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No electric car charging stations for Mercer Island, yet

Charge Northwest is the company installing public charging stations for electric cars in Bellevue and would love to do the same on Mercer Island.

Due to the present budget crunch here, the city cannot match funds as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant. The program, called ChargePoint America, is made possible by the ARRA. Jim Blaisdell of Charge Northwest said the program is targeting places where the newer Ford Focus, Chevy Volt, Ford Transit and the Smart Car are all selling rapidly.

And there are incentives beyond buying a zero-emission car. Buyers will benefit from a $7,500 tax credit when they buy an electric car

“Bellevue and Seattle have the highest number of electric vehicle buyers outside of California,” said Paul Andersson, program manager in the Bellevue city manager’s office. He called Bellevue ground zero for the electric car and charging station phenomena.

Bellevue got lucky. It was the first major government agency to install charging stations, creating an initial buzz for Charge Northwest’s product. The station is adjacent to the newly-constructed Bellevue City Hall. Thus the installation in Bellevue was easy with all the new infrastructure already in place so the installation cost the city nothing.

James Mason, Mercer Island’s deputy city manager, said he has a contractor looking at the best places to put EV charging stations on Mercer Island. Yet, no one has a solid handle on how it’s going to work or where it should be best located.

“We’re trying to do city hall, the CCMV and between PEAK and the high school,” Mason said.

Mason said Mercer Island has $25,000 in federal grants for EV charging stations, and the Island is also in the queue to receive additional grant funds from Puget Sound Clean Air. He said it’s possible to get the stations for free, but the city is responsible for the infrastructure. He has no clear idea as yet on what that will cost.

“If we have to cut hard [concrete]surfaces, it gets very, very expensive,” Mason said. He acknowledged that Bellevue had the perfect circumstances already in place to make adding in the stations easy. That said, he hopes Mercer Island will have at least one charging station by spring, in time for delivery of the cars.

Andersson said more funding is coming their way for charging station installations from Clean Cities, a government-industry partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Charge Northwest is providing electric vehicle charging stations to eight other areas in the United States other than Washington.

Stations have already been installed in Bothell and Redmond, in addition to Bellevue.

“We’re almost the only people in the country installing stations,” Blaisdell said. “[our] technology is ahead of everybody else.”

Oregon has partnered with eTec and Nissan North America to deploy 4,700 zero-emission electric vehicles and 11,210 charging systems in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.

Learn more online:

To learn more about King County’s program, visit: www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/KeyInitiatives/ElectricVehicles/ChargingStationProgram.aspx.

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