AP NEWS

Missouri utility program to build more electric car chargers

February 18, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri utility is planning to spend more than $4 million over five years to encourage the construction of more charging stations for electric cars statewide.

The Missouri Public Service Commission recently approved Ameren Missouri’s pilot program to offer incentives to groups looking to build electric car chargers for public use, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported . The project aligns Ameren with other utilities and cities working to expand the number of electric car chargers in Missouri.

Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis and some investor-owned utilities, including the Kansas City Power and Light, have created programs in recent years to build out infrastructure for electric vehicles, according to James Owen, executive director of renewable energy nonprofit Renew Missouri.

Last year, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources put $6 million toward electric charging stations. The funding was allocated from the state’s $41 million settlement related to claims that German automaker Volkswagen sold vehicles with engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

But Owen said the state still lacks infrastructure for electric cars, which hampers sales and leads to anxiety for drivers traveling long distances who are concerned about a lack of available public chargers.

Columbia has five public electric charging stations, but four are Level 2 chargers that take between 4 hours to 6 hours to fill a car’s battery, according to U.S. Department of Energy data. The city has only one public charger, a Level 3, which can fill electric car batteries in roughly 30 minutes.

Level 1 chargers are usually kept at home and take about eight hours to charge, said Kevin Herdler, executive director of St. Louis Regional Clean Cities. The coalition advocates for reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality.

Most electric cars only have a range of 80 miles, considering the use of air conditioning, stereo systems and other functions, Herdler said.

“If you’re going to go across the state you need that Level 3 charger,” Herdler said. “Level 2 just takes so long to charge you don’t have the option to get there quickly.”

But there are no Level 2 or Level 3 chargers along the highways between Columbia, Rolla and Lake of the Ozarks.

Steve Wills, Ameren’s director of rates and analysis, said the utility hopes to reduce range anxiety for drivers of electric vehicles.

“These much-needed corridors, which will help eliminate the long-distance charging barriers for EV traveling in Missouri, are good for our customers and state,” Wills said.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com