By Emily Wiest
Elm Staff Writer
Electric cars are on the rise, and Washington College is just one of the many colleges bracing itself for the incoming fleet.
The International Energy Agency predicts that the number of electric cars on the road will balloon from three million to 125 million in the next decade — that means there is a lot of prep work to be done to accommodate all those cars in public.
There are currently six electric vehicle charging (EV) stations on campus — four behind Bunting Hall, one in Parking Lot B, and another near Talbot House. Another three stations will be installed sometime in the near future, and will be located between Corsica Hall and the Schottland Tennis Center.
Greg Farley, director of sustainability on campus, said that the stations are a preemptive measure for the expected rise in EV’s. Farley said “although absolute need for EV charging is relatively small at present, the College anticipates that the need for charging will grow rapidly over the next few years.”
This concern is founded — the automobile industry is rapidly changing. Many major companies are shifting to electric and hybrid models. Some, like Volvo, are taking drastic measures and gearing up to sell only hybrid and electric models, and these changes are coming as early as next year. So, installing the charging stations now could be a drawing feature for future students and their parents, who very well might have electric cars, and for current students who might find themselves getting an electric car of their own.
However, the recent addition of EV stations around campus have been met with some scrutiny from the student body. Many want to know why, exactly, these stations are taking up the scarce parking space we have available when so few people seem to need them right now.
As it turns out, the ruckus surrounding these spaces might be misplaced. Farley said that the parking spaces with EV chargers are not reserved in any way — anyone can park in the spots whether their vehicle requires the charger or not.
“That way, we can balance the availability of chargers with the College’s need for parking,” Farley said, revealing an understanding of the lack of adequate parking by administration.
The presence of the EV charging stations isn’t taking away parking spots from the vast majority of students who don’t have electric cars, but there is something to be said about the strong reaction students had when assuming this was the case.
Six spots being repurposed across campus doesn’t seem like it would be much of an inconvenience, but perhaps the fact that students feel it is signals a serious need to reevaluate the parking situation.
It’s not news that there isn’t enough parking space on campus that are close enough to the majority of the academic buildings. The lack of space has created some tension between students. Commuters, for example, lack access to parking spaces that have been taken up by on-campus students.
Perhaps what’s needed is expanded parking space to accommodate both interests — enough space for the students who require it, and the necessary amenities to keep WC up to date with other institutions. Of course, with limited space for such planning, feasible ideas might require a bit more creativity.