South Central Power | South Central Power


February 19, 2020

One of the many benefits of being a South Central Power employee is a great benefits package and a dedicated Human Resources team who works hard to educate employees about benefit choices during the co-op’s annual open enrollment period. As the HR team travels between offices to provide benefits updates in person, they use company-owned vehicle from the co-op’s vehicle fleet. In December 2019, as HR’s Bobbie Burnworth and Shannon Atkins traveled from the co-op’s headquarters in Lancaster to our office in Barnesville to educate employees about benefits and open enrollment, they decided to give our EV Wattsun a try.

The combination of the cold weather and long distance meant they were pushing the limits of the EV’s battery and range, and proved to be a learning experience for co-op employees about the pros and cons of electric vehicles.

“The Barnesville office is less than 100 miles away, but we knew with the cold weather, round-trip without a charge might not be possible,” said Burnworth. “We downloaded the Plug Share app and prepared our route and day knowing that we might need to stop for a charge on the way back to Lancaster.”

With light snow on the ground and morning temps below freezing, the pair found that when they arrived at the Barnesville office, the vehicle showed a maximum range of 89 miles, not enough to return to Lancaster. While Wattsun was plugged into a standard 120 outlet in the cooperative’s Barnesville shop, the vehicle only gained an estimated nine miles of range during the morning benefits meeting. So, Burnworth and Atkins, who would need to stop for lunch on their return trip anyway, identified a rapid charging station that would allow them to top off the vehicle’s battery while they enjoyed lunch.

“It felt strange plugging the car into an outlet instead of putting in gas at a gas station,” Atkins said. “But we had planned our route with a stop at a charging station with retail and restaurants within walking distance, so we were prepared to charge the car during our lunch break.”

After a stop for lunch, and a $25 payment to the charging station in the Walmart parking lot, the pair was back on the road. “It definitely took longer to charge the car than to just buy gas, but because we had planned ahead, it worked out for our trip in the end,” Atkins added.

Both Burnworth and Atkins were impressed with the vehicle overall, but felt it would be best for an individual who uses their car for mostly shorter distances. “I feel like I drive too much, and make too many long trips, to consider an EV for my only vehicle,” said Atkins. Burnworth agreed, noting, “I think EVs have advantages for certain applications, but for my driving needs, it’s not ideal.”