BRAF, city-parish initiative aims to increase number of electric car charging stations in Baton Rouge

    To reduce carbon emissions in Baton Rouge, the city-parish is working with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation on a new initiative to install public charging stations for electric cars downtown.

    BRAF launched the green park Baton Rouge initiative to promote the purchase, use and benefits of electric cars in the greater Baton Rouge area.

    “It’s really about the environment, and when you look at the future of transportation and where it’s headed, moving away from just relying on gas-fueled vehicles to other options is on the rise,” says Beverly Haydel, BRAF’s director of civic leadership initiatives.

    The current plan—phase one—is to install 11 charging stations downtown at the street level and in parking garages.

    To further the initiative, a cooperative endeavor agreement formally establishing the partnership between BRAF and the city-parish and an amendment defining how the city will regulate parking spots marked exclusively for electric cars will be introduced at today’s Metro Council meeting.

    BRAF—with help some help from Entergy, a sponsor—will fund the purchase and installation of the chargers. The city-parish will pick up the roughly $200 yearly maintenance cost per charging station and will regulate parking spots exclusively designated for electric cars.

    Chargers will be available at the designated spots, and anyone parking in one in anything other than an electric car would risk a $50 fine, Haydel says.

    Carmakers are eyeing electric cars as the future of the auto market. Electric carmaker Tesla has taken the lead, but both GM and Volkswagen have committed to bring more long-range electric vehicles to the market by 2020. In April, Ford also confirmed it plans to compete with Tesla.

    Electric vehicles have been touted as environmentally friendly and as a way to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.

    Even though U.S. drivers have been slow to fully embrace electric vehicles, Baton Rouge isn’t the only city to roll out a public initiative specifically promoting the use of electric cars. Seattle recently announced a pilot program to install charging stations at hundreds of homes and to place 20 fast-charging stations around the city.

    Austin installed more than 100 charging stations in 2011.

    Electric charging stations can already be found in and around Baton Rouge at locations such as Whole Foods, behind Acme Oyster House in the Acadian Village Shopping Center and at LSU

    Haydel says the green park Baton Rouge initiative is intended to increase the number of stations. Phase two of the initiative involves partnering with businesses citywide to install more charging stations.

    —Alexandria Burris

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