The City of Knoxville is charging ahead in the push to go green. Installation of the city's nine electric vehicle charging stations is expected to wrap up before the end of August.
"The main benefit to these electric vehicle charging stations is that they reduce tailpipe emissions, helping to improve the ozone at the ground level, improving air quality and health in our region," said Jake Tisinger, the city's Sustainability Coordinator.
Six of the city's seven electric vehicle charging stations fueled by traditional power sources are online. Work on the final unit, at West Hills Park, should be done by week's end, Tisinger said.
The other locations include Victor Ashe Park, Ijams Nature Center, Caswell Park, Sequoyah Park, the Jackson Avenue parking lot and State Street garage.
Two additional locations will use solar panels. Four stations at the Market Square garage and six others at the Civic Coliseum garage are expected to be ready by the end of the month.
"You're talking about taking that energy off grid," Tisinger said. "It's kind of throwing a different kind of fuel source into the mix and starting to look ahead, look at different opitons to powering our vehicles."
A battery backup will help when mother nature won't.
"One of the goals of the solar, the renewably powered charging stations, is to identify how solar can charge those batteries," Tisinger said. "That energy can be stored, and then fed back into those charging stations."
Charging is free through the end of the year while city leaders decide how to price the power.
"It's really exciting to be at this point. We've been seeing the cars around, so people who do have cars, feel comfortable coming downtown, there should be plenty of charging stations," Tisinger said.
The work, done by the California based company ECOtality, is funded through grants from the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Lab.
Tisinger recognizes electric vehicles are still a bit of a novelty and are just one way to diversify energy sources, but he hopes to see more adoption as prices drop and infrastructure grows.
An interactive map showing all the electric vehicle chargers in the region can be found here.