SAINT PAUL - Electric cars are hailed by many as the future of personal transportation, a clean and green alternative to vehicles that run on gas or diesel.
The only problem? Finding a place to charge them when you're out and about.
On Thursday the City of St. Paul took a step towards alleviating that problem, unveiling two solar-powered charging stations located in Saint Paul's Como Regional Park.
Located at Como Lake and McMurray Field, the stations are believed the first of their kind in Minnesota. Because they are powered by the sun, they generate no air pollution. The charging stations installed at the park have the capacity to charge two vehicles at a time.
"Having these charging stations located in a regional destination like Como Park is a good fit for the demand we've seen from our environmentally-conscious users," Mayor Chris Coleman said. "The electric car industry is growing, and Saint Paul is ready. We are paving the way for a sustainable future, and will continue to lay the infrastructure for electric vehicles across the metro."
The charging stations officially opened Thursday; users will be charged $1 per hour.
It's a natural step for the city of St. Paul, as officials also used the occasion to introduce three new electric vehicles to the city fleet; two Chevy Volts and a Ford Transit Connect.
The charging stations are just the latest effort by Saint Paul to make greater use of sustainable energy. With four electric vehicles in its fleet, electric charging stations in many downtown ramps, solar panels on the roofs of government buildings and more, the city has become a national leader in clean energy.
A $2.8 million federal stimulus grant through the U.S. Department of Energy helped pay for the charging stations, which cost $35,000 per unit and are eligible for a total rebate of $8,910 from the Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards program.
The electric vehicles were paid for through stimulus dollars, Xcel Energy and the City of Saint Paul.
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