Trickle of interest in charging stations - FOX 13 News

Trickle of interest in charging stations

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

While parking your car, you've seen the yellow zones. And we know blue means handicapped. But it's green that confuses some drivers.

"[Those are] new to me, seeing them," said one driver outside AAA in Tampa.

The green zones outside AAA are electric charging stations. Four prime parking spots -- one occupied by a Volt, charging up for free.

"It's a good thing to make it available to the customers," driver Mairita Argo observed.

But how many customers?

"It really kind of fluctuated before February and remained kind of low. I mean, we'd see a car here or there," said AAA spokesperson Jessica Brady.

Then came an uptick that's stayed relatively consistent at the Tampa location, along with Palm Harbor and Winter Haven.

"With a huge spike in July and August which we contribute to the peak driving season and also the RNC coming to town," Brady continued.

Before the RNC, AAA received several calls from tourists asking where they could charge. However, local interest is more difficult to judge.

There are spots at Publix Greenwise in South Tampa, the company's first charger in the state. During the evening rush, we found the spot empty.

At a handful of locations around Tampa Bay, the company reports steady activity.

In St. Pete, the city agreed to take on maintenance costs for its chargers. Federal grants paid the rest, yet 10 stations downtown receive modest to little use, according to the city.

To some that translates to unused chargers paid for by the government, taking up parking spots for no good reason.

But there's another type of attention from the green.

"Really not too many complaints, more questions from consumers asking what are these, what are they for and how do they use them," Bady added.

That's what seeing one car charging did to Carvel Gipson.

"If it ever got to the place where you could charge as easily as you can get gas it would make a difference," he said.

That's the logic behind the grants -- build the infrastructure and people will buy the electric cars.

But what happens if you run out of a charge on the road? AAA has a plan for that: They'll be rolling out mobile charging units soon, to offer roadside assistance if you find yourself stranded.

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