There are several roadblocks to more rural people buying electric vehicles. The first is the high cost of owning an EV with an expensive battery with a limited lifespan and range. Longer battery life is what many consumers are demanding before they "go electric" with their vehicles. Then, there's the biggie: how do you charge the battery out here in the country? Many rural areas offer no public charging stations, and what do you do if the EV runs out of "juice," and you're headed to the Smokies? There's a term for the concern that your EV battery will run out before reaching your destination – range anxiety.
Overseeing the installation of the Electric Vehicle Charging Station in Livingston recently are L-R: Shannon Cantrell, Overton County Chamber of Commerce Director; Michael Hayes, Parks and Rec. Director; UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory; UCEMC District Manager Ben Winningham; and Livingston City Mayor Curtis Hayes. The charger is located in the parking lot of Livingston Central Park.
Tennessee Tech University received a grant to look into range anxiety and all the factors that might be preventing those of us in rural areas from buying an electric vehicle. The study, funded by the Department of Energy, evaluates the use of electric cars serving what they term as "a rural and largely economically distressed area."
This project places EV charging stations in several counties and UCEMC members are already benefitting from two chargers in service. UCEMC and Seven States Power Corporation recently set up a charging station in Smith County at the Carthage Sav-Way and on September 11, a charger was installed in Overton County in Livingston Central Park.
"EV drivers in rural areas need to feel confident that they can find these chargers when they're away from home and won't be stranded with a dead battery on a country road," says UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory. "EVs have long been a popular urban vehicle, but that's changing quickly, and we need to be ready."
Brad Rains, of Seven States Power Corporation, expects EV drivers to embrace the Chargepoint charging station's convenience. "Most EV drivers will charge the battery overnight at home," says Rains. "This station is used for getting a little bit of power over a shorter period. Every hour you charge at the Chargepoint, you'll add 25 to 30 miles of range to your car. It's like topping off your tank."
EV owners download the Chargepoint app and set up an account with their credit card on a mobile phone or computer. They scan the app at the station, and once the car is plugged into the machine, the cost is one dollar per hour. While the vehicle is charging, area merchants hope Carthage EV drivers will do their grocery shopping or grab a meal at nearby restaurants.
The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency is a research partner with TTU in the project and very soon, are planning to operate a full-electric shuttle bus as part of this study.