Truckee to launch two new electric car charging stations | SierraSun.com

Truckee to launch two new electric car charging stations

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Truckee Donner Public Utility District continues its crusade toward sustainable energy with the recent announcement it will launch two plug-in electric vehicle charging stations in town.

One station will be located at the Truckee Train Depot site in historic downtown Truckee, and the second will be at the Pioneer Commerce Center just north of Interstate 80.

Each location will have two, Level 2 charging stations for public use.

While the project has yet to be finalized, TDPUD conservation manager Steven Poncelet believes the four stations will provide charging capabilities for a single respective vehicle with a four-hour limit while charging.

“We’re hopeful there will be an economic and environmental benefit moving forward.”Alex TerrazasTown of Truckee

Assisted by a $200,000 grant awarded to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency from the California Energy Commission, Poncelet added the project is helping put Truckee and the district at the frontline of the evolving electric highway.

The greater Truckee area has seen “a dramatic increase” in PEVs over the last few years, Poncelet said, driven by Truckee’s unique geographical location along the I-80 corridor, not to mention the region’s historic and iconic draw for visitors seeking the town or a gateway to Lake Tahoe and the Northern Sierra Nevada.

District officials believe the CEC grant provides a “significant investment in the region,” while facilitating TRPA’s endeavors to produce a Tahoe-Truckee PEV readiness plan.

“TDPUD has been monitoring the emergence of PEVs and we understand the importance of serving affordable, clean energy to this market,” said Bob Ellis, TDPUD board president. “More than 50 percent of the electricity for these PEV public access charging stations will come from renewable resources.”

The aim is to encourage drivers to swap gas-powered cars for zero-emission electric vehicles by making the charging infrastructure available and alleviating doubt that electric batteries will die before reaching a charging station, Poncelet said.

Following a free one-month period during the stations’ initial deployment, Poncelet said charges for use will be based on a per-kilowatt basis, although the rate structure has yet to be determined.

“The goal in the long run for these charging stations is to fully cover their costs,” he said.

An average total charge for the customer is likely to be $3 to $4, he added.

“That will give your PEV about 60 to 70 miles on average,” Poncelet said.

Finding the locations for the charging stations boiled down to their proximity to I-80, availability of parking, landowners’ ability to partner with the PUD, and benefits to the location in terms of desire to do commerce in the area, according to the district.

“It’s helping to create the infrastructure to create the widespread need and enable the adoption of PEVs,” Poncelet said. “As well as positioning the district to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risk of the widespread use of these vehicles in the electric utility industry.”

From Truckee to Olympic Valley to Tahoe City, Incline Village, and throughout the South Lake Tahoe region, more than 40 public and private parking lots have PEV charging stations installed, according to data provided by PlugShare, an app and website with a database of more than 26,000 stations.

And while the removal of two general-use parking spaces may seem egregious to some, Truckee assistant town manager Alex Terrazas believes the economic and environmental benefits outweigh the cost.

“We’re hopeful they will be occupied by (PEVs), and we’re hopeful there will be an economic and environmental benefit moving forward,” Terrazas said.

The charging stations will require payment using either credit card or a charging app on a smartphone.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to open both stations is expected to occur in early November 2015.