The Emporia Gazette
Emporia took a big step into the future over the weekend.
Workers from Kentucky were in Emporia to install eight new Tesla Supercharger ports at Emporia West Plaza, 1312 Industrial Rd.
The stations can charge an electric vehicle in less than 30 minutes. They run with a 500 volt direct current.
Though no further charging stations have been announced, these may be the first of many in Emporia.
At an Oct. 9, 2019, Emporia City Commission meeting, Emporia Main Street Executive Director Casey Woods approached the commission about his desire to have charging ports installed downtown. At the time, Woods said Main Street was looking at five areas — the 400 through 700 blocks of Mechanic Street and the 700 block of Merchant Street — as potential locations. He told commissioners information collected by Main Street indicated Evergy would be responsible for installation and maintenance of the ports, with a small fee assessed to vehicle owners upon use.
Woods said painting stalls could be left up to Emporia Main Street or community volunteers.
“We’re excited about an infrastructure project that wouldn’t take public tax dollars, but we wanted to make sure the city was on board with this proposal, knowing there would be some negotiation,” Woods said at the October meeting.
At the time, the commission was uneasy about the idea of only having charging stations downtown. Woods said he would encourage property owners to contact him for more information.
At a legislative coffee event in Chase County on Feb. 15, Dist. 68 Representative Dave Baker of Council Grove said an increase in electric charging stations has also been a regular topic of conversation at the state level.
According to Baker, charging stations come with an average price tag of around $407,000 each. He said the state is working on ways to offer tax incentives for companies to install and operate electric charging stations, noting that “electric vehicles are coming, no matter how cheap oil gets.”
As electric vehicles become more popular and more widely used, he said rural communities are going to need to install charging stations as a way to remain economically competitive in terms of drawing in travelers.
“If we’re going to be viable going forward, if we want to stay in the game, we need to have places for people to charge their vehicles,” he said.