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Ameren project to allow electric vehicle drivers more access to charging stations

A Nissan Leaf getting charged up in a parking lot.
A 2016 Nissan Leaf at a charging station.

Motorists driving Nissan Leafs or Chevy Volts could travel farther on Interstate 70 next year.

Ameren Missouri filed a proposal to the Missouri Public Service Commission this week to build six "charging islands" on the highway. 

The company is trying to meet a need for power stations linked to a growing demand for electric vehicles, now that the technology has become more affordable. Additional stations would allow cars to travel longer distances, said Ameren official Mark Nealon, who is overseeing the project.

"We'd like to get out there and be on the leading edge to help remove some of the charging infrastructure barriers that still exist along those corridors," Nealon said. "It's one thing to have a vehicle that can drive a long distance. It's yet another that can actually make the trip because of the ability to charge along the way and hope to get back."

The electric Nissan Leaf, which costs just under $30,000, can last just over 100 miles on a single charge. The $35,000 Tesla Model 3 that will be released next year can double that range.

Each of Ameren's charging islands would four available plug-in stations. Two would be "fast chargers" for all-electric vehicles. The other two would be standard chargers for hybrid cars

The company is still weighing where to place the charging stations. But it's likely the first one will be built in Boonville, Mo, near Columbia, by the end of the year.

Ameren also is considering a location in Jefferson City off Route 54. If approved by regulators in the next couple months, Nealon aims to have all six stations in place by mid-2017. 

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.