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Covington unveils charging station as electric vehicle ownership rises
Car charging station
A trio of electric department employees work to set up the electric vehicle charging unit outside Covington’s Welcome Center. Officials said the station is free for the public to use. - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Motorists who own and operate electric-powered vehicles can get recharged when visiting the downtown area.

Covington City Manager Scott Andrews recently announced that an electric vehicle charging station had been set up at the city’s Welcome Center, located at 1143 Oak St., which is the former home of Covington’s city hall and police station.

The CT4021ChargePoint station is equipped with two 25-27 RPH (miles of range per hour) cords, so two vehicles may be charged at the same time. Installation, including all material associated with the project, was $12,000, according to Electric Director Joel Smith.  He said the unit draws 7.2 kilowatts of electricity per hour of charge, which puts the cost to the city at less than $1 per hour of charge time.

Andrews said the station was free for the public to use and was hopeful this station would be the first of many for Covington.

“We hope there will be many more to come in the future,” Andrews said.

The city’s efforts to set up charging stations points to a growing interest in electric vehicles across the state and beyond. 

“It is clear that as a society we are moving towards alternatively fueled vehicles,” Community Development Director Trey Sanders said. “The city recognized this years ago with the installation of the CNG fueling station, and the EV station is the next step. The Covington City Council and staff understand the importance sustainability will play in our future as a community and a nation. Sustainability encompasses more than alternative fuels… We are constantly working to improve and expand our green spaces in Covington as well as several other initiatives that increase sustainability.”

According to the state’s Department of Economic Development, the demand for electric vehicles is on the rise in Georgia. The department reported more than 6,000 electric vehicles were sold in Georgia in 2018 — a 147% increase from the year before. 

To date, there are nearly 30,000 electric vehicles on the road in Georgia, which is less than 1% of total vehicles registered in the state as of 2016. There are less than 1,000 public charging stations located across the state.

The global projection for annual electric vehicle sales is 56 million by 2040. In order to meet the expected demand, the Georgia Department of Economic Development reported manufacturers statewide are shifting to increase production of electric vehicle models.

SK Innovation, located in northeast Georgia, is building a $1.67 billion manufacturing facility to produce lithium-ion batteries and announced an additional $940 million expansion in June 2020 to further accommodate demand. Their customer, Volkswagen, located only a few hours away, also made plans to expand their production plant where they expect to assemble 100,000 all-electric SUVs annually starting in 2022.

Since 2017, at least seven companies aside from SK Innovation have made investments in EV-related production in Georgia, according to the GDED. In November 2020, state officials announced TEKLAS, a Turkish advanced research and development, manufacturer and supplier of EV parts, will invest in opening their first North American facility and headquarters in Georgia. This followed a July announcement that GEDIA Automotive Group, a family-owned international company that specializes in making state-of-the-art automotive parts, would construct an advanced manufacturing facility to begin production with a focus on lightweight structural automotive parts for electric vehicles in Georgia.

Electric vehicles were built with the idea of reducing emissions in mind. Two types of emissions emitted by conventional vehicles that contribute to climate change and smog include “direct” and “life cycle,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Direct emissions are released through the tailpipe through evaporation from the fuel system and during the fueling process. These include “smog-forming pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, other pollutants harmful to human health and greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide.” Electric vehicles emit no direct emissions, the department of energy stated.

Life cycle emissions include all emissions related to fuel and vehicle production, processing, distribution, use and recycling/disposal. For example, for a conventional gasoline vehicle, emissions are produced when petroleum is extracted from the ground, refined to gasoline, distributed to stations and burned in vehicles. Like direct emissions, life cycle emissions include a variety of harmful pollutants and GHGs. 

All vehicles produce substantial life cycle emissions, the department of energy says, and calculating them can be complex. However, electric vehicles typically produce fewer life cycle emissions than conventional vehicles because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel. The exact amount of these emissions depends on the electricity mix, which varies by geographic location.

Electric vehicle drivers can further minimize life cycle emissions by using electricity generated by non-polluting renewable sources like solar and wind, according to the department of energy.