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USA: More electric cars permitted on campus

Economics assistant professor Stephen Barnes drives a car to work every day, but his fuel costs virtually nothing.

Barnes is a member of the small, but slowly growing, group of electric vehicle permit owners at the University.

A little more than a year has passed since Entergy donated two electrical charging stations to the University, and the Office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation has handed out only four free permits, said Director Gary Graham.

Still, for those who have them, the perks are great, Graham said.

Some of the benefits include free electricity, free parking and a nearly untraceable carbon footprint, depending on how the electricity was generated.

“You have to initially get used to the idea of having a plan for keeping it charged,” Barnes said.

But since he has free, unlimited access to a charging station in the Patrick F. Taylor lot across the street from his office in the Business Education Complex, his transition to an electric vehicle wasn’t too difficult.

Under the current contract between Entergy and LSU, the energy company provides access to the two pump stations, which it installed free of charge, and LSU supplies the power to those who use it.

The experimental project has two main objectives, according to Lauren Stuart, executive director and program coordinator of the greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition.

It allows the University to monitor the impact of giving away electricity on the utility grid and counteracts what Stuart calls “the chicken and the egg dilemma.”

“Since there’s a limited range, people need the comfort of knowing that there are charging stations available to them and that they’re out and about before they’ll even consider purchasing the [electric] vehicle,” she said.
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