• 73°

Solar array installed at welcome center in West Point

By Donny Karr

dkarr@civitasmedia.com

A worker with PPG Industries walks next to a solar array at an electric vehicle charging station at the Georgia Welcome Center at Interstate 85. The solar array is part of a photovoltaic, or PV4EV, quick charge station that will help motorists driving electric cars travel from Montgomery to Atlanta.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2015/08/web1_WEB0809SolarArray2.jpgA worker with PPG Industries walks next to a solar array at an electric vehicle charging station at the Georgia Welcome Center at Interstate 85. The solar array is part of a photovoltaic, or PV4EV, quick charge station that will help motorists driving electric cars travel from Montgomery to Atlanta.

Donny Karr | Daily News

WEST POINT — Installation is almost complete on an electric vehicle charging station at the Georgia Welcome Center at Interstate 85. Work Crews from Hannah Solar installed a solar array earlier this week that will power the charge station.

The array is part of a photovoltaic, or PV4EV, quick charge station that is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. It will be the first installation in a plan developed by the Georgia Tech College of Agriculture and part of the Mission Zero Corridor funded by Kia Motors America and organizations that include the Georgia Conservancy, LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, Interface and the cities of LaGrange and West Point.

According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the state has the largest share of electric vehicles in the U.S. market. The station is meant to open up the west Georgia area as a destination to a new market of travelers coming from the Montgomery area. According to Valerie Bennett, director of communications for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, the station should be operational within a few months.

“We’re hoping to have it ready by the fall,” said Bennett. “There will likely be a ribbon cutting in the fall.”

The solar array was placed in front of the Georgia Welcome Center’s main entrance. The array will hold 3,000 watts of photovoltaic solar panels, which will convert sunlight directly into electricity. The array was developed by Hannah Solar, a company specializing in solar energy.

“The (solar array) will convert sunlight into electricity and, from there, we will convert it into alternating current and we will tie into the grid, which feeds the charging station,” said Anthony Coker, vice president of marketing and development for Hannah Solar. “If more people charge and there’s not enough sunlight available, then we can pull electricity off the grid. If there’s not many, then we can offset the whole load here.”

Coker said that the charge station is able to charge about 20 vehicles per week with the amount of sun collected through solar panels. He said that the speed of the charging station is “second to none.”

“It’s a DC (direct current) fast charger, which is the fastest you can get,” said Coker. “This is a level three charge technology. If you’re halfway down on your vehicle’s charge, you can top it off in less than 30 minutes here.”

The installation is part of the Mission Zero Corridor, a major project funded by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, which aims to be the most energy efficient and sustainable stretch of highway in the world. The foundation has partnered with Kia Motors to develop the corridor.