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Birmingham airport adds free electric-vehicle charging stations

Visitors to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport who drive electric vehicles now have a place to charge up their rides.

Officials with the airport and the Birmingham Airport Authority this week unveiled nine electric-vehicle charging stations, newly installed in the airport’s parking deck. Three chargers are on Level 3, in the hourly parking area. Six are on Level 6, in daily parking.

There is no cost to charge electric vehicles, although customers pay for parking.

“We want to incentivize our customers,” Miguel Southwell, interim president and CEO of the airport authority, said during a brief media event to show off the chargers.

“Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport has been a leader in sustainability,” said Michael H. Bell, airport authority board chairman, noting that the airport has received a LEED gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The electric-vehicle chargers for airport visitors are the latest environmentally friendly feature at the airport, which already boasts an all-electric, high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, sophisticated building automation systems, energy-efficient lighting, solar water heating and a rainwater harvesting system. The airport also has charging stations for electric-powered ground-service equipment.

Electric vehicles produce no emissions, versus gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles.

Alabama Power worked with the airport to install the electric-vehicle chargers for airport customers, as well as those used to support ground-service vehicles.

“We are privileged to partner with Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and the Birmingham Airport Authority on this project,” said Cedric Daniels, Alabama Power’s Electric Transportation manager. Daniels said that in addition to the environmental benefits, electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel than traditional combustion-engine vehicles and require less maintenance.

He said the installation at the airport “shows the world that we are ready” for the continued growth of electric transportation.

So agreed Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, who attended the airport event. He noted that all major carmakers are producing all-electric or gas-electric hybrid vehicles, with electric vehicles expected to take an increasing share of the global market in coming years.

At the event, local plug-in electric vehicle owners brought several models to plug in at the airport for the first time, including cars and SUVs from Chevrolet, Honda, Cadillac and Tesla, as well as an Alabama-produced Mercedes-Benz.

Auto manufacturers “have decided that electric vehicles are the future,” Bentley said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Check out a video of the electric charger unveiling on the airport’s Facebook page.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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