The jolt of the electric car charging station could soon be coming to Boulder County's eastern border if Erie's elected leaders decide on Tuesday to move forward with a plan to install one in town.
A station in Erie would complement the dozen or more locations throughout Boulder and Broomfield counties where trend-setting motorists tooling around in battery-powered vehicles can plug in and juice up. To be fair, the Walgreens at Erie Parkway and County Line Road already has a charging station, but Erie spokesman Fred Diehl said the one to be considered by trustees Tuesday would help the town fortify its efforts to be as green as possible.
“It dovetails very nicely with our other sustainability efforts — like our methane-to-energy project at the Denver Regional Landfill, our thermal solar panels at the Erie Community Center, and the Class A biosolids room at our water reclamation facility,” he said. “It's one more sustainability effort that would be included in our portfolio.”
The town estimates it would cost $10,000 to $20,000 for electrical installation and another $3,500 to $4,000 in equipment costs for a single 240-volt station. Diehl said a likely location for a station would be at Erie's Four Corners, near the library and community center.
Erie could get help funding the station from utility provider United Power or through a state grant sponsored by the Regional Air Quality Council and the Colorado Energy Office, Diehl said. The town has reached out to Superior and Lafayette to see how things have gone since those municipalities installed charging stations.
Lafayette put one in at its library last year while Superior led the charge in 2011 with the installation of two stations in town. There are 11 charging stations in Boulder and another four slated to come in, including at Boulder Reservoir and the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage.
Superior Town Manager Matt Magley said he sees increasing use of the station at Town Hall as more electric Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts roll off the assembly line and hit showroom floors. The town is considering purchasing a Volt as a fleet car in the next few weeks, he said.
“The charging stations promote the technology to our residents and to the public in general,” he said.
And that's important to a town like Superior, which is now generating nearly 20 percent of its municipal power supply from solar panels, Magley said. The town doesn't charge for the use of its stations and Magley said Erie shouldn't expect the technology to become a money-maker for the town.
“The benefits are on the environmental side,” he said.
The market for electric cars grew in 2012, according to market research firm Mintel Group Ltd, but still only represents a small fraction of overall car sales in the United States. Mintel estimates that hybrid and electric car sales, which represented 3.3 percent of all cars sold in 2012, will represent 5 percent of overall sales by 2017. The electric car sector got a boost last week when Consumer Reports gave a near-perfect rating to the new Tesla Model S electric sedan.
At the same time, worries over the per-charge life of electric vehicle batteries — plus the relatively high cost of the cars — continues to keep many consumers off dealer lots. At the beginning of the month, California electric car maker Coda Automotive filed for bankruptcy. That follows the bankruptcies of two electric vehicle battery makers — A123 Systems Inc. and Ener1 Inc. — last year.