This August Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe installed 14 Tesla Superchargers, becoming the first location on the South Shore to offer the expedited service for electric vehicles.
"We were engaged by Tesla directly at the end of last year for a supercharging station," said Alisa Mirabal, director of marketing for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe.
"It's a model that does not increase our electricity bill in any form," explained Mirabal. "It's through the partnership between Tesla and the power company."
After a couple of months of installation, the 14 charging stations went live in the casino's parking garage on Aug. 21. It takes just under an hour for guests of the Hard Rock to charge their Tesla vehicle to full capacity. Depending on the make and model, as well as factors like temperature, elevation change, speed and battery condition, an electric vehicle at full charge could go anywhere from around 100 to 350 miles.
In the region there are only a handful of public Tesla Superchargers. There is one in Reno with a second in the works, two in Truckee with another on the way, one in Topaz Lake and now one in Stateline. Last year a universal DC Fast Charger was installed in the Heavenly Village Park.
Regular charging stations, which can take several hours to overnight to charge a battery, are cropping up at hotels of all sizes — and even vacation home rentals — on the South Shore.
The 42-unit Coachman Hotel installed a Tesla charger and a universal charger last summer, and general manager Kathleen Bunnage said guests are pleasantly surprised when they find out about the charging system.
"It's something that was more of an anticipated need. I field probably one phone call a week from people who are asking if we have it," said Bunnage. "I see people plugged in at least two or three times a week."
A surge in destination charging stations is part of a bigger movement to prepare the Tahoe-Truckee Region for greener transportation.
In April 2015, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency received a grant from the California Energy Commission to create the Tahoe-Truckee Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan. Implementation of that plan is underway, according to Devin Middlebrook, TRPA's sustainable communities program coordinator.
A big part of that is streamlining the permitting process for homeowners, businesses, and hotels that want to install charging stations, said Middlebrook.
According to PlugShare, an app that helps electric vehicle drivers locate nearby charging stations, there are 19 public multi-plug charging hubs on the South Shore. A majority of these are Tesla charging stations.
"We do want to increase the supply of the universal chargers. Tesla is definitely dominant around here," noted Middlebrook.
EVgo, an electric vehicle-charging network, has plans to install two DC Fast Chargers at the Raley's Gas Station down by the Y soon, he said. Liberty Utilities is also working to add more public charging stations.
"Right now we are preparing to launch a marketing campaign that lets visitors know that they can drive their electric vehicles up from the Bay Area or Sacramento or Reno and there are places to charge them here," said Middlebrook. "We also want to educate our local population about electric vehicles and the rebates you can receive from the California or federal governments for buying one."
In some cases, you can get up to $7,500 back, he said.
"Electric vehicles are important for the health of our lake. You're not getting those emissions or the oil and gas leaks that end up in the water and degrade clarity," said Middlebrook. "It's definitely the future of transportation, and the Tahoe-Truckee Region is going to be ready for it."