‘Electric Highway’ will be extended to Truckee | SierraSun.com

‘Electric Highway’ will be extended to Truckee

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

Soon there will be a place in Truckee where you can fill up your vehicle for free.

All drivers will need is an electric car and some patience.

An electric vehicle charging station, which should be installed near Meadow Park in Truckee by late June, is the last link in what some are dubbing the “electric highway” ” a stretch of Interstate 80 from the Bay Area to Truckee with a string of charging stations along the way. With help from the Truckee Donner Public Utility District and a grant from Placer County, electric car owners will be able to hook up their vehicle and get a full charge ” enough to last over 100 miles ” in four to five hours.

The addition of the Truckee charger will also allow electric car owners to transform their vehicle’s from around-town cars to long-distance road trip vehicles.

“It completes the chain,” said Tom Dowling, a volunteer with the Electric Auto Association. “There will be charging stations all along I-80.”

Dowling, who owns an electric Toyota RAV4, has made the trip from the Sacramento area to Tahoe several times. Each time he has used a new electric charger at the Tahoe City Public Utility District,

installed on the North Shore last fall. With the new Truckee installation, Dowling said he sees more electric vehicle owners venturing to Tahoe on trips that will cost them nothing in fuel and add no pollution to the Sierra Nevada.

“They used to say that you can’t take (electric car) to Tahoe, but we are trying to change that.”

The San Jose-based Electric Auto Association has been lobbying for more plug-in spots since its inception. With $48,000 from Placer County, the Electric Auto Association was able to aid in the construction of Roseville, Colfax, Auburn electric chargers. The Truckee location, using $29,000 from the county, will be the final location funded by the grant.

Although Truckee is in Nevada County, the Placer County money was available to complete the “electric highway” route through Placer County.

Scott Terrell of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, said usage of the station will likely be light at first. But down the road the popular hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of gas and electric energy, may have a plug-in option, where vehicles can recharge their batteries at charging stations. If that happens, and the electric car inventory rises, chargers across the state will be in much higher demand, he said.

“Their hope is there will be more electric vehicles displacing fossil fuel vehicles,” said Terrell.

Right now Dowling estimates that there are only 4,600 pure electric vehicles statewide. And only about 200 of those vehicles are in Northern California.

“We are trying to reach a fairly small pool of drivers,” said Dowling.

But as gas prices rise and technology advances, the chargers are sure to gain popularity, he said.

“It’s looking more promising all the time,” said Dowling of the future of electric and hybrid vehicles.