Dr. Jason Morris has been eyeing electric vehicles and considering when would be the right time to make the leap. Last month, in a parking lot at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, his eyes were opened wide to the possibilities.
From a moderately priced Nissan Leaf, to a fully loaded, all-electric BMW i8 that can cost about five times as much, Morris could see and touch his options – while learning more about how UAB is making the switch to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) more convenient for faculty, staff and visitors to the campus and its sprawling medical complex.
June 29 was the first day that employees at UAB, the state’s largest employer, had access to 16 new electric vehicle charging stations installed at four campus locations. Employees can refuel their electric vehicles at the stations free of charge.
When UAB’s new home for the Collat School of Business opens later this summer, there will be two additional chargers available to employees, bringing the total to 18.
To celebrate, UAB Sustainability held an electric car show “to help people see the different options that are out there if they wanted to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Julie Price, UAB Sustainability Manager.
“We are always trying to reduce our environmental footprint and make life better in the sustainability triple bottom line: economic, environmental and social sustainability,” Price said.
She said the new infrastructure will help reduce vehicle emissions in the city center. Another benefit of electric vehicle charging stations is that “once electric cars are plugged in, they are plugging into a multitude of fuel sources, as opposed to just gasoline,” Price said.
Alabama Power partnered with UAB on installing the 18 new chargers for employees only. UAB already has eight chargers available to campus visitors at three campus locations.
While at the car show, spectators could view cars from all price ranges, from the Leaf – with a starting retail price of $29,990 before federal tax credits, which can reduce the price – to the i8, with a starting price of $147,500.
Morris a physician at UAB, said he was interested in purchasing an electric vehicle, and has been waiting on the infrastructure before he made his move. “When I saw this, I thought it was a good chance to come out and see what all was being offered between UAB and Alabama Power and all the partners.”
UAB Sustainability hosts several events on campus year-round to encourage students, faculty and staff, as well as community members, to do their part in making Birmingham a better, more sustainable place to live, Price said.
Alabama Power employees have been working with others in the Birmingham area and around the state who are interested in electric vehicle chargers. Among them is Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, which recently added chargers in its parking deck.
Do you drive an electric vehicle? As an Alabama Power customer, you can get a monthly rate discount on your power usage during the EV charging period of 9pm and 5am. If you’re an EV owner, consider increasing your impact by putting the money you’re saving toward supporting green energy.