Weber State looks to put more electric cars on Utah roads

Saturday , October 08, 2016 - 6:00 AM1 comment

OGDEN — Local universities are charging up to help bring cleaner cars to Northern Utah roads.

Weber State University, Utah State University and Utah Clean Energy are launching the “Drive Electric Northern Utah” program, which will help residents in the region buy or lease electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles at a discounted price. It’s similar to the partnership that brought solar panels to Davis and Weber county roofs through the 2015 Susie Hulet Community Solar program.

“We all had such a good relationship working through the Susie Hulet program, we wanted to do more,” said Alice Mulder, director of Weber State’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center. “We want to turn that power into powering our travel.”

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The program officially launches on Oct. 17, although Weber State will start spreading the word during the homecoming tailgating party on Saturday. Those interested in purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle can sign up a free workshop, scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Utah State campus in Logan, Oct. 20 at the Weber State Davis campus in Layton, and Nov. 1 at the Weber State main campus in Ogden. All workshops start at 5:30 p.m.

Drive Electric Northern Utah is open to both students and nonstudents.

“We want to educate the community about why electric vehicles are the wave of the future, really, and now is a good time to get on that wave,” Mulder said. “We need to electrify everything as much as possible and have as much of that electricity coming from renewables as possible as we look at climate changes and impacts from greenhouse gases.”

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Salt Lake City-based Utah Clean Energy launched a similar pilot electric vehicle program through the University of Utah last year. U Drive Electric worked with local dealers and helped 76 drivers get discounted electric cars. Clayton Johnson, clean energy project coordinator with Utah Clean Energy, said Northern Utah customers can expect discounts up to 25 percent off the suggested retail price through Drive Electric Northern Utah.

“We’d be really pleased if we could sell 40 to 50 vehicles through the program in Ogden and Logan, those two metro areas,” Johnson said.

Utah Clean Energy received grant funding for the program through the Lawrence T & Janet T Dee Foundation, the Patagonia Outlet in Salt Lake City and the UCAIR Utah Clean Air Partnership. But working with the state’s university is what gives these projects momentum, Johnson said. 

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“One of our biggest challenges is to make sure everyone knows these programs are out there and there are great benefits available,” he said. Partnering with universities helps reach a large amount of people and helps universities meet their goals of being more sustainable.”

To help combat climate change, Weber State has a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Mulder said it’s important to help drive that initiative beyond the campus, too. 

“At Weber State, the biggest piece of our emissions, proportionally, comes from commuters,” she said. “We can change light bulbs and put in efficient systems, but the behavior part is much harder ... this was a way for us to help impact that piece a little bit.”

For more information about the electric vehicles or to sign up for a workshop, visit the Drive Electric Northern Utah website or call Utah Clean Energy at 801-363-4046. 

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/leiaoutside or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen.

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