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City may get charge out of EV stations
EV charging
City Manager Kenneth Howard says officials are looking into providing charging stations for electric vehicles in Hinesville. Photo special to the Courier

The city of Hinesville may be plugging into providing power for electric vehicles.

City Manager Kenneth Howard, noting the recommendation of Council member Vicky Nelson in pursuing charging stations, said the city has started looking at EV charging. Howard said there were programs to install the stations the city previously did not know existed.

Tomaso Giannelli, a Georgia Power key account manager, said the company is expanding its infrastructure to handle the growing popularity of electric vehicles.

“There is a huge influx of EVs coming to and through Georgia, and we because of that, we have to upgrade our infrastructure,” he said.

EVs are making a significant investment in Georgia. Late last year, Gov. Brian Kemp announced EV maker Rivian will build a plant east of Atlanta that is expected to produce 400,000 electric vehicles per year. Production is scheduled to start in 2024.

The state and Hyundai announced the Korean automaker will construct a massive plant in Bryan County to make electric vehicles and batteries for EVs. The plants are expected to be in operation in 2025.

State economic development officials boast there have been announcements on more than 20 EV-related projects in Georgia since 2020. The state also has the most EV charging outlets per capita in the Southeast U.S., according to the state Department of Economic Development and has more EVs registered per 1,000 automobile registrations.

Under a Georgia Power program, the city can apply to have the utility to build up what’s needed to create charging stations.

“Then it’s up to city to buy what charging stations they want,” Giannelli said.

There are three different chargers, Giannelli pointed out. There is the Tesla super charger, another called a “behind the fence” charger for such operations as public works and public service vehicles, and a third where the charging station provider can earn revenue.

“It’s a really good opportunity right now, because all of that infrastructure, much of that expense, is absorbed in this program,” Giannelli said. “There are going to be subsidies from state and federal government.”

Charging an EV takes longer than filling up a fossil fuel-powered car — and that could have benefits for the city, too.

“Understanding that this is not as quick as filling up a gas tank, it’s going to take a little bit of time,” Giannelli said. “They are going to see what’s around. If it’s near a restaurant or near shopping, they are most likely going to go there.”

“I think it is an awesome idea,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to do stuff with downtown. Electric cars are the way to go, especially if you are traveling in the city. I think this is awesome.”

Georgia Power made money toward EV charging stations part of a rate hike case and Giannelli said EV charging stations are taking off in other parts of the state.

“I think it’s going to be explosive growth,” he said. “We’re already seeing it in the metro Atlanta area.”

Each EV charging station can accommodate two cars, and Giannelli recommended starting off with two stations, capable of charging four cars at a time. He also said travelers on I-95 may look at coming to Hinesville for a charge if one is needed.

Georgia Power lists the nearest community charging stations as one on Dean Forest Road. There is another on Tybee Island, plus a charging station in Metter and another in Statesboro. The only other listed charging station in the Coastal Empire is in Kingsland.

Apps, such as the ChargePoint, show drivers where to find the nearest charging stations.

“There are several apps that people know where a charging station is,” said Council member Karl Riles.

The cost for a car to get a charge is relatively inexpensive, Giannelli said, and the chargers themselves also aren’t costly.

“It’s us bringing the power to a spot,” he said. “And that’s what’s funded by this, money given to the city to beef up its electrical infrastructure.”

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