By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The city of Grayson held another special session on September 8, to hear more on the potential plans for an electric vehicle charging station and the grant application that could help pay for it.
Nathan Bowen, President of charging station provider DC-America, spoke and took questions for about an hour last Thursday, before moving the meeting outdoors to demonstrate how their “turn key” charging stations work and help reduce site preparation needs.
Bowen said that the model outside was a smaller and less powerful charging station than the option suggested for Grayson, but that it still gave an idea of how their products were put together and how the charging stations would work.
He also noted that the companies designs were specifically “designed to meet every requirement of the grant” that would pay for its installation. This included adhering to “Buy American” requirements by purchasing charging elements from other American manufacturers, and making sure access to the chargers would be ADA compliant.
He also noted that although the initial plan calls for only four charging stations, with three pull in stations and one rear facing station for use by buses or trucks hauling boats or other trailers, the platform can expand as EV adoption grows and demand increases.
Bowen also suggested, if the city chooses to move forward, to begin work on utility coordination and other planning before the grant is awarded.
“This is a significant consumer of electricity,” Bowen said, explaining because of that the city would want to work with the utility provider to make sure it was located in an area where it could draw the power it needed. He said the city might also consider beginning negotiations on rates, to mitigate peaks in pricing during “peak demand” periods.
He said mostly the city wanted to be sure to keep their utility providers “in the loop” and understand the costs associated with providing power to the stations.
Though the charges being considered are “fast chargers” he noted, they can still take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to fully charge a battery, depending on the battery size and the depletion level.
Location was important, he said, not only because of access to utilities but because people are “going to want to do something” during that time, he said.
For this reason, and because he expects that travelers utilizing the AA could want to use the chargers as much as travelers on I-64, he recommended a location on the north side of the interstate. But, he said, it could be located anywhere within one mile of the interstate and still meet the requirements for the grant. He said that Kentucky’s timeline for the grant cycle required the state to submit their plans to the federal government by August 1, but that they wouldn’t be approved by the federal government until the end of September, if they were approved. The federal government, he emphasized, still haven’t spent any money yet.
Despite that, he said, they had pre-purchased enough charging elements from their Tennessee supplier to build out 14 of the fast charge stations.
While there were some comments and questions from a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet representative at the meeting, including questions about the legality of writing a grant for the city to cover the costs and then selling and installing the stations, Bowen felt confident that his company was within the law. He also confirmed that, if they took money from the city for the project, they would have to maintain the stations for them for at least five years.
While local adoption might be slow to begin with, Bowen, said, these quick charge stations could cause electric vehicle users from as far away as Cincinnati to plan their trips through Grayson to take advantage of them.
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