HOLLAND — The mission of the Outdoor Discovery Center is to advance outdoor education and conservation in West Michigan.
Driven by this mission, our organization has a keen interest in transportation options that reduce negative impacts on the environment.
Thanks to advancing technology, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a cleaner, more efficient alternative to traditional combustion engine vehicles.
Seeing an opportunity to provide drivers with entertainment, education and exercise opportunities while their batteries are recharging, the ODC installed its first EV charger in 2015.
Fast forward six years and the demand for use of our electric vehicle charger has grown beyond the single charger we had.
With contributions from a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy grant program and the White Pine Fund, we recently installed two new charging stations providing a total of four standard charging plug-ins available for public use.
Each pedestal has two charging units, suitably named “Juice Box,” which are 40-amp commercial EV chargers.
These chargers are powered in part by clean, renewable energy produced at the ODC.
Three solar arrays on the property produce over 40 percent of the electricity that the ODC consumes each year — even through Michigan’s cloudy winter season.
One of the charging stations is sometimes occupied by our electric vehicle, a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt. We chose the Bolt because it leans into our mission of conservation and education while demonstrating the value of greener transportation options.
The car is capable of driving 259 miles on a single charge, the equivalent of driving from Holland to the Mackinac Bridge.
One of its many innovative features is a regenerative braking system. While braking, this system allows the vehicle to convert the kinetic energy of the car’s forward momentum to electric energy, which is stored in the battery for future use.
We are excited to join West Michigan’s expanding network of public electric vehicle chargers and support the growth of the electric vehicle market.
Our new stations are already seeing regular usage from local residents and tourists from across the country.
Come on out to walk the trails, tour our new exhibits and playscapes and grab a snack from the Peachwave mobile kitchen in our parking lot.
To get connected with the EV community in Holland, check out the Board of Public Works’ “Charge Up Holland” page on Facebook.
See if you are eligible for HBPW’s rebate program to offset the cost of a home electric vehicle charger at hollandbpw.com/en/electric-vehicles.
— Sarah Irvin is a naturalist and Joe Sikma is sustainability manager at the ODC Network, a nonprofit that advances outdoor education and conservation in West Michigan.
About this series
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives.
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.