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Businesses could help provide EV infrastructure

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Tesla installed a supercharging site in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn on Farrow Road in Columbia, and the company has plans to build another in downtown Charleston. (Photo/Andy Owens)

The renewables vice president for S.C. Electric & Gas said that businesses should look at electric vehicle charging as a possible workplace benefit, saying such a move could trigger a shift in how people think about electric vehicles.

Danny Kassis, vice president of customer relations and renewables for SCE&G, said an increase in workplace charging facilities also could play a role in management of future fuel demand for electric vehicles in South Carolina.

He said SCE&G is having conversations with companies such as ChargePoint and Tesla to discuss best practices and how businesses can become involved in building a grid for electric vehicles.

Tesla has five supercharging stations in South Carolina and plans to build a sixth on the Charleston peninsula, though the company didn’t offer a timetable or specific location.

ChargePoint has dozens of charging installations for businesses, retail locations and apartment buildings across the state. It’s one of many companies offering electric vehicle charging services.

SCE&G also is investing in public charging stations that could become part of the state’s infrastructure.

“We are seeing much, much deeper interest,” Kassis said. “We’re contracting for some public stations. There are a number of different projects that are advancing.”

Kassis said SCE&G understands that peak demand for electricity goes up between 5 and 6 p.m., when people get off work and go home. If everyone plugs in their electric vehicle at the same moment each night, it could tax the system, he said.

“One of the ways that you could influence the way that people consume could be ratemaking, doing it further off peak” demand times, Kassis said.

For example, he said offering lower electric rates for charging cars at 9 p.m. or later could level out demand and give owners incentive to shift their habits, while also increasing usage for utilities.

Depending on their charging system, Kassis said customers could plug in their vehicles and manage the charging with a mobile application, so vehicles could charge when demand is less, such as late night or early morning.

“It’s still early, but we’re kind of intrigued about what could happen to transportation,” he said.

Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.

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