City of Steamboat devotes two parking spaces on 10th Street to new electric car charger | SteamboatToday.com

City of Steamboat devotes two parking spaces on 10th Street to new electric car charger

Matt Troeger demonstrates the use of the city of Steamboat Springs' new Charge Point level II dual pedestal charging station on his family's Nissan Leaf on 10th Street Wednesday. The use of the charger is free to owners of electric vehicles who have an account with Charge Point

— A pair of brightly painted parking spots in downtown Steamboat Springs make it difficult to overlook the city's first electric vehicle (EV) charge station and perhaps an emerging trend. Naturally, the parking spots on 10th Street adjacent to City Hall are painted bright green and reserved for electric cars, whose owners who are welcome to charge their vehicles at no cost.

A city spokesperson wrote in an email Wednesday that the new charge station supports City Council's goals to demonstrate leadership in sustainability with regard to air quality, energy use and transportation.

The city of Steamboat Springs supplied a $1,615 match to a $6,260 Charge Ahead Colorado grant from the Colorado Energy Office to fund installation of the new charge station. The juice will be free to users, but Steamboat resident Jeff Troeger, who owns a Nissan Leaf, pointed out that, in order to use the charger, people will need to first establish an account, at no charge, with Charge Point. Without a card from Charge Point, they won't be able to hook up, Troeger said Wednesday. Accounts can be created on a smartphone, but it might be more comfortable to accomplish in advance on a laptop.

Then again, EV owners who sign in by waving their phones in front of the charger, like Troeger did Wednesday, will be constantly updated on how many miles they've added to the car’s range.

"Driving an electric car is like driving around with a quarter tank of gas or less pretty much all the time," Troeger said, adding that he's accustomed to it."

The charge station is a Charge Point CT4000 level II dual pedestal charging station able to charge two cars at once (there is a four-hour limit) and is operable 24 hours a day/seven days per week. The city will be able to track charging times and usage in KWh.

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Across the country, some Charge Point stations are free and others result in a charge to the user's credit card.

Troeger said he has friends who tease him that his Leaf is coal-powered, and he concedes the point, but adds that, in terms of converting energy into motion, electric cars are many times more efficient than cars with gasoline engines.

Casey Earp, former assistant to City Manager Deb Hinsvark, initiated the grant application with the state and handed off to city Facilities Manager Steve Hoots for the installation phase of the project. Yampa Valley Electric Association pitched in by hooking up the charger and making it live at no cost.

Earp realized that a public charging station in Steamboat would represent a new link in a series of charging stations that would allow electric car owners to patch together a trip to Denver via existing charge stations in Kremmling, 52 miles to the east, followed by another 48 miles further east in Winter Park and finally another station 34 miles away across Berthoud Pass to Idaho Springs.

Steamboat electric vehicle owners like Troeger may not rely on the new station on 10th Street, but the Level II charger there, with its 240-volt plug-in, is faster than standard home outlets.

Troeger concluded that the city's new Charge Point charger is four times as fast as standard outlets at home. He was charging at the rate of 21 miles of range per hour on 10th Street.

The downtown EV charge station isn't the only option in town. There is another public charger on the west end of the academic building at Colorado Mountain College in an area marked as a loading zone.

A third public charging location can be found in the parking garage beneath building six in Wyndham's Village at Steamboat on Pine Grove Road. That level-two station was also funded by a grant from the Colorado Energy Office.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1