When Doug Harper was asked to participate in a program to introduce electric vehicles into the Greenville marketplace so people could see the new automotive technology in use, he didn’t hesitate.
Harper Corporation is one of about a dozen Greenville companies that have agreed to a six-month test use of electric vehicles in their fleets as part of the Greening of Greenville.
Greening of Greenville is a pilot program designed to make Greenville more environmentally sustainable and a model of energy efficiency for other cities.
As a part of the program, Greenville will have one of the world’s first electric vehicle ecosystems with more than 40 General Electric charging stations installed at Greenville-area locations including downtown hotels, the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and downtown businesses.
Enterprise will have electric vehicles at the airport for visitors to use and will launch the WeCar Program, a membership-based electric vehicle car sharing program for companies and individuals in downtown Greenville.
The program is designed to solve two problems with electric vehicles – their lack of use and the lack of charging stations, said Dave Searles, director of GE Ecoimagination in New Jersey.
“This will enable people to experience electric vehicles and become a part of the revolution from gas-powered vehicles to electric-powered vehicles,” Searles said.
GE is seeking additional companies to add electric vehicles or to install charging stations, he said.
The electric cars should arrive in the fall. The charging stations are being installed now.
Harper said his business will start with one electric car, but would like to change as much of its fleet as possible over to electric vehicles.
“It’s going to take commitment by the entire community to make a difference,” he said.
The second program is Duke Energy’s SmartBuilding Advantage program that allows owners of buildings of at least 100,000 square feet to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.
Duke and the building owners will split the cost of energy audits and customized incentives for building upgrades, said Catherine Heigel, president of Duke Energy South Carolina.
So far, CBRE The Furman Co., Centennial American Properties, FRI Management, Furman University, the Greenville Hospital System, TIC Properties and Verdae Properties have signed up to participate, Heigel said.
Participants can expect to see on average an energy savings of 20 percent, she said.