Car-charging stations unveiled
October 26, 2011
BY ROBERT BEHRE
In just a few seconds, the thick, black power cord was lifted from its new station mounted inside a Charleston parking garage and its tip was plugged into Jim Poch's new Chevy Volt.
Poch, executive director of the nonprofit Plug In Carolina, said the new charging station, one of eight being installed at three city garages downtown, should tempt more people to choose electric or hybrid cars.
He unveiled the new station Tuesday with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
Charleston is new to this game; Greenville already has 16 such plug-in stations, and Poch said his nonprofit also has installed 14 and 10 more in Spartanburg and Columbia, respectively.
South Carolina currently has 67, but he hopes that number will rise to 100 by year's end, Poch added.
Four charging stations are being installed in the city's garage behind 75 Calhoun St., and two more each will be put inside the Visitor Center parking garage and the Queen Street parking garage.
Poch said those sites were chosen because they were inexpensive and are a center of activity.
Most electric-car owners charge their vehicles at home overnight, Poch said, so these new stations are designed mostly to increase awareness.
Poch said his Volt will run for about 40 miles on a fully charged battery before it begins burning gas to power a generator that recharges the battery.
He noted that fuel for these cars costs an average of 3 cents per mile, compared with about 12 cents for gasoline-powered vehicles.
Each charging station cost about $5,000 to install, but Plug In Carolina teamed with the S.C. Electric & Gas Co. and the S.C. Energy Office to secure a federal grant that covered that cost.
City taxpayers will foot the electric bill for the new stations, at least in the short term. That cost is expected to add up to $100 to $200 annually per station, or $800 to $1,600 total.
"The reason we're doing it free for now is that it costs more to collect," Poch said. "You don't want to spend $2 to collect 50 cents."
The plug-in stations can be retrofitted to accept credit cards or other payment methods in the future.
The city's eight stations currently are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are no rules or etiquette about how long a car may remain parked in front of one.
"We're making the rules up as we go," Poch said. "When we have those problems, we're going to be thrilled."
The city also will be using the stations to fuel some cars in its own fleet, Riley said. "In time, there will be no garage without a plug-in facility," he added.
(taken from The Post and Courier website )