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Southern Joule takes a road trip

Mike and Colin Smith with their all-electric Chevy Bolt.


Two travelers from South Carolina will test their endurance and an electric vehicle’s ability to conveniently make a five-day, 2,200-mile trip from South Carolina to Utah.

Mike Smith, vice president of business and technology strategy at the state association of electric cooperatives and his son, Colin, embarked Thursday morning (May 3) on the journey in an all-electric Chevy Bolt, nicknamed the Southern Joule, as they test the practicality of cross-country electric vehicle travel in 2018. They will follow a carefully planned route that will help them make the best use of their battery power to ensure they reach essential charging stations for a boost along the way.

Although co-ops have been embracing this technology for years, electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity. As more electric cooperative members purchase EVs, co-ops are committed to understanding the full spectrum of this technology. Large numbers of EVs would have an impact on electricity demand, and some chargers require special electrical connections at homes and businesses.

The Southern Joule, named after a unit of energy, joins five other teams participating in the “Drive to CONNECT EVent,” as the teams travel to a national conference of electric cooperative marketing and communications employees and gain hands-on experience in EVs beyond their cooperatives’ service territories.

During their journey to Salt Lake City, the Smiths will collect data for research purposes, set a baseline for the future and obtain essential knowledge that will help South Carolina’s electric co-ops serve as a trusted source for EV information. They will also share real time updates across social media. The public can join the journey by following the hashtag #SouthernJoule and #DriveEVent on Twitter.

Upon their arrival, Mike and Colin will take part in Touchstone Energy’s EV pre-conference workshop, where they will share their stories from the road, as well as provide thoughts on electric transportation and infrastructure with attendees.

“The idea for the EVent came from one of our members,” said Mike Smith. “It is a bold endeavor that can focus more attention on the growing EV sector.” 

The six teams participating are:

Team “Southern Joule” – Chevy Bolt, Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, SC
Team “M-e, Mi Self-e & I” – Ford Fusion PHEV, Gunnison County Electric Association, CO
Team “Pure Glacier Energy” – Tesla Model 3, Flathead Electric Cooperative, MT
Team “Road Trip Recharged” – Tesla Model S, Stearns Electric Association, MN
Team “Gas Kickers” – Chevy Bolt, CKenergy Electric Cooperative, OK
Team “Alan’s Electrified Ride” – Toyota Prime PHEV, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, GA


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