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Colorado Springs Utilities sees future for electric-vehicle charging stations

December 26, 2016 Updated: December 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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Tesla Motors, the makers of electric cars, have installed 8 charging stations for Tesla vehicles in a city-owned parking garage at Bijou and Cascade in downtown Colorado Springs. The charging stations are not yet operational. Wednesday, January 6, 2016 .Photo by Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette

Since the first electric charging station began powering vehicles in the Colorado Springs area in late 2011, more than 20 similar stations have sprouted up throughout the city.

The question remains: Are these stations getting regular traffic?

"They are being used," said Doug Bursnall, a senior conservation consultant with Colorado Springs Utilities.

Bursnall said in early December that there are 22 stations with 60 charging points around the city. The first one was installed at the First & Main Town Center off Powers Boulevard in December 2011.

And while there are only three stations that have conduits that CSU can directly monitor, even the limited data show that the energy is definitely flowing from those outlets. According to the city's utilities provider, in November more than 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity was dispensed from the three monitored locations - the station at First and Main, one at the Mesa Conservation Center on Mesa Road, and another at the Tesla charging station in the Cascade Parking Garage in downtown Colorado Springs.

CSU spokesman Steve Berry said the 5,000 kilowatt-hours equate to the average monthly electrical use for eight typical homes.

To find a map of charging locations in Colorado Springs or anywhere else in the United States, Bursnall and CSU recommend going to www.plugshare.com and entering a location.

While charging stations in Colorado Springs vary from public and private use as well as some - like the eight stations at the Cascade garage - that are Tesla-specific, Bursnall said he expects more to be installed as electric vehicles become more popular.

According to statistics at www.refuelcolorado.com, there were 1,922 new electric vehicle registrations in the state in 2015, up almost 300 from the year before. There were only 10 registries in 2010 and 207 the next year.

"My estimate is that there's over 200 entirely electric battery vehicles and over 600 plug-in hybrid vehicles in Colorado Springs," Bursnall said, noting that there are 62 Teslas registered in El Paso County.

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