In 2014, Georgia was the top state in electric vehicle sales in the country, but lacked the charging infrastructure to support this demand. The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) created the Charge Georgia Program as a way to incentivize cities, counties, and universities to install electric vehicle charging stations.
“The Charge Georgia Program started in 2015. The original phase awarded rebates to cities, counties, universities across the state with a rebate up to $40,000 to provide 50 percent of the cost of installing charging stations in public areas,” said Kelly Cutts, program manager at GEFA.
The city of Sandy Springs, located just north of the city of Atlanta, was one of the participants in the Charge Georgia Program.
“Well, Georgia is one of the largest populations of electrical vehicles in the county. We had for a long time a tax incentive program and so we had a large number of electric vehicles operating in Sandy Springs and so we thought that it would be a really good idea to provide some remote charging stations around the city so that people could come in if they were visiting or out moving around that they could quickly charge their vehicles,” said Rusty Paul, mayor of Sandy Springs.
The city decided to install two charging stations in Hammond Park, which is near the intersection of I-285 and Georgia 400.
“Well, one of the reasons we chose the Hammond Park location is because of the centrality of that particular location. It’s very close to the perimeter business district, which is one of the largest business districts in the Southeast. It’s also kind of dead center in the city so it was easy for all of our residents to get to and it's one of our more popular parks,” said Mayor Paul.
GEFA has been receiving reporting data from all 61 charging stations that were installed due to the Charge Georgia Program.
“Since the program inception, over 22,000 charging sessions have occurred we know that we have been able to off-set 15 tons of gasoline through the EV charging stations,” said Cutts. “I think that the biggest benefit of the Charge Georgia Program has been the increase in the infrastructure that we have been able to provide throughout the state of Georgia. Essentially anybody driving the state from Tennessee to Florida at this point has an opportunity to take their electric vehicle, map out their route, and find an electric vehicle charging station anywhere along the way.”
On a range of issues, from water conservation to alternative fuels, local governments are conserving natural resources and saving taxpayer dollars.
“We are temporary stewards of the resources that we are responsible for and it’s important for us to leave this place in better shape than when we found it for our kids and grandkids, and so for that reason, if for no other, it’s important that we take a very environmentally responsible approach in all of our public policies and particularly when it saves money. I mean it’s not only environmentally responsible but it's economically and fiscally responsible and we try and keep a close eye on that bottom line as well,” said Mayor Paul.