GE selects Greenville as electric vehicle test city

Published 2:41 pm Sunday, November 6, 2011

Greenville, S.C. will be one of General Electric’s (GE’s) first test cities in the world for electric vehicles. GE is partnering with local governments and area businesses for the “EV Ecosystem” pilot project that will help develop the infrastructure to support electric vehicles.
GE plans to install more than 40 electric-vehicle charging stations at locations across the Greenville area, including the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, downtown businesses, hotels and other spots.
GE said it chose Greenville because of a long history of cooperation between the city, Duke Energy and GE Energy, which builds gas turbines at its plant in Greenville.
David Searles, director of GE Ecomagination in New Jersey, said the project will help introduce and test electric vehicles. GE, which manufacturers the charging stations in North Carolina, will have a chance to test them in working conditions, while Duke Energy will test the impact of electric vehicles on its grid.
“As we get more chickens and eggs together, we think we’ll see tremendous opportunities for electric vehicles,” said Searles. “We have to get going and that’s what this is all about, introducing the technology and getting more people involved.”
In addition, Enterprise is adding 10 electric vehicles to its Greenville rental fleet that will be used in a WeCar Program pilot project in Greenville. The project will use electric vehicles in a membership-based car sharing program. The electric vehicle projects in Greenville are part of a coordinated effort to make the city a leader in new technology.
The city began a “Greening of Greenville” project that also involves upgrades to LED lighting and improvements to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.
Duke Energy is working through its SmartBuilding Advantage pilot program to share the cost of energy audits and upgrades for buildings in downtown Greenville.
Duke, GE, the city and Hubbell Lighting also are collaborating to replace more than 30 streetlights on Main Street with LED lights, which are about 35 percent more energy efficient.
“When we talk about sustainability, it’s about more than just saving energy,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White. “It’s about making good business decisions in an era where every dollar must be stretched, it’s about leading in innovation and job creation and it’s about cleaner air.”
– source:
Celgard LLC of Charlotte plans to spend about $105 million and create 250 new jobs when it expands its battery separator capacity for electric drive vehicles at its facility in Concord, N.C. The expansion is expected to begin in 2013 and become fully operational in 2014.
N.C. Governor Bev Perdue said Celgard, a subsidiary of Polypore International, is an innovative North Carolina company that is “helping us realize the promise of a greener economy.”
Robert B. Toth, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Polypore, said the expansion is in response to “an accelerating demand curve associated with the growth of electric drive vehicles.”
– source:, N.C. Governor’s Office
Biltmore Estate says it will install 5,000 solar panels on six acres, creating one of the largest solar arrays in North Carolina. The $5.2 million array, which will be built over two months, is expected to supply about 25 percent of the estate’s energy.
“This is part of the family heritage,” said Biltmore Estate Communications Director Kathleen Mosher, noting that George Vanderbilt had envisioned a self-sufficient country estate when he constructed the home in the late 1800s.
The estate also operates programs for sustainable forestry, water conservation, waste stream reduction, recycling and field-to-table food production.
The array will be located east of the estate, below Antler Hill Village and visible from I-40. Because the solar panels will be only 3.5 feet by 5 feet the Biltmore can continue to use the six acres as farmland. The estate plans to use the acreage for free range chickens, which don’t seem to mind the panels, according to Chuck Pickering, Biltmore’s vice president of agriculture and land use.
“(The array) gives them protection from hawks and other predators,” he said.
– source:, 10/28/11
Apple has started work on a solar farm next to its new data center in Maiden, N.C. The farm is expected to cover more than 100 acres and  generate a significant amount of the power for the cloud-computing facility. Apple filed a soil erosion permit with Catawba County for about 170 acres of land at the data center, and recently began clearing at the site.
– source: Hickory Daily Record, 10/25/11
CTL Packaging announced plans for a manufacturing and distribution facility that will bring 131 new jobs to Gaston County over four years.
CTL received state incentives valued at $1.2 million for the $58.5 million economic development project. Gaston County also donated land for the project and provided the company $500,000.
The facility will be CTL’s first in the U.S. The company, which makes products for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, is based in France and also has manufacturing facilities in Spain.
– source:
Strata Solar of Chapel Hill is moving forward with plans for two new solar farms in North Carolina. The company plans to construct one of them in Robeson County to supply power to Progress Energy, while the other would be in Catawba County and sell power to Duke Energy.
Each of the plants will produce about 5 megawatts of power, enough to meet the needs of about 500 homes.
Strata Solar said five megawatts has become the standard for new plants as more investors enter the field and the price of photovoltaic panels declines.
John Morrison, chief operating officer at Strata Solar, said the price of panels has dropped from about $4 a watt just three years ago to $1.10 per watt now, and it’s still falling. Strata said the new farms should begin generating power next year. A third, 4.5-megawatt farm the company is building in Cleveland County is expected to start operating around Thanksgiving.
Morrison said the plants cost about $20 million to build, but more than two-thirds of the cost is covered by state and federal tax credits and premiums utilities pay to meet state renewable energy mandates.
Strata Solar’s new farms will be among the largest in the state. Currently, the largest solar farm is a 15.5-megawatt plant in Davidson County.
– source:, 10/15/11
Gourmet Group LLC plans to acquire and expand a cabinet manufacturing plant in Rutherford County, creating 136 new jobs over the next three years.  The company plans to invest more than $2.3 million in the plant, which has been owned by Gepetto Kitchens.
Gourmet Group said it plans to manufacture its own doors and drawer boxes at the expanded plant to reduce costs and control production.
“We had a number of opportunities in other states, but the combination of educational resources, financial assistance and a strong labor pool led us to Rutherford County,” said Gourmet Group Chairman John Wilson.
According to the N.C. Governor’s Office, the average wage of the new jobs will be $34,093, not including benefits. That exceeds the average annual wage in the county of $28,392. Gourmet Group received a $270,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund for economic development.
– source: N.C. Office of the Governor, 10/28/11
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has launched a new Incubator Farm Project to help attract new farmers in North Carolina.
CEFS will help up to five communities in North Carolina set up incubator farms that give new farmers a place to learn about farming and finding markets for their products.
Joanna Massey Lelekacs, the state coordinator for the project, said access to land has been identified as one of the leading challenges for new farmers in North Carolina.
“The Incubator Farm Project will work with communities to address this need by repurposing vacant public land into places that incubate new farmers,” she said.
Through the Incubator Farm Project, farmers will get a rent-free place to farm in exchange for their commitment to give back to their communities, by donating fresh farm products or other services to those in need. Farmers also receive education and support from Cooperative Extension agricultural agents.
City and county governments and state agencies can submit proposals for the project to CEFS prior to Dec. 1. The incubator project is part of a “10 percent campaign” launched by CEFS to encourage consumers to spend 10 percent of their food budgets on locally produced foods.
– source:, 10/21/11
Nine communities in North Carolina received the inaugural Small Business Community Award from N.C. Governor Bev Perdue. The award goes to communities that found creative and innovative ways to help small businesses create more jobs.
The governor’s office noted that two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses. The award program honors projects, strategies and initiatives “that reflect excellence in community economic development, small business and entrepreneurship and sustainability in North Carolina.”
This year’s winners included: Town of Burgaw, Town of Elkin, City of Greenville, City of Kannapolis, Lumberton, Rockingham County, Town of Star, Town of Maxton and Town of Valdese.
As an example of one of the projects, the City of Kannapolis has worked with a development company to turn a former industrial complex into the North Carolina Research Campus. The bioscience research campus includes more than 3 million square free of office, lab and civic space, including 1,000 on-campus dwelling units. The campus is a partnership with eight universities in the state.
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