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HCC’s electric vehicle charging station part of a growing network

North Carolina is in the process of “paving” the electric vehicle highway and Western North Carolina is well on its way to being an important spoke in that wheel.

Haywood Community College has the only electric vehicle charging station west of Asheville, but several are popping up in Asheville and around the region.

“HCC had an interest in this technology and wanted to get in on the ground floor. However, the cost kept us from doing it until a grant became available,” said Preston Jacobsen, HCC Sustainability Analyst and a member of the Asheville Area Electric Vehicle Committee that was formed to prepare the greater Asheville area for plug-in electric vehicles.

Advanced Energy Corporation helped secure the state energy office grant, with assistance in implementation from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council. The grant paid for 50 percent of the $6,000 cost of the station, installation and permit. HCC provided the matching money, along with some minor labor during installation of the unit.

While the college could have purchased the charging station a little cheaper from China or a company in California, Jacobsen said college officials thought it was important to buy local. The unit was manufactured by the Eaton Corporation in Arden and was installed by Security Inc. of Asheville.

HCC opened its charging station to the public in January. It is located in the upper level parking lot of the student services building and is available for use for free until a method is determined for charging for the electricity used. However, the college has not noticed any significant change in utility costs since opening the center, Jacobsen said.

The station is a Level 2 charger, which means the unit can fully recharge an electric vehicle is six to seven hours.

Haywood Community College was a good location for a charging station not only because of its students and faculty but also because of its proximity to Interstate 40 and U.S. 74, Jacobsen explained. Motorists can use HCC as one of their stops to recharge their electric vehicles, he said.

“Electric vehicles are cleaner and much cheaper than gasoline vehicles,” said Bill Eaker, Land-of-Sky Regional Council’s Environmental Services Manager. “They can help reduce the use of petroleum and improve our air quality.”

There are currently about 60 electric vehicle owners in the Asheville metropolitan area, which includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania counties, according to Brian Taylor, chairman of the Asheville Area Electric Vehicle Committee. He estimates there are 600 in the state.

That number is expected to soar to more than 10,000 people in the state within the next eight years, Taylor said.

Building the network

of charging stations

The town of Waynesville hopes to eventually house two charging stations at the public parking deck in its downtown district.

Town officials had hoped to receive part of a grant from the state energy office that provided for 25 electric vehicle charging stations in the Asheville area.

“We were looking ahead at providing charging stations for electric vehicles in our town fleet and at helping the local economy by offering this service to visitors in our area,” said Waynesville’s Assistant Town Manager Alison Melnikova.

The grant was more involved than the town anticipated, so plans are now on hold.

“The idea is not dead, but we have no immediate plans to install the charging stations,” Melnikova said.

Western Carolina University also is exploring the possibility of installing a charging station on campus but doesn’t have a target date yet, according to Lauren Bishop, energy manager at WCU.


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