GVEC Power Tower

GVEC is helping electric car owners power up faster with its new Power Towers.

GVEC is helping power up vehicles at shocking speeds through new electric car charging ports.

Last month GVEC opened up a pair of electric vehicle charging stations — or Power Towers, as they call them — to the Seguin area.

“We’ve installed two of them in our area,” Senior Executive Manager Tammy Thompson said. “One is at the Seguin Customer Service Center, which is on SH 46 and the other is out on our Western Operations Center, which is on I-H 10.”

Although the towers aren’t the only charging stations in the area, the unmanned ports are significantly more efficient at juicing up electric vehicles than traditional stations.

“They are the only fast charging ports in the South Texas area,” Thompson said. “They’re 62.5 kWh as opposed to a traditional charger that’s 7.2 kWh and so those are commonly seen everywhere and take six to eight hours to get a car fully charged. But these are significantly bigger and they’re made to give a full charge anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the type of vehicle that you have.”

The large green towers are easily identifiable to ensure travelers never miss out on a chance to charge up. The stations even glow in the dark for those with nocturnal charging needs.

“The towers are located in front of our facilities so when you drive up to both you will see them off to the side there easily accessible,” Thompson said. “There’s parking right in front of the towers.”

Although the towers are primarily used by drivers making the trek from Austin to Corpus Christi, GVEC plans to use the beefed-up charging ports as a study tool to gauge the Seguin area on how widespread the use of electric vehicles is among residents, Thompson said.

“EV (electric vehicles) vehicles are getting more and more popular,” she said. “Folks need those resources to be able to charge commuting back and forth and we also want to study the use of these things to study what kind of demand it’s going to put on the grid for the future. So it’s partly a service for the folks that are coming through our area and partly a study for us.”

Since their installation, the Power Towers have proved to be quite successful amongst owners of electric vehicles.

“It’s a new progressive technology and we’ve already seen a lot of use off of the Power Tower at the Customer Service Center in Seguin, with about 40 uses of it within the first month that we introduced it,” Thompson said. “It gives folks that currently have electric vehicles here in the area a good resource to use.”

Aside from reducing one’s carbon footprint, owning an electric vehicle can be much more affordable than traditional alternatives, Thompson said.

“The predictions are that EV’s will cost less to own than emissions vehicles by 2024,” she said. “It says that EVs will make up almost half of all vehicle sales by 2040. A traditional vehicle is around $2.50 a gallon, with a 10-gallon tank that would cost around $25 to fill and that will take you 400 miles. An electric vehicle with a 60 kWh battery would cost $9.39 to take you 400 miles.”

The towers were deployed with the assistance of a grant by the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.

“We were able to raise these stations because we were awarded a Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and basically got grant funds to cover up to 50% of the qualifying cost of installing these things,” Thompson said.

Using a Power Tower is fairly straight forward. Like any gas pump, drivers cruise up to the station and plug-in. However, to pay for power drivers need a particular app on their phones, Thompson said.

“You have to have a Charge Point account that also comes with a card that you wave to the tower,” she said. “The charge then goes to your Charge Point account and you receive a bill of 26 cents per minute.”

In addition to providing a way to pay at the towers, the Charge Point application also provides a GPS location of all available towers in the area, according to a new release by GVEC. Drivers will also soon be able to conduct a quick online search and find the towers on google maps.

The future of Power Towers looks shockingly bright however it is unknown how far GVEC will take these devices.

“I’m sure that if we see the use that we need to out of these and we get to understanding the technology better as other resources become more available to help with the cost of them, we will be deploying more,” Thompson said.

Joe Martin is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at joe.martin@seguingazette.com .

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