The stream of cars leaving St. Augustine Preparatory School in Buena Vista Township Friday all run on gas.
But seniors Velton Koons and Jared Walters, both of Vineland, hope the addition of two electric-car charging stations at the school will inspire more families to consider alternative energy.
“We believe this communicates a message,” Walters said at the formal unveiling of the two U-Go Stations Friday at the school. “Stewardship of the earth is a priority.”
The students worked to get the stations as their Caritas project, which challenges seniors to do something that makes a difference in their community. Koons said they got the idea after reading about a U-Go station installed in Avalon in 2011. The two researched what they would have to do to get them at the school, then solicited donations to pay for them.
Michael D’Ottavio, of D’Ottavio Produce in Vineland, and Robert McCormick, of GM Toyota of Vineland, each donated $5,000 for the stations. Electrical contractor Frank Palmieri installed them.
D’Ottavio said his son attends the Prep and he was happy to support the project. While he does not drive an electric car now, he said he might consider one in the future.
David Soens, managing partner of U-Go Stations in Philadelphia, said there is a high school near Dallas, Texas, with a charging station, but he knows of no other school with one. He said the company is looking to install them in areas such as malls and restaurants, so people can charge their cars while they shop or eat. A typical electric car takes about three hours for a full charge, but fast-charge technology is getting that down to as little as 20 minutes.
The Prep stations are accessed with an access code and smart card, but could be set up to take credit cards. Students or their families can get the card from the school, and would pay for any charging time used. The school owns the stations, which have a life expectancy of 10 years.
Prep President the Rev. Donald F. Reilly said Caritas is “a love of the universe God gave us,” and that the project is an effort to protect and care for the world. He noted that the new pope took the name Francis and that St. Francis saw God in nature.
Koons said with gas getting more expensive, they expect electric cars to become more cost-effective in the future.
“We might be able to inspire people to buy electric cars,” he said.
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