Greenfest kicks off with ribbon cutting ceremony

Annabel Gibson
News Staff Writer
agibson1@unca.edu

Starting off the festivities of Greenfest, UNC Asheville hosted a public ribbon cutting ceremony for the new electronic vehicle charging station in the P12 parking lot.

“Today, more than half a million electric vehicles are on the roads of the United States,” said Jason Walls, Duke Energy’s government and community relations manager. “Asheville and this region continue to be a leader across the country and certainly in the state of North Carolina for its adoption, its interest and enthusiasm around electric vehicles much in part with groups like the Blue Ridge EV Club.”

The newest stations bring the number of available electric vehicle stations on campus up to eight and provide a cost-free charging option to the campus community.

Jason Walls and Joe Urgo cut the ribbon to announce the opening of the new electric vehicle charging stations in the P12 parking lot on campus. Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville.

“I must thank Duke Energy for this wonderful partnership. This is a strong contribution to our sustainability efforts in this campus,” said Joe Urgo, interim chancellor. “It may seem like a minor thing, two charging stations, but great progress takes place in small steps.”

The charging stations are open to all community members and visitors with a valid parking permit.

“We are so grateful to UNC Asheville and Duke Energy for promoting the future of driving by installing these chargers,” said Rudy Beharrysingh, president of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club and director of the Mathematics Assistance Center at UNCA. “The presence of the chargers will encourage more students and staff to consider an EV as their next vehicle.”

Greenfest officially began on Saturday with a ROOTS Garden Work Day to help maintain the campus gardens and educate students and the public about sustainable agriculture and gardening.

“On March 29, we have a movie called EVOLVE at 7 p.m. in the physics lecture hall and March 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. right opposite Highsmith Union we have a show of electric cars,”Beharrysingh said.

Other than events with the Blue Ridge EV Club, Greenfest offers numerous events every day this week.

“It’s a documentary that we’re going to show about electric cars and have a discussion afterwards,” Beharrysingh said of the film EVOLVE: Driving a Clean Future in Coal Country.

While most events are available for students to join in by simply walking up, others will require prior registration. These events include a campus foraging tour today, a “Teaching Kitchen” on Thursday and a compost facility tour on Friday.

“Our partnership and relationship with the university in Asheville goes back many years through a lot of projects and a lot of efforts with a number of folks at Duke Energy,” Walls said. “When we think about electric charging vehicles, our hats off to groups like the Blue Ridge EV Club and what work they have done to advance adoption of electric vehicles in this region.”

Duke Energy  gave grants to universities, such as the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, to explore how to store and use solar energy, demonstrating their interest in pursuing cleaner energy alternatives.

We’re always willing for other colleges and universities to work closely with them if they want to pursue some other clean energy environments,” said Randy Wheeless, communications manager at Duke Energy. “We’re always happy to help. Sometimes it’s just a matter of where the school wants to go and how we can help them, but I think EV technology is something we really want to do more of in the future.“

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