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Hospital Lets EVs Charge Up Free of Charge

LAGUNA HILLS | Community News Focus

April 16, 1997|KIMBERLY BROWER

An Orange County hospital has plugged into the new age of electric, emission-free engines by installing a charging station for electric vehicles on its grounds.

Saddleback Memorial Medical Center recently opened its new self-serve charging station to the public.

Doctors, patients and the public may pull into the parking lot in front of the hospital's emergency room at any time to charge their electric vehicle batteries free. No more smelly gas or dirty hands, as in regular gas stations, just clean electricity.

"We're a community hospital," said Nolan Draney, Saddleback chief operating officer. "We thought this would be an investment in the environment of the community."

Draney said the hospital came up with the idea for the station after one of its doctors bought an electric vehicle known as the EV1. He said that so far cardiologist Richard Caso is the only one to use the station, but he hopes more will follow as the cars become more common.

Silently driving into the parking lot in his blue two-door car, Caso said he commutes every day from his home in San Juan Capistrano to his office in Aliso Viejo and to Saddleback Memorial to do his patient rounds.

He said even though he has chargers at home and in the office, the hospital station is an added bonus because of its convenient location. He can fully charge his batteries in about three hours if needed, which equates to about 60 miles on the road.

"This has really helped a lot," Caso said of the hospital's charging station. "I'm always topping off so it's always full."

There are around 100 electric vehicle charging stations in Southern California. It is estimated that by the end of the year, 30 new charging stations will be installed in public locations such as restaurants, shopping centers and business complexes throughout Orange County, according to officials of Los Angeles-based Edison EV, an Edison International company that provides EV charging equipment and services in California and Arizona.

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