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Tennessee Welcomes SMART Charging Station for EVs

January 25, 2011

KNOXVILLE, TN - The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Electric Power Research Institute on Jan. 25 unveiled an electric vehicle charging station that can also make electricity from sunlight, store electricity and put electricity back in the power grid when needed. 

The prototype Smart Modal Area Recharge Terminal, or SMART station, was developed by TVA and EPRI. The unit is among the first public electric vehicle charging stations with all these features. Located at EPRI's Knoxville Research Laboratory, the station demonstrated its capabilities Jan. 25 while charging electric vehicles built by General Motors, Mitsubishi and Nissan. 

"Electricity as a transportation fuel can benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it can save consumers money by lowering their driving costs," said Anda Ray, TVA senior vice president of environment and technology. "These all-in-one charging stations are important to the development of electric vehicles and also to TVA's goal to provide cleaner, low-cost energy." 

TVA and EPRI broke ground on the SMART station in June. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and local power companies are partners in the project. A second prototype is being built by the national laboratory in Oak Ridge, about 10 miles away. 

The charging stations will be tested for three to six months before additional stations, with a total of 125 charging spaces, are built in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and possibly other sites over the next few years. Access to the stations initially will be limited to researchers. 

"This and similar charging stations represent a key step in providing charging facilities for electric vehicles when away from the home," said Mark McGranaghan, EPRI vice president of power delivery and utilization. "The data collected from these stations will help us to understand station performance, customer charging preferences and grid impact." 

The new charging station features:

  • Six parking spaces (10-space stations are planned for the future), each supplying enough power to charge most electric vehicles in three to eight hours, depending on the make of the vehicle.
  • An electric plug designated as the industry standard by the Society of Automotive Engineers that will accommodate all future plug-in vehicles made for the U.S. market.
  • About 2 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels per charging space.
  • About 5 kilowatt-hours of stationary battery storage per charging space to assist vehicle charging and send power to the grid during periods of peak electricity demand. The batteries also will support the local power grid by lessening the effects of charging multiple cars in one location.
  • Advanced measurement and controls that will collect data about charging electric vehicles.

The SMART stations will be used over time to study various aspects of electric vehicle charging, including consumer behavior, the impact on the electricity system, infrastructure design and development, and the testing of different stationary batteries. TVA and EPRI also will assess electric vehicles' potential to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants. 

The SMART station is being deployed in conjunction with the EV Project, managed by ECOtality and including EPRI; TVA; the U.S. Department of Energy; the state of Tennessee; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Nissan; the cities of Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville; and regional utility partners.  

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