Soon, fiberglass bears will not be the only permanent installations downtown. Two electric vehicle (EV) fast charge stations are set to join them this fall.
The City-owned stations will be located in the Red Bear parking lot at the south end of Craven Street.
The City of New Bern Department of Public Utilities is developing an installation and implementation plan with ChargePoint, owner of the largest EV charging station network.
The utility department will set a rate for public usage and present their findings and recommendations to the Board of Aldermen in the coming months.
Charles Bauschard, director of public utilities for New Bern, said his department has not had many requests for public charging stations but thinks it is because most locals charge at home.
“We believe the installation of public EV chargers will initially be most attractive to highway/interstate travelers and visitors,” Bauschard said.
Fast charging stations have between 7kW and 22kW and take three to four hours to recharge a small EV. They use AC currents which the car then converts to DC currents.
Bauschard said Tesla is also in the process of installing privately owned fast-charging units in the Smithfield Barbeque parking lot.
There are currently only five Tesla or EV charging locations total in the New Bern area, which can be located through the ChargeHub website.
“The electric department is actively watching the emergence of EV charging. It is growing rapidly,” Bauschard said. “But we are also watching the impact on the electric grid. Widespread adoption of home chargers, public chargers and fast chargers could have a big impact on utility reserve capacities.”
Camille Klotz, co-owner of The Hanna House Bed and Breakfast, said she’s seen an increase in people using their public charging stations, one for Tesla and one for regular EV cars, since installing them five years ago.
In 2018, nearby Kinston opened five public charging stations across town, which were funded through a Duke Energy grant. City officials hoped the stations would draw in beachgoers from Raleigh who would meander through town as their car charged.
Bauschard said the City of New Bern will continue to pay attention to EV trends and their impacts on communities.
“It also begs the question, ‘will today’s electric utility be tomorrow’s gas station?’. These are important considerations for local governments and public power providers,” Bauschard said. “Ultimately, while we evaluate and prepare for tomorrow’s utility needs as they relate to transportation, we are also proceeding with caution.”