COLUMBIA — A source of green power for the owners of electric cars in Union County is now even greener.
During the South Carolina Clean Energy Summit in Columbia this past week, Plug In Carolina received a check for $35,000 from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program. In a statement released Monday, Plug In Carolina announced that the money will be used to purchase green electricity and educational signage for the organization’s 96 electric vehicle charging stations. The announcement also pointed out that the South Carolina-based network “appears to be the largest of its kind and presents a new model for the nation.”
The network’s charging stations are located in Charleston, Columbia, Conway, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Surfside Beach, Union and Lockhart. In the Union area, there are two charging stations located at the City of Union Municipal Building, two at the Timken Sports Complex, two at USC-Union, and two at the Union County Advanced Technology Center. The two charging stations in the Lockhart community are located at Lockhart Power. The charging stations in Union and Lockhart were among the first installed in South Carolina.
Plug In Carolina Executive Director James Poch pointed out that the organization remotely monitors energy usage at the charging station. Poch said that there were more than 500 charging sessions at the charging stations across the state between March and June of this year. He said more growth is expected in the coming year.
“There seems to be an upward trend in the data as more electric vehicles come on line,” Poch said. “A limited state income tax credit that took effect in July should reduce the cost of electric vehicles. At the same time some attractive pricing models from the manufacturers should increase sales.”
Poch said that the funds provided by the Walmart Foundation will be used to pay the premium for green electricity. He said the green energy purchases are already underway with payments made every quarter. The payments for the first quarter will be made at the beginning of October. Poch said the green electricity will be purchased from local power providers such as Lockhart Power who generate their energy from renewable resources. He said this will benefit the local power providers, the consumer, and the environment.
“Electric cars are better for the environment regardless of the source of electricity generation, and the cost to fuel vehicles with renewables sources is significantly less than that of gasoline,” Poch said. “But now our network will purchase electricity from renewable, sustainable, sources like solar, wind, biomass, and hydro based electricity. “We’re talking about local providers who generate electricity from wind, solar, landfill gas, or in the case of the Union area, hydroelectricity from Lockhart Power.”
Lockhart Power gets 99 percent of it electricity from renewable sources including hydroelectric facilities such as Lockhart Dam and landfill gas from facility in Wellford.
Poch said that in addition to Lockhart Power, electric utilities across the state such as Santee Cooper also provide green energy from renewable sources. He said that by purchasing green energy for its network of charging stations, Plug In Carolina will help further reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Another benefit of electric vehicle powered by green energy from renewable sources is improved air quality.
“There is an across the board reduction in emissions when a gasoline-powered vehicle is replace with an electric one using renewable energy,” Poch said. “It is truly as close to zero emissions as you can get.”
While electric vehicles are seen as expensive, Poch said that the new limited state income tax credit that took effect in July helps dramatically lower the cost of purchasing or leasing one.
“For example, a two-year lease on a Chevy Volt that is advertised at $2,500 down and $250 a month, if the person qualifies for the $2,000 credit and they save a hundred dollars a month in fuel costs their effective cost could be $500 down, $150 a month for a new car that drives like a dream,” Poch said.
Poch thanked Walmart Foundation for its support of the organization’s efforts.
“It’s a great day for South Carolina,” Poch said. “We are very thankful to the Walmart Foundation.”
Plug In Carolina
Plug In Carolina is a 501c3, non-profit, that was established in 2006. It has the support of SCE&G, Santee Cooper, Progress Energy, Lockhart Power, SC Electric Cooperatives, and SEW-Eurodrive. For the last six years, Plug In Carolina has educated the public on the environmental, economic, and national security benefits of plug in vehicles. In 2010, Plug In Carolina received $480,000 in grant money to deploy the electric-vehicle charging network across South Carolina.