Plug-in NC: A Decade of Driving Electric

In 2011, the electric vehicle (EV) landscape in North Carolina was still a dream on the horizon. Though talk had been circling for a few years, it was time to act. Advanced Energy joined other pioneers under a shared goal to promote EVs in our state. Together, they launched the North Carolina Plug-in Electric Vehicle (NC PEV) Taskforce, laying the groundwork for a statewide effort in support of electric transportation.

NC PEV Taskforce Symposium

The newly formed taskforce, an Advanced Energy-managed collaborative alliance of key stakeholders from private industry, academia, the nonprofit sector, and local and state governments, didn’t waste time getting started. Their work was cut out for them as they set their eyes on establishing North Carolina as a leader in electric transportation. They promoted EV readiness throughout the state and worked to ensure the rapid and seamless integration of EVs into local communities and the marketplace.

Early on, the taskforce and its collaborators received funding to develop roadmaps to prepare North Carolina for EV adoption. In all, five resources were crafted (North Carolina statewide, greater Charlotte region, greater Asheville region, greater Triangle region and Piedmont-Triad region), and the project was a defining achievement. It not only increased awareness of electric transportation when the technology was still new and emerging, but it also encouraged additional groups to begin preparations and inspired the start of other EV initiatives for years to come.

In 2016, the NC PEV Taskforce rebranded as Plug-in NC, and the group of stakeholders evolved into a movement spanning from the mountains to the sea. Through training, education, outreach and a growing community of passionate EV drivers, Plug-in NC has been able to support North Carolinians in their desire to see more EVs on our roads.

Education and Outreach

From the beginning, NC PEV Taskforce leaders identified education and outreach as key tactics to promoting EVs. They hosted the program’s first symposium in 2011, which later inspired an annual summit. They also created planning guides for local governments and toolkits for alternative fuel sources while sharing the benefits of driving electric.

Since then, Plug-in NC has expanded its reach. Whether through drafting digital content, attending festivals, directing workshops, presenting at conferences, campaigning for a specialty license plate or taking a road trip, the team remains committed to inspiring change from the inside out.

Many of the program’s favorite memories are from National Drive Electric Week. Every year, Plug-in NC joins the celebration — originally in Advanced Energy’s 2011 Nissan Leaf and now in a 2019 Chevy Bolt — and encourages the EV community to participate. Local organizations, municipalities, utilities and individuals partner to spread the word about EVs, impacting dozens of attendees at a time.

Research

As new developments emerge, Plug-in NC stays ahead of the curve by conducting research that helps integrate EVs into our communities.

In 2012, the program worked with industry and government colleagues on a two-year study that assessed EV driving and charging patterns. The results were used to determine best practices and guidelines for vehicle technology and infrastructure deployment, identify potential impacts to the electric grid and reduce barriers to EV adoption. The following years, it focused on electric buses and DC fast charging. Research on the latter helped build a strategy to further implement charging infrastructure statewide.

Plug-in NC team members have also written or contributed to public charging assessments, studies on the economic impact of EVs and, most recently, the North Carolina Electric Transportation: State of the State report.

Training

First Responder Training 2012

Over the years, Plug-in NC has been dedicated to preparing the public for EVs every step of the way, and that has often taken the form of teaching and training.

In 2012, a collaboration with community colleges, independent training delivery agencies, the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal, and electric utilities launched hands-on training programs for first responders. The Plug-in Electric Emergency First Responder Program addressed new challenges involving EVs and provided extensive training in the event of an emergency. Shortly after, Plug-in NC partnered with multifamily housing communities and homebuilder associations to promote residential charging infrastructure.

As the need for training increased, Plug-in NC created additional instructional plans for utilities, workplaces and other types of facilities. These opportunities have enabled both organizations and individuals to continue to further the electric transportation movement.

Community Building

Town of Apex DC Fast Charge Ribbon-Cutting

Plug-in NC’s community is at the heart of what it does. This community is the driving force behind every milestone the program has celebrated and the reason it has been able to succeed.

When developing trainings, Plug-in NC looks to its colleagues in the field for expertise. When creating plans, it receives direction from its steering committee of industry specialists. For the annual summit, it seeks out EV leaders for insight on the latest trends and updates. In the face of COVID-19 restrictions, it allied with partners to produce virtual content through webinars. And it has aligned with countless organizations to host ride-and-drives, awareness events and other promotional campaigns.

The Decade Ahead

From a dream to a taskforce to a statewide program, Plug-in NC has seen EVs take root in our communities. With local and national EV adoption goals and aspirations from many automakers to move away from internal combustion engines, the future is electrifying. Plug-in NC has 10 successful years behind it and looks to the decade ahead with excitement. It’s time to charge up and continue the good work — and have some zero-emissions fun along the way.