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By Amy McCraw,
SALUDA — Electric vehicle enthusiast Joe Baum could hardly contain his excitement Friday as he marked Earth Day in Saluda by plugging his Chevy Bolt into one of the first fast charging stations in North Carolina.
“I’m excited to have this along the I-26 corridor,” Baum said of the electric vehicle charging station located at the Triangle Stop just off the interstate’s exit in Saluda. “We want to recognize when these installations go in.”
Baum wore a big smile on his face when he joined the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the station as one of the first Duke Energy direct current fast charging stations in the state. DC fast chargers are one of the fastest electric vehicle charging options available.
DC fast chargers provide up to 250 miles of range per hour with 50 to 125 miles of range chargeable in 15 minutes, depending on the car and equipment. DC fast charging is mostly used to facilitate long-distance driving, according to information from Duke Energy.
Baum, who is a member of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club, was one of the first electric vehicle owners to use the new charging station at the Triangle Stop.
He said having the station along I-26 in Saluda will help him when he travels from his home in Weaverville to Charlotte. Before the charging station in Saluda opened, he needed to recharge his 2017 Bolt in Charlotte before heading back home. Now, he will charge up in Saluda and not need to stop in Charlotte.
“I can’t make that roundtrip without getting a charge somewhere,” Baum said. “This is more convenient. I appreciate the Triangle Stop being a location. It gives me extra assurance.”
Having more charging stations along interstates will also help encourage people who might hesitate to buy electric because they fear not being able to charge the battery as they travel, Baum said.
He said it typically takes 20 to 30 minutes to charge his car with the DC station while it might take as long as 45 minutes to an hour if the battery is fully drained. Charging the car usually costs between $7 and $10, he said.
Baum said an app on his cell phone helps him find electric charging stations such as the one at the Triangle Stop.
Sarah Leatham, a board member with the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce, welcomed a small group including Baum and Duke Energy officials to a ribbon cutting for the new charging station just outside the Triangle Stop on Friday. Bright morning sun greeted those who attended as they checked out the station and Baum’s Bolt.
It was appropriate to hold the ceremony on Earth Day and “they couldn’t have asked for a better one,” Leatham said.
The new charging station will give motorists even more reasons to stop and visit Saluda, she said.
Triangle Stop owner Beau Waddell also attended the ribbon cutting and demonstration of the charging station. He was happy to partner with Duke Energy to offer one of the first fast charging stations in the state.
“We have a good partnership with Duke and we know there are more electric vehicles on the road,” he said.
Duke paid to have the charging station installed at his store, Waddell said. He said he thought the company wanted the station at his store because it is located close to the interstate.
Waddell said he does not yet have plans for more fast charging stations at his other locations.
Duke Energy District Manager Craig DeBrew, who also attended the ribbon cutting, said electric vehicles are increasing in popularity in North Carolina with projections for 1.2 million electric vehicles to be on the road in the state by 2030. Duke wants to be part of the infrastructure to support those vehicles, he said.
The company also plans to increase the number of electric vehicles in its fleet in coming years and will continue to reduce carbon emissions in its power plants, DeBrew said.
“Power for electric vehicle stations will continue to get even cleaner,” he said.
For more information about electric vehicles and charging stations, visit the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at www.blueridgeevclub.wordpress.com. The group also has a Facebook page.