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Grayson considers electric car charging stations

By: Brooke Cordle
Carter County Times

During Grayson’s city council meeting last Wednesday, council member Willis Johnson led a proposal to collaborate with the EVC (electric vehicle charger) provider DC-America, a company based out of West Virginia. Johnson led the discussion by detailing a number of benefits outlined in his discussion with a representative for DC-America. 

According to Johnson, the federal government aims to have an electric charging station every 50 miles on federal highways. Grayson is conveniently at that 50 mile mark, making it an optimal destination to pull in traffic from tourists in electric cars. He went on to say that charging an electric car might take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, allowing car owners enough time to use the restrooms and purchase refreshments – stating that anyone who fills their conventional vehicle with gasoline would take a similar amount of time at the gas station anyway. As far as time effectiveness, the two are equivalent. 

In order to be recognized as a valid charging station recognized by the federal government, the EVC must be within one mile of the interstate. Johnson noted that this would put the station within range of Grayson’s restaurants and amenities. However, some citizen participants of the council meeting countered that the EVC should be placed within a fair distance of locally owned Main Street businesses to generate more revenue there. Location is yet to be determined. 

Regardless of where the EVC is located, it is estimated to generate $179,000 in annual earnings for the city of Grayson. Moreover, should the need for more EVCs be required, it’s possible to expand the number of charging stations provided. Additionally, those who want to prioritize environmental friendliness would find that EVs produce half the carbon emissions a conventional vehicle fueled by gasoline does. Notably, their eco-footprint – from mining materials, to factory production, to the car’s lifespan – are a fraction of a conventional vehicle’s. Johnson also mentioned that solar panels were an option to power the charging station.

While both council members and citizens who attended the meeting had an overwhelmingly positive reception to the idea, some even noting that “this is the future,” EVs have not been historically well-received. Most remarkably, and still with a touch of truth, those who argue against EVs state that they are cost inefficient and a humanitarian setback. When debating cost, lithium, the largest component in making EV batteries, is primarily an issue of supply and demand. Mining lithium creates open mines, but not necessarily destructive ones, and most mining is done in Australia under environmental regulations, according to information compiled by science writer Brian Dunning, at Skeptoid.com. 

While it’s true that most EVs can cost about $10k more than a conventional vehicle, that only accounts for the purchase price. In fact, according to Dunning, most EVs cost less to own due to less need for regular maintenance, and cheaper prices at charging stations. On average, owners of an EV will pay half the price conventional car owners do for service and maintenance. Also, electric charge stations will cost only 3.1 cents per mile compared to the 6.1 cents per mile for gasoline, making electric cars anywhere from $6-$10 thousand cheaper depending on the model. 

Cobalt, a smaller component in making EV batteries, has a detrimental humanitarian impact. Nearly three quarters of the world’s cobalt mining comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and for most of history, mining has been done via manual labor with terrible pay – referred to as “artisanal mining”, with many of the workers being children. Over the last decade, however, standards and conditions for cobalt mining have significantly improved, with more than half of the Congo’s mines being owned by wealth-financed Chinese companies that utilize mechanized open pit mines with heavy equipment and no child labor. Still, nearly 20 percent of all the world’s cobalt mines are operated as “artisanal mines” with some employing children for as little as two dollars a day.

However, most purchasers of cobalt will not accept the product if children were employed, and supply chain auditing companies have investigators throughout the Congo reporting instances of child labor. RCS Global, an auditing company, found only three mines employing children in 2018, and since have reportedly found none.

Johnson stated that for a one-time payment of $14,110 for the preparation of the grant paperwork, the city of Grayson would be eligible for a $1million grant to go towards the project. As of Wednesday, the council has yet to vote on working with DC-America. 

Contact the writer at news@cartercountytimes.com



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