Free access is part of pilot program that could be expanded.
How’s your cellphone charge holding up? Maybe you need to swing by Depot Park, Butler Plaza or the Helyx Bridge over SW 13th Street for a boost.
Solar-powered charging stations scattered across Gainesville are available for free use — day or night.
The city of Gainesville and Pure Energy Solar are partnering for a six-month pilot program to bring solar charging stations to at least 10 locations. They are up and running now.
“We’re very excited about it,” city spokesman Bob Woods said.
The stations allow residents to charge their phones, tablets and other mobile devices for free while on the go.
The nine “smart charger” stations are at Depot Park, City Hall, Fred Cone Park, Butler Plaza, Possum Creek Park, Westside Park, Helyx Bridge, the Rosa Parks RTS Downtown Station and the Dwight H. Hunter Northeast Pool. A 10th station, a charging bench, will be at the Sixth Street rail trail.
The stations are powered by solar energy with battery storage, allowing use at night or on a cloudy day.
The test run is funded by Pure Energy Solar, a Gainesville-based company, at no cost to taxpayers.
When the test is over, the city may buy some of the stations or extend the pilot program. The smaller charging stations cost $3,900 each and the larger benches are $10,000.
In September, more than 50,000 Gainesville utility customers lost power to their homes for several days, many unable to charge devices to contact friends and family. Woods said the stations would be helpful during such events.
“I think the idea was having those charging stations around the community to provide folks some options to charge up their devices … if power went out,” he said.
City officials and Pure Energy are looking for suggestions and comments about the stations during the trial run. For more information, visit www.solarchargingstation.net.