Local car-charging stations are a current trend

JOHNSTOWN – There’s only a few of them in Fulton and Montgomery counties right now, but chances are, more will be popping up soon.

Electric-vehicle charging stations are gradually becoming more available and recognizable.

One of the more recent installations of an electric-vehicle charging station in the area was in November at the Holiday Inn on Comrie Avenue in Johnstown.

General Manager James Landrio said the inn had PlugIn Stations Online based in Stephentown, Rensselaer County, install a charging station at the hotel. Guests now can plug their electric vehicles in and charge them for free.

Landrio said he is excited to be able to offer his guests the service.

“It’s a big deal,” says Landrio. “There’s no other hotels in our area that have one. It’s going to be a real big thing.”

The charging station behind the Holiday Inn is about a third of the size of a regular gas pump. Instead of using a gas nozzle, the driver uses an electric cable.

“We see this as a good amenity,”

Landrio said.

He said customers recommended the station. Landrio said many business cars are switching to electric power, and sales people are using the station as they commute through the area. He said the Johnstown Holiday Inn is among the first Holiday Inns to have this technology for its customers.

PlugIn Stations Online founder John Doran said electric cars and the stations that power them are becoming increasingly popular.

“People are starting to recognize the benefits of plug-in hybrids,” Doran said.

He said the cost of the charging stations is about $10,000, and they usually can be installed in a day or less.

A hybrid vehicle is one that uses two or more power sources to move the vehicle. The term most commonly refers to electric vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine with one or more electric motors. The electric-vehicle charging station provides power to charge the batteries of an electric vehicle. These chargers are classified according to output voltage and the rate at which they can charge a battery.

For example, Level 1 charging is the slowest, and can be done through most wall outlets at 120 volts and 15 amps AC. Level 2 charging, such as at the Holiday Inn, is faster and is done at less than or equal to 240 volts and 60 amps AC, with a power output of less than or equal to 14.4 kilowatts. Level 3 charging is fastest, and can be done with power output of greater than 14.4 kilowatts.

Level 1 and 2 charging can be done at home with the proper equipment, and Level 2 and 3 charging can be done at fixed public-charging stations.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, there are 14,146 electric-vehicle charging stations in the United States.

The site indicates two such stations in Fulton County: the Holiday Inn and nearby Herba Nissan, both on North Comrie Avenue in Johnstown.

A Herba Nissan salesman said the dealership uses its charging station for its Nissan Leaf cars and as a courtesy to the public. The Leaf gets 126 miles per gallon with a drive system powered by an advanced rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Montgomery County has five stations, including one at the Kohl’s Department Store in the town of Amsterdam.

National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella said the utility works with commercial customers to obtain the electric-vehicle charging stations, as it did with Kohl’s store at Amsterdam Commons.

He said National Grid tapped into a $1 million grant through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to pay for the stations.

He said NYSERDA has 80 charging-station sites in New York state, 67 of which are in National Grid’s service territory.

Landrio said NYSERDA paid for 75 percent of the Holiday Inn’s station.

Doran said 80 percent of all American electric vehicle charging stations are free. He said the typical Nissan Leaf has a 20-kilowatt battery, so it would cost the driver not using a free station about $2.40 to “fill up” for 100 miles.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.