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Community leaders and state legislators gathered in a windswept, sunny parking lot Thursday afternoon to watch as a Nissan Leaf from Priority Nissan became the first electric car to plug into James City County’s first public car charging station.
County Administrator Bryan Hill plugged the charger — a plastic and metal stick shaped like a gas pump — into the car as the crowd watched.
“This is new and innovative and exciting,” the administrator said. “These are the things I want to bring forward to James City County.”
The New Town Commercial Association picked up the bill for the charger, which is located on a mulch-covered island splitting a parking lot near the building that once housed Beyond Bricks. Larry Salzman, a member of the association, said the charger will be free for anyone to use until at least Labor Day.
“This is New Town. A new urban community. Having the first car charger here in New Town is perfect for us,” he told the crowd before Hill plugged in the charger.
The ceremony attracted all four Williamsburg-area state legislators — Sens. Tommy Norment (R-3) and John Miller (D-1) and Dels. Brenda Pogge (R-96) and Monty Mason (D-93). New Town is located in Norment and Pogge’s districts.
“I’m very proud and pleased that the only one in the area is located in my district, and that means more power to the people,” Pogge said.
Norment said he commends New Town for taking such a progressive step as installing a car charging station
The station is capable of powering numerous kinds of electric cars, including those from General Motors, Volkswagen, Nissan, Kia and BMW. Tesla products can also be charged at the station, though a converter sold by the all-electric car company is needed.
Once a car is plugged into the station, it takes about 30 minutes to restore it to nearly full battery life. The New Town station is one of 37 in Virginia.
Scott Grafton, the owner of Iron-Bound Gym and a member of the commercial association, said he received a message on Facebook about a month ago from someone asking if the car charger was yet ready. It has been displayed since at least a month ago on Greenlots, a website and smartphone app that shows electric car charging stations across the globe.
“People don’t have to worry about charging anymore,” Grafton said.
Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance President and CEO Karen Riordan said that while the station is a useful resource for locals, it is also important for tourists.
“This is an amazing message we’re sending,” she said. “We want to be known as an innovator.”
Priority Nissan of Newport News sent a Nissan Leaf to New Town on Thursday to serve as the first car to receive a charge at the station. The Leaf is a fully electric four-door car that produces zero emissions.
The station is available to use free of charge until at least Labor Day. It is the property of the commercial association, which will also provide maintenance on it.