Fire Shines Spotlight on EV Charger Safety

Published in CSP Daily News

Prompts Duke Energy to halt home electric-vehicle charging in N.C.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Retailers are watching the electric-vehicle (EV)-charging market closely and are installing, piloting or considering charging networks as a potential way to embrace new refueling technologies. Now a house fire in Lake Norman, N.C., last week has brought national attention to charger safety and has prompted Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy to ask its customers participating in an EV pilot program to stop using their home's charging station while the blaze is being investigated, reported WBTV.

Investigators from the Iredell, N.C., Fire Marshal's office are trying to find out if an electric car charging station is to blame, and they are getting assistance from Siemens, the maker of the charging station, and from General Motors, the manufacturer of the Chevy Volt electric car that was in the garage, said the report. Duke Energy and the federal government are also helping in the investigation.

The homeowner was one of 25 of Duke's customers in North and South Carolina and 100 customers in Indiana whose energy use with the electric car is being tracked by the utility.

Right now it's advising those customers to stop charging their vehicles at home, just to be on the safe side.

"We do feel confident that the device has a number of safety features built into it ... that's one of the reasons we went with this device. They're being installed all over the nation, and from what we understand, there has been no issues with the devices. So we are confident in the device," Paige Layne, a Duke Energy spokesperson, told the news outlet.

Officials said that there are a number of points of origin inside the garage not related to the charging station that could be the culprit. The fire marshal hasn't determine a cause. Officials said the point of origin could be the car or the charging station, could be something else in the garage or could be spontaneous combustion. They added that the cause could be the electrical wiring between the wall receptacle and the home's breaker box.