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Monrovia firm to install electric vehicle charging stations in South Carolina

Aero0034_2 Electric vehicles are few and far between in South Carolina at the moment, but Monrovia technology company AeroVironment Inc. is helping prep the state for what it hopes will be a clean car renaissance.

The company will build 60 to 100 fueling stations for electric vehicles in seven South Carolina cities as part of a contract with the nonprofit Plug-In Carolina, which is sponsored by the state’s major utilities.

“We’re not expecting that these stations will be used that much this year,” said James Poch, executive director of Plug-In Carolina. “It won’t be until next year, with the [electric] Ford Focus hitting the road, roughly in the time frame that the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt will start to get noticed.”

AeroVironment will start installing June 15, with the stations expected to be operational by Dec. 1. The project is being funded largely through two state grants from the South Carolina Energy Office worth $480,000.

The stations will be able to charge one to four vehicles at a time and customers will be able to remotely check whether the stations are occupied.

AeroVironment was one of 11 bidders who began vying for the project in April, Poch said. The companies were evaluated based on factors such as their industry prominence and the technical specs, pricing and aesthetics of their proposals.

The contract is only the second electric car charging deal ever announced by AeroVironment, said spokesman Steven Gitlin. The company is also preparing to roll out home charging docks that it will install nationwide as Nissan brings its Leaf vehicle to the market.

“We were focusing on home-charging infrastructure with Nissan, but South Carolina is looking at the importance of public infrastructure as a complement,” Gitlin said. “It makes for an environment that is more conducive to electric vehicle owners.”

The company is “actively talking” with several other automakers, government agencies, utilities and private enterprises about supplying more public and home charging stations

“It’s a very large market opportunity,” Gitlin said. “We’ve spent the last 20 years developing charging technology, and now it needs to be made pervasive and accessible.”

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Level 2 charging station. Credit: AeroVironment

 
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