UP FRONT: All charged up

Posted on Jul 1, 2014 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Jon Jarosh/Door County Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy Jon Jarosh/Door County Visitors Bureau

It didn’t take long for the Door Peninsula’s newest amenity to attract visitors.

Just minutes after the Door County Visitors Bureau unveiled the first public electric vehicle charging stations in the county, a Tesla Model S pulled off the road and plugged in.

Mere minutes was all it took to confirm they had tapped a vein of demand.

“People do cruise the county,” says Jon Jarosh, director of communications and public relations for the DCVB. “If we can get a network in place, folks will be able to plug in when they need to and get around the entire county.”

The charging station at the DCVB, located in Sturgeon Bay, can service two cars at a time. The station is the 25th public charging station in the New North region, and joins a growing network of 127 stations across the state.

Additionally, the number of electric cars on the road is growing. The United States has the largest fleet of electric cars on the road at more than 215,000, according to government and industry sources. A network of charging stations is growing to support those vehicles.

“We are definitely seeing more electric vehicles on the road and purchased in Wisconsin,” says Michael Moore, a senior renewable and product services consultant with Wisconsin Public Service. “We had a big jump in 2013 and sales are even higher so far this year.”

Door County, however, marks the first time the charging stations have been installed by a destination marketing organization. The DCVB is already working to add three more charging stations within the next several months.

The Bay Breeze Resort and the High Point Inn, both in Ephraim, and the Village of Egg Harbor have all agreed to install charging stations in the coming months. The DCVB is actively recruiting other local businesses and communities to install charging stations, and will be creating a map and special page at DoorCounty.com to update charging station locations.

PrintAt the Bay Breeze Resort, the plan is to have the charging station installed and ready for the start of the 2015 tourism season, says Rachel Willems, director of operations and marketing. The stations are part of the resort’s commitment to green tourism.

“It’s a real complement to our green initiatives,” Willems says, noting the resort is certified by the state’s “Travel Green Wisconsin” program, which promotes sustainable green practices in the tourism industry.

While most vehicle charging currently takes place at home, Moore says the economics of installing and sponsoring a charging station tend to be positive for business owners.
“The people that tend to buy these vehicles are more affluent and make good customers,” he says. “Plus, it very logically fits into any sustainability commitment, and that is important to younger consumers.”

Promoting sustainable and ecotourism practices was also one of the drivers for the DCVB when it initiated the effort to build a network of charging stations in the county. There are 46 businesses, parks and attractions in Door County certified as “Travel Green Wisconsin.”

“There are times when we, as tourism catalysts, are called upon to be leaders and visionaries and develop new and exciting opportunities in tourism development,” says Jack Moneypenny, president and CEO of the DCVB. “We are very excited to spearhead this initiative and make Door County a leader.”