'We think this is the future': CEC charges ahead with EV stations

·3 min read

Sep. 8—Through a collaborative effort with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Cullman County Electric Cooperative is taking measures to drive Cullman County towards the future with the installation of the area's first electric vehicle fast-charging stations.

The CEC unveiled the two new fast-charging stations — provided by the TVA — located behind the Conoco Station on Alabama Hwy. 157 Wednesday, Sept. 7. This marks the coop among the first local power companies to join the TVA's fast-charging network.

Between Sept. 1, 2021 and Aug. 31, 2022, 123 full-electric vehicles were registered in Cullman County, with an additional 32 plug-in hybrids registered during that time. CEC Vice President of Administrative Services Time Culpepper said that the cooperative was committed to meeting those driver's needs.

"This is one of those things that's a step toward making life better for our members and give them options — if they want to buy an electric vehicle, they need to be able to buy an electric vehicle, and they need to be able to charge it, and charge it quickly," Culpepper said.

While these aren't the first charging stations in Cullman County — the website plugshare.com lists 10 — they are the fastest. CEC Communications Manager Brian Lacy said that the two level 3 chargers were capable of delivering an 80 percent charge within 30 minutes.

Director of Customer Relations for the TVA's South Region Kevin Chandler said that the installation was important for several reasons.

"No. 1, it's the first charging station located on the I-65 corridor. Second, it sits on the gateway to the Alabama Gulf Coast and our beautiful beaches that we enjoy. and finally, this charger can help drive tourist dollars into the local community's economy," Chandler said.

Chandler said that in addition to funneling more money into the local economy, the chargers would provide a way for local drivers to keep more dollars in their wallets. The current rate for the chargers is 42 cents per kilowatt hour, which roughly translates currently to $2.80 per gallon of gasoline according to the CEC.

Through a partnership with Seven States Power, the TVA expressed its commitment to growing their network of fast-charging stations to include at least one within every 50 miles within the next five years. President and CEO of Seven States Power Betsy Kirk McCall called this the "electrification of transportation."

"Sustainability and innovative technologies will move the valley forward," McCall said.

"We think this is the future. This is just one step towards the future, but we think it's an important one," Culpepper said.

Chandler recognized the CEC for being a leader in their efforts and commitment to more sustainable roadways.

"The CEC is showing Alabama and the rest of our region that they have a commitment to local customer needs, not only now but in the future as well. Through this project Cullman EC is helping remove barriers from local EV ownership that may have existed prior," Chandler said.