Electric vehicle chargers make a positive impact

Examining the impact of FUHSD’s installation of solar panels and car chargers


Lance Tong and Mikaylah Du

Energy conservation has been an area of focus for FUHSD in recent years. One of the direct benefits students have seen are from the increased shade in the student parking lot from the solar panels and free electronic charging. 

According to Deputy Superintendent Graham Clark, their solar panels save approximately $780,000 a year — a net savings of around $8 million over the next 10 years, essentially paying for the cost of installation while also being more friendly to the the environment. 

Students and staff members have used the six electric car charging stations located in the front of the student parking lot, which draw power from the solar panels above. The six chargers at the stations were completed Sept. 4, 2020, and were designed to be open to the public. Installation at other schools in FUHSD are also complete or nearly complete — Homestead High School and Lynbrook High School are still waiting on two DC fast chargers. Throughout the district, the chargers were strategically placed to be in areas that could be accessed even when the school is closed.

Clark says that the chargers were intended to encourage staff members and students to operate electric vehicles and give them a place to refuel during the day. A study that examined electric car emissions in China, the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan found that electric cars produce about 40 percent fewer greenhouse gases than the average gas-powered car, even accounting for the energy used in producing EV batteries.

“I think there’s a hesitancy for people — they don’t want to buy an electric car if they don’t think they can charge it at work or school,” Clark said. “You don’t want to be stuck and not be able to get home. I think having those charges available [makes] it more encouraging for people to want to get electric cars.”

Senior Elizabeth Lee, who drives to and from school in an electric car, says that the chargers solve one of the issues that electric car users face and finds that the chargers are a nice reinforcement.

“One of the hardest parts about [electric cars] is the fact that it does take so long to charge,” Lee said. “Just yesterday, I almost ran out of charge on the way home. And that was one of the scariest moments of my life because [if] my car stalls in the middle of the road, I’m screwed. So I think having chargers here encourages people to have an electric car [since you] know that you can charge at various places.”

The recorded number of people who use the stations are low in reports, with only 55 drivers using the chargers at MV in April and June of 2021, and 220 total across the district. Clark says he expects more drivers to use the chargers in the future, as the chargers are still relatively new and unknown, and the only reports as of now are from distance learning. 

Senior Karishma Goswami adds that besides incentivizing those nearby to use electric vehicles (EV), EV chargers are becoming more common. 

“Right now, one of the reasons a lot of people don’t get them is because the mileage is low and doing road trips is very difficult,” Goswami said. “If there are more charging stations in different places, and you know that it’s easily accessible, then that’s another incentive for people to get electric cars.”