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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Moscow drivers can plug in and turn on

By Chelsea Embree Lewiston Tribune

MOSCOW – Tucked in an alleyway on the University of Idaho campus is a new means for Moscow to plug in to more sustainability.

The university has installed the city’s first electric vehicle charging station, which became fully operational last week. The two spaces at the charging station are open for use by the public.

“We’re excited to have them on campus,” said Stuart Robb, supervisor for UI’s parking and transportation services.

The idea for the electric charging stations was sparked about three years ago, as UI became increasingly interested in sustainability efforts.

With construction of the new Integrated Research and Innovation Center on campus came the space and opportunity to implement electric car charging stations. The new building, resource-efficient with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, has the charging stations installed on its side.

“It jives with our role as a research university,” said Robert Mitchell, information specialist for parking and transportation services. “If you’re going to be on the cutting edge with genetics and crops, it makes sense that you’re on the cutting edge getting the people (here) who are going to come here to teach those classes and to attend those classes.”

Mitchell said the charging stations are designed for drivers to get their vehicles “topped off,” as opposed to allowing the cars to sit there all day and take in a full charge.

“It’s kind of designed to try to keep people cycling through,” he said.

The stations are also meant to be user-friendly, Mitchell added. Drivers of electric or hybrid cars can park in designated spaces, plug in an extension cord, and feed a parking meter that regulates the amount of time and charge being used and records that data.

The chargers are open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., or 20 hours, for up to six hours per vehicle. On weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the cost for use is $2 per hour for the first three hours, and $3 per hour for additional time. Outside of that time frame, drivers will pay $1 per hour for the first three hours, and $2 per hour thereafter.

“Our launch rates are set up to cover a minimal charge that covers the cost of the electricity that the university will be providing, as well as a rate for the parking space itself,” Robb said.

It’s not clear how many electric or hybrid vehicles travel in and out of the Moscow area. But the electric car chargers are intended to attract drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles, said Rebecca Couch, director of parking and transportation services. “If you provide it, they will come.”

There are plans to construct a second charging station near the university’s Administration Building, Robb said. That station will also allow two cars to plug in, and will stand alone instead of being attached to a building.

“It’s probably really visible and very accessible,” Robb said. “We think the locations on campus are going to be really good for anybody. Both sites are really close to the core of campus.”

The new charging station is set to be constructed this spring, along with renovations to the university’s education building. Cost estimates to install the station range from $500 to $1,000 per charging space.