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Memphis’ first solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles opens at Shelby Farms

Post Time:Sep 21,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:340


During the formal opening of the solar-powered charging station at Shelby Farms Park on Wednesday, a half-dozen shiny new electric vehicles – most with the sales pitch “98 mpg” painted on their windshields – filled the stalls of the facility.


But even the most optimistic backers of electric cars acknowledged it probably will be a while before the charging station attracts that many vehicles at one time again.


“It’s a new technology. New technologies tend to have a slow start,” said Jimmy Gray, owner of Jimmy Gray Chevrolet in Southaven, part of a group of area Chevy dealerships sponsoring the charging station.


Still, on a crisp, sunny morning that seemed tailor-made for solar power, officials hailed the station as an important step toward environmental sustainability that also adds to the appeal of the 4,500-acre park located between East Memphis and Cordova.


“Enjoy the park while your car is getting recharged,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.


With spaces for 10 vehicles, West Tennessee’s first solar-powered charging station cost some $500,000, the funding for which came from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Electric Power Research Institute. In addition to charging electric cars, it will generate clean power for the electrical grid.


Motorists will be able to use the station at no cost.


“We knew that it was right for us, right for the park,” said Laura Adams, executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.


Laura Campbell, TVA’s general manager of customer service for West Tennessee, said electric vehicles offer three main advantages over gasoline-powered cars and trucks: reduced fuel costs, lower emissions of greenhouse gases and the fact that electricity is fueled by domestic and not foreign sources.


But just a tiny fraction of vehicles are powered by electricity so far. TVA officials earlier this year said there were fewer than 1,000 electric vehicles in Tennessee. Chevy officials Wednesday said that nationwide more than 13,600 electric Chevy Volts have been sold this year, but they could not provide figures for Memphis-area sales.


Henry Hutton, president of the Mid-South Chevy Dealers, which paid the park $40,000 to sponsor the station this year, emphasized the potential of electric vehicles in general and the Volt in particular. The vehicle can run about 40 miles just on batteries before a gas-powered generator kicks in to recharge the batteries and extend the range to more than 300 miles. He’s been driving one since January and has used only 24 gallons of gas in that period.


“I’m averaging 292 miles per gallon,” Hutton said.


Source: www.commercialappeal.comAuthor: shangyi

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