State Parks to offer charging stations
HINTON — West Virginia’s State Parks system is revving up to offer electric car drivers more reason to stop at some of the state’s natural wonders.
Working with the West Virginia Division of Energy, the state’s park system received a grant through the United States Department of Energy to provide electric car charging stations at all of the lodged state parks in West Virginia.
“This is a cool opportunity for West Virginia State Parks,” said Paul Redford, district administrator for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.
Redford said electric car drivers can plug in at West Virginia State Parks to unplug in nature.
“We may be on the lead front of this,” Redford said, adding that only California has a statewide program like this, with some scattered parks in Michigan and Washington, D.C. that feature charging stations.
“We will be the first state with all of its lodge parks to be hooked up with the stations,” said Bill Davis, director of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at West Virginia University.
Offering these electric car charging stations at all of West Virginia’s state parks that have a lodge will hopefully draw more people traveling through West Virginia to its parks.
“There are not a lot of other states that have this many interstate systems running through it,” Redford said. “We are sitting in an area perfect for more electric car stations.”
Redford said this new program for the state’s parks aligns perfectly with the agency’s mission statement to “promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological or historical significance and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the citizens of this state and its visitors.”
“We’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible,” Redford said. “We are doing our part to reduce emissions and solid waste.”
The electric car charging stations will also help further to market and to promote the park system in the state, Redford said.
“We have a big Canada following,” Redford said. “People visit us from Pittsburgh and Ohio cities. We have a big D.C. following as well. The park systems in other states like Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania can’t hold a candle to our park system.”
This new offering will allow us to continue to get that group of people to our state parks, he added.
Jeff Herholdt, director at the West Virginia Division of Energy, said that the parks’ initiative to provide electric car charging stations is coming at a time when there are major technology initiatives to roll out more electric vehicles.
Redford added that there are not currently a whole lot of public car charging stations in West Virginia.
“We don’t plan to charge,” Redford said. “We would prefer they are overnight guests, but we are not going to leave people high and dry.”
The stations to be set up at West Virginia parks with lodges are classified as Level 2 stations that have 240 volts and can produce 30 to 80 amps.
The stations have been ordered, a total of 11, will have dual chargers.
“I hope visitors plug into a station then go and spend money in the gift shop,” Redford said. “I’m really excited to get this going.”
If proven popular at the state parks with lodges, the park system will work to offer more stations to accommodate demand.
“I think it’s going to be a good model to bring people into West Virginia State Parks,” said Marty Weirick of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association. “EVs (electric vehicles) are here to stay and more are on the way.”
Weirick stated that he thinks West Virginia stands to benefit from the production and use of more electric cars as they will increase coal usage, reduce oil imports and are friendly to the electrical grid for their low consumption.”
According to http://www.wvstateparks.com/lodging/lodge.htm, parks with lodges are Blackwater Falls, Cacapon, Chief Logan, Hawks Nest, North Bend, Pipestem, Stonewall Jackson, Twin Falls and Tygart Lake.
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