By Kyle LoJacono
The Hillsborough commissioners are hoping to literally charge up alternative fuel use in the county.
The board unanimously approved installing 10 electric car charging stations at several locations around the county, including the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library. The sites would be operational by October.
“This is something I strongly believe in,” said Commissioner Mark Sharpe, also a member of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority board. “We believe there will be an increase demand for the stations in the coming months and we want to get ahead of the game. It’s also important to provide clean energy that is produced here in America.”
There will be several new electric car models released nationally this year, including the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. Sharpe suspects these new vehicles will lead to that increased demand.
The County is using $20,000 to install the Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint stations pilot project as part of its Green Hillsborough intuitive. Tampa Electric Co. and NovaCharge are installing the units.
There will be a fee to use the chargers, but Sharpe said those amounts have not been set. He added ChargePoint will pay for any maintenance during the pilot project, which ends in January 2014. The commissioners will vote if they want to pick up the upkeep after the program ends.
The stations will be connected to a network that allows people to see when each is open from the Internet or their smartphone.
Hillsborough was one of 13 metropolitan areas, along with Orlando, chosen nationally to be a part of the pilot program by the U.S. Department of Energy. Florida currently has 52 ChargePoint charging stations, but the only one in the Tampa Bay area in central Pinellas County.
The department’s overall goal is to install 100 charging stations in the Tampa Bay area. The pilot program is meant to study the usage and cost of such chargers in preparation for more lines of electric vehicles in the future.
While the main focus of the project is creating alternative fuel sources, the program has a side benefit.
“For every charging station there is the creation of three jobs,” said Jerry Campbell, a member of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission and also is a member of the county’s Energy Management and Sustainability Committee.
To learn about all the Green Hillsborough efforts, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/green/.
Future Hillsborough charging locations
–Two at the Pierce Street Parking Garage, 319 N. Pierce St.
–Two at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive
–One at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave.
–One at Hillsborough Community College, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd.
–One at the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough, 3629 Queen Palm Drive
–One at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave.
–One at the Brandon Regional Library, 619 Vondenburg Road
–One at the Town ‘N County Commons, 7606 Paula Drive