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The push for more plug-ins

Bill Rinehart
This charging station is at Sawyer Point.

Cincinnati and its private partners on Tuesday announced the latest places to charge your electric vehicle: Cincinnati Zoo, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Cincinnati State and Findlay Market.

On the same day, Newport on the Levee announced it has three charging stations on the P1 level of its parking garage. Just last month AAA added one on Orphanage Road in Fort Wright. Another AAA charging station on Red Bank Road in Fairfax opened in 2013.

A Cincinnati plan to increase plug-ins

In a report released earlier this year, Cincinnati's Director of Environment and Sustainability, Larry Falkin, outlined these recommendations to increase charging stations:

  1. Identifying outside electrical outlets (Level 1, 110 v) and list them on popular charging websites.
  2. Adding 5-10 Level 2 outlets (220-240 v) to city-owned parking garages where people have requested them and would be willing to pay increased rates.
  3. Provide incentives to encourage Level 2 outlets at 20-25 privately owned garages, but publicly accessible locations.
  4. Identify locations for 3-5 DC fast chargers (480 v).  Some funding can come from Clean Fuels Ohio. (This is what paid for the chargers at the Zoo, Cincinnati State, UC, Xavier, and Findlay Market)

Falkin will speak about the need for charging stations at the 2015 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit May 1 at Xavier University.

Which comes first: the charging stations or the cars?

Nationally,  electric car sales are still a very small part of the market. President Obama said in his 2011 Station of the Union address that by 2015 he wanted to have one million plug-in electric vehicles on the road. The Detroit News projects that won't happen for at least four more years.

Here are the latest numbers from Forbes:

The United States is the largest electric car market in the world. Through November of this year, 83,647 electric cars were sold in America. While this represents a 26-percent increase over the number sold during the same period in 2013, it is a small percentage of the total U.S. market, and the impact of gasoline at $2.25 per gallon is yet to be determined. Moreover, 55 percent of the electric cars sold in the U.S. are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“PHEVs”), suggesting that consumers still do not trust the range of cars powered solely with electric

However, a new Canadian study seems to contradict claims that more charging stations are needed before people will buy more electric cars. A very small percentage of the 1700 people surveyed who bought electric cars in Canada in 2013 said they had seen a charging station before deciding to buy the car.

Other locations

  • dunnhumby's garage can charge six electric vehicles at a time. 3CDC says if there is demand it will look into expanding the number of charging stations at the City Centre Garage.
  • The garage at the AT580 Building provides plug-ins for the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza valet, 21c Museum Hotel and the Metropole restaurant.
  • Tesla offers charging stations in the Kenwood Towne Center garage.
  • CVG has four at D30 in the Terminal Garage and three on the west side of ValuPark.
  • Sawyer Point has a charging station.

Here is a national map that lists plug-in stations across the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.

Plug-in America, a electric car advocacy group, is pleased with the progress of plug-in stations and electric cars. Chief Science Officer Tom Saxton looks back to 2011. "We went from essentially zero. I mean small numbers, hundreds or a few thousand scattered vehicles to now where we have over 300,000 production freeway-capable plug-in electric vehicles........so that's a gigantic amount of progress."

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.