WAKE FOREST — Drivers of plug-in electric vehicles soon will be able to stop at Town Hall for a free charge that officials say will bring both environmental and economic benefits.
Two charging stations will be installed by this fall in the public parking lot of town hall, which is within easy walking distance of many restaurants and shops.
Town officials hope drivers will have an incentive to come to town and shop, sight-see or dine while they charge their vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.
The vehicles also pollute less than gas-powered vehicles, which helps the state’s air quality, said Roe O’Donnell, assistant town manager.
“We thought this was a good service to provide our citizens. And we always like to think of ourselves as at the forefront of environmental initiatives,” he said.
The bulk of the funding for the project comes from Wake Forest’s share of a $59,892 grant to ElectriCities, an organization for the state’s public power communities.
Through the grant, the towns of Edenton, Newton, Tarboro and Smithfield are expected to install one double-pedestal GE Durastation electric charging station, while Wake Forest will install two GE Single Pedestal Watt stations. A seventh charging station will be installed at ElectriCities headquarters in Raleigh.
The grant is part of more than $1.5 million in federal money awarded by the North Carolina Solar Center at N.C. State University through the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology Project. The projects include charging station installations, the purchase of electric vehicles and a clean diesel locomotive project, with the goal of saving money on fuel and reducing emissions.
The town of Apex also was a grant recipient and installed two charging stations in May.
In total, the projects are expected to remove nearly 10 metric tons of air pollutants each year in 17 counties that do not meet air quality standards, the equivalent of taking 130 vehicles off the road, according to the center.
Roe said officials in Wake Forest are seeing more electric plug-in vehicles in the area.
The Alternative Fuels Data Center at the federal Department of Energy lists 214 charging stations with 482 outlets, excluding private stations, in North Carolina.
The Department of Motor Vehicles reported 696 plug-in electric vehicles in Wake County as of March 1, according to Anne Tazewell, the transportation program manager at the N.C. Solar Center.
Tazewell said the stations are intuitive and reliable.
“They're very safe and easy to operate. There's not a lot of mechanical breakdowns,” she said.
Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah