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Robert Trigaux

Electric vehicles: One view on what it will take for Tampa Bay to prep for their arrival



HeldarodriguezprezNovaChargeLLCTampa Wake up and good morning. Helda Rodriguez attended last week's Get Ready Tampa Bay event outside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg that "sparked" one of our first regional gatherings aimed at preparing this metro area for the arrival of electric vehicles. Rodriguez has a special part to play in that preparatory infrastructure as a founder and president of Tampa-based NovaCharge LLC, a provider of grid-friendly charging stations for electric vehicles in either public and private locations.

I asked Rodriguez her thoughts on the Get Ready Tampa Bay event, which seeks to move the metro area forward on electric vehicles as part of the Rocky Mountain Institute's commitment to more sustainable energy. Here's more on RMI's Project Get Ready and some more details on Tampa Bay's participation. And here's what Rodriguez responded to my query:

"Get Ready Tampa Bay is a very important step towards preparing the Bay area for the introduction of the vehicles. I want Tampa Bay to participate in the opportunities afforded by the new clean energy economy. Electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them create jobs, stimulate our local economy and are the solution to ending our dependency on oil."

What are the biggest hurdles?
"There are definitely stumbling blocks. We need to work with officials in the Bay area to facilitate charging on both sides of the bay to accommodate commuters. Consumers making the Tampa to Clearwater/St. Pete commute can save hundreds of dollars."

Rodriguez cites electric vehicle data from EcoWorld indicating that, at $10 per kilowatt-hour, it costs 3.7 cents to travel one mile. In contrast, an economy sedan that gets 30 miles per gallon at $3 per gallon of gasoline will cost nearly three times as much or 10 cents per mile. Electric vehicles costs could be even lower if their batteries are recharged at night when electricity rates tend to be lower.

So how do we move forward after last week's event where everybody agreed we should?
"For this to happen, drivers (of electric vehicles) need to be able to recharge basically where they work and play. A roadmap for the locations of these chargers is necessary to ensure ease of access. Permits need to be streamlined to facilitate fast installations.

"The Bay area cities need to follow the examples of other states like Oregon, North Carolina, and of course, California, and put in place incentives to encourage EVs -- by offering free or reduced priced parking, HOV lanes, tax incentives on the state level, etc."

Lastly, we need to focus on education, and raising awareness... on the many wonderful benefits of EV use. If ever there was a strong example of why we need to move away from oil, the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico is a daily reminder."

Rodriguez's NovaCharge provides ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations and related infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles using technology from Coulomb Technologies.

Right now, NovaCharge is focused on Orlando, not Tampa Bay, as a metro area more quickly embracing electric vehicles. Says Rodriguez: "Unfortunately, Tampa Bay was a little slower than Orlando getting going and was not able to be considered for the (Coulomb-based) program."

Hey, better late than never.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist 

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:00am]


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