Published July 28. 2014 3:20PM Updated July 29. 2014 6:59PM
Norwich — Illiano’s Restaurant could launch a new advertising campaign: Bring your electric car to the restaurant at 257 W. Town St. and charge up your car for free while you enjoy a pizza or pasta dinner.
Illiano’s owner Vincenzo Race hosted a press conference Monday to demonstrate the new charging station in his restaurant’s parking lot.
A maroon red 2015 Nissan Leaf pulled silently into space marked “No Parking Except for Electric Vehicles.” Race turned on the power at the tall metal pillar at the parking space, pulled down the thick retractable cord and plugged it into the outlet in the front of the four-door hatchback.
The vehicle, driven to the restaurant by Ted Daniska, sales consultant for the dealership, has a list price of $32,000. Daniska said the dealership just received the vehicle and has had interest from potential customers. A buyer would qualify for a $7,500 federal income tax credit.
Race took advantage of a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant program that offered $2,000 rebates to companies that installed a public car charging station at their facilities.
Race estimated the charging station cost $3,500 to $4,000. He said the restaurant would pay the estimated $3 per hour it would cost to fully charge a vehicle, which would take about 30 to 45 minutes — enough time to come inside and eat dinner at the Italian restaurant.
Daniska said a fully charged new electric car can travel about 100 miles at a cost of about 5 cents per mile. By comparison, gasoline costs about 15 cents per mile, depending on the vehicle, he said.
The restaurant is just off the Route 2 Yantic exit in Norwich, a short distance from Exit 82 from Interstate 395, adjacent to the main entrance of the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park.
When he remodels the parking lot in the future, Race plans to install additional units, and hopes to use one of the spaces himself.
“I want to buy a small, two-person electric car,” he said. “They’re very nice.”
The installation of the electric car charger at Illiano’s is the latest partnership in the greater Norwich Clean Cities initiative, which is administered through Norwich Public Utilities. Norwich is one of four cities in the state and approximately 100 in the country participating in the program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, that is designed to encourage the use of alternative fuel vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support their use.
Race said he had expressed interest in participating in the program and had inquired about incentive programs. When one became available, NPU officials contacted him and he said, “Of course, I’m in.”