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North East Power Ready for the Future But Needs Members’ Help

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

General Manager Keith Hayward with North East Power’s new Mustang Mach-E. Photos by Alyssa Schnugg

With more and more people having electric vehicles, the folks at North East Mississippi Electric Power Association wanted to make sure they fully understood all there is to know about charging EVs, the costs associated and how long the charges last.

And the best way to do that was to buy one.

Recently, NEMEPA purchased an all-electric Mustang Mach-E that is used as a company car and is serving as an educational tool for association members to learn more about electric vehicles.

“We got the car for our staff to use to make trips to understand how they work,” said General Manager Keith Hayward. “We have a charging station here at the office where we can figure out how much energy is used to charge at different times.”

The vehicle is available for members to check out and even go for a spin to see how they work while receiving helpful and educational information about EVs.

“We decided that it was beneficial for us to learn more about something that is of interest to our members and helps us learn more about how to serve our members,” Sarah Brooke Bishop, NEMEPA communications and marketing manager.

Most EVs say they can go about 300 miles fully charged. The time it takes and how much energy is used depends on the size of the charger. Most people use Level 2 chargers at their homes, which can take 8 to 10 hours to fully charge a vehicle. Fast charging stations, or Level 3, can charge up a vehicle in 30 minutes.

Hayward said he thinks the country is far off from seeing 10-station charging stations like you now see 10 gas pumps at gas stations.

“That is like using the same amount of power as it takes to power the Walmart Distribution Center,” he said.

He said 90 percent of the time, people are charging their EVs at home.

So what does that do to our electric availability?

Not much, Hayward said.

“Our powerlines are built for the future,” he said. “We’ve been growing and we’ve been one of the fastest-growing co-ops since the 1990s. We have been over-building our system to keep up with the growth. As long as TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) can get us the power, we can get it to them.”

This past winter, TVA had to issue rolling blackouts after severe winter storms hit our area just a couple of days before Christmas. TVA recorded the highest 24-hour electricity demand supplied in the history of the agency and saw the third-highest peak demand. TVA also saw the highest weekend peak demand in history.

Some residents began expressing concerns as to whether local power companies could handle the extra demand of charging electric vehicles.

Hayward said NEMEPA will have no trouble providing the necessary power to charge vehicles; however, members play a part in how much that will cost NEMEPA that purchases its power from TVA.

“We all have to be in this together,” he said. “If people end up charging at the wrong time, we won’t recoup as much of the money we paid TVA for the energy.”

Hayward said members can help keep electric costs down by avoiding charging their vehicles during peak load hours. In the winter, that is from 6 to 9 a.m., and in the summer, it’s from 4 to 8 p.m.

“If people just not charge their vehicles during those peak times, any time of the year, that’s going to help keep costs down for everyone,” he said.

Members should also continue to use common sense. If there is a strong winter storm or a heat wave, that causes more people to flip the switches on their heaters or AC units, and charge vehicles only when necessary and not during those peak hours.


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