ASHEVILLE — Tourists could rent electric cars charged at solar-powered stations in the coming years to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, or tour the Biltmore Estate and River Arts District, turning Western North Carolina into a green destination.
“You could drive our mountains fueled by sunshine,” said Stan Cross of Biowheels Responsible Transportation Solutions.
That vision took a step closer to reality Monday when the alternative energy company unveiled its Brightfield charging station in the parking lot of the City of Asheville Public Works Building on Charlote Street.
“We can create quality jobs with North Carolina’s first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station that was designed and manufactured here in Asheville from materials made in America,” said Cross, who founded the company along with Matt Johnson and Patrick Sherwin. With some 2,000 electric vehicles expected on the roads around Asheville area by 2015, the region will need to install some 900 public charging stations to serve those drivers. Making those stations solar could save 43,000 barrels of oil and reduce greenhouse gases by 80,000 tons, Cross said.
That math adds up for the potential to create some 1,500 jobs over the next few years in Asheville’s clean energy sector.
The company’s technology and potential to create jobs won praise from U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, who supported the company’s bid for $376,000 in federal stimulus money funneled through the N.C. Green Business Fund.
“How could you not be for the innovation and technology and what these gentlemen are bringing to the community?” Shuler said.
Cross estimated that designing and building just the first Brightfield station has already created three new jobs and supported 24 jobs at local companies.
In the coming weeks, Biowheels RTS will open three more Brightfield stations at Land of Sky Regional Council off Leicester Highway, at the Reuter’s Center on the campus of UNC-Asheville and down at the BioWheels bike shop on Coxe Avenue.