Midtown Raleigh News

Raleigh imposes fine for parking in car charging stations

Parking next to an electric car charging station could bring a $50 fine – or the business end of a tow truck.

In a policy that took effect Tuesday, parking spaces with public charging stations are reserved for use by plug-in vehicles only.

The impetus came from City Councilman Bonner Gaylord, owner of a new Nissan Leaf, an electric car that lets him zip around town gas-free. Gaylord noticed that people with regular cars tend to park in spots where charging stations have been installed.

The problem? Electric cars will run out of power if they can’t plug in.

Raleigh is one of three cities taking part in Project Get Ready, a national initiative to prepare for the rollout of plug-in electric vehicles.

The city has installed 18 public stations and 11 private stations for use by city vehicles. Raleigh devoted $125,000 toward the program and won $178,272 in federal grants.

The goal is to prepare for a time when a sizeable number of people drive electric cars. Indianapolis and Portland, Ore., also are participating.

“It’s hard for people to really think about buying electric vehicles if they don’t have places to charge them,” said City Manager Russell Allen. “To me, that’s the underlying motivation, trying to make that infrastructure available and as convenient as possible.”

Gaylord said he wasn’t pushing for fines or penalties. He just wants to help the electric car movement succeed in Raleigh.

City Attorney Tom McCormick drew up language that says Raleigh may reserve parking spaces at or near charging stations. The designated spaces will be clearly marked.

Normal metered parking fees apply, but the electricity is free.

Electric vehicles charge at a rate of about 40 cents of electricity per hour. Most drivers will simply “top off” the charge on their electric vehicles, requiring use of a public charging station for two or three hours.

Parking attendants will hand out $50 tickets or summon tow trucks, depending on how long cars are left unattended.

Owners of electric cars can also face penalties. Vehicles parked in the designated spaces must be hooked up to the charging stations. Otherwise, owners could also get $50 tickets.