City eyes its first electric vehicle charging station


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spring is still a ways off, but Elizabeth City is getting greener in a different way: by installing a charging station for electric vehicles downtown.

The new “ChargePoint” station will go in Mariners' Wharf Park, where two parking spaces will be dedicated to recharging electric vehicles. City Council approved installing the station last month, and City Manager Rich Olson confirmed last week that it would be installed at Mariners' Wharf Park on Water Street.

He said that ChargePoint, a major electric vehicle charging company based in Campbell, California, offered the city a five-year lease for the station, at a cost of $2,250 a year. Electric vehicles' drivers would have to download ChargePoint's app to use the station. The app would also help them find the station, potentially drawing passing electric motorists to downtown Elizabeth City.

In advocating for the charging station, Olson said that electric vehicles are a growing presence on highways, and they both reduce pollution and save money on fuel.

In terms of buying gas, “it costs about half as much to drive an electric vehicle,” he reported.

In addition to furthering City Council's goal of making the city an environmentally-friendly community, city staff also reported the charging station would also bring business downtown. Ideally, a motorist would set up their car to charge, and then spend money at downtown restaurants and shops, Olson said.

The city would also charge for the electricity used. No fee has been determined yet, but it will be “minimal,” according to Olson.

In another, unrelated green initiative, city councilors have authorized the Elizabeth City Police Department to apply for a $22,000 grant to pay half the cost of purchasing two electric motorcycles for the department. The city would pay the other half. The grant would be issued by the state-funded NC Clean Energy Technology Center in Raleigh.

A memo from Olson and police Chief Eddie Buffaloe Jr. states that electric motorcycles help police departments in several ways.

Motorcycles, they said, are smaller and more nimble than patrol cars, and electric motorcycles are also quiet, easy to operate, and emission-free. That makes them ideal for operating in crowds, such as at street events, and for inconspicuous patrolling.

If the grant is awarded, the city would pay its match out of next year's budget, the memo also notes.