‘Charging’ towards the future

Published 3:21 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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EURE – As gas-powered trucks and cars loudly rumbled past the intersection of US 13 / US 158 here Aug. 3, the future of transportation was taking place just a stone’s throw away.

Roanoke Cooperative formally unveiled their first public charging station in Gates County for electric vehicles. The station is located on the property of Tarheel Barbecue. EV owners needing a charge can do so at anytime of the day or night, 365 days a year.

The installation and operation of the charging station is part of Roanoke Cooperative’s goal to help reduce carbon emissions.

Roanoke Cooperative CEO Marshall Cherry stressed that the build out of charging stations such as the one in Gates County are critical spokes in the EV wheel.

“The issue with Americans fully embracing electric vehicles are these charging stations,” Cherry said. “A recent study revealed that growth in public charging infrastructure is not keeping pace with the rising number of EVs on the road. As we strive to work towards a cleaner future, it’s imperative that we address this issue.”

Cherry added that the study also showed that charging stations have a significant impact individuals considering purchasing an EV. He touted the Home Charging Program that is a part of the services offered by Roanoke Cooperative.

“We understand that most of the charging occurs at home, but EV drivers also need options such as this public charging station and others like it,” Cherry noted. “That helps them plan out their trips. Electric membership cooperatives such as us need to emerge as essential players in the EV movement.”

The Level 3 charger in Gates County operates on 480 volts. The average charge time is 45 minutes. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Cherry stressed that the charging station at Tarheel Barbecue is ideally located…US 13 that heads north into Virginia and US 158 east towards Elizabeth City and onward to the Outer Banks.

“There may not be a lot of electric vehicle owners here locally, at least not yet, but there are a lot of electric vehicles that travel through our service area,” he remarked, adding that an EV charging station in operation off I-95 in Halifax County is steadily seeing increased usage.

“Tesla [EV manufacturer] says that is one of their busiest sites in North Carolina,” Cherry said of the Halifax County station. “Tesla is our third largest account. We sell enough energy to them to equate selling energy to 100 houses within one month’s time.”

He added that other charging stations are currently in the planning stages across Roanoke Cooperative’s service area.

Tarheel Barbecue owner Timmy Hedgepeth said he had watched the progress of the charging station during its construction phase and was eagerly awaiting its opening.

Hedgepeth shared a story of speaking with an EV motorist who praised the placement of this particular charging station as he uses US 13 to access NC 11, traveling from his home in Virginia Beach to visit with his son, a student at East Carolina University.

“This charging station has created a buzz among the EV motorists. It’s also good for us because they’ll come in for a bite to eat while waiting for their vehicle to charge,” Hedgepeth said.

Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the Gates County Board of Commissioners, said she was thrilled that Roanoke Cooperative chose Gates County to build an EV charging station.

“This adds to what we what to do here in our county, embracing technology which allows us to grow and move forward,” she said. “With this we can see what can happen if you open your mind and embrace change. We’re going to continue to do that and do so in an environmentally friendly way. We welcome all to invest in Gates County.”

Ed Morgan, President of the Gates County Chamber of Commerce, noted the impact that the charging station can make locally.

“This charging station is just one more good reason to stop in Gates County. People may say that we’re in the middle of nowhere, but no we’re not. Gates County is in the middle of everywhere,” Morgan said. “I strongly believe that our county is moving in the right direction and we welcome new residents and businesses.”

Cathy Davison, Roanoke Cooperative’s Chief Financial Officer, shared her personal experience with EV ownership.

“This is an exciting day as an EV owner,” Davison remarked. “It’s so easy to charge your vehicle at a station like this. And when you look at the price of a charge, the last time I filled up my other vehicle, a gas-powered car, it costs $55. I charged my EV for $17. I like that cost savings. Get an EV. It’s truly an experience.”

Jimmy Liverman, Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Roanoke Cooperative, and Michael Ferguson, Engineering Manager, explained how the Gates County charging station was developed.

“We are so thankful for Timmy Hedgepeth for being so accommodating and allowing us to put this station on his property,” Liverman said. “I’m so proud to be part of a team here at Roanoke Cooperative; how proud I am of our leader Marshall Cherry who is an advocate for technology and infrastructure improvements here in our local area.”

He went on to explain that the station is a Level 3 charger, operating on 480 volts. Also known as DC chargers, these are the fastest available, with Level 1 and 2 taking longer to charge a vehicle. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging, Level 3 setups connect to the vehicle through a socket with additional pins for handling the higher voltage.

The average charge time is 45 minutes.

Ferguson thanked the leaders and the residents of Gates County for their patience while Roanoke Cooperative worked to get the charging station operational.

“This was a team effort,” Ferguson said.

Also on the agenda to offer their thoughts on the newly opened EV charging station were David Webb, Regional Director of Congressman’s Don Davis’s office; and Bill Ward, District 5 NC State House Representative.

Basil Williams, Sr., Manager of Member Services, Communications, and Public Relations at Roanoke Cooperative, served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies at the Aug. 3 event.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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