Sign of the Times
(Click to enlarge)
Destination Chargers
in my Kayenta Community

Mark D Larsen

February 19, 2017

Over two years ago, about the time when Tesla installed Destination Chargers at the three Best Western motels and the Eureka Casino in my area, the automaker had also contacted the owner/developer of my Kayenta desert community, Terry Marten, to offer to also install them at our Coyote Gulch Art Village. I was aware of the offer, and on several occasions encouraged —even pestered— the owner to approve the installation. He is environmentally conscious, and interested in the possibility, but has simply been too busy with other projects, like installing 60 kWh of solar arrays on the village roofs.

I again reminded the owner of Tesla’s offer when we held our National Drive Electric EV'ent at the village last September. He responded that he was still too busy, but if I was willing to orchestrate the project, he would authorize the installation of the charging stations. I now had my work cut out for me! I contacted Tesla, and one of the Project Managers for the Destination Charger program, Jonathan Katz, asked me to secure bids, carefully review the installation guidelines, and return a signed Letter of Intent with our estimates.

I then set up meetings with the owner, his preferred electrician (Red Mountain Electric) and excavator (Leavitt Construction) to determine where and how to install the chargers. Terry Marten decided that he wanted them in the village’s lower parking lot, even though this would cause some complications. For example, the nearest breaker box was more than 100 feet from the location, so the excavator would have to dig a trench and lay conduit underground between those locations. Moreover, the electrician would need to use thicker gauge wiring to minimize the voltage drop over such a long distance. They prepared their bids for me to submit to Tesla.

Upon receiving those documents, Tesla agreed to provide free-of-charge two HPWCs and one EVSE, pedestals to mount them, as well as $4,500 toward the installation. Normally, that amount would more than cover the entire cost, but in our case, because of the complications, it at least matched about 92% of the estimate. I met with the owner again to report these specifics, and he opined that, since he would be supplying the electricity for free, and because the stations were to serve the community, the community members should also chip in to fund the remaining 8% of the costs.

I therefore posted a notice to our neighborhood forum and sent an e-mail to other EV owners in the area to describe the project and, with hat-in-hand, ask for donations. Thankfully, 21 people generously agreed to help out, I chipped in a hefty amount myself, and thus managed to gather enough funds for the project to move forward. I responded to Tesla, and Jonathan Katz arranged to have the HPWCs, EVSE, and pedestals delivered to Red Mountain Electric. Below are annotated photos of how the project played out.

NOTE: You can click on any of the following photos to enlarge them.

This is where Terry Marten preferred that the charging stations be installed. There was once a pathway here, no longer used, but this meant that some roadbase gravel had to be removed from the parking lot’s curb. You can barely see the building that houses the circuit panel in the background.

That building is the Art Village’s outdoor theater, and its breaker box is located in one corner of the kitchen area where refreshments are prepared and served for members of the audience.

Luckily, there was plenty of room to add breakers to that panel. The electrician would install a 100A breaker for the Tesla HPWCs and use an existing 50A circuit for the ClipperCreek EVSE.

To help prepare the site, in October I used my battery-powered tiller to loosen and remove the roadbase so that the curb was again visible. It was not an easy task, and would have been nearly impossible without the power tool to break through that gravel.

I then cleaned the remaining dirt off of the parking spaces and curbing. The biggest challenge here was connecting sufficient water hoses and extension cords to reach all the way from the building and nearest faucet to connect my power washer.

In mid-November, using a small backhoe, Leavitt Construction was able to dig the trench and lay the conduit. As you can see, they had to curve around an area where Terry Marten hoped to someday add another building to the village.

Unfortunately, the project was then delayed for a couple of months, due to backorders of the ClipperCreek hardware, the holiday season, and then several weeks of rain storms. Finally, earlier this month, Red Mountain Electric was able to lay the cement for the pedestals.

As soon as the cement was dry enough, the electrician could mount the pedestals, install the electrical box, and set the sign pole which I had purchased. I had also ordered a customized sign for the pole shown in the photo at the top of the page.

You can see that these steel pedestals are a much wider, stronger design than what ClipperCreek had supplied for such projects in the past.

The electrical box in the center is where the wiring is distributed to the charging stations, the HPWCs to the left and the EVSE to the right.

The electrician then had to remove the top segment of the pedestals to run the wiring from the electrical box through conduit and up to the charging stations.

The EVSE was finished first. The HPWCs were more complicated. They had to be daisy chained so that, when one is used, it gets full 72A power; when both are used, the power is distributed equally between them at 40A.

Finally, all the charging stations were mounted. The two HPWCs are back-to-back on their pedestal. One of them was missing its “cable organizer” (hook), so the electrician asked Tesla to send one. When it arrives, he will mount both of them on the sides of the pedestal so that the plugs are easily accessible from the front.

Here is the 100A breaker in the circuit panel, flipped on to test if the stations are operational.

BINGO! The HPWCs have power... does the EVSE

Of course, with all the digging, rain storms, and work on the pedestals and electrical box, I again had to clean off the parking spaces and curbing with my power washer.

The next day, I was able to measure, tape off, and then paint the curbing and parking lines. Luckily, the day was clear and the paint dried in just a few hours.

Here you can see the finished project at dusk, just as clouds began to move in for a rain storm the next day.

The Kayenta Destination Chargers are now up-and-running for those who find them on the PlugShare map.

Thank you, Tesla! Thank you, Terry Marten, Leavitt Construction, Red Mountain Electric! Thank you, neighbors and EV advocates!