TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Sep. 20, 2011 at 2:20pm

Downtown Tacoma's New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The memorial to urban decay that is otherwise known as 'Park Plaza North' has been getting some long overdue attention. In July, a bike cage on the fifth floor was installed. Work is currently under way to repair the fountain at Frost Park, which caps the north end of the garage. And this week, four electric vehicle charging stations were installed. 

According to City of Tacoma project manager Josh Clarke, who happened to be checking out the new installations when I dropped by the fifth floor this afternoon (the stations are right next to the bike cage), the charging stations were installed Monday and will provide juice to many of the new Nissan Leaf electric fleet vehicles that have been parked at the Tacoma Municipal Building. 

If you are keeping score at home, earlier this year Tacoma City Council voted to purchase (10) 2011 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles (as well as (11) 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid vehicles). Clarke told me the charging stations are only available to the city-owned electric fleet vehicles right now, but the hope is that it can be expanded to the general public at a later date (the stations come equipped with credit card readers). A similar charging station exists over at the Center for Urban Waters.

Earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of electric fleet vehicles in Tacoma and Washington State here and here and here and here and here and here.

I shot these photos of the new charging stations this afternoon . . .

comments [16]  |  posted under Downtown, Electric Vehicles, Tacoma


by Nick on 9/20/2011 @ 3:37pm

by fredo on 9/20/2011 @ 3:42pm
The city can afford to buy 21 expensive electric cars? Guess revenue at city hall isn't so bad after all.

by KevinFreitas on 9/20/2011 @ 3:54pm
Old news @fredo. I'm happy the City is spending money on a more efficient and cost-effective fleet of vehicles. Sometimes ya gotta spend money to save money in the long run. Clearer air is pretty nice too.

Electricity is still by far cheaper than fossil fuels and has the added advantage of being created by many different green and/or typical methods. Like people pedaling bikes in the nearby cage to generate power. Could be a good activity for folks waiting for buses nearby. :)

by Erik on 9/20/2011 @ 4:02pm
Nice but why they 5th floor?

The North Park Plaza Parking garage is usually too dreary blightful for most people to want to even venture to the first floor.

What are the plans, if any, to renovate the garage like South Park Plaza?

by fredo on 9/20/2011 @ 4:08pm
Who are these 11 cars assigned to and where do they have to go?

by Nick on 9/20/2011 @ 5:04pm
I dunno, I'm with Fredo on this one. It's not about electric/hybrid versus petroleum. It's about buying new cars versus using what the city already had for the time being.

I won't pass judgement without knowing the details, but I think Fredo's asking some legitimate questions. If we have to make painful budget cuts somewhere to balance our budget, I worry about what other part of the budget got the shaft for these cars.

On the other hand, if it came from Eric Anderson's August and September paychecks, that's cool.

by Nick on 9/20/2011 @ 5:07pm
... and yes, I get the long-term implied cost savings of a hybrid and electric fleet. But I'm not talking about all or nothing. I'm talking about now, versus buying them in, say, 3 years or something. *That* difference I'd wager is not worth the added strain to our fragile budget.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/20/2011 @ 9:15pm
Park Plaza North (PPN) occupies damn near a whole superblock.

While electric car charging stations are wonderful, I still want to see the PPN razed and something better and bigger built there.

by tacoma1 on 9/21/2011 @ 6:39am
I agree with TOT. I imagine that the charging stations can be moved if/when an eventual solution to PPN becomes available.

by Nick on 9/21/2011 @ 9:38am
A downtown multiplex.

Go. Do it.

by Nick on 9/21/2011 @ 9:40am
Give it a green roof, make the top floor an actual park. Maybe connect it with Frost Park, let some crazy architect go to town designing some creative stairway or something.

by JesseHillFan on 9/21/2011 @ 9:41am
I think that I agree with Fredo and Nick here.
First of all it takes a lot of energy (which can create lots of CO2) to create a new vehicle even if the steel is recycled so having a vehicle last as long as possible can actually be more environmentally friendly if it's maintained well.So it makes more economic sense too although from an aesthetic viewpoint an older car might not show much prestige (rather either thriftiness or to some poverty).
Next automobiles due to their heavy mass are not environmentally friendly since most of what they transport is wasted (The human inside is only 1/10th to 1/30th the total mass of the vehicle).Something in the range of that depending on passenger weight,payload,vehicle weight etc.
Now if the car had more than one passenger in it all the time preferably 4 or 5 then the ratio would be quite different and it could be considered efficient at that point.
One can say that a electric automobile can be more environmentally friendly but then again so can a electric powered main battle tank be more environmentally friendly possibly than a gasoline powered one.It's like saying that a 100,000 square foot LEED Platinum standard mansion built for a family of 4 is environmentally friendly yet it likely would be a horrific environmental and energy hog compared to a ordinary 1,000 sq foot 60 year old cookie cutter home for that family.
Something claimed to be environmentally friendly may not actually be so in real usage and instead it can be a huge waste.
Once the vehicle mass is vastly lowered (F=M*A) then an electric vehicle could become very efficient like say an electric powered motorcycle,scooter,bike,EPAMD's.The faster the vehicle goes the less efficient it is too and the more energy it needs.
For Intra-Urban transport a low speed (30MPH) electric scooter would be very efficient economically as well as vastly more environmentally friendly because of it's low mass (about 270 to 300 pounds).Total mass transported would be a higher ratio for the passenger and less for the vehicle as compared with a highly inefficient heavy mass car.In other words one may have the appearance to be environmentally friendly by having an electric car but it's not really environmentally friendly at all by a long shot.
The city may show off it's environmental friendliness but it's just a mask and in a way a fraud.

by fredo on 9/21/2011 @ 11:44am
good point but I think Mayor Strickland would rather drive a Prius than a scooter. Just sayin

by NineInchNachos on 9/21/2011 @ 12:58pm

by JesseHillFan on 9/21/2011 @ 3:20pm
"good point but I think Mayor Strickland would rather drive a Prius than a scooter. Just sayin"

How about if it stood out from the crowd and was a ultra classy electric ultra high tech scooter like this.

by fredo on 9/21/2011 @ 4:51pm
fredo could accept that scooter for sure, screw the mayor.


A blog following news and features published in the Tacoma Daily Index newspaper.


Recent Posts