North Carolina Co-ops Install Charging Stations to Boost ‘EV Tourism’
North Carolina’s 26 electricity co-ops are installing a network of electric vehicle charging stations in hopes of combatting range anxiety and drawing tourist traffic.
“The push by the co-operatives, which cover nearly half the state’s land mass, comes as North Carolina decides whether to spend $13.8 million on charging infrastructure from a settlement with Volkswagen for producing illegally-polluting vehicles,” Renewable Energy World reports.
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West Jefferson County is one of the first to install chargers “to lure electric vehicle drivers off the beaten path to remote and scenic areas they might have otherwise avoided,” writes freelance reporter Elizabeth Ouzts. “Tourists can plug in for free at one of two outlets that produce a full charge in three to four hours. Meanwhile, they can peruse nearby art galleries, visit the famous Ashe County Cheese Factory, or catch a movie in the town’s historic theatre.”
“We really worked with the towns to find optimal locations in a downtown area,” said Jon Jacob, marketing manager at Blue Ridge Energy, the local electricity co-op. “Shopping, restaurants, parks, movie theatres, were really important.”
From a state-wide perspective, “if each of these electric co-operatives had charging stations in their area, then we could get people moving across the state and boost our state’s tourism,” added Kristie Aldridge, Manager of Digital Communication for North Carolina’s Electric Co-operatives.
So far, REWorld notes, North Carolina has about 1,000 charging station outlets for 7,000 registered electric cars, short of the ideal ratio of one outlet per five vehicles. Most of the chargers are in major metropolitan areas, and 15% are built for Tesla EVs and incompatible with other cars.
But now, “the non-profit co-ops see advantages of charging infrastructure beyond tourism,” Ouzts writes. “Overnight charging can even out electricity demand. The money co-op members save on gas can go back into the local economy. And an increase in electric vehicles can decrease air pollution.”