By Collin Berglund
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (March 31, 2011) Two months ago, if Doron Shalvi wanted to go to his mother's house in Crofton, he would have to drive his car—his electric bike didn't have the juice to make it all the way.
Now, he can stop at the University of Maryland to charge his car part way through his drive from Brookeville and continue on his way.
The Maryland alum was on hand Thursday when the university showcased two of its five new electric vehicle chargers in front of more than 50 people. The university will allow electric car drivers to park and charge for free at the new stations - two next to the Stamp Student Union, the others in visitors' parking lots across campus.
"I will definitely be using these chargers," said Shalvi, 39. "It increases my accessibility to parts of P.G. County and beyond that I couldn't go before."
His electric bike can travel about 30 miles without a charge, he said.
University President Wallace Loh cut the ribbon at the ceremony, helped charge a Chevrolet Volt provided by General Motors Corp. for the demonstration and spoke about what the chargers mean to the community.
"This is the beginning of a new day," Loh said. "We are contributing to a greener planet."
The stations are the first of 10 planned stations at the University of Maryland, and they are the first at any university in the D.C. region. Across the country, 11 colleges and universities will soon have similar charging stations.
The charging stations, each able to charge two cars at once, cost $6,000 a unit, but the university purchased them at a 50 percent discount through a grant made possible by ChargePoint America, said Beverly Malone, assistant director at the campus' Department of Transportation Services.
ChargePoint America is a $37 million program that uses $15 million from a Department of Energy grant to bring electric vehicle charges to nine regions across the country. The DOE funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The rest of the program's funds come from a number of smaller grants.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama said he hoped the country will have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The Energy Information Administration forecasts 20,000 electric vehicles will be in use that year.
David Allen, director of transportation services at the university, said this was a move that might not pay dividends tomorrow, but could encourage use of energy-efficient vehicles down the road.
"This will provide an infrastructure," Allen said. "It'll be some time before they come into widespread use."
Students and employees will receive a 50 percent discount for their campus parking passes if they drive electric vehicles.
As with many other electric car-charging stations across the country, the University of Maryland will assume the cost of electricity for charging. Recently installed high-efficiency lighting in parking garages around campus will offset the cost, Malone said.