BREMERTON - This city's plan to upgrade Pacific Avenue has been in the works for three years. Part of that makeover is to include four electric vehicle charging stations located on the busy street just across from the U.S. Post Office.
But some of those who love electric cars, aren't loving where they're going. The corner is busy, signs limit parking to 30 minutes. The chargers the City already has on hand can take hours to fully charge a vehicle.
"I think electric vehicles could be the wave of the future," said Bremerton resident Bob Dollar, who has studied the issue. "We do need to have them, just in a better location than this. "
The controversy over the placement of the charging stations reflects the broader struggle to accommodate the growing number of electric Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts, plug-in hybrids from Toyota's Prius line and additional vehicles that promise to be on showroom floors in the upcoming months and years.
There's a new twist. Bremerton had planned to make the four spots available to all vehicles, but this current legislative session in Olympia produced a new law that would lead to $124 fines for parking a gas powered vehicle in front of an electric charger.
There aren't very many of those vehicles in Kitsap county - yet. In nearby Port Orchard there are two charging stations at the marina. We didn't see any cars in those spots this afternoon, in fact since noon we didn't see any electric vehicles at all. Some estimates place the number in the county around 100.
"As when we started monitoring the power meter we found out that over 16 days these chargers have done two cars, that had actually charged themselves," said Robert Parker, a Port Orchard resident and Bremerton business owner who is concerned the charging stations are consuming more power just sitting than they are actually charging cars.
But like others who question the placement and type of chargers Bremerton will use, he too is considering the purchase of an electric vehicle.
Bremerton says it's looking toward a future when more local residents, and people visiting from Seattle and elsewhere can visit Bremerton with the assurance that they can juice up and get back home if their vehicle is electric only, like the Nissan Leaf.
"Build it, and they will come," said the old movie line. But the issue surrounding charging stations is also a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
"The opportunity is now to do this," said Bremerton City Council President Greg Wheeler.
He says the site in front of the Post Office was picked for its visibility to encourage more electric car use. The City also adds that additional parking was made to accommodate busy non-electric postal traffic. But the public work's department says the 30 minute limit would still apply, at least for now, giving drivers a chance to top off a charge even if they couldn't stay for a full one.
Public works says the chargers need to be clustered, because they must be hooked up to the electrical grid, they also have internet connections. Spreading them out would be a lot more costly.