Richland company wants to install charging stations for electric cars

A Richland technology company wants to power the growing number of electric vehicles in the Mid-Columbia.

Vista Engineering Technologies is working to put together a proposal to obtain Bonneville Power Administration grant money to pay for installing charging stations for electric cars in public places in the region.

BPA reserves some money each year for grants for pilot projects that could save electricity throughout the BPA system.

It costs $3,000 to $5,000 to install a charging station.

KC Kuykendall, Vista's sustainable solutions team manager, said he wants to work with the Tri-City Development Council on the proposal. The charging service itself could be paid for by businesses or a driver could use a bank card to pay.

In the future, the charging stations could communicate with the electrical grid to operate when power use is low or there is excess power from wind turbines.

There are several pieces of the puzzle that need to be figured out, like where stations would be put, but there are "serious discussions" going on, according to TRIDEC President Carl Adrian.

"Vista has been putting together a proposal ...," Adrian said. "If we do this, it needs to be done on a Tri-City basis."

Kuykendall said he is putting together meetings with interested organizations, including Tim Fredrickson of Ben Franklin Transit, Energy Northwest, Washington State University Tri-Cities and several area utilities to get their input.

Fredrickson said he would like to have electric van pool vehicles, but the transit system doesn't have the money.

"I've let them know this is one of the things we would like to be involved in -- but there's no money locally," he said.

Grant applications are due in March. BPA officials should decide on the proposal during the summer, according to Scott Simms, a BPA corporate strategist.