At Brandon Autoway Nissan, salesman can't keep up with the demand for electric cars.
"We've been selling them for three months and, right now, we've got a two- to three-week wait to get one in," said Kevin Slane of Autoway.
For the environmentally conscious driver, Slane said the Nissan Leaf electric car is the way to go.
"It's all electric with no emissions," said Slane. "And it's made from recycled materials. Even the seat material is made from recycled water bottles."
Slane was on hand with a Leaf at the ribbon-cutting Monday, Dec. 12, for Hillsborough County's first electric car-charging station, located at the , 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico.
Located on the east side of the building with designated parking spaces, the new charging station allows electric car owners to charge for free through a pilot program.
Among those on hand for the ceremony was County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who spearheaded the pilot program that will allow electric cars to charge at 10 sites throughout the county.
"We're at the precipice of a new age in technology where American ingenuity will create a whole new way to save energy and create jobs," said Sharpe.
"This is being driven by innovation," said County Commissioner Al Higginbotham. "If Henry Ford had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."
The Bloomingdale charging station is one of 150 that will be available throughout Tampa Bay, said Dr. Rick Garrity, director of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission.
"The Tampa-Orlando area is already No. 3 in the nation for the number of charging stations in place, and there are expected to be 150 in the St. Pete-Tampa area alone in the next few months," said Garrity. "And we're supporting the local car dealers in their efforts to bring these cars to the consumers."
"Before long," said Sharpe, "electric vehicles will be part of the American lifestyle and we won't have to be reliant on foreign oil."
Led by Sharpe, county commissioners approved the pilot program to sponsor charging stations on public property to jumpstart developing the infrastructure for the anticipated increase in electric vehicle use by consumers seeking cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives.
The ChargePoint charging stations, as well as maintenance, are free during this pilot project. Hillsborough County is paying for their installation and electrical usage.
The effort is part of a grant from the federal government. Each charging station is capable of charging two vehicles at a time, one on fast charge and one on slow."
"This is great," said Brenda Staton of the Hillsborough County Library Board, on hand for the ribbon-cutting. "We need to keep up with the times, and electric cars are today's technology. Now someone with an electric car can come here and charge their car and spend some time in the library."
EPC engineer Jason Waters demonstrated to the crowd how easy it is to use the charging station. Waters recently purchased his own Chevrolet Volt electric car, which he had on hand at the ribbon-cutting.
"You just hook it up and charge," he said.
Each charging station can be activated by ChargePass Card, credit card or using a smart phone. If using a smart phone, there is an application for the phone to show all charging stations in the area and if they are being used at that time, said Garrity.
County charging stations also will be located at:
Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico
County Center Public Parking Garage (aka Pierce Street Garage) at 319 N. Pierce St. in Tampa (two charging stations)
Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, 3629 Queen Palm Drive in Tampa
Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa
Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave. in Tampa
Plant City Courthouse, 301 N. Michigan Ave. in Plant City
“It's important to note that, for every charging station that's installed, there's a creation of three jobs," added Sharpe.
Each station will be able to charge electric vehicles from all major car makers.
The pilot program will end in January 2014 and, at that time, commissioners can decide if they will keep the existing units and pay for their maintenance, upkeep and connection to the charging station network.
To see where all the charge stations are across the country, logon to mychargepoint.net.
To learn about all the Green Hillsborough efforts, go to hillsboroughcounty.org/green/.