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Tullahoma News – Motlow, George Dickel, Manchester, Bonnaroo, Coffee County, Winchester, Monteagle, Tims Ford, Beechcraft, Lynchburg, Exchange, A.E.D.C.

Tullahoma will soon have its first public electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

During the October Tullahoma Utilities Board meeting, directors voted to purchase a 2014 Chevrolet Volt and two charging stations from low bidder Russell Barnett Chevrolet for a total $35,706.

According to general manager Brian Skelton, one of the two chargers will be installed behind the TUB fence for the new Volt, but the second charger will be placed in the TUB parking lot to be used by the general public.

“I’m glad to see us put a public charger out,” said director Duane Thorpe. “I’ve advocated it for two years and finally we’re going to do it. And it will be the first in the city.”

“It will be the first installation, not the first contract,” said community coordinator Winston Brooks. The city has long had plans to place a couple of chargers at C.D. Stamps Community Center. Those plans have been delayed, according to city administrator Jody Baltz, “but if we’ve been turned down, we haven’t heard it.”

The delay is likely due to the bankruptcy of the Arizona-based company ECOtality North America Inc., with which the Board of Mayor and Aldermen made an agreement in January. CarCharging Group Inc. (CCGI) acquired ECOtality assets in October.

More http://www.tullahomanews.com/?p=19744

City to get first public electric vehicle charger; TUB buying 2013 Volt, two stations

STAFF WRITER

kelly lapczynski

Tullahoma will soon have its first public electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

During the October Tullahoma Utilities Board meeting, directors voted to purchase a 2014 Chevrolet Volt and two charging stations from low bidder Russell Barnett Chevrolet for a total $35,706.

According to general manager Brian Skelton, one of the two chargers will be installed behind the TUB fence for the new Volt, but the second charger will be placed in the TUB parking lot to be used by the general public.

“I’m glad to see us put a public charger out,” said director Duane Thorpe. “I’ve advocated it for two years and finally we’re going to do it. And it will be the first in the city.”

“It will be the first installation, not the first contract,” said community coordinator Winston Brooks. The city has long had plans to place a couple of chargers at C.D. Stamps Community Center. Those plans have been delayed, according to city administrator Jody Baltz, “but if we’ve been turned down, we haven’t heard it.”

The delay is likely due to the bankruptcy of the Arizona-based company ECOtality North America Inc., with which the Board of Mayor and Aldermen made an agreement in January. CarCharging Group Inc. (CCGI) acquired ECOtality assets in October.

The only active charging facility in the immediate area is an ECOtality-installed BLINK station at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Manchester.

“I’d heard of some issues when I first got here,” said Tyler Powell, Cracker Barrel Manchester’s new manager who took the position six months ago. “But I haven’t heard of an issue recently. In fact, I’ve been hearing good things on how it’s working lately,”

Regarding the status of the city contract, Suzanne Tamargo, CarCharging Director of Marketing and Public Relations said “We are currently in the process of evaluating all Blink contracts; however, we do intend to maintain the relationships with all of Blink’s current and pending hosts.”

Tullahoma Utilities Board, on the other hand, is pleased to be moving ahead with its own installation, which, according to Skelton, will provide free charges to EV customers.

“We’re putting this in for someone who drives to Tullahoma and needs a charging option,” said Skelton.

While the city’s planned EV charging stations at Stamps would give charger customers an opportunity to use the community center’s facilities during their charge, Skelton says TUB does not expect anyone to wait in its lobby.

“Our anticipation is that they would leave their car here and go elsewhere to take care of their business unless they were meeting with TUB personnel,” said Skelton. However, he says, if customers do opt to wait in the lobby, “They will be exposed to the highest quality HD television in Tullahoma.”

Though TUB will certainly need a charger for the Volt it is adding to its fleet, the need for a public charger is not yet clear.

Despite the gas-saving advantages of electric vehicles, “We’ve sold probably 12 since they came out” said Stan McNabb Chevy-Olds-GMC-Cadillac’s Greg Waller, who wrote the only competing bid for TUB’s Chevy Volt purchase. According to Waller, those dozen vehicles were sold through dealerships in Winchester, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and Manchester. “And some of those have gone out of the area.”

A sales representative for an area Nissan dealer says they don’t even carry the company’s Leaf in their inventory. “We’re too far out. We have a lot of commuters. There’s just not interest in this area.” Similarly, according Al White Motors’ response to the TUB call for bids, neither is the Manchester Ford dealership an energy dealer at this time.

The Volt

For rural areas and bedroom communities, the problem with all-electric battery powered EV’s like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus is that they cost more than their gasoline equivalents, have a shorter range, and are unavailable for use as they recharge. Both rely entirely on their battery packs for an electric range averaging around 80 miles. Unlike the Leaf or Focus, the Chevy Volt is a plug-in electric hybrid that offers an EPA-rated all-electric range of 38 miles before it fires up a four-cylinder gas engine to recharge the vehicle’s depleted battery and keep the vehicle running for another 300 miles or so.

High Gear Media reviewer John Voelcker writes that “for the 78 percent of U.S. drivers who never exceed 40 miles a day, a Volt that’s recharged nightly could effectively run forever as an electric car, never switching on its gasoline engine.”

“We did look at other options and we felt like the Volt offered the best opportunity because it not only can run electric for 35-plus miles but there is a motor that charges the battery so it’s not limited to just 50 or 100 miles, you could drive across country if you chose to,” said Skelton.

“We think we’ll utilize it locally on the electric and then when we have employees that travel to meetings, it’ll have the flexibility to run off gas if it needs to.”

The Vote:

TUB voted 4 to 1 in favor of the purchase of the Volt and two chargers. The dissenting vote from director Bob Lindeman was based on the board’s decision to purchase from low-bidder Russell Barnett Chevy in Winchester.

“The only concern I have is a minor concern,” said Lindeman, “but I really prefer to do business in Tullahoma.”

A competing bid submitted by Stan McNabb Chevy-Olds-GMC-Cadillac of Tullahoma was only marginally higher.

“I realize it’s a little bit more, two percent more, but that’s a pretty small amount of money to do business locally and I would prefer to do business locally,” said Lindeman.

“We used to have a standing policy on the city board that if (the difference) was less than five percent, it made more sense to do business in Tullahoma,” said vice chairman Steve Cope. “I agree with you. I like to shop Tullahoma first if I can.”

“Although its Chevrolet agency is not here, Russell Barnett does have two local agencies,” said director Thorpe.

Both McNabb and Barnett are Tullahoma residents and both have Tullahoma businesses, so chairman Andy Nelius said it was a close call. Skelton agreed.

“I think because it’s Barnett and they have two other dealerships, they could have probably written this up through their local Ford or Kia dealership. If it had been a Murfreesboro or Nashville business, I would have recommended we buy local. I realize it’s sort of a gray area, but I stand by my recommendation,” said Skelton.

“Years ago, I was talking to the comptroller of the state of Tennessee and it was his position that you buy from the lowest bidder unless there is a legitimate reason to reject the bid,” said administrative manager Dwight Miller. “It always went to the low bidder. If you’re going to do something that deviates from that, it needs to be known up front before the bids are submitted that a local vendor is going to have a preference.”

“These are citizen’s dollars we’re spending,” said director Mike Stanton. “It’s a moot topic who’s more deserving. It’s irrelevant. The bottom line is the amount of dollars we’re spending.”

“They both throw a lot of money back into the community; it just comes down to price,” agreed Cope.

The board voted to purchase the Volt and chargers from the low-bidding Winchester dealership for $35,706.

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

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