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State receives grant for plug-in electric vehicles and charging stations

By Kathy Chaffin
North Carolina is one of 16 states to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for plug-in electric vehicles and charging stations.  
The $500,000 grant — administered by the Centralina Council of Governments in Charlotte – will fund the development of plug-in electric vehicle readiness plans in four regions across the state: Charlotte (which includes Rowan and Cabarrus counties), Asheville, the Research Triangle and the Piedmont-Triad.  
Sean Flaherty, who will oversee the state’s development of the plans, said key stakeholders from private industry, academia, nonprofit, local and state government will be working together to prepare for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
“North Carolina is a leader in plug-in electric vehicle technologies,” he said. “Investing in plug-in electric vehicles and alternative fuels is not only good for our environment, but also improves the state’s local economies by creating jobs, attracting manufacturers and collaborating with our strong research universities and community colleges.”
Electric vehicles cost pennies to run
When compared to typical petroleum vehicle costs, Flaherty said the cost of fueling electric vehicles is literally pennies per gallon.
“As the price of petroleum continues to rise, North Carolina has to embrace new technologies,” he said, “so we can be ready for alternative fuel solutions like plug-in electric vehicles.”
Plans from each region will be combined to form the state’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Readiness Plan, which is called the “North Carolina PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging in from the Mountains to Sea.” Residents, government officials, business representatives, nonprofits and other stakeholders from all nine counties in the Charlotte region will be given several opportunities to have input into the local plan as well as the state plan. 
Five planning groups
Flaherty said the regional and state planning process includes five working groups focusing on the crucial elements for plug-in electric vehicle planning: policy, codes and standards; education and outreach; infrastructure; vehicles; and economic development and incentives. Among the chairs of the various groups are utilities representatives Jessica Bishop of Duke Energy and Mike Waters of Progress Energy.
Kevin Grant, sustainability manager for Cabarrus County, and Gary Bigelow, dean of industrial and engineering technology at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC), and Wade Vernon, program chair of automotive systems technology for RCCC, are a few of the working group members representing the greater Charlotte area. 
“The working groups are tackling a variety of topics that must be considered while planning for electric vehicles,” said Flaherty. “For example, with the absence of federal standards, one of the issues for the policy, codes and standards working group is how to accommodate drivers with disabilities at charging stations located at handicapped parking spaces, ensuring they comply with the requirements of the American Disabilities Act.”
The PEV Readiness Plans will be complete by early 2013, according to Flaherty, and could be implemented quickly if the current momentum toward alternative fuels and transportation technologies continues. 
To learn more or to get involved, visit the greater Charlotte Regional PEV Planning website at http://go4pev.org/ or contact Flaherty directly at sflaherty@centralina.org or 704-688-6508.

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