MATTHEWS – Matthews is looking for grants or partners to buy and operate an electric vehicle charger at Matthews Station Street and Jill Lane after Brightfield offered it to the town.
Lief Fitzpatrick, assistant public works director, said the town could use the existing infrastructure, but it will need to buy a new charger. He proposed a DC Fast Charger, which could charge a car in under an hour.
Fitzpatrick pointed to several benefits of maintaining the charger, including increased spending at nearby shops and increased adoption of electric vehicles, which could lower noise and air pollution.
There are nine DC Fast Chargers within a 10-mile radius of Matthews and none within two miles, Fitzpatrick said. Most of them are at auto dealerships and fuel stations.
“We're providing a destination for people, especially for people traveling along the 74 or 485 corridor,” he said.
Commissioners ruled out the option Aug. 23 of buying, installing and operating the charger using funding from their operating budget. This could have cost upwards of $60,000 for equipment and installation.
Commissioners Jeff Miller and John Urban said they didn't want to see the burden of maintaining the charger fall to town staff. They preferred a company like Duke Energy taking on the project.
Mayor John Higdon was the most vocal against the town operating the electric vehicle charger – even with grants.
“Nobody is offering me free cans of gasoline when I go to the library,” Higdon said. “If I visit Cornelius, they don't give me free gas if I come to their town, so why would we give free charges on a car? I don't know why our taxpayers should subsidize that. Let the market work it out.”
Commissioners Dave Bland and Larry Whitley were among the biggest proponents of the alternatives. Both reasoned that it makes sense for Matthews to have a charger given that Tesla has an electric car showroom and service station in town.
Bland said he didn't want to spend a lot of the town's money or staff effort on the measure, but it would be a great idea if the town could encourage electric cars or secure grants to encourage them.
“I don't want Matthews not to be represented in the times that we're living as we progress and move forward,” Whitley said.