Williamsburg Economic Development Authority begins talks with Tesla

rarriaza@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors has begun talks with Tesla to install electric car charging stations at key locations throughout the city.

“We could pair a really old city with really new technology,” said Rick Overy, vice chairman of the EDA Board of Directors.

Board members emphasized the success of the Tesla charging station program that is already in place in Norfolk, where 58 chargers have been installed as part of a plan to install 100 “destination chargers” in the metro area. The high-tech luxury car manufacturer would pay for a portion of the installation costs, and while their proprietary chargers would only be compatible with Teslas, the company would also pay for the installation of universal chargers for use with all other electric car models.

The board is optimistic the deal would be mutually beneficial for the auto giant and the city of Williamsburg.

“Their idea is that if they can make this investment, it serves to promote their brand,” said Adam Steely, chairman of the EDA Board of Directors. “From the locality’s point of view, every time you get in your car it will tell you where in Williamsburg you can stop to charge your car. That’s just saying, ‘pull off the highway here’, so I think that’s a home run.”

Tesla, for its part, emphasizes the importance of placing the chargers on public land for public use. The EDA is optimistic the deal would attract out-of-towners to spend time in Williamsburg’s many shops and restaurants while waiting for their cars to charge. Officials have already submitted possible station locations in new and high-traffic commercial areas such as Midtown Row, Capital Landing Road, High Street and Quarterpath.

“The broad idea here is that, once Tesla has provided these chargers to us, we will be on the Tesla charging map that is in each car,” said Yuri Matsumoto, City of Williamsburg economic development specialist. “If someone is planning a trip from D.C. to Virginia Beach, as I understand it, they can’t make that trip right now. Williamsburg would now be a place that they can stop and charge their cars for a couple of hours.”

Discussing the cost of placing charging stations in parking decks, the council estimated electricity use would run the city 30 cents an hour per car.

“I don’t think it’s going to move the needle by itself, it’s just one of those things that can enhance what we’re already doing,” Steely said.

The board of directors is expected to meet with Peter Ambiel, Tesla’s project manager for charging infrastructure for the area, next month.

Arriaza can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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