MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Main Street Martinsburg celebrated the first completely free electric car-charging station in West Virginia on Thursday with a ribbon cutting, demonstrations and rides in electric cars.
“It’s a totally different driving experience,” Rick Rohn, master of ceremonies for the occasion, told the crowd. He owns two electric cars and is a vocal advocate for electric cars.
Located in the East Burke Street parking lot, the charging station is powered by photo-voltaic solar panels on the roof of a utility building belonging to My Bank First United Bank and Trust. Rohn also is an enthusiastic advocate for solar power.
“This is a whole new way to fuel cars,” he said. “We charge our cars at home while we sleep. When we wake up in the morning, our tank is full.”
Main Street Martinsburg’s solar-powered electric car charging station won a $10,000 award for finishing second in the 2012 Governor’s Innovation Award for Main Street West Virginia communities, a program of the West Virginia Development Office.
MSM partnered with Mountain View Solar in Morgan County and the City of Martinsburg for the project.
The project’s total cost was $16,000. MtvSolar contributed about $6,000 to complete the funding for the project.
“The number of electric cars is growing,” MSM Executive Director Randy Lewis said Thursday. “This will help with drawing out-of-state visitors to downtown Martinsburg.”
He said there is an iPhone app available that shows where electric car charging stations are located, and Martinsburg now included.
“This puts Martinsburg on the map,” Lewis said. “It shows that we are innovative, forward-thinking. No taxpayers’ money was involved. The electric is free, but you have to pay the parking meter. There is a two-hour limit. And the city gets credit on its electric bill for electricity that isn’t used.”
Called net metering, the electric source is connected to the electric grid through an electric meter. When extra electricity is produced, it is directed to the grid through the meter, which runs backward, reducing the city’s electric bill by a little…