The buzz around plug-in electric vehicles has been livelier than ever in North Carolina, and RTP is certainly becoming a hub of activity for the technology. RTI unveiled two new electric vehicle charging stations back in November, and just this past Tuesday, Biogen Idec held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for ten new electric vehicle charging stations at its RTP campus.
Back in November, I had the opportunity to participate in Biogen Idec’s multi-day Sustainability Fair for employees, and got a chance to hear about the exciting work they were doing to bring these charging stations to fruition and procure funding incentives to encourage employees to purchase or lease electric vehicles. On Tuesday, Biogen Idec’s work paid off, and they cut the ribbon for their new stations, the first for any of their worldwide locations.
Biogen Idec purchased the charging stations with support from the Carolina Blue Skies Initiative, a project led by Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG), with $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Biogen Idec has the distinction of being the first organization in the Triangle to successfully deploy electric charging stations under this initiative.
Pat Hoy was one of the four employees that took advantage of the incentive provided to Biogen Idec employees through Advanced Energy to purchase a Nissan Leaf. He received a $7500 stipend to offset the purchase price and will also receive a $7500 tax credit. Speaking briefly at the ceremony, Pat mentioned that one of the greatest benefits of owning a plug-in electric vehicle is that it allows him to bypass the gas station. “I haven’t been to a gas station in three and half weeks since I’ve owned the car… There aren’t too many other people that can say that.” He also highlighted some of the technological benefits, such as being able to remotely pre-cool the car’s interior using his smartphone (as long as the car is plugged in).
As part of the ceremony, Machelle Sanders, Vice President of Manufacturing and General Manager for the RTP Campus, expanded on Biogen Idec’s logic behind this move and how it underscores Biogen Idec’s commitment to environmental sustainability in the region.
She began with a challenge to other companies. “We’d like to see other companies in the area take similar strides and we believe there is a business case for electric cars and having the infrastructure to support those.” According to Machelle, making these stations available to employees positions Biogen Idec as an attractive employer and demonstrates their commitment to being a responsible company. Further, it supports their employees and their interests in reducing their own personal environmental impacts. Over the past few years, Biogen Idec has encouraged the adoption of environmentally-friendly forms of transportation by their employees. Biogen Idec provides vanpool subsidies, promotes bicycle commuting and carpooling, and is a proud member of SmartCommute@rtp. Providing free charging stations is yet another incentive to enable employees to be less dependent on gasoline.
Recent surveys of Biogen Idec employees indicate that a number of employees are interested in purchasing electric vehicles. By providing charging stations, Biogen Idec hopes to address one of the major infrastructure hurdles that drivers face when owning an electric vehicle. Machelle hopes that eliminating this hurdle will translate into an increase in the number of employees taking advantage of the technology.
For more information on plug-in electric vehicles, visit Advanced Energy. And if you’re considering a purchase and would like to know more about charging at home, both Duke Energy and Progress Energy have programs that may completely cover the cost of installation.