PEMBROKE — The sixth solar-powered electric car-charging station at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was dedicated this week.
The station was funded by a grant from Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility.
“This is a program we’re doing statewide with $1 million in grants for 200 stations,” said David McNeill, Duke’s regional manager. “Duke Energy is committed to the adoption of electric vehicles in our service area.”
Some auto industry analysts predict that all new vehicles rolling off the assembly lines by mid-century will be electric.
There are 14 electric vehicles in use by faculty, staff and students at UNCP, said Jay Blauser, university sustainability director.
Duke’s grant was for $10,000, and UNCP’s students chipped in through the green student fee, Blauser said. All the charging stations are solar powered and tied into the university’s electric grid. The newest station is in a parking lot behind the Village Apartments, on the north side of campus.
Recycling and turning off the university’s lights when not in use are important pieces of a sustainable university community, said Dr. Robin Cummings, UNCP chancellor. But there is much more going on here.
“UNCP was one of two universities in the UNC system to reduce its energy consumption by 40 percent per square foot from 2002,” Cummings said. “That’s an energy savings of $8 million for the taxpayers of North Carolina.”
If Cummings’ plans become a reality, the university’s new business school building will be “energy positive.”
“People will come from all around to see what we’ve done here in Pembroke,” Cummings said. “Sustainability and conservation is everyone’s job.”
Auto emissions is a key piece of the sustainability picture. Reducing the university’s carbon footprint hinges on reducing emissions from commuters.
“One-third of our carbon emissions, 6,000 metric tons, comes from commuters,” Blauser said. “Electric vehicles will go a long way to improving that number.”
Blauser, UNCP’s first sustainability director, was hired in 2014.
Since then, the university has become a Tree Campus and adopted a green student fee of $7, Blauser said. The fee was requested by the student body.
Duke Energy has a long history of funding programs at UNCP, including internships, science programs for K-12 schools and the Region IV Science Fair.
“I am extremely impressed with the students, faculty, staff and administration of this university, and we’re pleased to be a partner with them,” McNeill said.
Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-416-5649.