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Electric cars plug in at CCCC-Pittsboro

Click to enlarge Electric cars plug in at CCCC-Pittsboro

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Two Nissan Leafs fill up their batteries instead of gas tanks at plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging ... (more)

03.07.2012College & Community

PITTSBORO - Central Carolina Community College's Chatham County Campus boasts two new additions to its long list of green features: electric car charging stations.

Progress Energy Carolinas selected the college as the first educational institution to participate in its plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging stations research project based on the college's commitment to and programs in renewable energy.

Two PEV stations were installed behind the Sustainable Technology Center in November and are being used by students and campus visitors, according to Karen Allen, CCCC provost for Chatham County. There is no cost to recharge.

Plug-in vehicles that travel an average of 40 miles between charges require approximately three hours to recharge, while a full recharge might take six to eight hours. This accommodates the schedule of students who come to the campus for multiple classes during the day or evening.

"Central Carolina Community College is nicknamed 'Green Central' for good reason," Allen said. "At our Chatham Campus and Siler City Center, we have green buildings, programs and events, reaching not only our students, but our communities with the message of living green. That means being wise stewards of our environment while increasing public and personal health and wellness. Our PEV charging stations are a wonderful addition to that."

The two stations utilize 240-volt circuits, rather than the standard 120-volt used in a residential recharging station. These provide up to 20 more miles of driving distance for vehicles.

Progress Energy owns and maintains the stations. The company now has a total of 12 public access charging stations in the state, with the others located in Raleigh, Cary, and Asheville. The stations are part of a research project the company is carrying out to assess the need, cost and challenges of having a network of public charging stations and their possible impact on the electric grid.

The project is partly funded by a U.S. Department of Energy smart grid grant from the 2009 federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Progress Energy will own the charging stations through the duration of the project, which is expected to last two years with an option to extend, as needed. Ownership of the stations will transfer to the college at the end of the project.

"We are excited about being part of Progress Energy's research project," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "Living our commitment to sustainability reinforces what we teach students in our classrooms and labs and shows them the importance we place on it."