Until recently, charging your electric vehicle at a public charging station was sort of like a full-time job. Although the charging time varies, the average time required to fully charge an electric vehicle (EV) at those stations is eight hours.
That’s changing — and rapidly, you might say.
On Monday, Starkville Utilities Department announced it will be adding two fast-charging EV stations, one downtown near its office and another near the Starkville Sportsplex.
The stations are a part of a Tennessee Valley Authority program designed to install fast-charging stations at 50-mile intervals along interstates and major highways in TVA’s service area.
Aside from some in-kind services to install the stations, there is no cost to the city. TVA will fund 80 percent of the cost — $194,240 — with the remainder coming from a $48,060 grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
The stations should be operational in the fall. Kemp said TVA plans to install fast-charging stations in Columbus, Tupelo and Batesville, but Starkville will be the first in the region to add the stations, which can provide approximately 100 miles in driving range from a 20-to-30-minute charge.
“This represents a milestone in supporting Starkville’s transition to electric transportation,” said Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp. “We’ve seen steady growth in EV use since installing charging stations in 2019 and now we’re taking another step into the future.”
Starkville has two of the slower AC charging stations, both located downtown. Columbus has a public charging station located at the Tennessee Williams home and visitor’s center.
The arrival of Level 3 DC or “fast-charge” stations is not new. Tesla, the pioneer in electric cars, operates a network of DC charging stations all over the country, something Columbus attorney Gawyn Mitchell sees as proof positive that electric cars are the cars of the future.
“Aside from the first time when I went to Nashville to pick up my first electric car, I’ve never worried about not having enough charge to get where I was going.” said Mitchell, who bought two Teslas three years ago and added a Ford Mustang Mach-e EV to his collection two months ago.
“Tesla has what are called destination chargers all over the country and they’re beginning to open them up for use for other manufacturers’ EVs,” Mitchell said. “Tesla probably has six or seven destination chargers around the state. What we’re talking about here is infrastructure, and I think you’re going to see a lot more of these destination chargers as time goes by.”
A report by Bloomberg projects nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold by 2040 will be electric. As of the end of 2021, EV sales since 2010 have reached 2.3 million.
Kemp said the city’s two existing stations are being used regularly.
“The data we have from the two locations shows they are being used regularly throughout the week, but we think these new fast-charging stations will pick up on football weekends and special events,” Kemp said. “These are geared to travelers. Local people usually charge their cars at home. These stations serve a little different role.”
Mitchell said the stations are indeed a godsend for travelers.
“We have a place at Orange Beach and when my wife goes down there, she’ll stop at the charging station in Mobile and get a full charge and do the same thing on the way back home,” Mitchell said. “It’s going to be nice to have more of them.”
■ CHARGING STATIONS: Use PlugShare.com or the PlugShare app to see a map of charging stations nationwide.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]