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Charge your EV for free at Carbondale Town Hall

It apparently does not happen often, but this is one instance of a waiting line at the Carbondale Town Hall EV Charging Station. Craig Farnum finishes charging his Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle, while a Ford Cmax EV owned by Mike Ogden (driven here by local alternative energy expert Jeff Dickinson) waits on the street.
John Colson / jcolson@postindependent.com |

CARBONDALE — Approximately two months after being installed at the Town Hall here, an Electric Vehicle Charging Station on Fourth Street remains relatively unknown to all but the select few people who own EVs, as they are known.

And even some EV owners, while they know of the Carbondale charging station, don’t use it much.

“We charge up at home,” said Doug Grant. He and his brother, Dan, own two Tesla EVs, one of which is a stylish roadster they bought in 2009. The pair, who live in Basalt, use the cars to make their regular commute to jobs in Rifle, as well as taking jaunts around the state, flying over high passes with ease, and without creating any air pollution.



“It doesn’t have to breathe,” said Doug about the roadster, explaining that the car runs as well at the top of Independence Pass as it does at lower elevations.

“In fact, Tesla put something out, where they said it might run better at high altitudes due to lower air resistance,” he said.



Carbondale’s charging station, which was installed at the south end of the Fourth Street parking spaces in front of Town Hall, cost a total of $6,050, more than $4,800 of which was reimbursed through a grant from the Colorado Energy Office (CEO).

According to a June 14 letter from Town Finance Director Renae Gustine to the CEO, the station charges an EV in between 4 and 6 hours, and Town Manager Jay Harrington said he looked into setting up the station as a pay-per-charge, but it was easier and less costly to simply install it and see how many people use it.

Public Works Director Larry Ballenger, who was instrumental in getting the station online, said of the pay-station alternative, “That would have cost more than just paying for the electricity.”

Harrington said the town does have the option of converting the station to a pay-per-charge arrangement, if enough people begin using it to warrant such a change.

He said the town also installed extra electrical conduit underneath the sidewalks downtown, during a downtown improvements project several years ago, which could accommodate the installation of charging stations in the historic downtown core — again, if demand warrants such a move.

And the likelihood, Ballenger said, is that any charging stations in the commercial core would be pay-per-charge stations.

“But, right now, it’s free,” said Harrington.

There is no meter on the station at present, but Ballenger said he might have one installed in the near future.

“Eventually, I’d like to see one,” he said. “I’d like to see what the demand is.”

The station was installed in late May, and almost immediately the town heard from a fan.

“As EV car owners, my wife and I were very excited to [see] the charging station magically sprout the other day,” wrote Craig and Colleen Farnum in a May 22 email to Harrington and Ballenger. “This is especially exciting because it means that the City of Carbondale was able to make it happen before most other towns in the valley.”

Craig Farnum, who wrote that he works at the Colorado Mountain College Lappala Center in Carbondale, pledged to write letters to other towns in the valley that, as yet, do not have public charging stations available, urging them to get with the program.

“I plan on using the charger in town only once a week [mostly so that the public can see it being used and to have conversations with curious folks to want to learn more about EVs],” Farnum concluded.

Harrington said the station is seeing an increasing level of use, although he conceded, “Sometimes there will be two or three days when we don’t see anyone out there using it.”

According to an online map maintained by the US. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations), there are more than 12,200 “alternative fueling stations” in the nation.

Colorado has dozens of such alternative fueling facilities, including everything from EV to propane, Liquid Natural Gas, Compressed Natural Gas, hydrogen, propane and biodiesel, most of them clustered in urban areas, according to the map.

Carbondale’s EV charging station is the only public charging station in the area of Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, though others are located in Durango and in Grand Junction, according to the locator map.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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