Our story begins in 2011, when 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. A group of pioneers united under a shared goal to promote EVs in our state and launched the North Carolina Plug-in Electric Vehicle (NC PEV) Taskforce, laying the groundwork for a statewide effort in support of electric transportation.
The newly formed taskforce, a 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, Plug-in NC leaders identified education and outreach as key tactics to promoting EVs. We hosted our first symposium in 2011, which later inspired our annual summit. We created planning guides for local governments and toolkits for alternative fuel sources while sharing the benefits of driving electric.
Since then, we’ve expanded our reach. Whether we are drafting digital content, attending festivals, directing workshops, presenting at conferences, campaigning for a specialty license plate or taking a road trip, we remain committed to inspiring change from the inside out.
Many of our favorite memories are from National Drive Electric Week. Every year, we join the celebration — originally in our 2011 Nissan Leaf and now in our 2019 Chevy Bolt — and encourage our community to participate. We have seen members, ambassadors and other organizations partner to spread the word about EVs, impacting dozens of attendees at a time.
As new developments emerge, Plug-in NC aims to stay ahead of the curve by conducting research that helps integrate EVs into our communities.
In 2012, we 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, we focused on electric buses and DC fast charging. Our research on the latter helped us 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.
Over the years, we have 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, we worked with community colleges, independent training delivery agencies, the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal, and electric utilities to launch one of our first 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, we partnered with multifamily housing communities and homebuilder associations to promote residential charging infrastructure.
As the need for training increased, we 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.
Our community is at the heart of what we do. It is the driving force behind every milestone we have celebrated and the reason we have been able to succeed.
When we develop trainings, we look to our colleagues in the field for expertise. When we create plans, we receive direction from our steering committee of industry specialists. For our annual summit, we seek out EV leaders for insight on the latest trends and updates. When we faced COVID-19 restrictions, we allied with our partners to produce virtual content through webinars. And we have 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, we have 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. We have 10 successful years behind us, and we look 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.