An electric car charging station is now a part of Metcalf Park, in downtown Sparta, and city leaders hope it will entice tourists to visit some of the area businesses and recreation spots.
“We are always looking for new attractions for our downtown, and this new electric car charging station will provide those people who use this type of vehicle a place that they can recharge their vehicle, while spending some time visiting the downtown shops and restaurants,” Sparta Mayor Jeff Young said.
The new charging station, which was placed near the public restrooms at Metcalf Park, can accommodate two vehicles at a time, with most vehicles taking approximately two hours to fully charge. According to Belva Bess, Sparta Electric System manager, the parking spots will be painted green and have a universal symbol to indicate they are designated for electric cars.
The new station came at no cost to the city of Sparta as it was the result of a Department of Energy project. Tennessee Valley Public Power Association and Seven States Power Corp. collaborated with Tennessee Tech University to provide nine electric vehicle chargers around the areas serviced by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.
According to Bess, TTU secured grants to pay for the chargers, with the city only being responsible for the labor to complete the electrical and concrete work for the installation.
“We have the EV charger for three years,” Bess said, adding that the charger was technically leased to the city of Sparta for 36 months, but the lease was at no cost. “After that, we can choose to purchase it at a reduced depreciation rate or to have it removed.”
Electric car owners can use the charging station for the cost of $1 per hour, payable either through an app or by using their phone to tap-to-pay at the station. According to Bess, the idea is to keep the cost set at enough to simply pay for the kilowatt hours used.
“We are trying to help the downtown by bringing more people to the area,” Bess said. “We have even had some of the local AirBnB owners say they had potential guests asking about somewhere to charge their vehicles. Now we can provide that.”
Bess said electric vehicle owners typically have an app on their phone that directs them to charging stations, so when they plan their travel routes and the places they will stay while traveling, they use the app to guide them. She said Sparta’s charging station will now appear on the app and will have GPS directions as well as a picture of the location so drivers will know where it is located when they arrive in Sparta.
“Our station was placed near the Farmers Market pavilion in close proximity to downtown dining, shopping, and recreational facilities, all within walking distance,” city administrator Brad Hennessee said. “Our hope is, that people will spend some time and money here, while they wait for their vehicle to charge.”