If you build it, they will come.
That was the word from members of the Huntington Town Council Monday at a press conference to unveil a five-vehicle electric charging station at the South Parking Garage of the Long Island Railroad terminal in Huntington Station.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said the energy-neutral charging station is a "practical option" to high fuel costs which will provide encouragement to residents to purchase and use electric cars.
"Start the programs in your hometown," said Petrone, "that's the way we are going to encourage people to change."
The free charging station is open and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If demand increases, a schedule will be used to allocate spaces and a service fee could apply, according to town officials.
At a cost of $138,500 to taxpayers, for both the charging station and the solar panels, $104,000 of funding is from a federal stimulus funds in a competitive program administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The remaining money comes from Huntington's Environmental, Open Space and Parks Improvement green projects program.
Approximately one percent of Huntington residents own electric cars, according to Terese Kinsley, the town's chief sustainability officer.
Nearly 600 hybrid/alternative fuel permits have been issued to date but it is unclear how many are specifically for electric vehicles, according to Town Information Officer A.J. Carter.
Prices for new electric cars range from about $30,000 for the Chevy Volt, to more than $100,000 for the Tesla Roadster, according to an autos.com report. Federal tax credits from about $2,500 to $7,500 are available to qualified electric car buyers.
Councilman Mark Cuthberston said electric cars are one way people can respond to the high cost of gasoline and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
"We're not going to change people's habbits, but in a small way, if we lead by example it's a good thing," said Cuthbertson to Patch.
As part of the project, three solar panels were installed on the roof of the garage to offset the electric consumption of the charging station.
“This commitment by the town confirms the viability of solar power as the growing and dominant energy technology of the 21st century,” said David G. Schieren, CEO of EmPower Solar, which installed the charging station.
Schieren said the chargers are manufactured by General Electric and the solar panels were made by SunPower.
For electric car owners who wish to use the charging station, a Hybrid/Alternative Fuel Parking Permit must be obtained from the Town Clerk's office. The is no fee for the permit.
Councilwoman Susan Berland said the chargers are good for Huntington because they are good for the environment.
"We can be the first to set the example and hope that people follow through with it and buy electric cars and charge them at the station," said Berland.
The town's vehicle fleet consists of several hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, but currently no electric cars.
According to a Fox News report, a month after General Motors temporarily shuttered production of the Volt -- national sales reached 2,289 in March, 50 percent higher than December 2011, which previously was the vehicle's best month since launch.
Councilman Mark Mayoka said the charging station should help give new meaning to the term “station car.”
"Instead of the polluting junker on its last legs, it will become the state-of-the-art, sustainable transporter,” said Mayoka.
Councilman Eugene Cook was not present at the press conference.