Village to Get Charging Stations
By Tom Embrey
Martin Sepko is charged up about having more electric car-charging stations in Moore County.
"It would definitely be a plus," said Sepko, a Carthage resident who was among the first in Moore County to own an electric car.
The Pinehurst Village Council has approved plans to work with Progress Energy Carolinas on installing two charging stations in the sand parking lot downtown.
The units will be installed for free. Pinehurst would only be responsible for the cost of electricity, which a Progress Energy spokesperson said would be about $100 a year per station. A similar station to be installed in Pinehurst costs approximately $2,200.
The stations only charge electric cars. They are incompatible with electric golf carts.
Customers can use the chargers by swiping their credit cards.
Sepko and his wife, Lora, bought their Chevy Volt in October. He said he thinks a local charging station would definitely be a small thing that could sway more people to choose this area as a destination, or as a stopping point on their trip.
"When they get those stations up and available, it would definitely be a plus," he said. "A lot of people from out of state like to drive their electric vehicle and they also like to know they can charge it up when they get there."
The stations are planned to be installed in September, according to a Progress Energy spokesperson.
The two stations will be in the downtown parking lot in a location that won't be affected by construction that could occur if proposed enhancements move forward.
The program is partly funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Currently, 24 electric charging stations have been installed in the Carolinas. The first two stations were installed in Cary in September 2011. Several have been installed in Raleigh. The closest two stations to Moore County are in Pittsboro on the campus of Central Carolina Community College.
Data collected from the stations will help the power company evaluate the charging needs outside of the home, said Progress Energy spokesperson Lauren Bradford.
It is also hoped that access to public charging stations will allow owners of electric cars to travel greater distances and also boost use of electric cars, she added.
Data collected and lessons learned from the stations will help the utility evaluate charging needs outside the home, impact on the grid and the costs and issues associated with installing public-access charging stations. These insights will help the utility better plan for the large-scale adoption of plug-in vehicles, Bradford said.
"We use a host of criteria to help determine which customers to whom we will propose the installation of charging stations," Bradford said. "In addition to aiming to spread out the charging stations geographically, we also base the decision partially on research we have done regarding residents' interest in plug-in electric vehicles.
"One of the areas we identified as having early interest in plug-in vehicles includes Pinehurst and nearby areas in Moore County."
At the end of the program, estimated to be approximately two years, the stations will become property of the village and it will be responsible for upkeep.
Larry Cox, chairman of the village of Pinehurst's Alternative Energy Committee, was an advocate for Pinehurst's involvement in the program. He said he jumped at the idea of locating the chargers in Pinehurst.
"They said they were considering Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen " Cox said. "I wanted us to be that community. Right away I'm thinking we're here, we have everything they want and the price is right."
Electric charger stations are now safer and more efficient than they've every been, Cox said. Many locations are searchable online and through mobile apps and GPS devices, Cox said.
One of the limiting factors for electric cars is their range. Most batteries can go about 40 miles before they need to be recharged. Charging the battery can take up to four hours.
Cox said he thinks that the new stations in Pinehurst will encourage visitors to come to Pinehurst because now they will have a place to charge up for their return trip.
"It's going to draw some people here," Cox said. "The neat thing is, when somebody has an electric vehicle and they want to take it any distance, you have to find charging stations. Now we will have that."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story