Charge at Eco-Discovery Center and Marathon airport

There are two new electric car charging stations in the Florida Keys. One at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West is already in service, the other at the airport in Marathon is almost complete.

The charging stations are part of Tesla Motors’ program to make travelling in an electric car more convenient. Owners can charge their plug-in electric vehicles while they tour the Eco-Discovery Center or attractions in the Middle Keys.

“This was the next logical step to ‘going green’ at the Eco-Discovery Center,” said Sean Morton, superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which runs the Eco-Discovery Center. “We’re thrilled to support car owners who have made a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.”

The center is particularly relevant for electric car owners, as one of the facility’s many environmental exhibits explains the link between fossil fuels, rising sea surface temperatures, and changing ocean chemistry.

Tesla provided the charger, and its installation was paid for by Florida Tesla Enthusiasts, a statewide car club for Tesla owners. The charger located in Key West is a “destination charger.” Currently, there are 26 destination charging stations in Florida, including the one at the Silver Palms Inn in Key West. A Tesla car with a depleted battery takes about four hours to recharge sufficiently for a 175-mile trip.

Mote Marine Laboratory, a non-profit ocean conservation organization that maintains the aquarium inside the center, will underwrite the charger’s operating costs through donations at the Living Reef Exhibit and through their “Protect Our Reefs” license plate program. 

Tesla Motors will underwrite the costs of the “supercharger” located at Marathon’s airport. The super charger can juice a car in just 30 minutes. Drivers are notified by cell phone messages when the charging is complete.

The club also paid Florida Keys Electric Cooperative to install the charger at the airport. It is the onlyå supercharger in the Florida Keys.

“It needs a huge transformer, equivalent equipment size to about two-thirds of a Publix supermarket,” said Keith Kropf, director of engineering at FKEC.

Kropf said the car charging stations have been in the works for about a year now.

The availability of charging stations for electric cars has been limited in the Keys compared to the rest of Florida, said Nigel Mould, vice president of Florida Tesla Enthusiasts and a Mote Marine Laboratory board member.

“It was always hard to be certain you could find a place to charge your car when you travelled all the way to the Keys,” said Mould, who drives a Tesla Roadster. “Folks from all over Florida contributed to this, and now it’s great to see it available for everyone to use.”


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