When Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich talks about his city’s nascent effort to incorporate electric cars into its fleet one point stands out.
“You save a lot of money from that standpoint because it’s cheaper to buy electricity than it is to buy gasoline,” Hellmich said.
There are about 10 charging stations in South Baldwin County and the eastern shore with more planned for Fairhope in a downtown parking lot and parking deck.
“I think we’re on the very edge down here in Baldwin County of getting in this business and all of the cities are looking at it,” Hellmich said. “There are various grants out there that the state is offering through ADECA for charging stations. They’ve really concentrated on the I-20 corridor across central Alabama and their plans are to expand it to the I-65 corridor to help some of the stations install these things.”
In Orange Beach, there are three stations, two at hotels and one at a restaurant. Gulf Shores has one.
Also in Orange Beach, Kaiser Realty is building the city first car-charging neighborhood in Ocean’s Edge, a 14-home subdivision on the beach east of the Opal condominium. Erin Kaiser paid to have them installed and vacationers can opt to use the chargers for a nightly fee.
“Basically, the homeowners have it as part of their rental program so they’re getting money back from the guests,” Kaiser said. “They will charge about $30 a night, $10 to the software maker, $10 to the homeowner and $10 to the electric company. They can pay for it, plug it in, use the app and charge it up.”
Foley is the only city in the southern part of the county with an electric car in its fleet with plans to buy four electric Ford pickup trucks. Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Daphne, Spanish Fort and Fairhope have do not plans to buy electric vehicles but Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune said his city is looking for grant money to help start a program.
Environmental & Nature Parks Director for Foley Leslie Gahagan recently took the city’s Tesla on a shakedown cruise to a meeting in North Alabama.
“Leslie traveled to Huntsville to a conference,” Hellmich said. “You go online and look at where the stations are and she stopped in Evergreen and Birmingham and basically topped off the electricity and had no problem. About a five- or seven-minute stop similar to a stop at a gas station which I think a couple of them were.”
Charging stations are in place in Gulf Shores, Foley, Daphne and Malbis and Fairhope plans to start building stations there in the coming days. They are installed by Riviera but managed by a third party. Customers swipe a card to pay for their electricity.
Car charging stations in Baldwin County:
- Orange Beach: Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Hilton Inn, Phoenix VI and The Gulf
- Gulf Shores: LuLu’s at Homeport Marina and The Beach Club
- Foley: Three including the city’s solar park and Benson’s Appliance Store, all on or near State Route 59.
- Point Clear: Grand Hotel
- Daphne: One on Belrose Avenue that can service two cars and two behind Manci’s that can service four cars
- Malbis: Two at car dealerships
- Fairhope: Five are planned with three in the parking lot near city hall and two in the parking garage
- Spanish Fort: The city has applied for a grant to build charging stations