Car-charging station comes to Harrisonburg

In October, Harrisonburg will become the first city in the Shenandoah Valley and one of only a handful of cities in the state with a public, Level II electric car charging station. Located behind Harrisonburg Electric Commission in Downtown Harrisonburg, the charging station will provide citizens with clean energy for their electric vehicles.

A ribbon-cutting event and unveiling of the charging station will be held on Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. in the HEC parking lot and adjacent municipal parking lot. There will be electric cars to test drive, including the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, as well as demonstrations of how the charging station will operate. The public is invited and encouraged to attend to learn more about this valuable new community resource.

The electric car charging station was brought to Harrisonburg through the dedication of a number of entities, including HEC, the City of Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, David Miller on behalf of the Downtown Dining Alliance, Virginia Main Street, Eaton Corporation, Virginia Clean Cities, and Rexel. “It is a celebration of community collaboration,” says David Miller, owner of Dave’s Downtown Taverna and Chair of the DDA. “After talking to all of these great partners, it became evident that there is nothing that Harrisonburg can’t do if the community works together towards one common goal. All we have to do is just roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Miller and Jeff Sadler of VMS are spearheading a pilot program to bring electric car chargers to VMS communities throughout the state, with Harrisonburg leading the way as the first phase of the program. “We are excited about the addition of another creative asset in downtown Harrisonburg and are working to coordinate other Virginia Main Street communities in following Harrisonburg’s lead,” says Sadler, program manager of VMS. VMS is the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s downtown revitalization program.

Thomas Fore of Eaton Corporation, the company that manufactured the charging station, echoed this spirit of collaboration. “This project became a reality through the effort of numerous organizations, all of which want the best for the City of Harrisonburg,” says Fore, the local Eaton Senior Sales Engineer, Residential Products. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with so many organizations that have the same mind set.  It has been said that ‘Team work will make the dream work’ and Eaton is continuing to work towards creating a successful model of building an infrastructure to support electrical vehicle charging stations in Harrisonburg that other Main Street Communities can duplicate.” Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company and global technology leader in electrical components and systems.

“We felt it was a natural fit to be involved with a transportation initiative that relies on electricity as its source for fuel,” says Brian O’Dell, Assistant General Manager at HEC. “Considering our centralized location in downtown and proximity to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, which was also considered as a location for the charger, it was an easy decision.” According to O’Dell, while HEC will be offering free public charges during the initial introduction of the charger to the community, it will be developing a fee structure in the near future to help cover costs. HEC will be monitoring usage of the station, charging time for vehicles, and operating data to help develop this structure.

Eddie Bumbaugh, executive director of HDR, is glad the organization has had the opportunity to be involved in this project. “A key aspect of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance’s commitment to downtown revitalization is promoting strategies that make downtown a cool and desirable place to live, work, shop, dine, and visit,” says Bumbaugh. “As an increasing number of people purchase electric vehicles, having a convenient charging station will be a nice amenity and attraction for downtown residents, employees, consumers, and tourists. We are pleased to be the first Virginia Main Street community to offer the public an electric charging station.”

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