Plans for new Bonita Springs service station include place to charge electric car

RaceTrac Petroleum has its eye on adding a plug-in electric vehicle station on the southeast corner of the intersection of Bonita Beach and Race Track roads in Bonita Springs.

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— A gasoline giant wants to start fueling up Southwest Florida cars with a green fuel.

RaceTrac Petroleum is joining the nationwide trend of providing electric vehicle charging stations.

The Atlanta-based company has its eye on adding a plug-in electric vehicle station on the southeast corner of the intersection of Bonita Beach and Race Track roads in Bonita Springs.

Construction bids for the 7,000-square-foot gas station are slated to go out at the end of the year and construction could start as early as February 2012, said Drew Fitzgerald, president of Delisi Fitzgerald, a planning and engineering firm in Fort Myers.

Eventually, RaceTrac would have to receive approval from the city of Bonita Springs to add the electronic vehicle charging stations.

However, the company wants to wait until the technology catches up with that type of service, Fitzgerald said.

RaceTrac officials weren't available for comment.

In Orlando, Walgreens opened its first electric vehicle charging station in October.

The drugstore giant partnered with Car Charging Group, which owns and builds electric vehicle charging stations, and expects to add another eight stations by the end of October, according to a prepared statement.

"These charging stations in neighborhoods and along major commuter routes will offer quick accessibility for EV drivers who may be worried about where to charge up next," Walgreens market vice president Marlin Hutchens said in a statement. "These charging stations will continue to set us apart as a retailer as more people choose greener lifestyles."

Walgreens plans to open charging stations at about 800 of its drugstores nationwide by year's end. Cities where the drugstore chain will offer the stations include Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In addition, select locations in Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington also will receive charging stations.

Walgreens plans to open charging stations at about 800 of its drugstores nationwide by year's end. Cities where the drugstore chain will offer the stations include Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In addition, select locations in Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington also will receive charging stations.

Walgreens officials declined to disclose the cities in Florida.

"We will continue looking for opportunities," said Robert Elfinger, a Walgreens spokesman.

The city of Bonita Springs approved RaceTrac Petroleum's amended zoning ordinance in October for a new gas station. The amended ordinance added electronic charging stations and increased the maximum retail convenience store building area from 5,200 square feet to 7,000 square feet. The maximum building height increased from 25 feet to 35 feet.

Currently, the fuel company is working on a local development order application, said Jacqueline Genson, senior planner with Lee County Community Development.

Like several other major gas companies, Shell and ExxonMobil are no longer in the business of owning or operating retail stations in Florida.

However, Shell officials said the company continuously reviews its role in electric mobility.

Shell-branded station operators are primarily independent business people who will ultimately determine if they would like to provide customers with electric plug-in recharging options at their station, said Katie Floyd, a Shell Oil Products spokeswoman.

Floyd said good technical progress is being made, but there are several challenges to overcome before these technologies can reach large-scale commercialization — developing new vehicles, refueling infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

"There is no 'silver bullet' solution that will deliver sustainable mobility and at Shell we expect to see a more diverse range of fuel and vehicle options emerging," Floyd said. "All options will be needed and all will have a place in addressing the challenge of sustainable mobility in the longer term."

__ Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/

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