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story.lead_photo.caption Ameren Missouri hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday to unveil three new electric vehicle charging stations. They are located in the parking garage at the new Courtyard by Marriott in Jefferson City at Missouri Boulevard and U.S. Hwy. 50 (the site of the former St. Mary's Health Center). Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Ameren Missouri celebrated the grand opening of two fast-charging stations for electric vehicles Thursday inside the new Courtyard by Marriott parking garage in Jefferson City.

The fast-charging stations stand right by the entrance to the parking garage off of Bolivar Street, looking like sleeker versions of a traditional gas pump — except instead of filling a tank with fuel, they are charging a battery.

Ameren's two fast-charging stations join two level-two EV charging stations, which are not fast-charging, set up at adjacent parking spaces.

The chargers are operated either through mobile phone applications like Charge Point or contactless payments like Apple Pay. The chargers do not accept physical credit cards, but most EV drivers are aware of the payment options, said Ameren Missouri Business Development Manager Bryan Shannon.

If needed, drivers can call a number on the station to use a credit card.

The Charge Point application also lets drivers check on their charge status while away from the vehicles, Shannon said.

On average, the fast-charger charges 80 percent of the car's battery capacity in 30 minutes.

The Jefferson City Ameren stations are the latest in a statewide project called Charge Ahead, which has installed fast-charging stations in 11 cities this year, including Osage Beach, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau and Moberly.

Stations are set to open in Eureka, Ironton and Sikeston in 2021. Ameren plans to ultimately install 1,000 EV chargers at 350 locations across the state.

Prior to this opening, the only public EV chargers available in the city were located at two car dealerships. Drivers can also charge vehicles at their homes using supplied cords and a regular home outlet.

Chip Webb, central division director for Ameren Missouri, said the program is part of the company's goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, so our Charge Ahead program is designed to make it easier for Missouri residents and businesses to choose electric cars and trucks, contributing to a carbon neutral future," Webb said.

While widespread charging stations benefit drivers of electric cars, the program also provides incentives for businesses to install EV stations.

The program is open to all Missouri Ameren business customers, with incentives of $5,000 for installed level two ports and $20,000 for the fast-charging ports. Once stations are installed, they are owned and maintained by the business.

Michelle Braun, director of sales for the Courtyard, said the hotel is proud to be part of the partnership with Ameren.

"We're very excited to be a part of it," Braun said. "Being part of Jefferson City, that's what it's about — partnerships and our local communities."

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin also gave their praise to the project during Thursday's ribbon-cutting.

A grand opening ceremony for the Courtyard by Marriott hotel is set for Dec. 10.

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