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USA: Bases ponder charging stations for personal electric vehicles


U.S. military bases are beginning to install charging stations for government-owned electric vehicles, but privately owned EVs often cannot be charged at on-base housing facilities. In Japan, servicemembers with EVs can charge the vehicles at off-base charging stations such as this one near Yokota Air Base.

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Department of Defense may soon encourage private companies to fund quick-charge points on military bases so servicemembers can juice up personal electric cars.

Off-base “quick-charge points” are proliferating near military facilities in California, Hawaii and Japan, and bases have started to install their own chargers to cater to a growing armada of battery-powered official vehicles.

Now the military is looking at ways to support servicemembers who buy or lease electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt, Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf.

Electric cars can be plugged into a conventional power outlet to recharge overnight; a quick-charge point can recharge 80 percent of an electric vehicle battery’s power in less than 30 minutes.

Air Force spokeswoman Tonya Racasner, whose service branch is overseeing electric vehicle initiatives across the military, said by email that officials are looking at ways to facilitate on-base charging for electric personally owned vehicles (POVs).

“Efforts are currently under way to identify third-party financing strategies or developing a … business case to support POV charging,” she said.

Bob Larson, a defense contractor who works with battle command systems at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., said he leased one of the first Volts off the production line in 2010 and plugged it into a power outlet at Fort Dix, N.J., a few times before officials told him to stop.

“They said it was misappropriation of funds,” he said.

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The Government Accountability Office determined in 2010 that appropriated funds couldn’t be used to install charging stations for electric POVs at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Racasner said.

However, in Japan, where numerous quick-charge points are available near U.S. military facilities, some people can charge POVs with the free electricity they get at their on-base homes.

Yokota Air Base lets residents do that if there’s a power outlet within five feet of a parking spot.
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