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A Tesla owner charges up at the Princeton charging station off interstate 77 exit 9.

PRINCETON — Princeton is planning to soon have an electric vehicle (EV) charging station on Mercer Street.

Sam Lusk, economic development specialist for the city and director of the Princeton Economic Development Authority, said the city is working with the state Department of Energy and is now trying to identify a place for the station, which will include two “Level 2” charging portals.

The plan will not only provide a place to get vehicles charged but also can be used to entice people to come into the city.

“An app on their phones (to locate EV charging stations) can bring them to Mercer Street,” he said.

Several Tesla charging portals are already located near the I-77 Exit 9 beside the BP station, he said, but they are for Teslas only unless the motorist has a special adapter.

Lusk said the Tesla stations are “Level 3,” using direct current (DC) that is more powerful and provide a faster charge, taking only 10 to 15 minutes in most cases, depending on the battery packs in the car.

The Level 2 stations take longer, an hour to an hour and a half, giving people time to charge their car and visit Mercer Street, maybe have lunch, he said.

Level 1 is for home use and takes considerably longer, usually overnight, but many EV owners install a Level 2.

“Princeton will be the only municipality to own a charging station in this area,” he said.

Currently, public charging stations are scarce in this area, he added, but some private ones may be located at motels for guests’ overnight charging.

The cost to charge varies, usually between between $12 to $24.

“We are working with a company at this point to get a finalized agreement and find a spot (on Mercer Street),” he said, adding this should be announced in the next couple of months.

The chargers cost about $7,000, but Lusk said the costs will be covered with grant money. “The city will not pay anything.”

Not only that, the city may be able to upgrade the station to Level 3 portals in the future.

“If we can upgrade, 80 percent will be paid through the state and federal government with a 20 percent local match,” he said.

That is because of a tentative plan by the state Department of Transportation (WVDOT) for electric vehicle charging stations around the state.

The West Virginia National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Deployment Plan was submitted by WVDOT to the federal government last week for approval.

This plan outlines proposed locations for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state and how West Virginia intends to use federal NEVI program funds to develop charging stations along major highways.

According to WVDOT, all 50 states were required to submit a NEVI plan to the federal government by Aug. 1.

West Virginia’s plan proposes locating electric vehicle charging stations somewhere along Interstate 64, 77 or 79 in the Charleston area; Interstate 64 near Huntington and somewhere near Lewisburg; Interstate 77 in the Beckley area and somewhere in Mercer County; Interstate 68 or 79 in the Morgantown area; Interstate 79 near Flatwoods and Weston; Interstate 70 near Wheeling; and Interstate 81 near Martinsburg.

Each state was asked to develop a NEVI plan in anticipation of an increase in the number of electric vehicles on American roads in coming years and the corresponding need for charging stations.

West Virginia is expected to get close to $45.7 million over the next five years through the NEVI program to help develop charging stations and electric vehicle infrastructure, WVDOT said.

Electric vehicles currently have a maximum range of about 300 miles.

Lusk said one of the criteria is that a NEVI station must be within one mile of a major highway, and Mercer Street is that close to Rt. 460 so it would work.

Those portals cost about $30,000.

Although state residents can use the charging stations that will be developed along the interstates through the NEVI plan, the charging stations are intended primarily for drivers traveling through West Virginia on their way to somewhere else, according to WVDOT.

Under the NEVI plan, charging stations should ideally be located about 50 miles apart on major travel routes.

In June, the state Legislature passed House Bill 4797 in anticipation of the NEVI plan.

The bill directed the WVDOT to develop the NEVI plan to “take a holistic approach, considering the future charging infrastructure needs of school systems, public transportation, counties and municipalities, and other public and private users.”

BloombergNEF projects that plug-in vehicle sales will rise from 6.6 million in 2021 to 20.6 million in 2025. Plug-in vehicles are predicted to make up 23 percent of new passenger vehicle sales globally in 2025, up from just under 10 percent in 2021.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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