Charged up about Nevada Electric Highway

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Gov. Brian Sandoval on Tuesday announced plans to create a series of electric vehicle charging stations all along U.S. 95 between Reno and Las Vegas.

There are three in Carson City including at the Carson City Community Center where a Chevy Volt was charging during the press conference.

Sandoval said the state office of Energy is working with NV Energy to find hosts in Fallon, Hawthorne, Tonopah and Indian Springs to create what he termed the Nevada Electric Highway.

He said negotiations are already under way with Valley Electric in Beatty to construct charging stations there.

NV Energy President Paul Caudill said the cost of those charging stations won’t be added to the utility’s rates at this point. The program is being paid for by the utility and with abatement money from the Office of Energy with stations ranging in cost from $6,000 to nearly $30,000. No state general fund money is being used.

Marie Steele, the utility’s electric vehicles and renewable energy manager, said there are already more than 150 charging stations in Nevada, nearly all of them in the Reno and Las Vegas areas. There are three in Carson City including at the Carson City Community Center where a Chevy Volt was charging during the press conference.

Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell said he frequently sees cars charging at that station.

Sandoval said they are looking for businesses along U.S. 95 willing to host the charging stations, which will be installed free of charge. To qualify, the hosts must agree to be open 24 hours.

The benefit to those businesses, he said, will be during the one to four hours it takes to charge a car, the occupants will be their customers whether it will be a convenience store, a casino, restaurant or other business. He said the charging stations will help promote economic development in those areas.

“This is a big deal for us to be able to invite visitors who are going to be using this type of transportation,” Sandoval said. “The moment they cross that state line, to have that complete confidence that no matter where they are in our great state, they’ll be able to charge their vehicles.”

Sandoval said he wants the growing number of electric vehicle owners to know they can charge their vehicles all along that route between north and south.

“It’s a seven and a half hour drive and one day, you’ll be able to do that in an electric vehicle,” said Caudill.

He said when those charging stations open, hopefully before the end of the year the electric charge itself will be free to the driver. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project estimates electric vehicle drivers can expect to save between $1,000 and $1,300 a year on fuel costs depending on the price of gas.

He said the program is in line with NV Energy’s efforts in the past five years that have made it one of the nation’s leading utilities in terms of renewable energy production and consumption. There are currently 42 renewable power plants in the NV Energy system — including the historic hydro-generating stations along the Truckee River, the oldest of which — Fleisch just inside the Nevada border — dates to 1904.

Steele said there are currently about 1,400 electric vehicles registered in Nevada and use of the state’s charging stations has grown 200 percent since January.

Officials also said electric car manufacturer Tesla is planning to install chargers throughout the state.


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