Charger Car Club

The Sierra Club recently installed the first electric car charging station in downtown Boise, on the side of a house at Fifth and Franklin Streets that the Idaho Chapter shares with the Idaho Educational Association. The charger, paid for by donations from Idaho Sierra Club members, was officially unveiled to the public at a November 18 press conference and lunch at the Club's offices.

Photo courtesy of Northwest Plug It In LLC

An unofficial unveiling of the charger occurred a month earlier at a "Plug Into the Sun" event, above, hosted by the Club as part of National Drive Electric Week. The charger was installed the day before the September 20 event. That's Reed Burkholder of the Middle Snake Group's energy committee, below, charging his Nissan Leaf at 503 West Franklin Street.

Plug Into the Sun event Photo by Jesica Murri, courtesy of Boise Weekly

There are a handful of other public EV chargers scattered around Boise - at the airport, Boise State University, the Hewlett-Packard campus on the outskirts of town, and an electricians' school - but the Sierra Club's is the first one situated close to the State Capitol Building, government offices, City Hall, and downtown shops and restaurants.

The charger, which the public is invited to use for free, works for all brands and models of electric cars. "The establishment of charging stations throughout downtown is critical as people adopt electric vehicles as their choice of transportation, " says Orien. "We wanted to demonstrate how business and government entities can quickly and inexpensively make an electric vehicle commute possible for their employees."

Among those in attendance at the November 18 press conference was Beth Baird, the city's air quality program director, who planned to give the U.S. Department of Energy all the details about the Club's charger so they could add it to their alternative fuel station locator, used by people across the country.Reed Burkholder charging his Nissan Leaf EV Mayor Dave Beiter also released a statement saying that "the Sierra Club makes it easier for organizations and individuals across the city to reduce our carbon footprint."

Burkholder, who calls himself an "electric evangelist" (his license plate reads "KICKGAS"), says most people in Boise charge their EVs in their garage, but the Club installed its charger as a convenience for the public.

Photo by Jessica Murri, courtesy of Boise Weekly

"The charger is here as a service to Boise residents, but it's also a sign of things to come, " he says. "We expect battery costs to drop and EVs to be cheaper within a couple years. And to encourage people to buy an EV there needs to be some charging infrastructure. We got the charger for under $600 from Clipper Creek in California, and the electrical installation fee was about $700. It's got a 25-foot cord, and it's free for anybody who wants to use it."

Burkholder says a typical EV can be charged and maintained for one-tenth the cost of a gasoline-powered vehicle. "So even if for some reason I didn't like electric transportation, I really like the money savings. EVs are very inexpensive to run, and as a town car, they can't be beat."

"In my car, I'm getting about 200 miles for the electricity cost of $3.70 - the same price as a gallon of gasoline, which I think is freaking off the scale, " Burkholder told reporter Jessica Murri. "This is a superior technology."

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