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Hamlet EV chargers threatened by Moss bill

Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, is a sponsor on a bill that, among other things, would prohibit free EV chargers on government property unless gas and diesel were also available at no cost.

HAMLET — One local EV charging station could be uprooted if a bill — sponsored by Richmond County’s Rep. Ben Moss — gains traction.

House Bill 1049 would prohibit free charging stations for electric vehicles on local, county or state government property — unless that same property also offers gasoline and diesel fuel at no cost.

The bill, filed May 25, provides $50,000 to the N.C. Department of Transportation to remove charging stations that do not comply with the provisions of the act.

“I believe in clean, renewable energy solutions that are brought forward by the free market,” Moss said in a statement released June 24 after he said he had received emails and phone calls related to the bill.

“However, I don’t believe that taxpayers should be footing the bill by providing ‘free’ electric vehicle charging stations on state and local government property unless the same locations offer gasoline or diesel fuel at no charge,” Moss continued. “There is no reason hardworking taxpayers should be subsidizing energy costs for the owners of $100,000+ vehicles. Until EVs are affordable for working families and made 100% in the USA, we need to do more to increase American energy production.”

Other main sponsors of the bill are Reps. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, Mark Brody, R-Union, and George Cleveland, R-Onslow. The bill has also picked up support from Rep. Donnie Loftis, R-Gaston.

From left: Rep. Keith Kidwell, Rep. Mark Brody and Rep. George Cleveland.

The city of Hamlet had chargers installed in Main Street Park, across from the Depot, in 2017.

“The purpose of the charging station is to attract people to our wonderful public spaces in Hamlet,” City Manager Matthew Christian told the RO in an email on June 28. “The two chargers located at Main Street Park encourage people to get off the highway and make a stop in Hamlet to enjoy the park and the beautifully restored Depot & Museum.”

According to Christian, the city spends less than $50 per month on average for electricity at the park, which includes not only the chargers, but the lights and any power used for public events, such as the Boxcar Concert Series.

“It’s worth noting that this average includes a basic customer charge of $21, so the average electricity cost is less than $30,” Christian continued. “Even if we removed the chargers we would maintain our other services and the associated charges. From my perspective, the cost of providing the electric vehicle chargers in Hamlet is negligible.”

Christian added that, at that time, the city had not taken an official position on the bill.

H.B. 1049, “Equitable Free Vehicle Fuel Stations,” doesn’t just address charging on government property.

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Another section of the bill would require any business that provides free charging stations to include on the receipts to all customers the percentage “of the amount of the customer’s total purchase price that is a result of the business providing electric vehicle charging stations at no charge.”

In addition to the Hamlet site, PlugShare.com also lists that there is one Level 2 charger each at Dieffenbach GM Superstore and Griffin Nissan in Rockingham. It also shows the 12-unit Tesla Supercharger station in Richmond Plaza.

There are also several in Moore County, including one at the Southern Pines Public Library, which would be targeted by the government property provision of the bill.

However, the map doesn’t include the charger installed by Pee Dee Electric at The Berry Patch just outside Ellerbe last year.

EV charger at the Berry Patch. RO file photo

The bill has been a topic of conversation of EV supporters in online forums and publications.

Car and Driver Senior Editor Ezra Dyer, who says he lives in District 52 — recently redrawn to include Richmond County and southern Moore County — takes Moss to task in a July 7 opinion piece for the popular auto magazine.

In the sarcastic column, Dyer chastises the receipt requirement.

“That way, anyone who showed up for dinner in an F-150 (not the electric one) can get mad that their jalapeño poppers helped pay for a business expense not directly related to them,” Dyer writes. “It’s the same way you demand to know how much Applebee’s spends to keep the lights on in its parking lot overnight, when you’re not there. Sure, this will be an accounting nightmare, but it’ll all be worth it if we can prevent even one person from adding 16 miles of charge to a Nissan Leaf while eating a bloomin’ onion — not that restaurants around here have free chargers, but you can’t be too careful.”

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, the Texas Department of Transportation is planning to use more than $400 million in federal funds to install chargers every 50-70 miles over the next five years, the Texas Tribune reported in June.

According to records with the N.C. General Assembly, H.B. 1049 was referred to the Transportation Committee. Moss and Cleveland are both listed as vice chairmen of the Transportation Committee.



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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.