Lowndes County invests in electric vehicle charging stations

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Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 9:52 PM EST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Lowndes County has found yet another reason to bring people to Downtown Valdosta. And they are driving them in a greener direction.

Lowndes County says on Tuesday they celebrate a tremendous win for Downtown Valdosta. A joint collaboration between Lowndes County and Georgia Power resulted in new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the Lowndes County Judicial and Administrative Complex Parking Lot.

Everyone who drives an electric vehicle has a screen in their car that navigates them to where charging stations are. With Valdosta being right off of I-75 and Highway 84, county leaders felt this was a great fit for the area.

“There’s a lot of exciting things going on downtown. Right now, Lowndes County is investing $14 million in our downtown,” Paige Dukes, Lowndes County manager, said. “We’re on the cusp of a tremendous explosion here in our community as far as downtown goes. I mean these EV charging stations are just one part of that. So we’re excited to have another reason to bring people downtown. As we move forward we will look at more opportunities for additional stations in the future.”

The electric mobility industry will be responsible for 35 projects across Georgia. Investing $23 billion and bringing 28,000 new jobs, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says he believes this is a unique moment of opportunity for our state. In his second inaugural address, he said “that’s why by the end of my second term as your governor, I intend for Georgia to be recognized as the electric mobility capital of America.”

Many in the Lowndes County community say they support Kemp’s efforts.

“We’re building out an ecosystem because you’ve got SK Batteries. Now, you’ve got different companies that are coming into the location. You’ve got Kia and Hyundai plants coming in.” Ed Harmon, ET Program Manager for Georgia Power, said. “We’re supplying the infrastructure in order to be able to support that ecosystem and support the EV vehicles that come into the state.”

Lowndes County says this was done at zero cost to taxpayers. Georgia Power installed the infrastructure. They will operate the infrastructure, and whatever revenue they recoup from this project will go back to Georgia Power.

Governor Kemp says he wants to make Georgia the electric mobility capital of America. But some research shows that electric vehicles are more expensive to fuel than gas-powered cars.

Although many are gravitating to electric vehicles all over the world — research shows that rising electricity prices matched with lower gas prices made electric vehicles more expensive to fuel.

At the end of 2022, mid-priced gas car drivers paid a little over $11 to fuel their vehicle for 100 miles of driving. That’s about 31 cents cheaper than what a mid-priced electric car drive paid to charge their vehicle at home. And more than $3 less than what EV drivers paid when they charged their vehicle at a fuel station, according to Fox Business.

“Whether you think that electric vehicles are positive or not, they’re certainly here to stay. One of the things that we pride ourselves here in Lowndes County is meeting the diverse needs of a growing population. During the last census, Lowndes County grew almost 10%. That is almost unheard of for a rural county in Georgia. Certainly, one in South Georgia,” Dukes said.

The rates for these new EV charging stations in Valdosta on North Ashley Street vary. The fast charge station is 25 cents a minute. The level two EV station charger is a dollar an hour, and .10 cents a minute after that.

“If you’re looking at 100 miles at $2.50 a gallon, versus what it cost for this. You’re putting almost $15 dollars in a tank. With an electric car to put the same 100 miles, you’re putting $7.50 cents in,” Harmon said.

Georgia Power Southwest Regional Director Joe Brownlee says technology will continue to grow just like it will with gasoline engines. But this is important because it’s the future.

“I use an electric vehicle and I feel like I save a good bit. I can’t put an exact figure on it, but I’ve been pleased with the cost of using my vehicle,” Brownlee said.

Lowndes County says as they continue to move forward they will look at more opportunities for additional stations in the future.