EV charge station marks one year

Published 2:43 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

AMERICUS — Nearly one year ago the Americus Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved and began installation of the city’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging station. The station gained approval and funding based on projections of increasing traffic to the downtown business district, encouraging travelers with EVs to dine and stay in Americus and generally increasing economic activity in downtown. A year in, the City seems to be making good on these promises.
Upon completion of the station, its information and location were uploaded to the website Plugshare.com, which provides drivers of EVs with information on available chargers near them or where they will be traveling. Ford’s SYNC and GM’s in-vehicle navigation services also recognize the Americus charging station.  The automakers’ recognition means that all drivers in a Ford or GM vehicle equipped with a navigation system will see Americus’ station displayed in their vehicles, literally putting Americus on the map. Plugshare offers it users the ability to “check in” at a station through its website and numerous users have done so, indicating steady use of the station and visits to Americus.
Americus and the DDA view the station as an investment and as with any investment, a return is expected. Tying Americus into the “green” economy may be morally comforting, but is it also profitable? The figures analyzed here would indicate yes. The City pays on average $0.11 per kilowatt hour of electricity (kwh).
An interview with James Henson, a Nissan Leaf driver, gives some hard numbers for calculating the station’s return on investment. Henson is a school counselor living in Columbus, and traveling to different schools throughout southwest Georgia.  Now that Americus has a charging station, he will structure his trips to allow for a stop in Americus to charge his EV and eat lunch or dinner. Henson’s Leaf can hold about 20 kwh of electricity in its battery. If he was to charge from empty to full the City would be paying for $2.20 in electricity to Georgia Power. Henson in return states he spends an average of $15 in downtown Americus while his EV charges. That equates to a nearly 700 percent return on investment of economic activity directly to downtown Americus. Few, if any, other municipal projects can claim this high level of economic return on the taxpayers’ dollars.