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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

$100,000 Infrastructure Gives CSUF President Free Electric Car Charging

By Hugo RiosSeptember 6, 2022

As part of a $200,000 pilot program, an electric vehicle charging port was added to President Framroze Virjee’s personal parking spot in College Park for the cost of $100,000. Adjacent to his spot is a compact electric vehicle parking space that any member of the public can use for recharging at no cost.

Two street light alternatives, referred to as smart poles, were built at Cal State Fullerton in summer 2021 and funded by CSUF Information Technology. Pending reviews,  the Australian-based vendor ENE.HUB will partner with local cellular network providers to provide more smart poles at no cost, said Rommel Hidalgo, associate vice president of information technology.

One of the two black multipurpose poles, which does not include a vehicle charger, is located in front of Titan Shops on the main campus. The other, which has a charger installed, is located in College Park at the CSUF president’s reserved parking spot.

The university has a mixture of vehicle charging units. Some, like those at the top of the Eastside parking structure, can be used by CSUF students and faculty at no cost. Others located near the Nutwood parking structure limit users to four hours and charge $0.40 per kilowatt-hour.

Both poles provide Wi-Fi coverage, are capable of 5G network coverage and have compartments to attach devices such as cameras, environmental sensors and charging ports.

Only the pole at College Park has free-to-use charging ports for electric vehicles. Though one of the ports is taken by the president’s parking spot, Hidalgo said the other spot is open to the campus community on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

Hidalgo said that downloading the Chargefox app, the Australian-EV charging network partnered with ENE.HUB, is all anyone on campus needs to charge their vehicle freely. There are only two Chargefox stations in California; the other is on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.

While the smart pole on the main campus cannot charge a car, it functions as a security pole, working similarly to the blue emergency poles that alert campus police. There are low-power charging ports available for anyone, including a wireless phone charger and two security cameras facing the Titan Student Union and Pollak library. 

The smart pole at College Park also has three security cameras. One camera faces east toward the intersection of Folino Drive and Nutwood Avenue;  another is pointed west, covering the intersection of Nutwood Avenue and North Commonwealth Avenue; and the last is pointed south toward the College Park building.

Hidalgo said one of the goals of the new infrastructure is to provide the community with efficient data network coverage throughout the CSUF campus

Willie Peng, assistant vice president of infrastructure services at CSUF, said the ability to attach digital signage that can direct traffic and add environmental sensors adds to the utility of the smart poles.

President Virjee told Daily Titan that he encourages staff and faculty to use the free charging station at College Park.

Amir Dabirian, chief information officer and vice president for IT, said the smart pole placement at College Park was strategic with the intention of making the most of the new infrastructure. 

Hidalgo added that when accounting for digging trenches, providing conduits for electricity, fault lines and data, the two locations chosen in coordination with the vendor seemed the most effective.

Hidalgo said plans for making CSUF a smart campus with the addition of the new smart poles began in 2019.

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