Rate this video:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars

Smoky Mountain Black Bears & Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Welcome back to your home for electrical industry news, trends, information and entertainment,

The Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are one of, if not the most, picturesque places in these united states.  The Smokey’s are home to all kinds of plants and animals too – including one of the largest populations of black bears.

In fact, that’s what the Smokey’s are known for.

But, with the millions of visitors the park sees every year, the Smokey’s signature tenant – the black bear, faces new dangers of today’s modern age.

This story is how NECA and the IBEW are helping to make them a little safer, through their actions and their expertise.

The great smoky mountain national park, along the Tennessee-North Carolina boarder, is the most-visited in the US – with between 8-10 million visitors each year.

The name derives from natural fog that often hangs over the mountain range.  But – you could make the argument these days that it’s pollution, not fog, which gives its unmistakable haze.

In 2004, the National Parks Conservation Association reported this park was the most polluted of the national parks.  So polluted in fact, that in 2003 the park recorded approximately 150 ‘unhealthy air days’.

This wasn’t good news for park visitors or its wildlife like the black bear.

But rather than going from bad to worse, it’s gone from bad to better, thanks in part to a local non-profit organization – The Black Bear Solar Institute – and the NECA/IBEW team.

Bob Harris – President, Black Bear Solar Institute

“We are actually a 501c3 nonprofit, and our mission is to promote solar energy, renewable energy, energy conservation, electric vehicle infrastructure and use of electric vehicles, and also on the side we work with wildlife rehabilitation, which is where the black bear of Black Bear Solar Institute comes from.”

Lisa Stewart – Executive Director, Black Bear Solar Institute

“The black bears of the Smokey’s are the icons of this are, so everyone visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park wants to come  to see black bears.”

Bob Harris – President, Black Bear Solar Institute

“We are about a mile and a half outside the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and so the air quality in the park is a very big concern for both the human and the wildlife residents of the area.”

Wayne Wojciechowski – President, Broadway Electrical Services Company (BESCO)

“As a business we’ve always tried to look for what’s he next big thing coming down the pipe, what’s the niche markets we could focus on.”

George Bove – Business Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 760

“Well the charging stations are growing everywhere now, and Broadway Electric and our contractors are right at the front in this area, with the installation and service of them.”

Wayne Wojciechowski – President, Broadway Electrical Services Company (BESCO)

“The Smoky Mountains, to us, being in our back yard, is very important and we do want to preserve it. It’s a beautiful park that we enjoy being in and to say that we have a part in preserving it, keeping the pollution down in those areas, give us some pride, and our guys as well.”

When this story was produced, there were 24 EV charging stations, installed by the NECA/IBEW team, in and around the entrances and exits of the park… giving motorists ample opportunities to charge, and recharge.

Bob Harris – President, Black Bear Solar Institute

“People that are using electric vehicles, we really look at them as being the 21st century pioneers of transportation. This area is very rich in 19th century history and the settlement of the mountains and the valleys around here, and we see the electric vehicle operators, as pushing the frontier a little bit in transportation and we want them to have that comfort factor of being able to see and use these public stations as they need them.”

What now is a smaller, 2-story office with downstairs welcome area has plans to be the most sustainable wildlife rehab facility ever built.  The permanent home for the Black Bear Solar Institute.

Included in the plans is a multi-enclosure rehabilitiation complex for endangered, most often times orphaned, black bear cubs like these, but also other native Smoky Mountain wildlife.

There is also room for a larger educational center for park visitors to learn about the cubs, other animals and the environment, powered in part by solar panels, to be installed by the NECA/IBEW team.

Lisa Stewart – Executive Director, Black Bear Solar Institute

“When you’re afraid of something, you don’t want to step out of the box and see something new, and try to learn about that. But we make that easy for them. Tying that in to something people love and know, are the animals. And so when you grasp them and let them know what they can do to help the environment, and the wildlife habitat for the animals, then you can take them a  step farther and see that latching on to EV and PV and these types of things in renewable energy, we can make that easier for them.”

The skills necessary to adapt to our changing world are sometimes hard to learn… but the IBEW has been ahead of the curve for years.

A good reason why they’re an integral part into making the Smokey’s safer for the animals which call it home and for humans who visit.  The stakes have never higher and there’s not a minute to lose.

Bob Harris – President, Black Bear Solar Institute

“That’s been our focus all along as we give people a reason and enable them to use these electric vehicles, to do something that’s fun, that they enjoy doing. They come out to this area, to the national park, on the weekends, and if they see a charging station, it plants that seed. I could be driving an electric vehicle here, it’s a normal thing, and we’re trying to reach the next generation, as well.”

“Being able to work with someone like BESCO who is very experienced, who has performed several of the EV charging installations before we became involved with them, was just absolutely critical to the success of this, because otherwise you’re coming in, you’re causing problems, you’re getting in the way of things. We’ve just gotten nothing but the highest praise from every location that we’ve used about the professionalism, the completeness of the work, what a neat job the way they just let the facility in perfect condition when they left.”

Wayne Wojciechowski – President, Broadway Electrical Services Company (BESCO)

“The craftsmen are very good and take a lot of pride in their work that they do. The training shows, the craftsmen, the pride, and just being an IBEW electrician mean s a lot both to the guys, to us, and to the customers.”

Lisa Stewart – Executive Director, Black Bear Solar Institute

“IBEW had brought in some upgrades on our new charging stations that we ahd put in our parking lot, and I spoke with Mark and he was working very diligently that day and said, ‘You know, I have to tavel all around, this is just one of my stops to bring in the things that are necessary.’ And those are things we don’t even have to worry about.”

With more than 1,000 charging station installations to their credit, the NECA/IBEW team in this area has a reputation for customer satisfaction in this area expands beyond the Smoky Mountains National Park.

George Bove – Business Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 760

“The beautiful thing about what we do is that we make it very clear to our friends and neighbors and to the public that we’re the guys that make the electricity. We’re the guys that distribute the electricity. Wouldn’t it make sense that we’d be the ones who install and service the electricity.”

Madeline Rogero – Mayor, Knoxville, TN

“It’s important when you have a project like this that you get the job done well. BESCO has done a thousand of these, that’s my understanding. So we are happy to partner with somebody who knows what they’re doing.”

So, in a way you could say that the NECA/IBEW team is making the environment a little safer in the Smokey’s for its 8-10 million tourists who visit each year, and the black bears who call this beautiful park home.

Are you a subscriber? if not, it’s easy to be sent alerts from us when we have new content for you to watch, just click subscribe on the top right corner of the homepage and enter your information.

And don’t be afraid – we will never share your information with anyone.

Thanks for tuning in… see you next time here on ETV.