The Rehoboth Beach commissioners, by a 5-2 vote, agreed to accept a grant and install two electric vehicle-charging stations next to the Henlopen Hotel.
Commissioner Stan Mills said the first thing the city must do is designate two spaces to be used for the stations at the island next to the Henlopen Hotel, known as Mariner’s Park. No date has been set to install the stations.
Commissioner Lorraine Zellers, who voted no on the measure along with Mayor Sam Cooper, said she liked the idea of the stations, but she questioned whether they should be located within the city. During the recent election cycle, she said, one of the biggest issues was reducing traffic congestion. She said stations in town could bring more traffic into Rehoboth. Zellers said the Park and Ride on Route 1 was a more ideal place for the stations.
Mills said he did not think increased traffic would be a problem, and even if it was, he’d rather have electric vehicles, which don't produce exhaust pollution, than gas-powered vehicles.
The stations are part of the state’s Charging Up Delaware campaign, sponsored by Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the University of Delaware. The goal of the statewide program is to put electric vehicle charging stations at highly traveled destinations such as Newark’s I-95 welcome center, University of Delaware, at the Delaware Memorial Bridge and in Dover and Bridgeville.
In exchange for Rehoboth installing two stations, the state will pay for one year of electricity and reimburse up the city to $1,000 for the installation. The city must keep the stations for at least one year. Mills said maintenance would be provided by the University of Delaware.
Rehoboth will not charge for use of the electricity, but the city could increase the parking fee at the two stations to offset any costs.
Commissioner Patrick Gossett said the stations come with little to no investment on the part of the city. Commissioner Bill Sargent said the stations help the city’s image as a forward-thinking place.
Cooper said he did not think electric vehicle stations were a good use of taxpayer money. He said if the demand is there, some private vendor should come in and establish charging stations.
Gossett said if the idea of charging stations catches on, the city does have the wiggle room to back out and let the commercial sector take over.