By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jan 04, 2011 at 4:03 PM

With gas prices on the rise and new policies and ideas on the table, it's time to look at how we get around. We all need to get someplace and we use many different modes of transportation to do so. As we kick off 2011 at, we're taking an in-depth look at how we get around with a special "Transportation Week," featuring all kinds of stories about how Milwaukee gets where it's going. So, buckle up, hop on and all aboard.

Right now, today, it's virtually impossible to own and drive an electric car in Milwaukee, unless you're one of the select few to own a pre-production, limited edition and super-expensive "EV" car.

But sooner or later, electric cars will be here. Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts, Teslas and EV Smart Cars will come to market, and as gas prices continue to creep up, they will be incredibly popular.

That's not a hypothesis. It's a fact, with a staggering number of pre-orders for cars that do not yet exist.

And when these cars start hitting the road, drivers will need places to charge them. Though EV car owners will mostly recharge their vehicles at home, because of limited range, they'll need occasional top-offs. The Chevy Volt has a small back-up gasoline engine, but fully electric cars, like the Leaf, do not.

Enter Electricharge Mobility, the Wisconsin dealer of Coulomb Technologies' ChargePoint networked stations. The company is now ramping up efforts to supply businesses and municipalities with on-site charging solutions for electric car owners. Dave Hansen, who says he's always been interested in alternative energies, has been building awareness and doing sales for the company for a year and a half.

Someday, Hansen hopes these type of chargers will be a commonplace as parking meters and gas stations. Currently, they sell "level two" chargers for about $6,000 that can charge a car in four to six hours, and "level three" chargers for about $43,000 that can recharge an EV to 80 percent in 30 minutes.

Hansen says he envisions these chargers initially being available in parking garages, at gas stations and at car dealers. The owners of the stations set prices, and using a key fob, a driver can unlock the unit to reveal an industry-standard 220 volt connector to plug in to their car. At first, Hansen says most charging stations will be close to complimentary, as a value added service to customers.

"It can be a 'per event' charge, it can be 'time of use,'" says Hansen. "Once it's activated, it will tell you the charging parameters. Initially, they're going to be pretty much free. It's going to be several years until there are enough electric vehicles on the road (for vendors to be profitable)."

Initially, Hansen says charging stations will be few and far between, but over time, Wisconsin will see more ChargePoints and offerings from its competition. Drivers can use a mobile Web application to find the nearest station, as well as the on-board equipment standard on cars like the Leaf.

It's a business that's slightly ahead of time, but Hansen hopes it's not for long.

"It just depends on what the market will bare," says Hansen, who is working closely with Milwaukee car dealers. "We should've had electrical vehicles all of our lives. Where would be right now if that was the case?"

Says Hansen, "As they vehicles make their way into society, the infrastructure is much, much cheaper than compressed natural gas or hydrogen.

"This," he says, pointing to a demo unit, "you're just plugging into the grid."

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.