Electric charging stations open to public on WMU campus

Plug it in is the new fill 'er up.

Well, maybe not yet, but the day is coming, and it's getting a push from Western Michigan University. The school opened four electric-vehicle charging stations March 21 to the public.

WMU is the first Michigan university to place a public charging station on its main campus and it purposely located them near public transit bus stops.

Coulomb Technologies, the manufacturer, gave the charging stations WMU through an equipment grant offered by the company as part of a federal government demonstration project to encourage the public to adopt plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Two plug-in vehicles owned by WMU professors and and third borrowed vehicle all were at the event at which the charging stations were unveiled to show how the stations can be used. All four stations can support two vehicles, one at the 120-volt rate and thee other can plug in for a 220-volt quick charge.

The stations are initially open to the public  for free. The university expects to offset the cost of the electricity used by that it creates with the windturbine on the Parkview Campus and the solar array on Wood Hall. If more electricity is used than expected the free service may be reconsidered.

The stations also will be used by university vehicles -- two that are all electric and about 50 that are flex fuel-capable. They are used by the public safety, maintenance and custodians.

President John Dunn says the installation of the charging stations is consistent with ongoing research at the University, including research on battery technology going on at the College of Engineering and Applied Scince and the Center for Hybrid Electric Applied Research laboratory.

Writer: Kathy Jennings
Source: Jeanne Baron, Western Michigan University