City charged up over electric vehicle chargers

Thursday, June 28, 2012
Two electric vehicle chargers like the one shown here, are set to be installed at Shelbyville City Hall and the airport sometime in the future. The chargers are part of the EV Project, which intends to install the infrastructure for the new cars. (EV Project photo)

Shelbyville will be able to provide juice to the newest form of transportation some time in the future.

Electric vehicle charging systems are set to be installed at two locations -- one at the Shelbyville airport, and the other at city hall.

The best part of the deal is that the systems will not cost the city a single penny.

However, no installation date has been provided to city officials by the firm that will do the work, Broadway Electric Service Corporation (BESCO) of Knoxville.

Signing off

In 2010, the city council agreed to sign a letter of intent with ECOtality North America to participate in the EV Project, which has been touted as "the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history."

The non-binding letter was considered "an expression of intent" to participate in the EV Project as a charging site host, but was not a formal agreement.

Last November, council members signed off on a municipal license agreement to bring the charging stations to Shelbyville.

According to an e-mail to city officials from area sales manager Jeremy Covert of ECOtality in Nashville, as soon as the Notice to Proceed documents are signed, the chargers can be scheduled for installation.

Local locations

At the airport, the EV charger will be mounted on the existing sidewalk next to a utility pole on the right side of the terminal.

For the city hall location, the system is to be placed in the parking lot near the entrance to the codes department.

Once the chargers are in place, the circuit will be tested, systems operations checked, and a representative at each site will be briefed on its operation.

Each unit is priced at $2,239, but none of those costs will be borne by Shelbyville taxpayers.

Laying infrastructure

Last fall, ECOtality installed the first of 12 Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers at the Cracker Barrel in Lebanon. Another charger was recently installed at the Manchester Cracker Barrel, and chargers are also located at the Doubletree Hotel in Murfreesboro.

ECOtality stated last year that "the Tennessee Triangle," a 425-mile stretch of interstate highway connecting Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, "is the ideal location for Cracker Barrel's 12 DC Fast Chargers, which are well suited for high-traffic commercial locations and major transportation corridors."

Tennessee is one of six states where the firm is installing infrastructure for the electric vehicles.

Other areas selected are the regions of Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Central Puget Sound and Olympia, Wash.; Western Oregon including the cities of Corvallis, Eugene, Portland and Salem; the San Diego/Los Angeles, Calif. region; and areas around Houston, Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.

According to a map on the EV Project's web site, 752 location across the country have chargers installed with 171 in Tennessee.

DOE grants

The Department of Energy plans to spend $114.8 million in grants for these states, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

ECOtality claimed in 2010 that additional private and public sector investment has brought the total project cost to approximately $230 million.

The firm said it will install over 15,000 vehicle charging stations nationwide in conjunction with launches of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt as part of the EV project. It plans to install 2,350 240-volt chargers, 125 solar-assisted TVA SMART Stations and 60 DC fast chargers in Tennessee.

The EV Project explained it would be collecting and analyzing data "to characterize vehicle use in diverse topographic and climatic conditions" and evaluating the effectiveness of the charging infrastructure, hoping to learn from the deployment of the new cars and the charging stations, so that it can streamline the release of the next 5 million electric vehicles.