Ironically enough, even as Washington approved funding electric vehicle charging stations around the country, it dragged its feet on having them installed in the nation's capital. That's going to change, and it has taken surprisingly hard work in Congress to get the stations approved.

Last Thursday, the president signed two measures – one that deals with constructing, operating, and maintaining stations in parking areas for use by privately owned vehicles at no net cost to the government; and separate legislation that allows charging stations on the U.S. Senate site. Users of the parking area charging stations will pay maintenance and building fees, so the cost to taxpayers is zero.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin, D-MI, has been fighting since October 2010 to have charging stations installed in Washington, and it's been a frustrating experience for him. Driving his Chevrolet Volt to work and not having a charging station at his Capitol Hill home, convinced him to push it through.

Last fall, Levin requested approval from the Architect of the Capitol, which oversees the grounds and buildings, to have public charging stations approved. He was told that would require legislation, which he then led through Congress. "The federal government is wisely encouraging Americans and auto manufacturers to embrace the next generation of auto technology. I think we should lead by example," Levin told the Detroit News.

The charging stations should see bipartisan use. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, owns an electric Nissan Leaf and represents a state where Leafs will soon be built.


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