stay longer and spend more money at a retailer because the charging stations are there,” Driver said. “It’s a good incentive that keeps customers in your store longer.”
Providing consultation services and advice on electric vehicles and home or business charging stations is one of the many services Gulf Power provides free to its customers.
“Just like a residential customer who wants to know about heat pumps, water heaters or pool pumps, we provide a free consultation for electric vehicle charging equipment,” Coley said. “If you’re interested in charging stations, we are happy to talk with you about the options and tell you what we think is best for your business or home. We recommend reputable manufacturers, installation contractors and electricians. You make the decisions.”
Gulf Power also provides rebates for workplace and fleet charging for business customers.
“Our belief is that infrastructure is essential in the market, and Gulf Power has trained energy experts in the electric transportation field that can provide customers with all the information they need to make the best decision for EV charging at their home or business,” Coley said.
Flynn pointed out that the airport could not have installed the chargers without Gulf Power’s help.
“Gulf Power being on the forefront of the EV driving trend in this area and helping to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place and pointing entities like the airport in the right direction, is big,” Flynn said.
Gulf Power is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 450,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at MyGulfPower.com or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at GulfPowerNews.com.
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