Environment
6:33 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Turnpike to Become More Electric-Vehicle Friendly

By the end of next year, the Pennsylvania Turnpike service plazas east of Harrisburg will have working electric vehicle charging stations, with all 17 of the turnpike's plazas expected to offer charging stations by the end of 2013.

Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said that there will be two types of chargers.

"Each turnpike service plaza will get two Level III charging stations that can charge a battery in as little as 20 minutes, and one Level II charging station that can charge in up to four hours," Sunday said.

Nissan says that its all-electric Leaf can get up to 100 miles on a full charge, which would require two additional charges to travel the turnpike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

The charging stations will be installed in three phases, with the first stations going in east of the Harrisburg exits beginning next spring, and the second phase equipping plazas west of Harrisburg by the end of next year. The final phase, starting in 2013, will add chargers along the Northeast Extension.

The DEP awarded a $1 million grant to Car Charging Group LLC, which will do the installations. The money comes from the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program.

"[The program] takes tax dollars out of all the receipts that the utilities collect. All the money that all the utilities companies in Pennsylvania make, they pay a tax on those that goes towards funding these sort of cleaner fuel projects," Sunday said.

Car Charging Group will provide a more than $1 million match, and there is a $500,000 contribution from the Turnpike Commission, which will upgrade the voltage at all service plazas to account for the increase in power needed.

Sunday said that they are developing a scheduling system and an online application to reserve a station ahead of time to make the chargers most efficient for those who want to "fill up" and get back on the road.