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Electric car charger first project of its kind

  • A station designed to charge electric cars is now available in the Beach Hall parking lot on the east side of campus. The charging station was implemented on March 26. (Nicholas Sumner)

An electric car charging station on the Emporia State campus is the first project of its kind between the university and Westar Energy.

Since March 26, the charging station has been in operation in the parking lot of the Beach Music Hall on the east side of campus.

“Several years ago, we had somebody coming to visit us on campus who said, ‘I have a hybrid car, where do I plug it in to charge?’ We were having to respond, ‘We don’t have anything like that,’ which got the ball rolling on this project,” said Richard Jensen, physical plant utilities manager of University Facilities.

The electrical infrastructure was installed last fall, but Jensen said it took a while to get all the components and agreements in place.

Shaina Hoffman, sophomore rehabilitation services and Spanish major, received a 2008 Toyota Prius as a gift from her grandparents. Her car is a hybrid, so it’s half electric and half fuel.

“It’s perfect for driving back and forth from Wichita to Emporia on less than a tank of gas,” Hoffman said.

The installation of the charging station was free for ESU, since Westar was also looking to work on the project.

“We’re the first ones Westar has done this with, so we’re also like their test-run,” Jensen said.

University Facilities, however, is still installing a parking meter at the charging station. It will cost a quarter for one full charge per vehicle, which typically takes about four hours.

“It should be self-sustaining, basically, when we have all the pieces together,” Jensen said.

The university doesn’t just want to stop at one charging station, however. They are looking into adding two more on campus in the coming months. Additional parking meters would cost the university anywhere between $1,600 and $3,000 each.

“I think, as a campus, we’re looking to try to be more sustainable on some of the things we’re doing,” Jensen said. “Most of our campus vehicles are electric. We do see that this is something that is going to be more prevalent on campus.”

According to an article from The Wichita Eagle, Westar in Wichita installed a free, public electric car charging station in 2011. Jensen said Westar is envisioning that charging stations along the highway will be introduced as hybrid and electric vehicles become more popular.

Hoffman said she enjoys her hybrid car because it’s “cute,” high-quality, and she feels safe and comfortable diving it.

“I like that I don’t have to worry about getting gas all of the time,” Hoffman said. “When just driving around Emporia, I typically only need gas once a month.”

The additional parking meters, if the university decides to purchase them, will be up and running on campus either in the summer or the fall of this year.

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