Start Your Engines

Electric car chargers, funded through a DOE grant, are installed on campus near the Marshall Student Center.



By Daylina Miller

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 15, 2011) – The University of South Florida unveiled Wednesday two charging stations for electric vehicles on campus that are open to the community.


The ChargePoint stations were installed by WattNext on the east side of the Marshall Student Center. The parking spots had previously been used for 15 minute parking and golf cart parking.


The charging stations won’t cost anything to use, for now, so students, faculty and members of the community can easily top off their vehicle’s charge while on campus. Over the next two years, USF will monitor their use, then discuss fee options.


Christian Wells, director of the USF Office of Sustainability, applied for the ChargePoint America grant on behalf of USF, the same grant the City of Tampa applied for to be granted 100 charging stations.


Each station costs $8,000, which was covered by the grant. The Office of Sustainability and Parking and Transportation Services at USF shared the costs for the $2,000-$3,000 installation for each station.


“We are part of a network of over 100 charging stations in the Tampa Bay region – among the largest such regional installations in the country. This provides a significant incentive for people to use electric vehicles in our community. Once again, USF is leading by example,” Wells said.


Stations can be found in various parking garages in downtown Tampa and Ybor City, as well as at the AAA Westshore office.


While the number of electric vehicles registered for permits at USF is unknown, there are 363 Priuses in the Parking & Transportation Services database, said Mary Damiano, an administrative specialist for Parking and Transportation Services.


The newest Prius model is still a hybrid but comes equipped with the ability to run on full electric for short ranges and can be charged at these stations.


“The ability to charge electric vehicles is very important for the future of USF and Tampa Bay in general,” Wells said. “If we are going to reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy, electric vehicles are an important start to this process. Beyond global connections, this is the right thing to do for our local environment and the biosphere.”


Lou Arasi, a principal for WattNext, said that electric vehicles and charging stations raise the chicken or egg question. Drivers are hesitant to invest in electric vehicles if they don’t have access to charging stations but city facilities and universities are hesitant to invest in charging stations unless they know they’ll be used.


“Despite their small size, these charging stations are a big gamble for USF,” Wells said. “They are useless if people don’t have electric vehicles. I am hopeful that our students, staff, and faculty—as well as members of our community—will take advantage of this unique opportunity and invest in cleaner energy.”


Drivers can locate electric charging stations within 12 miles via the ChargePoint Android app for smartphones or on the website.


Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.