#34 – Inside Our Industry – TVA plans electric vehicle charging network across Tennessee

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Last week we shared information about electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support them. Shortly after our post, the following was sent to us. It is encouraging to see that the nation’s largest public utility is developing a system of public electric vehicle charging stations.

TVA plans electric vehicle charging network across Tennessee
Wednesday, February 3rd 2021  |   By TRAVIS LOLLER, Associated Press

The nation’s largest public utility is working with Tennessee to develop a statewide system of public electric vehicle charging stations that officials say will make the state a leader in electric transportation.

Tennessee already ranks third in the nation for electric vehicle production, with Nissan building the all-electric Leaf at its Smyrna plant since 2013, Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Jeff Lyash said in a virtual news conference Wednesday. In addition, General Motors announced in October that it will spend $2 billion to convert the Spring Hill plant into its third U.S. site to build electric vehicles. And Volkswagen has said it will begin building the electric ID.4 in Chattanooga toward the end of next year.

The TVA and the consortium Drive Electric Tennessee have a goal of 200,000 electric vehicles in Tennessee by 2028. That’s an ambitious plan as current electric vehicle ownership in the state is about 11,000, according to the TVA.

Studies have shown one of the barriers to purchasing an electric car is range anxiety, or the fear that a vehicle will run out of charge and the driver will become stranded, Lyash said. The network of charging stations aims to give drivers confidence that they can get anywhere in the state without having to worry.

The TVA estimates that 200,000 electric vehicles would have a $120 million economic benefit per year in Tennessee by reducing reliance on imported fuels in favor of electric power generated in the Tennessee Valley. The federal public utility estimates consumers would save about $200 million per year on fuel costs, and the entire state would benefit from cleaner air. Carbon emissions would be reduced by nearly 1 million metric tons per year.

The charging network is expected to include about 50 stations, primarily along interstates and U.S. and state highways. The idea is to have chargers available at least every 50 miles (80 kilometers), “from the mountains of East Tennessee to the banks of the Mississippi,” Lyash said. It is expected to cost about $20 million and should be built out over the next three to five years.

Tennessee’s network will serve as a model that the TVA can expand to the rest of its seven-state region, where it provides power to nearly 10 million people, Lyash said.