ASHEVILLE ? Stan Cross hopes drivers will get used to ?driving on sunshine? with today?s opening of a new public solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles.
Cross and other founders of the BioWheels Responsible Transportation Solutions will join elected officials for the 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting of the company?s Brightfield charging station at Asheville City Public Works Building at the corner of Charlotte and Eagle streets.
Featured guests include U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, Deputy N.C. Commerce Secretary Dale Carroll and Scott Hamilton, CEO of AdvantageWest.
The new station underscores entrepreneurs? commitment to bring alternative energy and cleaner transportation to the region, Cross said.
?Our focus is on creating a more resilient community. All of us connected with BioWheels RTS were living here when Hurricane Rita struck the refineries in Texas and we had no gas (in Asheville) for two weeks,? Cross said. ?Western North Carolina is unique in being at the end of the energy line. We have to take more responsibility for generating our own energy.?
The station will generate 5 kilowats of solar energy annually, enough to provide 30,000 vehicle miles of solar power for electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf that are rolling off the assembly lines and into Western North Carolina.
The station features three electric vehicle chargers that will be free to the public. During the day, the solar array on the roof will generate power that will be fed onto the electric grid.
Cross envisions most of the charging will occur at night when car owners visiting downtown can pull in and recharge their vehicles, pulling power from the grid.
?Our job is generating more solar capacity than is being used by vehicles. Instead of creating a battery storage system, we use our existing infrastructure,? Cross said.
By the end of the month, BioWheels will open additional stations at Land-of-Sky-Regional Council off Leicester Highway, at the Reuter Center on the UNC Asheville campus and at the BioWheels store on Coxe Avenue. The company used $376,000 in federal stimulus money funneled through the N.C. Green Business Fund to boost alternative energy.
BioWheels is just one player in the growing number of charging stations opening in the area. The Hilton at Biltmore Park boasts new public chargers manufactured locally by Eaton Corp.
By the end of this year, drivers can start recharging their cars for free at 25 electrical stations around the region, funded by $150,000 from a federal grant.
?We still need to educate more people about electric vehicles and getting them behind the wheel,? said Brian Taylor of Land-of-Sky Regional Council. As charging stations become more common, more drivers may want to invest in the new vehicles.
With an estimated 1 million electric vehicles projected by 2015, Asheville could see up to 2,000 electric-powered cars in the next three years.
Energy Policy: While leaving U.S. oil and jobs in the ground, our itinerant president tells a South American neighbor that we'll help it develop its offshore resources so we can one day import its oil. WHAT?!?
With Japan staggered by a natural disaster and a nuclear crisis, cruise missiles launched against Libya in our third Middle East conflict and a majority of U.S. senators complaining about a lack of leadership on the budget, President Obama decided it would be a good time to schmooze with Brazilians.
His "What, me worry?" presidency has given both Americans and our allies plenty to worry about. But in the process of making nice with Brazil, Obama made a mind-boggling announcement that should make even his most loyal supporter cringe:
We will help Brazil develop its offshore oil so we can one day import it.
We have noted this double standard before, particularly when ? at a time when the president was railing against tax incentives for U.S. oil companies ? we supported the U.S. Export-Import Bank's plan to lend $2 billion to Brazil's state-run Petrobras with the promise of more to follow.
Now, with a seven-year offshore drilling ban in effect off of both coasts, on Alaska's continental shelf and in much of the Gulf of Mexico ? and a de facto moratorium covering the rest ? Obama tells the Brazilians:
"We want to help you with the technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely. And when you're ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers."
Obama wants to develop Brazilian offshore oil to help the Brazilian economy create jobs for Brazilian workers while Americans are left unemployed in the face of skyrocketing energy prices by an administration that despises fossil fuels as a threat to the environment and wants to increase our dependency on foreign oil.
Obama said he chose Brazil to kick off his first-ever visit to South America in recognition of that country's ascendancy. He has also highlighted one of the reasons for America's decline ? an energy policy that through the creation of an artificial shortage of fossil fuels makes prices "necessarily skyrocket" to foster his green energy agenda.
In an op-ed in USA Today explaining his trip, Obama opined: "Brazil holds recently discovered oil reserves that could be far larger than ours. And as we seek to increase secure-energy supplies, we look forward to developing a strategic energy partnership."
"A pen in the hand of this president is far more dangerous than a gun in the hands of 200 million law-abiding citizens."