Always the leader in innovative ideas, the town of Seaside is leading the way into the future again — this time by giving its nod of approval to electric cars.
Billed as a walkable town since its beginning, town founder Robert Davis has always advocated parking your car and walking, for health, well-being, community interaction, and the good of the planet.
As founder of Hands Across the Sand and advocate against offshore oil drilling, Seaside business owner Dave Rauschkolb is on the same page.
Now two years into being one of the area's first owners of an electric car and a vocal advocate for them, Rauschkolb approached Davis in May 2011 with a proposal of installing electric car charging stations in front of Bud & Alley's, which Rauschkolb owns.
Davis enthusiastically lent his support to the idea, said Rauschkolb.
He was so supportive that he agreed to split the cost of installation with Rauschkolb.
"Seaside has stood as such an innovative leader in ideas all over the world, why not in this arena too?" said Rauschkolb. "I felt Seaside should be the first place in the area to have a plug installed."
The plug was installed last month and is the first in the county to have one. The next closest ones Rauschkolb knows of are one in Panama City and one in Destin.
"It will be good for Seaside guests who are inclined to drive down; a charging station should be available. It's our future," said Rauschkolb. "And, there is no charge for a charge. It's free."
The two chargers, which are specifically for cars, cost $4,400 to install.
At this time, Rauschkolb said there are no plans to install more.
"This will encourage those who have electric cars to come out and charge for free," he said.
Of those living in this area, though, Rauschkolb said he is only aware of two others who own electric cars. He owns two, a Leaf and a Tesla. He is 13,000 miles into his Tesla and said it is a real thrill to not pump gas.
"This is my second year to own a total electric car. Neither use gas. I will never buy another gas-powered car. I am saving $3-$4,000 a year in gas and it only costs me $400 in electricity to drive the Tesla. That is six times cheaper than buying gas. It saves money and lessens our carbon footprint," he said.
Davis said he does not yet own an electric car, but will likely have one when charging stations are more common.
"He requested charging stations for Seaside, and it seemed like a good idea. Seaside has generally pioneered green approaches to building (passive solar) and to landscaping (native plants, minimal irrigation, mostly natural drainage)," said Davis.