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GUC considering pilot project for electric car charging stations

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Greenville Utilities Commission will consider launching a pilot project that will give rebates to businesses that install electric car charging stations like this station installed last year on East Carolina University's main campus near College Hill.

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Greenville Utilities wants to learn how electric vehicle charging stations will affect its electric grid.

GUC staff aim to launch a pilot project that would give rebates to commercial businesses that install the charging stations.

The finance/audit committee of the GUC Board of Commissioners unanimously recommended on Wednesday that the proposal be presented to the full board for approval.

GUC General Manager/CEO Tony Cannon said the utility wants to work with 20 to 25 commercial businesses during the pilot period. Local hotels and the Greenville Convention Center already have discussed installing the stations, he said.

“It’s for us to incentivize this (pilot) so we can collect data and see how it impacts the system,” Cannon said. “While it isn’t a significant load, if you have a lot of them it adds up.”

Part of the agreement will allow GUC to turn off the station during peak times of electric usage.

GUC will give participants either a $1,000 rebate for installing a single port charging station or $1,500 for a dual-port station, Cannon said.

A dual-port charging station costs about $6,000, said John Worrell, assistant director of electric systems. The installation cost will depend on its location in relation to existing electric service, he said.

The charging stations will not be metered separately but will be part of the participant’s existing electric bill.

Late last year GUC installed two charging stations at East Carolina University’s main campus, one at its medical campus and one at Vidant Medical Center. Each station has two ports capable of charging two cars simultaneously, Worrell said.

The eight ports used a the total of 1,500 kilowatts of electricity in September which is about 150 percent of the average GUC household use, Worrell said. September saw the highest level of usage — 25 unique drivers had 150 sessions. It takes slightly more than three hours to charge a car, Worrell said.

“The ones at the institution are very well used,” he said. “During working hours, from 8-5, one of the ports is in service almost all day long.”

While the current electric station sites are available at no cost, Worrell said they can be outfitted with financial card processors.

Board member Tommy Stroughton said operating electric charging stations does not appear to be a big money maker, but he believes it is something to do to expand services.

Board member Parker Overton, committee chairman, said he was excited.

“My wife has an electric car and once you get in one of these things you don’t want to get out,” he said. “It’s not that you are saving gas; it’s the convenience that you don’t have to get in a line and you’re charging at home.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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