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Iowa Town Has EV Charging Stations at the Ready

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Iowa businessman Mike Howard’s philosophy on electric vehicles that can be summed up as, “You’ve got to start somewhere.” Thus, Elk Horn, Iowa – population 650 — has four charging stations built and waiting for EVs, with another four stations planned for next year. In terms of charging stations, this single-handedly puts Iowa ahead of almost every other state, excluding those on the West Coast.

Each station costs $6,000; Howard has already spent approximately $30,000 on the total effort, with plans to drop another $50,000 next year to expand farther into Iowa and Nebraska. Howard wants to focus on Interstate 80 corridor, with eventual plans to build a charging corridor from Chicago to Denver.

Is this ambitious or pointless? With only 96 EVs out of the 4 million registered vehicles in Iowa (and only one converted Chevy S-10 pickup in Elk Horn), you’d undoubtedly think the latter. However, Howard might simply be better at reading the writing on the wall.

The Obama administration established a $3.4 billion grant program to develop electric vehicles and upgrade the power grid, but that money went primarily to Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. As vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf hit roads in the next year, plug-ins will become a permanent fixture of the American automotive landscape; EVs are expected to be 2% of cars on the road by 2015 and 30% by 2030.

While the investment may take a while to pay off, could you imagine owning the largest network of charging stations on a major Interstate? As long as he has a good dose of patience, Howard could turn out to be prescient.

Tiny Iowa Town Has the Chargers, Awaiting Drivers (Associated Press)