Few electric cars pulling up to state's chargers

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Associated Press

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 12:00 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Electric vehicle charging stations have been installed at dozens of sites throughout Iowa, but so far their use has been limited.

The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/17h1PdQ ) Monday that Iowa has about 40 stations where electric vehicles can be charged from an outlet much more powerful than a regular home electrical outlet.

Three special chargers were installed at the Franklin Avenue Public Library in Des Moines. Since becoming fully operational in spring 2012, they've only been used for electric cars 13 times.

There are 104 electric-only cars registered in Iowa, though there are likely thousands of plug-in hybrids powered by electric batteries and gasoline.

Library Director Greg Heid said he's not discouraged. The charging station cost $16,000, with the cost covered by city and state funding as well as library foundation money.

"I think this will be taking off as electric cars catch on and as people see this as an alternative," Heid said.

Officials at Kum & Go have installed charging stations at four of the company's convenience stores in the Des Moines area and one in Fairbeld.

The Hy-Vee grocery store chain has installed a station at a store in Urbandale that has been used 420 times in the past year. Hy-Vee plans to add others as it builds stores, including one opening this week in Waukee and another opening next month in Ankeny, spokeswoman Ruth Comer said.

"We are positioning them for the future," Comer said. "They aren't getting a lot of use now. But we think that this is something that customers will want, and while we are building a store is a good time to put them in versus going back later and installing them."

Ryan Rhodes, an Iowa tea party leader, criticized public funding of charging stations and federal incentives available to people who buy electric cars.

"You can call it whatever you want, but when the government gets involved and tries to push people toward a single product, it never dictates things as well as the market," Rhodes said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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