WSU installs charging stations for electric cars

Taylor McKinley, News Writer

New vehicle-charging stations in lots 1A and 10 await Wright State faculty, staff and students when they return for fall semester.

Available to students, visitors and members of faculty and staff with a parking permit, the new stations offer free charging sessions for up to four hours for electric and hybrid cars.

Jim Hannah, assistant director of public relations, explains how the project began.

“The project was initiated by the university after Dayton Power & Light offered to pay for the installation of one station and former Sinclair Community College professor Jim Halderman donated $10,000 to install and maintain the other, which covers virtually all of the cost,” Hannah said.

Wright State University professor Jeffrey John, who drives a 2014 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid that runs on battery for 40 miles, and then switches to a small gasoline engine, was delighted to hear this news.

“Even before I had an electric car, I’ve always thought it would be a great idea to have charging stations on the WSU campus,” John said.

With the current popularity of gas-guzzling automobiles in our particular region, John thinks that the charging stations could be a step in the right direction.

“The advertising around here glorifies 20 mpg giant gas hogs, which generate big profits for the car companies. Drivers of these big ‘crossovers’ mock small, efficient cars as ‘not tall enough,’ ‘unsafe,’ or ‘uncomfortable.’  Meanwhile, until last weekend when I drove to Columbus and used $10 worth of gas,  I had bought one tank of gas in four months, and I ride around in quiet comfort.”

John’s concerns on the new technology are minimal.

“If I have any concern, it’s that other people on campus will envy my free use of the electricity and demand some kind of payment, but that would be negligible, anyway. Research indicates electric generation costs less, and pollutes far less, than use of gasoline,” he said.

The cost to charge an electric car is reasonably priced, according to James Menart, director of the renewable and clean energy Master’s degree program at WSU.

“The cost to charge one car like a Nissan Leaf will be about $1.44 for a complete charge. This is relatively inexpensive,” he said. “I do understand that WSU will be paying for the electricity used by people who utilize the electrical chargers. This is a nice deal for users of these charging stations. This may change in the future if many cars make use of the service.”

Although the demand for these charging stations is not very high, the project will still be used as a motivator for more people to purchase electric cars.

“The purpose of projects like this is to encourage more people to purchase electrical vehicles. Installing electrical charging stations has been done at a number of other places around the country,” Menart said.

“If these charging stations encourage other people in the Wright State community to purchase electric cars, then they will have done what they were intended to do.”

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