For the first time, Oklahoma is welcoming electric cars to the State Capitol complex with a new public charging station. Governor Mary Fallin unveiled it alongside ODOT and local business leaders Monday morning, helping the state move forward to go green.
In a state where big oil rules the roads, this is a big step towards acceptance of alternative fuels, and electric car enthusiasts hope the idea catches on.
Even Governor Fallin admits she has been eyeing a new type of vehicle.
“I went and looked at cars this weekend,” she says, “and it was incredible how many hybrid cars, electric cars that we already have on the marketplace, especially in 2019.”
At the ribbon cutting, she got her first ride in a Tesla with David Glover, one of just 2,000 electric car owners in the state. He believes there are so few drivers like him here because of outdated misconceptions.
“Most people have this belief that they need a full tank of gas to go 400 miles every day,” he says, “but they’re only going 30 or 40 miles a day, so almost everybody could change to an electric car and be fine.”
Glover says his Tesla will hold a charge for about 240 miles. This charging station will appear on maps for those who are passing through on longer journeys, though. State leaders hope it encourages the drivers to exit the highway and explore locally.
The station was made possible through donations from business owners at Spiers New Technologies, Pelco Industries and Patco Electric, who all want to see the industry grow. While Oklahoma has more natural gas fueling stations per capita than any other state, electric has yet to catch up.
Many of ODOT vehicles run on CNG now, but Executive Director Mike Patterson says, “There’s no large formalized plan yet, but as we begin to look at replacing our current fleet, we are going to look at electric.”
Glover adds, “I think the more that they show that it’s okay and they have places where you can do it, more people will feel comfortable.”
An Oklahoma bill to tax electric car owners failed last year by missing the deadline. Governor Fallin says she still hopes her replacement would consider supporting a similar measure in the future because it would allow for the installation of more charging stations statewide.