The state’s largest utility plans to build electric car recharging stations along Missouri’s busiest travel corridor.

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State’s largest utility plans to build electric car recharging stations

Ameren filed Monday with the Public Service Commission to construct five charging islands on I-70 between St. Louis and Booneville, as well as one in Jefferson City.

The outlets would be spaced 20-to-45 miles apart to accommodate the driving ranges of the vehicles.  Ameren’s Mark Nealon says Kansas City and St. Louis are not currently connected by enough charging stations to allow continuous travel between the two cities.

“The whole purpose of our pilot project concept is to provide a fast charging means that tailors specifically to the long-distance driver, especially given that what we understand will avail themselves to the consumer public in 2017 are the first EV’s that offer a 200 mile driving range, and a price range of $30,000.”

Each recharging outlet would allow up to four customers to recharge their vehicles simultaneously. “There will be a combination of what the industry calls ‘fast chargers’ and equipment that is the more standard speed type of charge” said Nealon.  Fast charging will cost $2.50 for fifteen minutes while using the slower charging equipment will cost 30 cents for the same period of time.

Nealon says Ameren’s planning to place the recharging stations in areas where amenities such as restaurants and shopping exist because the typical amount of time spent recharging electric cars is 25 minutes.  The stations will also offer every type of plugin utilized by electric car sold in the U.S.

A press release for Ameren said the first charging island would be constructed this year in Booneville with exact locations to be announced at a later date. The charging stations would let customer’s pay-at-the-pump through existing credit card swipe technology.   The project’s estimated cost is $600,000.

James Owen, acting director of Missouri’s Office of Public Counsel says his agency’s looking into the Ameren proposal.  He says one possible concern is financing of the project.  “We’ve been involved with questions about, are (recharging stations) something that the average ratepayer should be responsible for when it’s only being used by people who drive electric vehicle?”

Owen also mentioned concerns over the heavy reliance on coal power to supply electricity for stations. “It promotes the use of coal power which a lot of people say we should be moving away from said Owen.  “Ameren is still a very coal heavy utility”.