The University of South Florida St. Petersburg gets charged up courtesy of the Duke Energy Park & Plug Pilot Program

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Jeff Baker speaking about the Park & Plug pilot program.

Last month, Duke Energy and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus unveiled six new charging stations as a part of Duke Energy’s Park & Plug pilot program. To celebrate, Tampa Bay Clean Cities partnered with USF, Duke Energy, League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Suncoast Sierra Club, and Electrify the South to host an event celebrating all things electric!

The unveiling took place outside of the Tavern at Bayboro on the USF St. Petersburg campus, directly in front of two of the charging stations.

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“Duke Energy recently launched our Park & Plug pilot program, through which we’re bringing electric vehicle charging stations to communities,” said Duke Energy’s Government and Community Relations Manager Jeff Baker. “Over the next four years, Duke Energy will install more than 500 charging stations for public use throughout the state, such as in multi-unit dwellings, workplaces, and locations with broad public access.”

Peter King, Electric Transportation Project Manager for Duke Energy, demonstrates how to charge up an electric vehicle and check charging status on an app-based tool.

USF St. Petersburg received four Level 2 charging stations and two direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations in the parking garage, which can provide up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. Not only can vehicles charge quickly, but they will also be powering up with renewable energy as the DCFC units are powered by a 100 kilowatt (kW) solar array, another joint venture between the utility and the university.

“We’re always thrilled to be working with our friends at Duke Energy on sustainability initiatives,” said Dr. Martin Tadlock, Regional Chancellor of USF St. Petersburg. “Taking steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels aligns perfectly with who we are as a university.”

Dr. Martin Tadlock speaks about USF St. Petersburg’s sustainability accomplishments and endeavors.

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus has a long record of sustainability, with the goal to become a carbon neutral campus by 2050. Last year, the university was awarded a $1 million grant from Duke Energy for a Tesla solar battery system that now powers most of a parking garage including its elevator, lights, and charging stations.

Following the charging stations unveiling, attendees were able to test drive a variety of plug-in cars, including an all-electric Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt. Attendees were also invited to hop aboard PSTA’s battery electric bus, the eLooper, and converse with local electric vehicle car owners about their vehicles.

Thanks to Duke Energy’s Park & Plug program, USF St. Petersburg is moving their campus forward in promoting the adoption of clean transportation through the use of clean energy.

“I’m excited about the opportunities the Park and Plug pilot program will provide for our customers throughout the state,” said Catherine Stempien, President of Duke Energy Florida. “We are bringing cleaner energy to Florida through 700 megawatts of new universal solar, and we are helping our customers to bring clean transportation to the state as well. We are committed to providing smarter, cleaner energy alternatives for all our customers.”


SIDEBAR: The author’s thoughts as a first-time EV driver

I was surprised at how quiet and easy an electric vehicle was to drive. The 2019 Nissan Leaf even had a reverse alert sound to warn surrounding pedestrians the car was in motion. I can see myself being comfortable driving anywhere in an EV!


The Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition advances the energy, economic, and environmental security of the United States through its efforts to reduce petroleum use in transportation in a six-county region. It is the area’s recognized resource for technical assistance, networking, identification of grant opportunities, and information exchange in the area of advanced transportation options, fuels, and technologies.

The coalition is housed at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, Tampa.

This article was written by Alicia Kerr, Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition

Alicia Kerr interns at the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition as part of the Clean Cities University Workforce Development Program, and is a University of South Florida graduating senior majoring in Environmental Science and Policy.

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