The Asheville-based company Brightfield Transportation Solutions has partnered with Advanced Energy, a Raleigh-based nonprofit, to position 30 new charging stations around the state. Advanced Energy asked for officials to come forward and request stations in their town.
Waynesville leaders made the request and last week vote unanimously to build the station in the public lot. The installation should be complete by March 1.
The charging station will be the third west of Asheville where electric vehicle owners can power up. The other two are at Haywood Community College in Clyde and on the Qualla Boundary. Waynesville could provide a stop for people traveling from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance in Cherokee to Asheville, which has about 40 stations.
“We hope to be a critical cog in that infrastructure piece,” said Town Manager Marcy Onieal.
Unlike the station at HCC, the one in Waynesville will cost. Similar to parking meters, people pay for the time and use of the plug.
The charging station is valued at more than $25,000 and will take up six spots in the public parking lot on Montgomery Street, though it will only allow for four cars to charge at one time. The station will be topped with 50-kilowatt solar panels.
Waynesville Alderman LeRoy Roberson was wary of the project taking up six of the towns’ already scarce downtown parking spots but, in the end, was supportive of it.
“I am all for this,” Roberson said.
The station will have two fast chargers that recharge a vehicle in 30 minutes and two others that require four hours for a full charge. No matter what, the driver must spend at least some time wandering around Waynesville on foot.
“If they charge it for four hours while shopping and eating out in Waynesville, it’s not a bad thing,” Onieal said.
Mayor Gavin Brown said he supports the venture, particularly since it won’t require continued financial support from the town.
“This is not just something we are going to have to subsidize forever,” Brown said.
The car manufacturer Nissan is fronting the money to Brightfield Transportation Solutions and Advanced Energy for 30 electric car charging stations in North Carolina, including the one in Waynesville. After five years, when the federal and state tax credits for the alternative energy project expire, the town of Waynesville will have the opportunity to buy the station and begin receiving the revenue generated from the sale of power.
Brightfields co-founder Stan Cross said it chose Waynesville because of its location within Western North Carolina and because it draws tourists from larger feeder markets such as Knoxville, Charlotte and Atlanta.
“That market is going to want to take their vehicle on vacation. They are wanting to come here,” Cross said.
The company is trying to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to the needs of the electric car market, he said.
“We are looking at growing with that market,” said Cross, who described it as “immature.”
Brightfields has talked with officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway about installing charging stations.