Middle Georgia getting 100 free electric vehicle charging stations

Middle Georgia getting 100 free electric vehicle charging stations

hduncan@macon.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Middle Georgia is set to receive 100 free public recharging stations for plug-in electric vehicles through a grant from the Department of Energy.

Charise Stephens, executive director of the Middle Georgia Clean Air Coalition, said the stations will be installed for free, and the federal agency will pay for the electricity for three years as part of a pilot program in which the government gathers information about their usage.

The department had provided a grant to the city of Atlanta to install about 500 plug-in stations, but the city is installing fewer than 400, so Stephens petitioned to bring the leftover funds to Middle Georgia to create a broader transportation network for electric vehicles.

Each station costs $2,000 to $3,000. The coalition hopes to place them at high-traffic areas throughout the seven-county region (Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs) that are part of the government coalition. Stephens said the coalition is starting to approach partners, which could include the Macon Mall and colleges such as Mercer University, about serving as host sites.

Stephens said she thinks the stations will help the region draw alternative fuel and alternative energy companies because it will demonstrate that Middle Georgia is a leader in developing a diverse fuel network.

“My goal is to have a lot of the EV charging stations up and running by Earth Day” on April 22, she said.

The stations will recharge any vehicle that can plug into an electric outlet, which could include single-person vehicles such as T-3s and Segways and even electric wheelchairs.

Macon City Councilman Frank Tompkins says that’s good news. Last month, he authored a proposal for the city to install four public plug-in stations for recharging electric wheelchairs. That proposal has been referred to City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which has yet to consider it.

Tompkins said city employees helped pinpoint locations for four stations that would hook into existing infrastructure so the cost would be low, but he had hoped to expand those locations once Macon and Bibb County consolidate at the end of the year.

“We might be able to move even further with that grant to offset the costs of installing these at places that could really use them” Tompkins said. “This would be a tremendous boost to what we’re trying to do.”

The addition of the charging stations could have far-reaching implications, he said. It would help Macon and Bibb County’s two-year effort to improve the accessibility of the community to older residents after being named the country’s first “Age-Friendly Community” by the AARP and the World Health Organization in August.

And Tompkins said it could also enhance efforts to market the area, with the stations being added to local tourism maps and promoted among both older residents and those who use electric vehicles.

To contact writer S. Heather Duncan, call 744-4225.

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