NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Northwest Arkansas Council hosted a panel Thursday to educate local leaders and shareholders on electric vehicles. Besides a reduced cost for driving, electric vehicles are more energy efficient.

Around 3,000 electric vehicles are registered in the state— a 300% increase from 2019. According to Vice President of Operations at CEI, Brent Massey, the expansion of electric vehicles is just getting started. There are more than 100 public charging stations in Northwest Arkansas.

“We’ve really got the opportunity to hit the ground running,” said Massey

The city of Fayetteville is looking to put more electric vehicle charging stations in its public areas. When looking into placement, the city observes which areas are most secure, how accessible the area is, and how close the location is to popular shopping areas.

“We really want to have charging stations downtown and in our city parks,” said Environmental Director for the City of Fayetteville, Peter Nierengarten.

If you’re planning on buying an electric vehicle you may need to think ahead. Electric vehicles require outlets that can handle a level one or two charger. Nierengarten said an electrician will need to install a 240 Volt outlet.

“If you’ve got a garage, you’ll want to look into talking with an electrician into what it would take to put a level one or two charger in your garage and also what the cost would be,” said Nierengarten.

Nierengarten said it’s best to install the outlet during construction of the home. It will be a lot cheaper in the long run.

Siloam Springs was one of the first cities to advocate for level two charging stations. The city is currently offering a $200 rebate for builders who put a 240 volt outlet in the garages of new homes.

“With the idea that the house is going to be there for 50,70 years, and if EV vehicles are the future— it’s easier to go ahead and buy a level 2 charger,” said Siloam City Administrator, Phillip Patterson.

According to Patterson, widespread use of electric vehicles is going to come down to where these charging stations are located and how many there are.

“If I have to drive to Little Rock and I have to charge every three hours, I’m going to have to charge before I drive back home. So, where is the public charging station?” said Patterson.

One of the issues electric vehicles face is stress they would place on the electric grid if an abundance of people were using them. The panel mentioned this could be solved with charging during non-peak hours— from 10 pm to 4 am.

Despite some drawbacks to EV’s, Tesla owner, Gary Berger, believes it’s worth it.

“Some people do it for environmental reasons. Some people do it for gas money. It costs about a third what it does for a gas car to run,” said Berger. “They’re just fun to drive because they’re powerful and quiet and smooth. They handle terrific, and they’re safe.”

Massey said the next big step in Northwest Arkansas is incorporating electric vehicles into city fleets. It can take a lot of time and money. Another goal will be working to further expand access to level two charging stations.