An electric car charging station will be installed in a public parking lot at no cost to the town, thanks to a grant from Nissan that’s paying for three charging stations. The town will not be on the hook for the electricity that’s used, and it will even get to charge its own electric vehicles at the stations for free. The town doesn’t actually have any electric vehicles yet, but it plans to purchase two of them.
The charging station in downtown Waynesville will be only the third electric vehicle charging station west of Asheville. The other two are on the campus of Haywood Community College and at a visitor center in Cherokee.
Electric vehicles are cheaper to run than gasoline vehicles and are considered better for the environment. But they can only go about 100 miles on a full charge. That makes it hard for electric car owners to use their vehicles for trips. Nissan’s grant is intended make regional electric travel a reality in North Carolina.
“This particular grant is intended to make sure there are charging sites every 50 miles from the Piedmont to the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Waynesville Town Manager Marcy Onieal said.
Locating the chargers in downtown Waynesville will allow tourists with electric cars to stroll and shop while their car powers up. As of now, however, electric car drivers are in the minority, with the scarcity of charging stations undoubtedly a factor in that reality.
“You certainly aren’t going to have people using electric vehicles widely until there is infrastructure in place,” Onieal said.
Overall, though, the goal is to make energy choices that ensure stability of supply and maintenance of the natural resources that make Haywood County — like much of Western North Carolina — a successful tourism destination and an enjoyable place to live.
“This promotes air quality,” she said, “which is important for tourism in this part of the state.”
Plans for the charging stations have been in the works since last year, but the Waynesville Board of Alderman just finalized a deal last week with Asheville-based Brightfield Transportation Solutions to install the charging station in the Montgomery Street lot.
There will be three charging stations: one will be capable of fully charging an empty battery in 30 minutes and the other two will take two hours.
Solar panels will go in with the charging stations, installed on a canopy shading the charging area. The solar panels will not directly power the cars, but will offset the electricity needed to power the stations.
Brightfield must pay for the electricity used by the charging stations. To cover its costs, Brightfield will sell the electricity over the power grid and charge the stations’ users.
“It’ll produce about 50 kilowatts of power on a given day, which will be put back on the electric grid,” Onieal said of the panels.
By contrast, most models of electric cars require between 25 and 35 kilowatt-hours to charge up.
At some point, the parking spots with the charging stations will be reserved for electric vehicles only. But that won’t go into effect until at least 50 electric vehicles are registered in Haywood County.