Electric vehicle charging station opens near Blaine

Published on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Electric vehicle owners have two new places to charge up their rides in Whatcom County after the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) installed charging stations in Bellingham and just south of Blaine.

WSDOT teamed with California-based electric transportation company AeroVironment, Inc., to open the charging station at the Custer rest stop just south of exit 270 on southbound I-5. The new station is one of seven recently installed along the I-5 corridor from Blaine to Vancouver, Washington, as part of the West Coast Electric Highway initiative, which will eventually support electric vehicle travel from Canada to Mexico.

“Today moves us a giant step closer to the day when we can drive our electric cars from Bellingham to San Diego along Interstate 5, secure in the knowledge we can quickly recharge our vehicles along the way,” governor Chris Gregoire said.
WSDOT used about $7,000 in federal funding to install each station along the I-5 corridor, said Tonia Buell WSDOT project development and communications manager.

WSDOT also contracted with Bellingham-based Sail Electric to make $20,000 worth of electrical system upgrades at the Custer rest area in order for the charging station to be installed, Buell explained.

The installation of the chargers is part of a $1.5 million, federally funded U.S. Department of Energy petroleum reduction program, Buell said. Two nonprofit organizations, Adopt A Charger and the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association, are paying the electrical bills for the chargers.

All stations installed along the I-5 corridor are currently free to use, said Kristin Helsel, vice president of the electric vehicle solutions group at AeroVironment. To use the charger, drivers need to call a toll-free number and ask that it be turned on.

After using the chargers for the first time, drivers can ask AeroVironment to send them an RFID tag that will turn on the chargers without having to call AeroVironment again, Helsel explained.

To learn more about the charging station and the West Coast Electric Highway, visit AeroVironment's website.