Plug In Carolina gets money to deploy charging stations

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - A South Carolina non-profit agency has been awarded $240,000 to deploy plug-in vehicle charging stations throughout South Carolina.

Plug In Carolina says the $240,000 grant doubled their available funding to add the stations to Columbia, Charleston, Spartanburg, Greenville, Rock Hill, Union and the Grand Strand.

"We know four things about using electricity as a fuel for cars," said James Poch, executive director of Plug In Carolina, who has championed plug-ins since 2006. "It's cleaner, cheaper, domestically-produced, and during off-peak hours, we have a lot of it."

Plug-in vehicles will become commercially available at the end of this year and come in different forms. Fully electric vehicles will use no gas, have no tailpipe emissions, and have a range of 100 miles. Extended range electric vehicles will have similar benefits, but use a gasoline engine to extend the vehicle's range to more than 400 miles.

Beyond charging vehicles, the stations are expected to make the public more comfortable with plug-ins and reduce what is known as "range anxiety," the fear of being stranded in a vehicle because of insufficient battery performance or charge. Even though some plug-in vehicles do not have a range limitation and others exceed the range of a daily commute, experts see the need for charging stations to supplement home charging.

A minimum of eight charging stations are earmarked for the Grand Strand, and Poch will work with Santee Cooper and localities to place them in public parking areas.

"We support these charging stations as an educational and awareness opportunity for our customers, and look forward to working with Plug-In Carolina to promote their benefits," said Marc Tye, vice president of conservation and renewable energy for Santee Cooper. "Long-term, the key to efficiently and successfully integrating electric vehicles into our system will be off-peak charging. Publicly available stations will be necessary for some intermittent charging in the future. Our efforts will be focused on helping our customers charge these vehicles in their home garages at night, to maximize the use of our resources."

The money was part of two grants awarded through the Department of Energy's Clean Cities program and the State of South Carolina's Renewable Energy and Advanced Vehicle Technology program. Funding for both grants originated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Once contracts are finalized with the Department of Energy and the state of South Carolina, Poch expects the 60 charging stations to be deployed by the end of the year.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.