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City of Bloomington, Duke Energy install electric car charging stations


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The few Bloomington drivers behind the wheels of electric vehicles have two new places to plug in.

The City of Bloomington installed a charging station at Garage Market on the corner of Seventh and Morton Streets and another at Garage Band on Seventh and Walnut Streets.

The stations are operational as of Sept. 18 and are part of a two-year program with Duke Energy.

Jacqueline Bauer, city sustainability coordinator, said the program involves using the stations to measure the effects electric vehicles have on the power grid and to indicate if electric vehicles are becoming more popular.

According to a press release, Duke will evaluate the data generated by the stations after two years and might remove them if usage levels aren’t satisfactory.

However, if usage levels exceed expectations, more charging stations could be installed.

Bauer said she doesn’t think there will be much use initially.

“I think there are less than 20 electric vehicles in Bloomington,” she said.

Each station can cost between $2,000 and $2,500, Bauer said, but the Bloomington stations were paid for in full with federal funding.  Energy Systems Network’s Project Plug-IN, which received a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, paid for the charging stations and their installation, according to the release.

Considering the usage cost and the number of electric vehicles in town, Bauer said it will take some time before the stations pay for themselves.

Charging a vehicle costs 50 cents per hour.

Though there are few electric vehicles in Bloomington, Mike Campbell, general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn at 245 N. College Ave., said customers have expressed interest in charging stations.

He said he suggested Duke and the City of Bloomington participate in Project Plug-IN as a result of those inquiries.

“Demand is increasing,” Campbell said. “Sustainable travel is becoming a tie-breaker when choosing a hotel.”

Bauer said vehicles parked at the stations will be subject to the rules posted in the garage. She said conventional cars parked in the spots reserved for electric vehicles will initially receive warnings.

“If it becomes a problem, we’ll explore options like towing,” Bauer said.

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