RACINE, Wis. — Racine has a new offering, that's the first of its kind for a municipal building there.
A solar-powered electric vehicle charging station has been added to the parking lot of Racine City Hall.
It represents the start of Wisconsin’s participation in the “Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit Tour.” Our state, along with Michigan, Illinois and Indiana are working to make electric vehicle charging stations more prevalent for travelers visiting stops along Lake Michigan.
“People have been asking for this,” said Kathy Blumenfeld, Secretary Designee of Wisconsin Department of Administration. “They want to be able to travel the beautiful coastline but want to make sure that with electric vehicles, they can get from point a to point b to point c. So, we’re really excited about networking all the existing electric chargers and creating new electric vehicle chargers along the routes in key destinations. People can come, park, and enjoy the beautiful parks, local downtowns, or tourist attractions while they’re charging.”
She confirms Wisconsin will be adding more of these along our state’s 350 miles of Lake Michigan coastline.
State leaders say this is a way to promote both green energy and tourism.
But this new electric-vehicle charging offering at Racine City Hall is not considered very high-speed.
RENEW Wisconsin, which advocates for more renewable energy options in our state, estimates you’d have to charge your electric vehicle there for about four hours in order to drive 80 miles.
“We acknowledge we have a lot of work to do to make electric vehicle usage easier and more practical here,” said Jim Boullion, Director of Government Affairs at RENEW Wisconsin. “It’s going to take time. But the whole idea is you just must get started. So, we’re going to take the first step and do things like this. People will try it out and hopefully like it.”
Statewide, there are less than 460 public charging stations for electric vehicles and not many of them offer a super-fast charge.
An infusion of $78 million in federal grant money over the next five years will help Wisconsin build more fast-charging electric vehicle stations. Work on that will likely begin in January.
“What we’re really working on is getting those high-speed level three chargers," said Boullion. “Kind of like the Tesla super chargers, and right now Tesla is the only one that has them in bulk. “Once we get more of those installed along main highways, then there’s going to be some left-over money to go around the rest of the state.”
According to Boullion, Wisconsin only offers that so-called super charge option in four cities. The closest one to us is near Meijer's in Oak Creek. The other three locations are in Madison, Eau Claire, and Tomah.
State lawmakers also have two bills in the works. One would make it easier for private companies to build electric vehicle charging stations, then charge people to use them. The other would allocate money to help create dedicated car-charging corridors.
Bottom line, Wisconsin has its eye on what many are calling the future of driving, but our state has yet to create the necessary infrastructure for electric car use.