Electric vehicle charging station opens in Florence


Staff Writer

FLORENCE, Wis. – With gasoline prices on the rise yet again, vehicles fueled by alternative energy sources such as electricity are starting to look more and more attractive.

However, completely electric vehicles also have their shortcomings. Public charging stations are still few and far between in rural areas.

That’s no longer a problem for any electric car drivers traveling through Florence.

Earlier this week, Florence Utilities installed a public charging station on Central Avenue in the parking lot across from Maxsells Restaurant.

“We’re starting out small and seeing what the interest is,” said Bob Friberg, general manager for Florence Utilities. “We’d like to see it flourish here.”

Friberg felt that Florence is the perfect town for a station, since it is located roughly halfway between established charging stations in Green Bay, Wis. and the northern Upper Peninsula.

“It’s a logical stopping point,” he added. “And we have plenty of bed and breakfasts and restaurants drivers could enjoy while their cars are charging.”

Anyone who is interested in using the station should contact Florence Utilities at (715) 528-3330. Cost is 13 cents per kilowatt hour.

The station’s first customer, Jack Cleary of Bella Vista, Ark., stopped to charge his Tesla electric car on Friday.

Cleary, a former Commonwealth, Wis. resident, was in town for a class reunion and had heard about the charging station from Friberg.

According to Cleary, his vehicle can get a full charge for about $8. The Tesla is rated to get approximately 265 miles per full charge, although factors like speed and wind can lower the mileage.

“On average, it works out to about four cents a mile,” Cleary explained.

On the other hand, it does take several hours to fully charge electric vehicles.

Cleary said that, for his vehicle, each hour of charge equals about 28 miles.

“At many stations, you’ll have to plug in overnight,” he added. “It takes even longer if you’re charging at home.”

Charging stations in the Upper Peninsula are located in Marquette and Houghton.

Marquette’s first station opened in Feb. 2012 at the Bluff Street parking structure. Houghton’s first station opened in April 2012 on Shelden Avenue.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.