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Wednesday, 31 August 2011 20:35

Waynesville parking deck could house electric car charging station

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Electric car owners rejoice. Haywood County may soon be home to two electric car charging stations for the sustainably inclined.

The idea is still in its infancy, but the town of Waynesville hopes to house two of 25 charging stations being set up in the five-county Asheville metro area, a project partially funded through a grant from the state Energy Office. Clean Vehicles Coalition and Advanced Energy are coordinating the grant and are in the process of deciding which locations in the region will get the public charging stations.

If approved, the grant would offer 50 percent of costs for the new technology, up to $6,000 per charging station.

The public parking deck in downtown Waynesville would be an ideal spot for electric car charging stations, according to Waynesville’s Assistant Town Manager Alison Melnikova.

Drivers would be able to charge their cars free of charge — helpful both to tourists traveling in electric vehicles or commuters who want to juice up. The stations also would be available for local governments, should they decide to go electric with fleets in the future.

The N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles expects nearly 12,000 electric vehicles to be on the state’s roads by 2015, with 10 percent of those in the Asheville metro area.

The idea to house charging stations in the parking deck still faces a couple of hurdles.

County commissioners, as the owners of the parking deck, must agree to the location. The town plans to approach commissioners at their meeting next week.

Waynesville and the county have already agreed to share the local portion of the project, including the cost of the match, with each government pitching in half, according to information presented to the Waynesville Town Board last week.

Advance Energy said that decisions on applications would be made by Sept. 9, and if approved, the new stations could be up as early as December.

Melnikova said that final prices haven’t yet been worked out, so just how much the town and county would have to lay down is unclear.

The stations will power cars such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. They’re not inexpensive — the Volt will set you back between $33,000 and $41,000, while the Leaf has a price tag of around $37,000 — but their makers tout the significant fuel savings the cars could provide.

The Leaf takes about $1.50 a day to run, says Nissan. And with complimentary charging stations, that cost could decrease.

There are already charging stations at the Biltmore Town Square in south Asheville, built by Eaton Corp., a company in Arden that produces the stations.

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