Charging up Tahoe the plan |

Charging up Tahoe the plan

Margaret Moran
Two of the six Tesla charging stations are seen behind Safeway on Donner Pass Road in Truckee. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency wants to make upgrades for electric vehicles.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

LAKE TAHOE — Traveling around Lake Tahoe could be easier for electric vehicle drivers down the road.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently submitted a $200,000 grant request to the California Energy Commission to create a plug-in electric vehicle plan for the Tahoe/Truckee region, said Tom Lotshaw, public information officer for the agency.

The Tahoe-Truckee Regional PEV Readiness Plan would assess current conditions and charging locations and identify public and private places where charging stations would best serve the public, he said.

Having such a plan would help attract public and private investment to improve the region’s charging station infrastructure.

“Providing Tahoe with adequate electric vehicle infrastructure is important because we’re a community, a destination, a gateway and part of a travel corridor,” Lotshaw said.

TRPA should hear back on its grant application in the coming weeks.

“We want to create (the plan) for a more comprehensive strategy to best outfit our region and avoid duplicated efforts or underserved areas, and to better understand what the market is for these charging stations and where it will be in the future so we can plan for it,” Lotshaw said.

There are already several electric charging stations in the region, with one of the latest additions in Tahoe City.

In October, Oliver Luxury Real Estate installed two Tesla stations at its 319 West Lake Blvd. location. The stations provide the highest-power, level 2 Tesla charging solution available at no cost to the public.

“With San Francisco and the larger Silicon Valley region representing a large population of Tesla owners, Tesla’s presence is rapidly growing in Tahoe,” Darin Vicknair, a broker associate with Oliver Luxury, said in a statement. “In order to accommodate clientele, we wanted to join in the act of ‘electrifying’ Lake Tahoe.”

The electric car company also has a presence in Truckee, where a private, six-bay supercharger station opened in September behind Safeway on Donner Pass Road.

While Tesla won’t comment publicly on financing and/or exact cost of the Truckee station, supercharger stations reportedly cost, on average, $150,000 without solar panels, and an additional $150,000 with.

“Between Tesla’s investment in the community and the growing number of electric vehicles in California, it’s pretty clear that electric cars are coming,” said Steven Poncelet, public information and conservation manager for Truckee Donner Public Utility District.

Squaw Valley installed four ports last September, becoming the first ski resort in California to do so. Other regional businesses with ports include the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village; Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee; and Harveys Lake Tahoe in Stateline.

Tahoe City Public Utility District’s ports at 221 Fairway Drive and Truckee Donner PUD’s Meadow Park station, meanwhile, are publicly owned.

Earlier this year, the Incline Village General Improvement District installed four 70-amp, 240-volt ChargePoint ports at Diamond Peak Ski Resort and the Championship Golf Course.

The district paid $20,000 to purchase and install the stations built by the Eaton Corporation; they cost $40,000 total, but half was paid for by a grant from NV Energy.

The recent installations all come amid Tesla’s deal with Nevada to erect a multi-million-square-foot battery production plant. at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, which is expected to employ thousands of construction workers and possibly rebuild a large portion of the cadre of skilled tradesmen who left the area through the recession.

“We’re glad to see public and private entities installing electric charging stations,” Lotshaw said. “It shows there is demand for them.”