By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The roughly 3-foot-tall charger will be installed next to one of the slanted parking spaces currently being laid down as part of ongoing improvements to the segment of North Oak Street in western downtown Port Angeles, said Nathan West, the city’s Community and Economic Development director.
The device will join a handful of existing dedicated electric-car-charging stations in Clallam and Jefferson counties, all free for the public to use but maintained by private business owners.
Other publicly available chargers can be found at Dan Wilder Nissan in east Port Angeles, Nikola Broadband in Sequim, Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner and Power Trip Energy Corp. in Port Townsend.
Port Angeles staff had planned to include an electric car charger in the ongoing $3.9 million downtown esplanade project but had to drop the idea because of cost, West said.
Crews did install the necessary conduit and wiring into the improved Oak Street so a charger could be added at a later date, West added.
“It’s something we wanted to get built into the project, and we’re happy to see it being implemented now,” West said.
Construction crews with Carslborg-based Primo Construction will install the charger as part of the Port Angeles waterfront improvements currently under way.
“We will be doing it within the confines of the council-authorized budget for the waterfront project,” West said.
Once installed at the end of the summer, West said the city will operate it for two years free of charge and then reassess the actual costs of the device to see whether the city needs to charge for its use.
City staff estimate the charger will cost the city between $951 and $3,000 per year to operate, West said.
“If you look at what that actually means, the high end would assume 173 hours of plug-in time, and that’s a lot of time on the ground for people shopping in our community,” West said.
West said he was approached by Matt Dahl, a 27-year-old Bothell man and owner of an electric car built by California-based Tesla Motors, about a month and a half ago about installing an electric car charger downtown.
As of last week, Dahl said he had collected about $1,200 so far to purchase the charger, the total cost of which will be about $2,800.
‘We’re almost there’
“So we’re almost there,” Dahl said.
Although Dahl owns a Tesla himself, West said they both wanted to provide a charger that could be used by all major makes of electric vehicles, including Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs.
Dahl said he bought a Tesla Motors Model S, an all-electric sedan, in October and frequents the Olympic Peninsula in it with his wife.
After a few trips, Dahl said he realized Port Angeles would be the perfect place for a high-power electric car charger because of its central location to both destinations on the West End and in Olympic National Park.
Dahl said the charger to be installed would run 240 volts at 90 amps, more powerful than the other publicly available chargers on the North Olympic Peninsula.
A few months ago, Dahl posted on a well-visited online discussion forum for Tesla owners asking for interest in pooling money to buy a high-speed electric charger for Port Angeles.
“I got quite a bit of response that was pretty positive,” Dahl said.
Dahl then made another trip to Port Angeles about six weeks ago and met with West, who Dahl said was immediately receptive to the idea.
“[West] has done a wonderful job being supportive of the project,” Dahl said.
Dahl and West worked out the details of the city acquiring the charger and decided Dahl and his group of roughly 12 donors would buy the device, and the city would pay to install it.
“I’m happy to do it, and I’m glad everyone is so receptive to the idea,” Dahl said.
For a searchable listing of publicly available electric car chargers across the Olympic Peninsula and the state, visit www.recargo.com.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.