New charging stations expands electric vehicle access

Students+stand+with+Austin+City+Council+member+Ann+Kitchen+as+Jackie+Sargent+cuts+the+ribbon+with+Austin+Energy+mascot+Stevie+the+T-rex.+The+ceremony+was+held+on+Nov.+14+during+FIT.
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New charging stations expands electric vehicle access

Students stand with Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen as Jackie Sargent cuts the ribbon with Austin Energy mascot Stevie the T-rex. The ceremony was held on Nov. 14 during FIT.

Students stand with Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen as Jackie Sargent cuts the ribbon with Austin Energy mascot Stevie the T-rex. The ceremony was held on Nov. 14 during FIT.

Carlos Barron

Students stand with Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen as Jackie Sargent cuts the ribbon with Austin Energy mascot Stevie the T-rex. The ceremony was held on Nov. 14 during FIT.

Carlos Barron

Carlos Barron

Students stand with Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen as Jackie Sargent cuts the ribbon with Austin Energy mascot Stevie the T-rex. The ceremony was held on Nov. 14 during FIT.

By Rito Pineda, Akins High School

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In November, Austin Energy celebrated the “EVs for Schools” initiative with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Akins new electric vehicle charging station.

The event featured speakers like Jackie Sargent, Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen as well as various Austin ISD administrators.

They spoke about the value of this new charging station and what it means for the future of electric vehicles in Austin.

Kitchen said she is excited to see more stations being installed at schools.

“I am an owner of an electric vehicle and I love to see (these charging stations) all over town,” she said. “Austin is on the verge of exciting and fundamental changes and how we move people around the city of Austin and electric vehicles is a plentiful part in that change of our mobility.”

The event celebrated the continuing growth of Austin Energy’s Plug-In EVerywhere program, which has created an EV charging network of more than 760 charging ports powered by 100 percent renewable energy. The program puts a focus on affordability by providing unlimited charging for only $4.17 a month.

Akins is one of the few AISD schools that has an EV charging station. In the coming months, Austin ISD will also be retrofitting 17 other campuses to make them EV-ready incoming months.

At least two teachers take advantage of the charging station on a regular basis. Social studies teacher Rich Kelly recently started using the charging station after he purchased a hybrid vehicle in November.

Kelly said he enjoys that Austin Energy offers a discounted rate to charge at the charging station. Users only have to pay $4.17 a month to use any of the EV stations in Austin.

Social studies teacher Rich Kelly said he has noticed a pick up in use of the charging station since the ribbon cutting event.

There are frequently two cars charging at once and then those parking spots,” he said. Kelly said he also thinks that it’s good to have more EV stations around the City of Austin.

“I know that when we decided to get an electric car we were definitely looking at maps and saying where do we charge,” Kelly said. “So I think that by putting in more stations you will encourage more people to buy an electric car.”

Senior Ally Anjum thinks that electric vehicles will do a lot in terms of helping the environment.

The fossil fuel burning car needs to be a part of our past.”

— teacher Jay Hammers

“I think it helps a lot with air pollution and helping decrease the levels of it in the environment,” she said.

Inclusion teacher Jay Hammers was excited when he found out Austin Energy was installing a charging station at Akins.

“The fossil fuel burning car needs to be a part of our past,” he said. “Many scientists have reported that if we do not do something about human-made climate change there will be very dramatic effects on our environment. I’m trying to do my part to ensure that there is a world worth living in for (my daughter) and her peers. Austin Energy’s Green Choice program ensures that the energy used at the charging stations is 100 percent renewable.”

Hammers said he also like to see more EV in Buda and Kyle and places where charging stations are not easy to find.

“I think our charging station is more important for those who live in the Buda-Kyle area,” he said. “There are fewer charging stations in the surrounding in the areas than within Austin.”

Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent said that the EV stations will help the city achieve its affordability and climate protection
goals.

“(The program) opens the door to launch programs like it in other schools and school districts in the Austin area,” she said.

This story was originally published on The Eagle’s Eye on January 24, 2019.