Recharging stations to boost car market

Recharging stations to boost car market

July 14th, 2010 in Green


$114.5 million: Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, half of project cost

14,775: 240-volt chargers

310: DC fast chargers

5,700: Nissan Leaf cars, including up to 1,000 in Tennessee

2,600: Chevrolet Volt cars

250,000: Potential number of electric cars in the Tennessee Valley by 2020

Sources: Ecotality of North America, Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Department of Energy

As the bicycling coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga, Philip Pugliese travels most days on his bike.

But by December, he hopes to be among the first Tennesseans to commute around town in an electric-powered Nissan Leaf car.

"I live close to downtown in North Chattanooga where I work, so I can walk to work, ride a bike or soon drive an electric vehicle," he said.

Mr. Pugliese hopes to offset much of the $32,780 price for the Leaf with a $7,500 federal tax credit and cheaper fuel.

"It's definitely going to be cheaper than running a car on gas," he said, referring to the Nissan hatchback to be produced in Smyrna, Tenn., starting in November. "But it will be a learning project for all of us."

That learning curve is being aided by $114.5 million in federal funds to pay for half the cost of installing 12,500 recharging stations in Tennessee and four other states.

An area manager for Ecotality, the Phoenix company picked to install the battery chargers, said Tuesday that 1,000 charging stations in Tennessee should be placed in and around Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville.

Nationwide, Ecotality plans to install 14,775 of the 240-volt chargers, which can re-energize electric batteries in two to eight hours. Another 310 DC fast chargers will be installed in the five selected states for more rapid recharging.

"We want people to recharge their batteries at home at night, that's good for everybody," Ecotality's Nashville service manager, Stephanie Cox, told a luncheon gathering in Chattanooga. "But we also see the public recharging stations and infrastructure as critical to alleviating motorists' 'range anxiety.'"

The Leaf will travel only about 100 miles between battery recharges, so motorists will need recharging stations away from home for some trips.

In Tennessee, about 1,000 charging stations will be put in homes of Leaf or GM Chevrolet Volt owners starting in December. Another 1,535 stations will be scattered across state rest areas, welcome centers, downtown parking lots and businesses.

The DC rechargers will be able to replenish 80 percent of the battery strength in 26 minutes, Ms. Cox said. But such rapid charges use more energy.

Ralph Boroughs, a manager of TVA Technology Innovations, said electric vehicles should be recharged at night when power demand is down.

Mr. Boroughs said TVA projects that up to 250,000 vehicles could be in use in the Tennessee Valley by 2020.

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