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The owner of SemaConnect, Mr Mahi Reddy, called me this morning to tell me their charge stations were free to use and explain a little about the J1772 plug standard.

I picked up my Volt this weekend and while staying in Baltimore, attempted to use one of the two SemaConnect Level 2 charge stations in the Univ. of Baltimore's Fitzgerald for-pay parking garage (public welcome). They are very sleek, nice looking units, but to make a long story short, I could not get a charge.

Mr Reddy apologized and told me he was sending his tech (with the company Volt!) to adjust the charge station unit so it would indeed be free, no card required. This is apparently a very new installation and they are working on some instructional tips for the parking lot attendants as well as a sign. He also offered to reset my check engine light with their OBD diagnostic tool. He said the J1772 standard had a few gray areas where car manufactures can make valid but unique choices. At least, that's how I understood it. He told me they have some SemaConnect units at GM as well.

The car charged fine last night via the 110v outlet in my garage, no issues at all. So all seems well, except having to reset the engine light at the local Chevy dealer. This will be the first Volt for them, and they seem a little excited even if it's only a light reset.

I was very impressed with SemaConnects responsive and personal follow up. It was very apparent Mr Reddy is committed to the Volt and seeing electric cars fulfill their promise. After speaking with him, and knowing his tech will be checking out the system with their own Volt, I would not hesitate to give his stations a second try. His personal interest and follow up were outstanding in my book. I have seen people at GM exhibit this same kind of support when things have gone sideways a bit as can happen with new technology. I just wish I was in Baltimore to give it another go!
 

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I got a chance to meet Mr. Reddy and his staff from SemaConnect at the opening of the BWI Parking Garage Charging Stations. He was quite pleasant and truly interested in my Volt and how I use it. The folks he has working for him are top notch too. They tell me that Maryland is the number 2 state for installed chargers. It must be 2nd behind California. I used the SemaConnect station in Westminster, and at BWI, but I haven't seen them or any brand near Timonium, north of Baltimore just yet. I've heard that Maryland's MTA will be installing chargers at Park and Rides, but there's no schedule just yet.
I was quite impressed with Mr. Reddy's entrepreneurial spirit and his dedication to the EV market. The installed base of chargers keeps growing and will help EV's become more mainstream. Besides, the less gas I use, the better I like it!

Volt 63

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I know this is an old thread, but I thought I'd ask for an update and give one of my own.

Is anyone actually using SemaConnect and have they had success with it?

I've been trying to get things set up for this (there's a charging point in the garage of my wife's office) and have run into nothing but problems. I'll detail all those later, but I'm more interested in getting a straight answer, which their customer service seems unable to provide.

If you look on their website, you can easily search a list of charging stations. Here's an example, of a charging station and its pricing. $0.75/hour Parking Fee. $0 Energy Fee.

So my question: Can someone explain what the Parking Fee is? For each station, it has the Parking Fee and Energy Fee listed. Nowhere on their site do I see the difference in these fees explained. So I wrote to them to ask, and I got this response:

The energy fee is a rate that can be charged to pay for the charging of the vehicle in kilowatt
hours (KWh).*According to the Department of Energy, the annual "fuel" cost for an electric or
plug-in hybrid (using only electricity) is $594, at a national average of 11 cents per kwh.
Calculating the annual cost times the kWh rate, your EV or PHEV -- using our ChargePro Level II,
240-volt EV charger -- will require 5,400 kwh of charge per year, or 450 kwh per month. Assuming
450 kwh of charge, multiplied by CPS Energy's average kwh rate of 10 cents (lower than the
national average), you would pay an additional $45 per month for electricity, or $1.50 per day.

A parking rate however does not take any of this into consideration. It is a flat rate that while
your EV is "parked" in the space is incurred. Regardless of the energy transferred. The rate is
not applied by SemaConnect, as we are the manufacturer of the charging stations. The organization
which purchases the station determines what rate they will apply for usage. Your wife should
check with the parking staff or the office that is responsible for working with the garage to
find out how they have set up the policy for parking.
So the parking fee is confusing to me -- according to that, the parking fee is charged as long as a vehicle is physically in the EV parking space. I find it hard to believe that the EV charging station has a sensor to detect if a vehicle is there. On top of that, at the parking garage in question, I happen to know a non-EV parks there every day, since there are no EVs in need of the space (and it's in a prime location). I really doubt a non-EV owner has a SemaConnect card and is paying a $0.75/hour to park in that space, on top of the usual parking garage fee.

So then I asked for clarification, and received this in reply:

Regardless of the EV being plugged in, receiving energy, or charging. The rate is for the space
itself. The car would be charged for the 8 hours it is in the space, the stations are monitored
(depending on the location.)*
Now I doubt that Sema staff are driving around to each charging station each day, noting what vehicle is there, and assessing a charge.

Then I inquired for further clarification on how this parking fee works, and received this in reply:

Your wife should speak to the parking attendant and see what their policy is.
Now.... it's Sema that is listing the $0.75/hour Parking Fee on their site, and they don't know what the policy is for when/how it is charged?

I've pretty much given up trying to get a straight answer from Sema customer serviced. Can anyone explain this?

In this case, the garage itself is a paid parking garage and it's about $7/day to park there as I recall. So if my wife were to plug our Volt into the Sema charging station (we have a Sema Connect card to activate the station), would we be paying another $0.75/hour on top of the $7/day she pays to park in the garage, for every hour the car is physically in that EV spot, even if it's not charging?

Here's another example of the confusion. I've driven by this location. It's in a shopping mall parking lot, next to a bank. The Sema site lists the parking fee as $1-2/hour, and no energy fee. But this is just a parking lot -- no parking attendants, gates, or payment to park in this lot, just like most shopping centers. Are they really charging a fee to park in those 2 particular spots, even if not charging? I could go right now and park my non-EV there, and I know I can do so for free.

My general feeling dealing with Sema so far is that they aren't ready for primetime, at least from an operational standpoint. Also note when you search on stations (like the links I've included above), it shows information like "0 stations at this locations; 0 Available; 0 in use; Last updated : 0" which again makes me think this is still like some massive beta test.
 
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