South Boston News & Record, June 5:
Oak Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Cluster Springs consciously appeals to the ecotourism traveler — a group that now includes guests who roll up in Tesla electric vehicles.
In late summer 2016, the historic Cluster Springs inn became one of a dozen inns in Virginia to be fitted with Tesla charging stations, making Oak Grove a natural draw for people who want to see the countryside while riding around in their high-tech sedans.
What makes Oak Grove an even more appealing stop for green energy advocates is the source of much of its electricity: solar panels.
In a given year, solar energy powers anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the inn’s electrical needs.
Originally built in 1820, Oak Grove has a long history of running off its own energy sources. More than a century ago, the home utilized a giant Delco Electronics battery in the basement, powered by a windmill behind the house where the solar panels stand now.
Converted into an inn in 1988, the idyllic Cluster Springs plantation possesses a strong “self-sufficiency tradition,” says innkeeper Pickett Craddock, whose ancestors lived in and tended to the home for close to two centuries.
Admittedly, the archaic windmill powered only the home’s light bulbs, but it was part of a longtime devotion to being green and close to the land. The house was built with timber felled on-site and bricks made locally, Craddock said. Much of the interior woodwork was done by Thomas Day, the master woodworker in Milton, N.C.
As for why Tesla funded a free charging station at the B&B, it goes back to the design of its vehicles. Electric cars use high-capacity batteries to power their motors, getting anywhere from 100 to 250 miles per charge. While Tesla owners can charge their cars at home, on the road they need special stations to juice up their batteries once the charge gets low. Tesla decided to strategically place recharging stations along major highways and travel routes.
“I think Tesla really jumped at the chance to put one here,” said Michael Doan, Craddock’s husband.