Midway, a town of about 1,500, is now home to a public electric vehicle charging station.
The Kentucky Utilities charging station was officially opened with a ceremony Thursday morning and shortly after the ceremony a driver in a Chevrolet Volt was the first to use it.
“It was cool. It was nice to have a customer already,” said Daniel Lowry, media relations manager for KU.
Why did KU pick Midway of all places? Lowry said KU looks at traffic patterns, electric vehicle registration, and distances between existing charging stations before establishing a new charging station.
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“Plus you need the local support, too,” he said, referencing the charging station’s location in the parking lot behind Midway City Hall at 101 East Main Street.
Midway was a good location for the charging station because of it’s location near Interstate 64 and its proximity to Frankfort, Louisville and Lexington, Lowry said.
“It’s only two minutes off of the interstate. I actually timed it,” he said.
Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, who was present at the ceremony, said the community was excited to have the charging station. He said he hopes it will pave the way for environmentally sustainable initiatives and will help with Midway’s local economy.
“We’re a small city,” he said. “I think it’s neat that people will see Midway that never probably would have otherwise and they’ll stop. And while they’re charging their car, they’ll go grab a bite to eat, or a cup of coffee, or go shop in the stores. That’s good for us as well.”
Midway is one of the latest cities to be a part of the growing electric automobile economy. The popularity of electric vehicles, such as the Kia Soul EV or the high-end Tesla vehicles, have skyrocketed in recent years.
Sales of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids was more than 287,000 worldwide during the third quarter of 2017, according to Bloomberg News. That's a huge jump from the less than 100,000 cars that were sold in the first quarter of 2015. Electric vehicle charging stations have followed suit with about 16,500 in the United States alone, according to the Department of Energy. That is a dramatic increase from the 2,000 in 2011.
Lexington has numerous electric charging stations, including a Tesla Supercharger station on Paul Jones Way, near Meijer off Man O War Boulevard and at Kentucky Utilities on Quality Street. Versailles and Paris also have one charging station each, according to plugshare.com, a website that tracks electric vehicle charging stations.
Midway’s charging station rate is about $3 an hour and two vehicles can charge at the same time. However, charging an electric vehicle is much more time consuming than the five minutes or so it takes to fill up a gas vehicle.
“Some vehicles, it varies,” Lowry said. “You may need to charge up for a couple of hours.”
Lowry said there is no set completion date, but KU plans to have 20 charging stations statewide. Midway’s was the eighth.