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Specialized car-charging station opens in Normal

NORMAL — For owners of Tesla electric cars, the special superchargers unveiled Wednesday in the Uptown Station parking garage mean the capability of trips beyond the 300-mile limit of their vehicle batteries.

For the town of Normal, the superchargers mean more potential visitors who are likely to shop or eat at uptown businesses during the 40 minutes it will take to charge their cars.

Among those possible visitors is Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Tesla owner who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This will be a boon for the city,” said Cullerton, although a company spokesman said there are fewer than 600 Tesla owners statewide.

“I haven’t wanted to drive to Springfield because I was concerned about the range,” Cullerton said. “It turns out, this is a perfect location” for people traveling from Chicago to charge their cars.

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Specialized car-charging station opens in Normal

NORMAL — For owners of Tesla electric cars, the special superchargers unveiled Wednesday in the Uptown Station parking garage mean the capability of trips beyond the 300-mile limit of their vehicle batteries.

For the town of Normal, the superchargers mean more potential visitors who are likely to shop or eat at uptown businesses during the 40 minutes it will take to charge their cars.

Among those possible visitors is Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Tesla owner who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This will be a boon for the city,” said Cullerton, although a company spokesman said there are fewer than 600 Tesla owners statewide.

“I haven’t wanted to drive to Springfield because I was concerned about the range,” Cullerton said. “It turns out, this is a perfect location” for people traveling from Chicago to charge their cars.

Mayor Chris Koos, referring to Cullerton and about a dozen other Tesla owners in attendance, said, “We know you’ll be back because we’ve got what you want.”

The charging station serves up to four cars. Tesla Motors paid the $150,000 cost, according to spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson. It is the first in the Midwest and among only nine in the country, she said.

Only Tesla cars can use the devices. However, there are more than 50 chargers in the Twin Cities that can be used by any electric vehicle, including six in the parking deck. More than 200 electric vehicles are registered in the Twin Cities.

Dustin Krause, Tesla’s regional sales manager, said, “This is the first step to really connecting all the country.”

Georgeson said the next supercharger station is likely to be installed in Rockford and there will be stations in Wisconsin and Michigan by the end of the year.

The Tesla’s base price ranges from $62,400 to $87,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. Illinois also provides a $4,000 rebate and a reduced license plate fee of $18 for electric cars.

While zero-emission electric cars and more fuel-efficient vehicles benefit the environment, they are fueling a decline in revenue from motor fuel taxes used to build and maintain roads.

Cullerton said the state will have to find a way to tax users of electric vehicles for their use of the roads.

Other state issues

In an unrelated matter, Cullerton said he is “very confident” that a pension compromise can be reached in the next month.

“We’re trying to find — to use an automobile term — a hybrid,” Cullerton said.

He doesn’t think the announcements by state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and others that they are running for governor will complicate the process because it’s already politicized and their intentions to run were known.

As for competition in his own Democratic Party, Cullerton said, “We have people that will be supporting different candidates, so we just stay out of it.”

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