The proposed installation of ten solar powered charging stations for electric cars at the Westport Train Station on Ferry Lane gained the approval of the town's Green Task Force Wednesday night.
The group's unanimous vote to support the proposal followed a presentation by two local architects and the town's senior building inspector on plans to install the charging stations as part of a project to restore the station's dilapidated eastbound building.
The building's roof is "screaming for solar panels," said John Rountree, whose architectural firm, Rountree Architects, specializes in energy efficient buildings.
Half of the eastbound building's peaked roof faces south. Eastbound trains are headed toward New Haven.
Each of the charging stations would serve two small electric cars, so 20 cars could be recharged at a time.
Rountree said the town has submitted an application through Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th Dist., to obtain $330,000 in federal funds to install the charging stations and 132 photovoltaic panels on the building's roof.
Rountree said the station's solar powered system would produce enough electricity to meet the yearly needs of five small homes.
Architect Fredrick Hoag, of Fredrick William Hoag Architects, described proposed improvements to the station building, including installing a display area to show models of electric cars. Portions of the building are currently leased to a catering firm and a taxi company.
Hoag noted the building's improvements did not have to occur at the same time as installing the charging stations, except for repairing the roof in preparation for installing the solar panels.
Steven Smith from the Building Dept. said the federal money could only be used to install the solar panels and charging stations, and not improvements to the building.
The federal government only wants to fund "eye candy projects," Smith said.
Smith noted the federal funds would be provided on an 80/20 basis, with the town having to fund approximately $65,000 of the project.
"The auto industry is going through a Renaissance" in developing electric cars said task force member Leo Cirino, an electrical engineer who is building an electric car in his garage.
Asked if current charging stations can recharge cars from different manufacturers, Cirino said electric car manufacturers are in the process of standardizing charging requirements.
Cirino said some electric car owners in California carry 150 to 200 pounds of adapters with them in order to use the various types of charging stations in the state.
Smith said the town will probably learn in September if it is going to receive federal funds for the project,