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Skeptics raise questions about car charging stations

Charleston's "green" gremlins strike again

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The City of Charleston will join municipalities from around the state this year by welcoming recharging stations for electric cars to public parking garages and other city facilities. But the latest green initiative is facing familiar criticism.

The debate was over whether to accept a $52,000 federal grant to pay for the installation and maintenance of six charging stations around town, with the support of the nonprofit Plug-In Carolina.

Councilmen Gary White and Aubrey Alexander have each been the staunchest skeptics of the city's environmental efforts, particularly when the funding comes from grant money. White, who eventually voted in support of the grant, noted that these stations would be the city's responsibility after three years.

"This is a program owned, operated, and subsidized by the city," he said.

Alexander, who was the one vote against accepting the money for the stations, wondered how much the city would lose by converting parking spaces to recharging stations, but city staff noted if the stations were in parking garages or paid parking lots, users would have to pay the standard rate. Alexander also noted the council hadn't received a cost analysis, as expected for sustainable programs.

Calling the program a form of "green welfare," Alexander noted he was a free-market individual. "I look at a project like this and sustainability appears only in the capacity of the public to subsidize these projects," he said.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the city should embrace electric cars. "It reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It's also good for business in Charleston."

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