Kemp unveils first set of EV chargers at Georgia’s state parks

Tallulah Gorge gets first chargers; more coming by year’s end at Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon and other parks
Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a ceremony unveiling the first ever Rivian electric vehicle chargers at Tallulah Gorge State Park on Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a ceremony unveiling the first ever Rivian electric vehicle chargers at Tallulah Gorge State Park on Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

A short hike from the scenic trails and waterfalls of Tallulah Gorge, Gov. Brian Kemp revealed the Georgia State Parks system’s first EV chargers on Thursday and announced plans to install stations at other parks with the help of partners Rivian, Georgia Power and the Department of Natural Resources.

Flanked by state and local officials, Rivian representatives and a fleet of the company’s electric vehicles, Kemp plugged a charger into a Rivian R1S SUV to deliver what was billed as the first-ever charge in a Georgia state park.

Kemp said the chargers would boost tourism, make state parks more accessible for EV drivers, and bring more stations to rural Georgia, where they remain sparse.

“This is an economic development tool for us,” Kemp said. “This is something that sells our state. It brings visitors to our state, and it’s a place where our citizens can stay and enjoy the good Lord’s beauty in their own state.”

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams said more chargers will be installed at Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon, High Falls and Skidaway Island state parks, plus the Wormsloe Historic Site in Savannah. Georgia Power installed the transmission infrastructure to power the stations, while Rivian donated the chargers themselves. The stations planned at the other parks are expected to be installed by the end of this year.

Despite a series of legal hurdles, Rivian still plans to open a $5 billion factory about an hour east of Atlanta in 2026. Michael Callahan, the company’s chief legal officer, said the charging stations were indicative of its strong partnership with the state and its commitment to Georgia.

“The state parks charging program is about convenient, EV charging for those adventuring in America’s most beautiful recreational areas,” he said.

Cox Enterprises, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owns about a 4% stake in Rivian.

Kemp called the development of a state park charging network another step toward his goal of making Georgia the “e-mobility capital of America.”

During Kemp’s tenure, Georgia has become a major manufacturing player in the global transition to electric vehicles. Since 2020, the state has landed 35 EV-related projects totaling more than $21 billion in investment and 27,800 jobs, according to Kemp’s office.

Kemp and his economic development team have dangled tax breaks and other incentives to lure companies to the state. But his efforts have been aided by President Joe Biden’s administration, which is using incentives of its own to encourage EV adoption as it tries to limit climate change. The transportation sector produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other part of the U.S. economy.

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Biden’s signature climate and health care law — known as the Inflation Reduction Act — offers $7,500 tax credits to encourage car buyers to choose EVs, but only a few models currently available are eligible. The administration also recently floated the most stringent vehicle and heavy truck pollution standards in U.S. history. If finalized, the regulations could mean two-thirds of all new vehicles sold in the country by 2032 are EVs.

Currently, only a fraction of the cars on U.S. roads are all-electric. But consumer interest in EVs in Georgia and around the country appears to be growing quickly — In January, EVs accounted for nearly 9% of monthly new vehicle registrations in Atlanta, compared to just 5.5% a year earlier in January 2022, according to a recent report from Axios Atlanta. EV registrations are also climbing nationally.

As more drivers choose EVs, the charging network needed to supply electrons — and calm drivers “range anxiety” — remains a work in progress.

Georgia has begun taking steps to increase the number of chargers around the state. Last year, the federal Department of Transportation approved the state’s plans to begin building out a network of highway charging stations, with the goal of placing one roughly every 50 miles along Georgia interstates.

Georgia Power also recently submitted initial plans to install community chargers at 11 sites in rural parts of the state.

In March, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill during the recent session to let convenience stores sell electricity by the kilowatt-hour and allow that electricity to be taxed, much as the state currently taxes gasoline. The legislation has not been signed by Gov. Kemp yet.

A note of disclosure

This coverage is supported by a partnership with 1Earth Fund, the Kendeda Fund and Journalism Funding Partners. You can learn more and support our climate reporting by donating at

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