Fairmont getting solar car charger

Adelina Shee Staff writer

October 10, 2013

FAIRMONT — The future of renewable energy looks bright in Fairmont as it expects to offer what officials say would be the first solar-powered electric car charger in Robeson County.

Joel Olsen, president of O2 Energies, a North Carolina solar company based in Cornelius, told the Board of Commissioners on Thursday that the company will be building a solar-powered electric car charger on North Walnut Street, which is right in the heart of town.

“There are plenty of electric car charges in Charlotte and in Raleigh, but if you want to take a long trip you’re going to have to either get on (Interstate) 95 or 74,” Olsen said. “So it makes a lot of sense to have a car charging station here.”

According to Olsen, the installation of the car charging port is part of a 5-megawatt solar farm project on Turkey Branch Road. The $15 million project is expected to provide about 100 temporary jobs and increase the town’s property tax base by $3 million annually.

“When someone drives up and plugs their car in, they’re plugging directly into the sun,” Olsen said. “When it’s dark, it comes from the grid and if there’s no car charging there, all power goes directly into the same grid.”

Olsen said the half-acre structure will have solar panels attached and will cost about $100,000 to build.

“It will look like a very nice and clean car port structure with solar panels on top and basically a cable that you can take out and plug into your car,” he said. “If you’re going to stop on the way to beach, it will be an ideal spot.”

Fairmont bills itself s the shortest route to Myrtle Beach, S.C., a marketing campaign designed to get motorists to travel through the town. There are billboards on Interstate 95 directly motorists through the town.

Mayor Charles Kemp said the installation of a solar-powered electric car charger will increase tourism and town revenue.

“We believe that when more of these vehicles come into use in the future … Fairmont will experience more visitors and those businesses nearby will certainly feel an economic boost,” Kemp said.

In other action, the board elected Terry Hunt as the out-of-town member on Fairmont’s extraterritorial jurisdiction board.