DOT quietly pulled [charging stations for plug-in electric cars at four interstate highway rest stops in Johnston and Alamance counties] out of the ground and trucked them to a warehouse. In their place today are four blue signs memorializing the end Feb. 28 of an “EV charging station pilot project.” ...
The 240-volt car chargers, built like little gas pumps, were provided with a federal grant routed through the state Commerce Department’s Green Business Fund. The idea was to offer a bit of security for the first Americans who buy Nissan Leafs and other electric-only cars, and Chevy Volts and other plug-in hybrids that also have gas tanks. ...
The average user plugged in for 47 minutes, according to DOT records, and there was no charge for the charge. ...
This effort by the Democratic administration of then-Gov. Bev Perdue was not popular with the Republican leaders of the General Assembly. With Democratic support, they passed a law in June 2012 directing DOT to make plug-in drivers pay for the electricity they consume at highway rest stops.
DOT officials could not figure out a way to do that. Vending machines are the only exception allowed under a federal law that bars sales at North Carolina’s interstate rest stops. So the charging stations were removed before the 2012 law took effect in March. ...
But, but, but ... I don't understand. The NC Legislature passed a law to requir that the DOT charge for electricity at rest stops but could not find some way around a federal law that only allowed vending machines to make money at rest stops? The only way this makes sense is if the evil vending machine companies are behind this. Maybe if you spend $1 on electricity you won't have enough money for an Royal Crown cola AND a moon pie? And we continue:
They were not heavily used. In 14 months, only 146 vehicles plugged into the four chargers, most of them at the twin Alamance County stops flanking I-85. The other two were on I-40 near Benson.
These 146 cars sucked up 446.9 kilowatt-hours of electricity. They soaked North Carolina taxpayers for a grand total of $44.69.
Lee doesn’t have the final tally, but he confirms that DOT spent more than that to make those pilot-project signs and install them.
Yes, that sounds outrageous ... the signs costing more than the electricity. But can you imagine how much it would have cost the taxpayers in perpetuity? We don't have to imagine ... assuming no change in usage or electricity prices:
- $44.69/14 = $3.19 per month
- $3.19 x 12 = $38.30 per year
- $38.30/.03 = $1277 in perpetuity (where r = .03 is the social discount rate)
If you don't like my assumptions, apply some sort of growth assumption and do a sensitivity analysis around electricity prices. I'm tempted to do it but it would require too much work to make the non-point. This would not be a problem if the NC Legislature just figured out a way to allow the DOT to charge for the charge.