UNC will charge for electric car charging stations

| June 5, 2013 | 4 Comments

This fall, the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill will add three charging stations to power electric vehicles. However, this service probably won’t be free for users, unlike the free electric charging stations are available in other parts of Orange County.

As The Herald Sun reports, UNC’s Board of Trustee’s Budget and Finance Committee “unanimously approved a proposal to charge owners of electric cars $250 a year for a decal that would allow them to use the charging stations. The $250 fee for the decal would be in addition to the base parking permit motorists buy to park on campus.”

The idea to charge a fee for EV (Electric Vehicle) stations has met with strong opposition from UNC’s electric and hybrid car owners who think it is a mistake to put a price tag on this service. One critic, who has written to the newspaper, also suspects that the university will lose money when few buy the EV station decals. [Source: The Herald Sun]

Why UNC proposes to charge for electric car stations

Some universities and municipalities (Durham and Chapel Hill, for instance) allow motorists to charge their EVs for free in order to popularize the use of electric vehicles. However, UNC contends that requiring payment isn’t just about customer convenience; it’s also a question of treating all employees fairly.

Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor of campus services, advocates the fee. “The electricity is essentially their fuel,” she says. “The state is not going to subsidize individual parties fueling their vehicles.” Other reasons to charge for EV parking are covering maintenance and operating charging stations costs, as well as deterring non-electric vehicle owners from using the spaces.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Electric vehicle charging in North Carolina. Image by NCDOTcommunications

Charging stations could help stop unsafe practices

Elfland also expects that adding charging stations will reduce unsafe practices. She said, “What we have had before now is kind of unsafe situations where people – some folks live beyond the reach of their charge, so they can come here but can’t get back home – so we’ve had things like extension cords plugged in buildings on the inside and run out the door. We’ve also had people finding a plug in a parking deck and just sticking it and it’s really not safe.”

Charging stations in other parts of Orange County may be under-utilized

16 free electric car charging stations were installed last year in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. “OrangeCounty picks up the tab for use of the electricity that costs about 50 cents per hour per charge.” (Source: The Chapel Hill News)

Walt Mack, a Chapel Hill resident, wrote the following criticism of the plan to The Chapel Hill News: “Two of the charging stations are located in the parking lot behind the Seymour senior center on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, and occupy two parking spaces reserved exclusively for charging electric cars. During my frequent visits to the center, I have yet to see an electric car taking advantage of the free charge, and that’s been more than a year since they were installed.”

 

Electric Vehicle Sign

View this sign here.

Mack requested a relocation of these charging stations. It’s an ongoing issue in the area. Town officials had received complaints about the under-utilization of hybrid car parking spots at the Chapel Hill Public Library too.

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Category: Green Parking, News

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