Tennessee Officials to Help Install Electric Vehicle Chargers at State Parks, but Won’t Cite Demand


Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) officials announced Wednesday they have entered a partnership to install charging stations for Electric Vehicles (EVs) at all 56 state parks.

But, when asked, TDEC officials would not discuss how or whether the demand for these charging stations exceeds any possible costs to the state or anyone else.

In a press release, TDEC officials said they have partnered with the California-based Rivian to install that company’s EV charging stations at Tennessee’s state parks.

“EV charging at Tennessee State Parks will initially be free and drivers will be able to easily monitor their vehicle’s charging session via the Rivian app. Any potential future cost to drivers may be dependent on system wide utilization to recover electricity costs. In addition to overseeing design and installation, Rivian will provide any necessary utility upgrades associated with the charger installation at no cost to the state or taxpayers,” the press release said.

“Rivian will also cover all network access fees, equipment service, and maintenance for 10 years. Under the estimated timeline, Rivian will begin site surveys and engineering over the summer, with installation beginning as early as fall 2021 and stretching into March 2022.”

The Tennessee Star emailed TDEC officials Wednesday and asked them if, despite what the press release said, they plan to put even one cent of taxpayer money into this project. We also asked them to cite the demand Tennesseans have for EV charging stations right now. TDEC officials did not respond before Wednesday’s stated deadline.

Officials with TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced in February they will develop more electric car-charging stations in the state, at an anticipated cost of $20 million. TDEC and TVA officials said that to get the money they “will leverage various funding sources.”

General Motors (GM) officials announced in January they would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. GM officials also will invest nearly $2 billion in its Spring Hill manufacturing plant in Maury County to build fully electric vehicles.

In 2013 and 2015, Tennessee Watchdog found that people seldom used taxpayer-funded charging stations in Nashville. As Watchdog also reported, Tennessee officials in 2015 spent $181,250 to place three charging stations at the Nashville International Airport. In five weeks, 29 cars were charged for a flat fee of $2 each. At that rate, the charging stations would pay for themselves in about 300 years.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]







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5 Thoughts to “Tennessee Officials to Help Install Electric Vehicle Chargers at State Parks, but Won’t Cite Demand”

  1. 83ragtop50

    If you are disgusted as I am with this action I recommend that you contact the governor, your state senator and stat rep to object.

    I am fed up with the state and federal levels of government force feeding EV upon us. If they ae such a hot idea (and I am not saying that will not be the case at some point) then let private companies provide the required services – for a profit.

  2. Horatio Bunce

    Good to see the State Parks supporting the coal industry. Coal Keeps the Tesla On!

  3. lb

    My car had to go into the shop a couple of weeks ago. They gave me a loaner car that was electric. What a POS.
    The driving experience with an EV is horrible. If you take your foot off the gas even barely, it engages the braking system. It outlines that in the Manual.
    It was slow, ate electricity and takes a DAY to recharge even at the Dealership.
    I will NEVER own an EV.

  4. Steve Allen

    what a waste of a perfectly good parking space. To expect the majority of people to drive an electric vehicle is so stupid. They may be practical as short commuter cars that can get you to work and home on a single charge but to expect people to use one as their primary mode of transportation only shows that the ruling class doesn’t want people traveling anywhere else but to work. It takes many hours to charge the battery. Currently the Chinese communists control the production of rare earth minerals that are vital to the production of magnets used in EVs. And as they continue to control/restrict the flow of rare earths, auto makers are forced to use lower quality magnets in the motors of EVs, thereby reducing the distance traveled between charges.
    Renewable energy is the most expensive and unreliable for of power generation. To rely on it as the only form of power generation and then demand that everyone drive EVs borders on insanity.

  5. JRin

    The Cracker Barrel in Harriman installed an electric charger for two vehicles a few years ago. They finally pulled it out, because it was never used and they needed the parking spaces for regular cars.