NDEW 2021: EVs or Public Transit: a False Dichotomy?

September 29, 2021

This live event occurred on September 29, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series celebrating National Drive Electric Week.

The path toward equitable transportation modernization can be compared to a two way street. It will take a variety of approaches, including both electric vehicles and public transit. Dig into the conversation we had with our panel of policy experts as we discussed the various approaches to move toward a carbon free transportation system:


Blair St. Ledger-Olson: Hello, everyone, welcome to Generation180’s National Drive Electric Week event, Electric Vehicles or Public Transit? A false dichotomy. And today I’m joined by my co-host from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Kim Jemaine. If you’re here to learn about multiple pathways towards transportation decarbonization. You are in the right place. We’re joined by 3 fascinating panelists today Katherine Garcia, who is Director of Clean Transportation for All campaign with the Sierra Club. Ryan Gallentine, Policy Director for Electrifying Transportation at Advanced Energy Economy. And Linda Linda Khamoushian, Director of shared mobility at GRID Alternatives.

Before we get started, I just want to tell you really quickly about Generation180. Next slide. So we’re a national nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, working to inspire and equip individuals to take action on clean energy. My name is Blaire st. Leger Olsen, and like I said today, my co-host is Kim Jemaine, Virginia director at the Chesapeake climate Action Network. And such a special thank you to our team members working behind the scenes to help support this event. Next slide. So here’s just a quick look at Generation180’s major focus areas of work, we’re working to flip the energy script, helping us move from a narrative focused on climate doom and gloom to a story focused on where we need to go. A world powered by 100% clean energy. It’s a story that says we can do this and we all have a role to play. We focus on individuals and their homes and communities because your energy matters, certain behaviors and technologies not only help to fight climate change, but they also help to build the social momentum and the political will that we need to get big system level changes. We lead two nationwide campaigns, Solar For All Schools, and the one you’ll hear from today, Electrify Your Ride, which works to make EVs more accessible. 

Solar and EVs are clean energy solutions proven to address two of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and transportation. Next slide. OK, so just a few quick housekeeping items. We had over 100 people register for this event, there’s lots of joining us. So everyone’s going to stay on mute. Please use the Q&A to submit your questions, not the chat, and we’ll get to them as many as we can over the next hour. So without further ado, let’s stop hearing from me and start hearing from our co-host and our guests. Kim, do you want to kick us off?

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”

Kim Jemaine: Yeah, of course. Thanks, Blair. Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. My name is Kim Jermaine. And as Blair said, I am the Virginia director for the Chesapeake climate Action Network and the associated Action Fund. The Chesapeake climate Action Network is the first grassroots nonprofit dedicated exclusively to fighting climate change in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Our mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement in this region that surrounds our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability. We’ve been around for 20 years, and we have recently stepped into the transportation sector because, as Blair mentioned, it is the driving force around carbon emissions here in Virginia. So it had to be a fight that we took on. So happy to be here with you all, and I’ll let our panelists. Take it away.

BLSO: Awesome, Katherine, let’s hear from you.

Katherine Garcia: Great Hello and good afternoon, everybody, I’m currently I’m Katherine Garcia, and I’m currently living in Washington, D.C. I lead Sierra Club’s national clean transportation for all campaign and I’ve worked for the club since 2017. Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and oldest environmental organization, and clean transportation for all is just one of the many campaigns that Sierra Club runs. And we have chapters across the country. We’re a community of nearly 4 million people dedicated to building a better tomorrow for our friends, family and our planet. So for the first few years, I was leading our transportation work specifically at the California chapter, and our team and allies were really focused on pushing for the electrification of cars, trucks and buses in the state. And at the time, I lived in Davis, California, which is considered a platinum ranked, bicycle-friendly community. I would regularly bike to work in Sacramento, and if I wasn’t biking in, I was taking the bus or the train. And I know I was really fortunate and very grateful to have safe bike infrastructure and to be able to take public transit because I’ve lived in plenty of cities that haven’t had reliable transit routes or bike infrastructure. And that’s part of the reason why I’m so excited for this national drive electric week panel because it has such a brilliant premise, one that isn’t really talked about in a practical way very often. I really believe that we won’t achieve our climate goals unless we are adopting electric vehicles at the pace required and also cutting vehicle emissions. Travel via vehicle miles traveled as quickly as possible, and I’m excited to dive into why that’s a false dichotomy. I’m also a mom to a sweet 1 and 1/2 year old who loves learning new words. He loves dancing and speeds huddling around outside. For years, I was involved in the environmental activism world because I wanted to stand up to polluters and protect the planet. But since my son was born in 2020, it’s really put this work into perspective for me, and I get up every morning to ensure that he and little kiddos around the country grow up with clean air and healthy and safe communities.

BSLO: That’s awesome. And if anybody’s kids want to make a guest appearance, we welcome, we welcome children and puppies and all of the friendly Zoom interruptions we’ve become more familiar with during this pandemic.

BSLO: Linda, let’s hear from you next.

Linda Khamoushian: Hi thank you. Linda Khamoushian, I’m with GRID Alternatives and I’m the director of shared mobility, and it’s really exciting to actually be part of this conversation because I dedicate a good part of my life to understanding the problems that we’re talking about today and working in the area of solutions. And so I’m from Los Angeles. I grew up here. I grew up taking the bus. I grew up walking. I got to know my city and my environment from an early age with a visceral experience of what it’s like to be out and with people and not just in a car, you know, siloed with my parents or my family. And that really had an impact on how I see the world, how I see transportation and what its purpose is in our lives. Transportation is about mobility, it’s about mobility justice. It’s about people being able to get to where they need to go efficiently, affordably with dignity. And so that’s really placed a strong emphasis in my work. And so I’ve spent the last 10 years or so studying and also working in transportation policy. My my conversation today, my inputs will come from a California context. That’s the policy landscape I know best. I worked alongside Katherine in Sacramento for three years working on active transportation, advancing active transportation policies at the state level. And now with grid. We’ve we are a, you know, primarily solar industry focused, and we bring the benefits of solar and clean energy to communities, all communities. And we focus on environmental, justice, communities, economic justice, communities. But we’ve seen the opportunity in and also extending the benefits of clean mobility to our clients and to the communities that we serve because it’s important to it’s an important factor in the reduction of carbon emissions, as we will talk about here today. So, you know, I come from my personal experience. My professional experiences will play a role in the conversation today, but I’m happy to be here and excited to speak with you all.

BSLO: Awesome, we are really, really thrilled to have you. Ryan, do you want to bring us home?

Ryan Gallentine: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Blaire, and Thanks to the other panelists as well, it’s really great to be here. Ryan Gallentine, I’m the policy director for electrifying transportation here at advanced energy economy. I’m based in the Bay Area as well, although I’m originally from the Chicago area. So yeah, I work in the clean energy tech public policy space. I spent time doing residential solar at solar city and then I moved on to Tesla. And then most recently I was at lime, the scooter company doing government relations roll. So I’ve thought about transportation policy for vehicles of all shapes and sizes, from scooters up to semi-trucks. So, you know, I’ve done advocacy and coalition building around a lot of the topics we’re going to cover today. So even it is in urban planning or two of my favorite topics to nerd out on. So this is great. A little bit of background on where a national trade association of businesses working to advance 100% clean energy. We represent over 100 companies in that space, variety of technologies to help us get there to 100% We have a 501(c)(3 partner organization Institute and a C for advanced energy work. So I work specifically to engage policymakers advancing priorities around 100% zero emission vehicles by 2035. That’s our sort of organizational goal. We work at the federal and especially the state level. So right now, we’re actively working in about a dozen states on transportation issues and our approach is really to try to integrate thinking around EV policy within the broader energy system, thinking about how cities work because we know that none of these technologies exist in a vacuum. Smart planning for our energy needs are going to impact all those areas. So happy to be joining the conversation today.

BSLO: Awesome thanks, Ryan. I didn’t know that I’d accidentally recruited three people who happen to have lived or currently live or might live again in California. But yeah, right. It’s telling me something that maybe I need to look into, too. But Ryan, we’re actually going to start this first question with you and hopefully just get a quick level set an overview of the transportation sector as a whole in the US right now. So like we’ve said today, we know that the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US I think it’s 28% Now of our greenhouse gas emissions pie, but we want to take a look at what makes up that. 28% Ryan, do you think you can explain that breakdown?

RG: Sure Yeah. So this happened a few years ago that the transportation sector surpassed the electricity generation sector as the largest gas source, as you said, about 28% So within that transportation sector, light duty vehicles make up about 60% of those emissions and then sort of medium and heavy trucks make up about 24% And then the rest come in at a little less than 10% between aircraft, rail and various water transportation and other sources. So the light duty sector obviously huge and incremental progress that happens there on electrification, huge cumulative effect there. That’s what I think most people think about when they think about these issues. I would also say that the medium and heavy duty sector is a key one to look at, though, because there’s less than 4% of the total road vehicles are in that sector. And I’m talking about everything from delivery trucks driving around, doing mail deliveries and package deliveries all the way up to semi trucks. They account for 4% of vehicles, but they account for 25% of emissions because heavy usage for all those vehicles and their heavier vehicles so just takes a lot more energy. So emissions are those engines are often diesel. It meant a large amount of pollutants, deadly particulate matter beyond just carbon dioxide. So cleaning up that segment is also a huge benefit. So that’s kind of a broad overview.

BSLO: Awesome, thank you.

KJ: And I will go next, the next question is for Linda taking a 30,000 foot approach? I want us to consider how the transportation sector in the US was created and the impact that has on people today. Why is our transportation system. So dominated by gas powered cars?

LK: Thanks, Kim. Yeah, that’s speaking to basically Ryan laid out the output of our transportation sector is a direct result of what we’ve designed it to be, and we can have a whole history lesson on the whole sector. But I would say what it is that the transportation sector and the energy and energy policy are interrelated. You know, people think electric cars is a newer phenomenon. It’s actually been around since the mid 1800s. Which I find always find fascinating. And so it’s had this history alongside the the, you know, the combustion engine where different points of time have allowed for the Advancement of what we now see as the gas powered cars. So, you know, at the turn of the 19th, at the turn of the 20th century, really electric cars were actually very popular. And then the Model T came out and Ford really, he changed the landscape of manufacturing and actually made it very cheap for cheaper to purchase a gas powered car. Then there was other advancements. Of course, electric cars just took a back burner. And in the investment in the technology, to the back burner when essentially until the 70s when we had a shortage in gasoline, oil. And so these things are very interrelated with why we are where we are today. On top of that, we want to look at the infrastructure and how our cities have been developed, how suburbanization happened in the mid century, last century. And really, you know, it’s a combination of designing the entire system for the purpose of the gas powered car, creating a way where people are dependent on that mode because there’s disinvestment in other modes and it’s a political process. You know, some of the top lobbying money goes towards or is coming from the oil and gas industries to make sure the system stays as it is. There’s profit in this process. And so, you know, it’s a combination of designing our environment for that, engineering our roads to be dominant for, you know, occupancy engineering our communities so that we are driving for distances where, you know, pre-pandemic, of course, people were commuting commuting patterns for different but and also just investing in communities and other modalities. You know, not everyone can drive or wants to drive, but sometimes it’s relegated to do so. And what that has impacted is also disenfranchisement. You know, the US highway system really disenfranchise Black and brown communities across this country on purpose, you know, it was not. And so these things are interrelated. It’s intersectional, and we have to look at it from a racial and social and economic justice perspective, environmental justice perspective and these emissions that Ryan is speaking to, you know, who do they impact most? That’s that’s a key issue that we at grid are trying to tackle and elevate in the solutions that we’re presenting, but also in the influence of how policies laid out. So, you know, I’m not going into great detail about each and every advancement, but what I wanted to highlight is that they’re all interrelated and it’s a social, political and economic structure, and it’s also an intentional structure. So things when you look around the world, it’s designed that way on purpose and people are left out of the process.

KJ: Awesome, thank you so much for that answer, Linda, I know we tasked you with giving us a brief history lesson, but Thanks for giving us that information. I’m glad you mentioned the Model T because we did see a big announcement from Ford yesterday that they’re going to be investing heavily in electrification and electrifying their fleet. So good news for us. Maybe we’ll see a sea change there.

BSLO: Maybe we’ll see an electric Model T come out just for fun. But yeah, thank you, Linda. You knock that out of the park and really appreciate you tackling that really complex question. So it seems pretty clear that addressing the number of gasoline-powered vehicles on our roads is crucial to tackling emissions from the transportation sector. Katherine, this question is for you. What solutions do we have, both from a policy perspective and also a behavior change perspective to reduce these emissions?

KG: Thank you, Blair, and Thanks to Linda and Ryan for really outlining where we are right now and where we need to go. You know, so the way I really look at this is, of course, I’m going to talk in a minute about policies to electrify personal vehicles. But really tackling the transportation sector and emissions from the transportation sector require a lot of complementary tactics. And that really, I want to start off with reducing vehicle miles traveled first and then electrifying the vehicles that remain. This means that expanding clean transportation options that don’t rely on single occupancy vehicles like buses, trains and investing in high speed rail. Right now, states across the country are advocating for their transit agencies to electrify their bus fleet. That’s one of the campaigns I was involved with in California, and my colleagues this year were involved in a major campaign with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit authority, which operates buses and d.c., Virginia and Maryland, and they committed to fully electrifying its public transit fleet by 2040 five. And that’s a direct result of local advocacy. So the policies around public transit are very important for reducing vehicle miles traveled and also reducing the amount of transportation emissions. We also want to make sure that people have the infrastructure to be able to walk and bike safely in their communities. I’m also reminded if I’m walking down the street that some people drive without really taking into account that pedestrians have the right of way. And that’s really unacceptable. We need to make sure that we have the sidewalks and the curb cuts and intersections to make sure people feel safe. We can’t really tell people to bike, to school or to work if their communities don’t have wide and protected bike lanes. It’s on us as advocates to really ensure that folks who want to get around via active transportation can do so safely. And of course, you know, this is really the conversations around EPA and right now. We need strong regulations that will push automakers to manufacture a range of electric vehicles that are affordable, along with policies that really maximize the incentives for income qualified people who live in high pollution areas. So we need to make sure that the manufacturers are delivering on electric vehicles, that they’re cars that people want to buy and that they can afford, and that there’s also a robust network of charging infrastructure. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. New technology is hard. Many of us in the room are already committed to electric vehicles and that’s part of the conversation is electric, whether it’s electric bikes or electric cars or electric buses. But it hasn’t. We still see that there needs to be a ramp up and that’s where policy comes into place. But Blair, you mentioned what are the behavioral elements of this two? One thing that I’ve, you know, I often talked to folks about is if they don’t think an electric car is for them, often it’s because they really rely on a gas car. They’re not really seeing charging infrastructure on their commute or on the road trips that they take one or 2 times a year. And I really I. Part of my conversation with them is usually really checking out to see what infrastructure is around and if and if the infrastructure, you know, is going to ramp up over the next few years. But they’re considering buying an electric car, whether it’s a new car or used car, sometimes thinking about just renting a car for that long road trip that they need to take once a year and then driving an electric vehicle when they’re commuting in town or, you know, just driving a few miles a day, which which is kind of a typical commute. So I think that’s a part of the behavioral element that we can talk about, and I’ll wrap it up there.

BSLO: Absolutely we talk with so many people who are thinking about electrifying their ride and the questions we get a lot are. But what about the one trip I take every five years? Is it going to actually get me my commute and helping people understand that when their commute is much shorter than they realize. And they actually don’t need 500-mile range? But now the EVs that are coming out have that. They are meeting, they are meeting that to help with those range anxiety considerations. Thank you, Katherine.

KJ: All right. We’re heading back to Ryan. Ryan, I know AEE is a big supporter of transportation electrification initiatives like expanding EV adoption, charging infrastructure and clean energy workforce development. How does the reduction in vehicle miles traveled support the goals that AEE has?

RG: Sure so, yeah, we represent and I work with every day companies that are operating at every vehicle class from electric school buses, transit vehicles, government owned vehicles all the way down to like duty passenger vehicles and then all the charging stations and technology that comes with it. It’s important, I think, to keep these two related ideas separate, which is energy used versus emissions burned. So if you have a transit bus, for example, that’s running on diesel that’s filled and taking people into a downtown core, you have much less energy used and fewer miles traveled, but more emissions, right versus likewise, if you had 50 people taking an electric vehicle from an outer area into a downtown core driving 50 miles, but they’re charging those vehicles on a 100% clean grid in this example. So in that scenario, you have zero emissions, but you have way more energy use and more vehicle miles traveled. So both of those considerations are going to need to be involved in order to sort of solve this. This transportation puzzle, especially when my scenario there was 100% clean grid that’s basically not true anywhere in the country. So part of the problem here as well is that we have a transportation system that is funded by a sales tax on gasoline. And in many states, in many areas, that’s a tax that is not indexed to inflation. It hasn’t been increased in decades. It’s an unpopular thing to do to raise taxes on gas, and that goes for Democrats and Republicans. And at the same time, vehicles are getting more fuel efficient. They’re lasting longer on the road. So all of these factors sort of disincentivize fuel conservation. It’s a disincentivizing on mode shift to more efficient transportation types. And that’s especially true, I think, in urban settings. So we hear all the time from policymakers that the transportation funding is drying up. A lot of people are scapegoating EVs in that conversation because they don’t pay that tax on gasoline. But what we need to be focused on is a transition from a consumption model to an efficiency model in our transportation system. And as more and more EVs come online, that’s going to be even more important. 

KJ: Absolutely. Thanks, Ryan, and Thanks for making that connection to us when it comes to vehicle miles traveled. 

BSLO: We hear all the time, how many times have we heard? But what about the gas tax? Oh god, so much. And you know, Ryan, I imagine that as we expand vehicle, miles traveled as well. And we need fewer and fewer, hopefully single occupancy vehicles on the road that also decreases just the sheer number, the burden of electrifying every other vehicle that’s out there. So hopefully those two solutions can really be mutually beneficial and reinforcing. So Linda this next question is for you, and it’s part of the reason I was so excited to have you on this event because I think the work you’re doing at GRID Alternatives with shared mobility is such an excellent example of the intersection of both reducing vehicle miles traveled and transportation electrification. So I’d just love to hear more and have you elaborate on the role you think shared mobility plays in tackling transportation emissions. And I’m curious as to also as a side note how the pandemic has impacted these services as well. 

LK: Thanks, Blair, and I invite Brian and others to jump in right to work at Lime. So there’s a lot to say there with how that had that worked out last year. But it is an opportunity. Shared mobility is not new. People have been sharing mobility. Communities of color have been sharing mobility because that’s just how you got around. You had to catch a ride from somebody. You know, you didn’t have a way to get there. The bus wasn’t coming in time, so it’s not a new concept. Sharing resources is not a new concept, but the advancements in this space are around technology, of course. Things like e-bikes, electric cars are obviously a part of that process, and the advancements are also in the models. The business models, the car sharing space has definitely been experimenting with what that looks like and how to price those things. And so the opportunity is really to say, OK, you know, how do we diversify how people get around So that they’re not reliant on owning a car and having it somewhere to park? And you know, by the way, cars are parked 95% of the time. So what are we really paying for? At the end of the day, and so you know, what we’re experimenting with in California is actually investing in public shared mobility. So there’s a program that is coming from climate investment funds called the clean mobility options, and that’s actually focused on helping communities, disadvantaged communities as defined by things like screen, which looks at pollution burden and low income community definitions, where investing in community driven needs based driven projects that identify what type of mobility people want or need, whether it’s e-bikes or bike share or car share, micro transit and actually piloting those models and testing them out in the community and seeing how that works. So there’s state investment. There’s more local based investment, local taxes, sales taxes, for example, or going towards some of these projects locally transportation. The local transportation agencies are investing in bike share and in car sharing micro transit. So it’s looking at, again, the model where especially with an app based society where that’s actually been the key driver of making some of these projects successful is that you’re bringing that on demand model and making and sharing it with a project or program that’s easily available. Some of the success factors, of course, is how available it is. Like if I have to walk two miles to get to a bike, that’s, you know, that’s not really useful, but if it’s definitely more widely available, you know. So there is an efficiency aspect to it to making it available. Bike share was very successful in Sacramento, for example, based on the number of available bikes and also the landscape. But then e-bikes, for example, are actually helping in places where the topography otherwise wasn’t really that great for just a regular bike share system, right? So a good. We are the area that we work in. Clean mobility is actually, you know, in addition to bringing projects on the ground, what we really do is advance the process to include equity because it’s great to have these investments in the policies. But if you’re leaving people out of the equation, then shared mobility, electrification, these things are not really going to go anywhere, because you’re leaving out people that depend or rely on a cheaper way of getting around. So we have a program through the Air Resources Board where we have an outreach arm for advancing EV incentives to folks that are low-income and from disadvantaged communities. So that’s access clean California. You can look up incentives that you would be eligible for and in our shared mobility arm is also working with directly with community to identify those projects, things like e-bike libraries and micro transit that can actually support people, getting around, getting around efficiently and getting around and ways that they would want to get around right and not just force upon them. 

BSLO: Yeah, to take a bike from my house to my office, I definitely want that e-bike. There are some pretty hefty hills, so that can really help with the topography for sure.

KJ: Katherine, this next question is for you, as director of the clean transportation for all campaign, I imagine you work. Your work involves both expanding access to public transit as well as electric vehicles. More and more we we’re seeing these two solutions being pitted against each other as an either/or situation. How does this narrative impact your work in the climate movement overall? 

KG: Kim, thank you for that question. And I think as we’ve heard, you know, in previous answers, you know, these solutions must work together, reducing VMT on its own. Well, won’t address all of the emissions. And if we just focusing, if we’re just focusing on replacing every car that runs on gas. With an electric vehicle, we won’t achieve the emissions reductions that we need in the short window of time to really avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. And that’s really our mission at the Sierra Club’s clean transportation for all campaign. We want to ensure that we all live in healthy communities with affordable and accessible clean transportation options. Whether that’s by walking, taking an e-bike, riding a cargo bike like I have riding the bus or the train, or driving an ATV for people who choose to drive. So shifting land use patterns is also a huge part of this, and Sierra Club volunteers and staff around the country are looking at this angle, too. On a personal note, my son was born in 2020 right before the pandemic, and I often think about how his childhood will coincide with our critical climate goals. So especially since my work, we’re constantly talking about what’s happening in 2025 or 2030 or 2035. So in his first 10 years, that really represents the decade of ambitious climate action and where we need to make up for lost time due to climate denial and a commitment to the status quo. And that’s really a status quo that was dictated by big oil and auto manufacturers that for years have ignored the science and not really truly invested in electric vehicles. And when he was and when he will be 15 in 2035, we will need to be well on our way to making sure that we’re not driving fossil fuel vehicles and that we are driving much less than we do today. The Rocky Mountain Institute recently released a report that says that by 2030, we need to be driving 20% less, and by 2035, that’s even more so. So looking at those benchmarks, we they’ve actually set targets for looking at that reduction there. So personally, I really do evaluate every trip and and while I don’t own a car right now, I do have a membership to a car share program that runs here in d.c. I also have this electric cargo bike that really has a cute child seat. And so my son is really safe when we go up and down the hills of DC. So, so yeah, there’s a lot of options there, and the solutions really need to work together. 

KJ: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Katherine. And yes, I think the crux of the work that we need to do to reduce transportation emissions is one we want to electrify all the vehicles that we can single occupancy vehicles, but we don’t want that to be the only option. We want people to feel like transit and alternative modes of transportation are safe, reliable, and affordable for them. So definitely thank you for answering that question for us, Claire. 

BSLO: Absolutely, I think really framing those solutions as mutually reinforcing as complementary, not as an either/or scenario, but making sure that we as climate advocates, as transportation access advocates, that we’re coming together and coalescing around these solutions to help push them forward is important. And Katherine, side note, I love that your son’s first car will be an electric vehicle like I- I think that’s so awesome that we have a generation of kids coming up right now that, fingers crossed, if all of us here do our jobs, I suppose that they’re never going to have to know what a gas powered vehicle is. And I think that’s really a fascinating idea to think about where we are as a generation. But I do know that there’s something big and shiny on everyone’s radar right now, and that’s definitely what’s happening in Washington, d.c., at the federal government on Capitol Hill. So this question is for everyone. And Ryan, I’ll pitch it to you first and then we’ll move across Zoom. So, and I think there’s been some questions in the Q&A about this as well with what’s going on, Why is this so hard, So how do these pieces of federal legislation moving on Capitol hill combine these two complementary strategies and what are you excited about and what do you think there needs to be improvement on? 

RG: Sure just a tiny question there, but yeah, looking forward to Katherine’s son thinking about internal combustion engines, the way I think about VCRs and stuff like that, the newest generation doesn’t even know how to use them. Yeah, on this federal package that’s making its way through. I’m really encouraged to see some of these reforms to the federal incentive program around EVs and EV infrastructure. So I mean, I think if they’re crafted right, we’re going to see much faster about adoption, greater access to those credits, extending those programs out, covering the used EV market, which is not currently covered. I think that’s going to be a really important way to increase equity and access to the programs, really encourage to see school bus and transit funds electrifying those fleets. Talk about school buses, a vehicle to prioritize getting diesel fumes out of and then even purchases of electric bikes. Some some tax credits for those as well. So that is a long time coming, in my opinion, seeing credits for bikes instead of just passenger vehicles. So I’d also really love to see federal research and development funds going towards accelerating those battery technologies, especially at those larger vehicle types that where the science is not quite there. I talked at the outset about how important those emissions are to curb hope that makes it into the final bill. So, you know, I’d also add on the charging infrastructure side. States are desperately in need of this investment. They’re trying to solve these regulatory agencies. They’re trying to solve this really thorny issue of building out charging capacity everywhere from like these dense urban environments where the grid is already sort of at capacity and trying to find places for folks to park to. Connecting rural corridors. Making sure that those communities aren’t left behind. So, you know, we need to make sure we do this in a way that all communities have equitable access to those resources. So we’re focusing a lot of time at AWS right now on helping regulators and state legislators know what they don’t know. Get those planning processes started and then anticipate make sure that they have the programs ready when, when and if something does make it through. 

BSLO: I love that saying, you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s so true, so it’s great that you all are helping do those education efforts. Katherine, Linda, do you guys have things to add? 

KG: I’ll jump in here, Yeah. We have in d.c., we’ve been very, very busy with all of the policy conversations at the hill, the way we see it, the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the reconciliation package must move in tandem to really maximize the investments in clean transportation. And that’s really where we’re going to see the climate wins by ensuring that both of them pass together. We’re advocating for major investments in pollution free buses on two fronts and Ryan touched on this. But I’ll elaborate a little bit in terms of supporting public transit. Right now, we need to make sure that transit agencies are expanding routes as opposed to cutting routes and when they retire buses that they’re able to adopt zero emission buses. So really making sure that we are funding the public transit agencies at the level required. And in addition, in terms of electric school buses, Ryan mentioned this as well. But just to provide the statistic today, more than 20 million children commute to and from school, and nearly all of them ride on diesel school buses. So our kids really deserve to breathe clean air on their way to school and not the harmful pollution spewed by diesel buses. And then the one other thing that I want to mention in terms of the bills running through Congress right now is it’s a little bit outside of our scope today, but the healthy ports portion of the investment healthy ports are contribute a huge pollution burden to disadvantaged communities, and it is a big part of transportation emissions overall. So just so heartened to see so many important investments in clean transportation at the hill right now. And I’m so grateful for all the advocates that are working so hard to really make this happen because it’s really the moment that we’re calling for right now. 

BSLO: All right, Linda, I’m so sorry, I made you go after both of these two. Is there anything you want to add? 

LK: I mean, they’ve both covered quite a bit. And so and I’ll be honest and not in the details of the day to day work there. And so I appreciate everyone who is working on that. And you know, obviously there are a lot of wins. You know, if things move forward for the Advancement of electrification of things, as Ryan mentioned the e-bike credit, and that’s essentially what it’s going to take these investments. And that’s what we need in California. We’re putting up a lot of money, not only the policy structure and framing the programs that’s anticipating this funding to come through, but it needs to happen on what needs to happen at the federal level, too, because we have to move everyone across. I mean, the transportation, environment, and the system, it works together. We can’t just build up in California and have other folks fall behind. It’s just not going to work that way. So it has to be a concerted effort so excited for this process and also just kind of crossing fingers to see how things move forward. 

BSLO: I know Kim and I spend a lot of time talking about how we need to expand access to electric vehicles, we can’t just let it be something that only wealthier communities are able to reach. So absolutely agree that really making sure that those incentives and state level investment because California really stepped up yesterday. And hopefully we’ll see a lot more of that from the state by state level. The federal government has a huge role to play, but really interested to see how states are going to continue moving that momentum forward and not making sure their role isn’t eclipsed. So Thanks guys for and particularly thank you for addressing the importance of where that charging infrastructure gets developed. And Kim’s going to kick us off now to the Q&A with, I think, a related question. 

KJ: Yeah, absolutely. And this is a question from the audience. So whoever feels comfortable answering this question, go right ahead. We know that charging infrastructure is something that we have questions and concerns about just generally, but that’s especially true in multifamily dwelling units. And so what policies or strategies do you all think we need to be pursuing to ensure that folks have access to charging infrastructure if they live in an apartment building or a condo community? 

LK: I’ll jump in here. California is actually putting up some funding for that very, very effort for, especially for affordable housing communities, and so that policy is obviously the emphasis in the funding. You have to also get basically landlords, the property managers on board. I mean, just as an anecdote, I have a plug-in hybrid and I was using the outlet in the laundry room that’s right next to my parking to get things charged here and there, and the landlord came and put a box over the outlet. So they were not happy about me taking advantage of that. Well, you know, as more and more cars are going to be electric or plug in, there’s going to need to be a change for that when you have so many people living in apartments. And so it’s an investment, it’s getting the landlords and property managers on board. New developments obviously have to be, you know, I don’t I can’t say if I know any requirements right now, but I imagine that there is maybe there is no this more directly, Ryan? See you. 

RG: Well, yeah, Yeah. Thanks so this is a good example of where we have to think about these from the system level impact like this is dealing with building codes. All new buildings need to have the ability to have level 2 charging and not just the plug that Linda runs from the laundry room like this is a big improvement for folks to get an electric vehicle. And I think if we’re going to get to 100 percent, if we’re going to get to 50 percent, even those early adopters who probably would have otherwise but don’t feel comfortable with the charging scenario that they’re envisioning for themselves. So getting those hook UPS in all new dwellings, being able to retrofit a lot of states need to pass or clean up legislation to make sure folks are able to do that when they want to. But then also putting down public charging networks in urban environments where you have more of those also will help people feel comfortable even if they don’t live in a building that they can charge in having those reliable and visible charging stations and then very dense urban settings like Manhattan or something. There’s not a lot of places to park so that that becomes even more important to be able to park those big buildings and multi-unit dwellings. Yeah, and 

KG: I’ll just add really quickly that Sierra Club’s attorneys are often involved in proceedings that are taking place at the utility level to ensure that utilities are investing in transportation electrification. We’ve seen a lot of really good examples of that in California. There was just recently a major investment that was announced in Connecticut. And so a lot of these transportation electrification plans often have a dedicated amount that needs to go to disadvantaged communities and also multi-unit dwelling. So ensuring that it’s not just on the property owner or just relying on the tenants to advocate for themselves, you know, really, if the utilities can be involved as well helping to support the community getting that investment, it’s another really important angle to look. 

BSLO: Well, spoiler alert, Generation180 in Virginia, Clean Cities and green energy consumers alliance, we’ve actually been working during the pandemic on a toolkit to help people who work or who live at multi-unit dwellings who are struggling to get access to charging infrastructure. So stay tuned for that because just helping with that dialogue is really crucial. But Kim and I worked on in 2020 right to charge legislation here in Virginia, and it was so crucial. But it’s half of that battle. Just because someone can’t block someone from installing EV charging infrastructure doesn’t mean that upfront cost isn’t so burdensome that they don’t need real help. Whether or not it’s financial incentives at the utility or the state or local or even government federal government level, we need all of them. So I’m going to ask one more question and then Kim’s going around us out as well because we’ve got 8 minutes left. So let’s go ahead and give this one to Ryan, actually, because you mentioned how much you’re working with fleets as well in your work, and there’s been a lot of news about the US Postal Service and the role that they play in transportation, electrification, and they’ve got such short light routes. And we’ve got a question here in the audience, Q&A says. Is there any good reason that the Postal Service is trying to get hybrid vehicles instead of going fully into electric? I think we saw they’re trying to electrify 10% of their fleet instead of really leaning in. Are there efforts to help move this needle forward and can you explain what people can do to help? 

RG: Well, if the question is, is there any good reason, no, there’s not any good reason. The Postal Service is the proposal that came out is pretty inadequate to meet the moment and the taxpayer pays an insane amount when you dig into this, like the amount of maintenance that goes into maintaining these, these post office ones. I think they were bought in like the 80s or something like they’re like decades old vehicles and just the maintenance alone. Total cost of ownership of converting these fleets to electric only would pay for itself in a matter of years. So, you know, I know that there’s an effort. There’s been a couple of legislative efforts on the hill to sort of force that transition. I’m not I don’t follow this particular issue closely, but I do know that there’s been some efforts in the reconciliation package to try to make that happen and then some other standalone bills. I believe it’s merkley, but I’m not. I’m not positive about that. But, you know, this is another one where, you know, the more attention that gets put onto fleets. And this is why government fleets, not just at the federal level but states the states need to go through this process of figuring out what, what vehicles they have and how they’re going to electrify them and on what schedule. There is a lot of states I an effort like that is underway in Virginia in this next session here, but you know, it takes a lot of times the states don’t even know how many vehicles they have, let alone. So there’s an audit process as well. So, you know, the post office has a lot of BMT and you know, they’re predictable routes. These these post office vehicles have very predictable load patterns, so they’re of interest to utilities, potentially as a grid service when they’re not being in use. So a lot of potential there doesn’t make any sense. Not to move forward in a more aggressive way. And I don’t know if anybody else. I’ll get off my high horse. 

KJ: I think that was great. No, thank you. Thank you all for answering all our questions and Thanks to the audience for giving us some follow up questions to ask as well as we wrap things up. I’m going to take us out on a high note. And so I’d like to hear from all three of you about what makes you all hopeful with regards to eliminating emissions from the transportation sector. 

BSLO: Don’t all jump in at once. 

KG: OK, I’ll kick us off. So this is a personal story of something that happened yesterday in d.c. I attended an event at the EPA and this was with colleagues and allies, and we all met and we had mobilized our members over the course of the public comment period, when the EPA is reviewing their clean car standards and all in all, between many different clean car many organizations advocating for clean cars. There was about 200,000 comments that were submitted in less than two months. These were all submitted electronically, of course, but we did a very small event in front of the EPA, where a few local kids, which are really future climate advocates, advocate symbolically in empty boxes but symbolically delivered boxes of comments to administrator Regan. And he was there and accepted the comments. And I know that, you know, things are very much up in the air with this rule, but we’re all advocating to make sure that this rule is a game changer for requiring manufacturers to urgently produce cleaner cars. And I’m really heartened by the amount of outreach and support that our campaigns had, so I’m feeling uplifted this week.

BSLO: Linda do you want to go next?

LK: Sure, it is a hard question, especially in the climates that we are in at this moment, but what gives me hope is when someone who’s totally out of this space not involved in this dialogue, day to day is telling me things like decided to walk to work this week or, you know. You know, I took the bus for the first time. Those sorts of things always feel good. And I think the pandemic accelerated certain things that we hadn’t been able to achieve before. On that scale, for example, people being able to work from home and have access to jobs that way. So commuting has changed things like park lifts, you know, of course, there’s issues with those as well, but actually taking up space in the streets so that people can actually take back streets for things like play and and, you know, living a quality experience among your community. So I’m hopeful that we are becoming conscious to not only our need to change our own personal patterns, but the fact that the political structure, the economic structure and the social structure has to change. In order for this to even be realized on the scale that it needs to be realized at the pace it needs to be realized. So I do see a greater consciousness around this that’s going to then impact what actually happens. 

BSLO: Oh, that’s awesome. Ryan, last but not least?

RG: yeah, sure. So this is kind of what I call the power of now, right? So there’s a really exciting time right now to be tackling these issues. We have the technologies, the products to and the ideas to completely redesign this whole system and the people who are making policy right now, who are elected at this very moment in time get to decide how to apply that technology for the greatest good and to solve the problem. And I think that’s a really empowering idea, which wasn’t true five years ago or 10 years ago and probably hasn’t been true, certainly in my lifetime and probably my parents lifetime. So sometimes you forget with the enormity of what we have in front of us that we actually do have the tools to solve this problem. And so I think that’s really, really exciting.

BSLO: I love that, yeah, we absolutely have all the tools at our fingertips, we just need to get it done and we need that political will. And on that note, as we thank our panelists and we wrap things up, it is 1 o’clock on the dot, very timely. We’re going to post in the chat an opportunity for folks to help move that conversation forward to help ensure that these two pieces of federal legislation are getting the job done and the timing couldn’t be ever more important. There are votes coming up tomorrow, so please take this opportunity to really make your voice heard. Help us push for some of the most historic investments in public transit that this country has ever seen help move the needle on electric vehicles and keep an eye out for everything from our three awesome panelists. They are all working on these efforts, and we’re really, really thrilled that they took the time today to have this conversation with us. So thank you, everybody. Stay safe. Really loved having you all and have a good rest of your day. Have a good national drive electric week. 

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”


Are we over “range anxiety” yet?

September 29, 2021

These days, it’s getting more and more common to spot a Tesla or a Nissan LEAF during our daily drives—a sure sign that electric vehicles are shifting into the mainstream. Even better, a lot of the barriers that have deterred EV buyers in the past seem to be dropping away. Combine that with the myriad of EV benefits (cheaper cost of ownership, less maintenance, and way more fun), it’s hard for many households to justify not going electric. Charging stations are ramping up quickly, especially in cities, and last week the California-based EV start-up Lucid announced the first all-electric car that can drive more than 500 miles on a single charge (that’s roughly a sixth of the way across the U.S.!). So is “range anxiety” really a thing of the past? Suffice to say, we’re getting a heck of a lot closer.

Going the distance 

Studies have found that the two main reasons that folks who are in the market for a new vehicle don’t consider EVs are the battery range and the lack of charging infrastructure. Like gas cars, EV batteries can’t drive forever— they only hold so much power before they need a “fill up.” Range anxiety is that nagging feeling that your car is going to run out of juice and leave you stranded before you’re able to recharge it. But we’re now at the point where inadequate range is no longer a reasonable excuse anymore. The new Lucid Air Dream is a range superstar, and it’s not the only EV that goes the distance. Tesla’s Model S Long Range is rated to go 405 miles per full charge, which is well beyond what most of us drive in a single day.

Granted, most of us can’t afford a high-end Lucid or Tesla. But even the more affordable EV models have a pretty decent range: around 350 miles per charge for the Tesla Model 3, nearly 260 miles for the Chevy Bolt, and 226 miles for the Nissan LEAF. Given that the average American drives 31 miles per day, according to the American Automobile Association, current models well exceed most people’s daily needs, making range anxiety a nonfactor for 95% of your driving occasions. An EV can be an ideal car both for everyday commuting and for running errands around town. AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson noted in February that range anxiety among EV owners is “dramatically disappearing,” since most people, “for their daily use around their home or office, they’re delighted to have an electric vehicle.”

The charging challenge

This brings us to the issue of EV charging. If you’re able to plug in your car at home, then neither battery range nor charging are really an issue. It’s an easy addition to make plugging in your vehicle part of your evening routine, just like charging your smartphone or tablet before bed. Currently, more than 80 percent of EV battery charging takes place at home overnight, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, whether through a standard household outlet, or a “fast charger” home charging unit.

More than 80 percent of EV battery charging takes place at home overnight

But not everyone has the ability to charge at home, and not every apartment complex or rental unit allows for overnight plug-ins. Right now, fewer than 10 percent of Americans have easy access to an EV charging station (within a quarter-mile of their home), and the folks that do are generally wealthy and white. It’s also no surprise that most EV owners today live in cities, since urban life improves your chances of finding a charging station (especially in an “EV-ready” city like San Jose, Denver, Los Angeles, or even Hartford). To make EVs more convenient, no matter their range, we need to greatly expand the nation’s charging network, including at workplaces, stores, schools, and other public places.

In his proposed infrastructure package, President Biden has called for adding another 500,000 charging stations in the U.S. in the coming years (up from around 104,000 today), many of them in low-income and rural areas. This will be a game-changer, especially in places with long driving distances. Early last year, ChargePoint, the world’s largest EV charging network, joined with NATSO, which represents America’s travel plazas and truck stops, to expand  EV charging along highways and in rural communities—with the goal of installing chargers at more than 4,000 travel plazas and fuel stops by 2030. But until that happens, it’s wise to plan carefully if you’re taking an EV road trip, especially given the long(ish) wait times for charging (check out Gen180’s blog on the top 3 EV road trips).

EVs are easy

The bottom line? As batteries get more powerful, and as EV charging infrastructure expands, range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past. For the majority of Americans, EVs are a perfect fit. Here are some tips to make that fit even more perfect. 

  • Charge at home, which is way easier than dealing with gas stations. Plug in your EV every night before bed, and top it off as needed, and you generally won’t have to worry about finding the next charging station. A standard wall outlet can get you 50 miles overnight, and if you need more, look into installing a home fast-charger—many EV owners do (and benefit from a tax credit of up to $1,000). 
  • Join a national charging station network like ChargePoint or Electrify America, or use Tesla’s Supercharger network if you’re an owner. Networks provide charging convenience through their smartphone apps and allow for automatic cashless payments.
  • EV ownership cures range anxiety. 96% of EV owners say they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car. Most people rarely (if ever) run out of gasoline in their ICE vehicles because they’ve learned over time when they need to fill up. The same rings true for EVs. With home charging and an ever-increasing charging infrastructure range, anxiety should be a thing of the past.
  • Buy a plug-in hybrid, which will get you from Boston to Los Angeles without any extra planning or charging stops (though you’ll still need to fill up on gas). Unlike a full battery electric vehicle (BEV), a plug-in hybrid runs solely on electricity for short distances, but when the battery starts getting low, the gas engine takes over. You won’t reap the full benefits of a BEV as there are effectively two engines to maintain, but for long commuters that don’t have access to charging near your work, it may make sense for your household.

For everyday wheels, driving an EV today is a near-perfect solution, especially if you can charge your vehicle at home. The EV experience is one of more convenience, a luxury feel with a sports car zip, and with more than enough range to cover most daily needs. And as the nation’s charging network expands, fueling up on the go will only get easier—turning any lingering EV anxiety into full-on EV excitement.


In celebration of National Drive Electric Week 2021 (Sept 25 – Oct 3), Generation180 is excited to bring you a whole new slate of electrifying virtual events. From refitting gas stations to become EV charging stations, to electric school buses, EV journalism, policy, and more, we’ve gathered experts to help you understand what the EV transition in 2021 and beyond looks like. Find out more >>


NDEW 2021: The Evolution of EVs in the Media

September 28, 2021

This live event occurred on September 28, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series celebrating National Drive Electric Week.

Not only are electric vehicles fun to drive and good for the environment, but they’re also fun to read, write, and hear about. So how do electric vehicles drive media interest? How has electric vehicle media coverage changed over time? Check out the live conversation we had with reporters from Automotive News,, and Grist:


Kay Campbell: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Generation180’s National Drive Electric Week event, the Evolution of EVs in the media. I’m Kay Campbell. I’m Director of Media Relations for Generation180, and I’ll be your host for today’s event. Today, we are joined by 3 esteemed panelists: our moderator, Selika Josiah Talbott, from American University, Energy and Environment reporter Maria Gallucci, and Audrey LaForest with Automotive News. And I’d also like to say a special thank you to our team members working behind the scenes to help support this event. But before we get started, I want to tell you briefly about Generation180. Next slide, please.

We are a national nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, working to inspire and equip individuals to take action on clean energy. Next slide, please. Here’s a quick look at Generation180’s, three major focus areas of work. We’re working to flip the energy script, helping to move us from a narrative focused on climate doom and gloom to a story of where we need to go. A world powered by 100% clean energy. A story that says we can do this and we all have a role to play. We focus on individuals and the actions they can take in their homes and communities. Because your energy matters, certain behaviors and technologies not only help to fight climate change, but they also help to build the social momentum and political will. We need to get to big systems-level changes. We lead two major nationwide campaigns: Solar For All Schools and Electrify Your Ride, which works to make EVs more accessible. Solar and EVs are clean energy solutions proven to address two of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and transportation.

Next slide, please. So a few quick housekeeping items before we get started. All attendees will remain on mute throughout the event. And please use the Q&A to submit your questions. Feel free to submit those throughout the event, and we will get to as many of your questions as we can over the next hour. Now, without further ado, let’s hear from our moderator and our guests Selika. Do you want to kick us off and introduce yourself?

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”

Selika Josiah Talbott: Sure thank you and good morning, everyone. I appreciate the introduction, Kay. Welcome, as she said to our panel on the evolution of EVs in the media. Essentially, the role that the media plays with respect to electric vehicles. My name is Selika Josiah Talbott, I’m a professorial lecturer at American University and the founder of a company that strategize on new mobility research, write and lecture on equity and transportation. And I’m passionate about how I believe New mobility can transform our planet, autonomous electric connected shared. These are all buzzwords in the industry, but as we’ve heard so often these last few years, the media does play a significant role in society when it comes to the dissemination of information, but they are importantly serving also as a scrutinize or watchdog. They can filter information to bring us the most relevant and salient points and present a story. They often play a large-sized role in directing the focus of society at large. And when we look at technology’s influence on the media, we can certainly say from the advent of radio to broadcast television services and then the internet, the way we get our information, the speed in which the information is provided and how often we receive that information has all transformed over the last century worldwide. And incomes now, this disruptive technology, a new way of thinking where we are concerned about environmental and social implications. And now the birth of an electric vehicle movement. Of course, the media should play a very large role in this space. Of course, the media would help to usher in a daily conversation about how electric vehicles can change our lives. And of course, they provide a clear understanding of what’s at stake, what it will cost and who will be impacted. As my mantra goes, transportation is mobility and mobility is freedom. Electric vehicles will certainly be a part essential part of the future of transportation globally, how we get there and ensuring that all are able to take this journey, I believe, is also a media responsibility. And to that end, I am pleased to present our panelists and ask them to provide a brief introduction of themselves, starting with Maria Gallucci. Maria.

Maria Gallucci: Thank you, and thank you for that introduction. Yeah, my name is Maria Gallucci. I am a freelance reporter. I’m a regular contributor for Grist and Tripoli Spectrum and other publications. And I read a lot about clean energy development in general, but electric transportation as well. And I’m really interested in stories that focus on the technology aspects of the exciting innovation, but also sort of the real world implications in terms of reducing emissions, reducing air pollution and how these sorts of technologies roll out in real communities.

ST: Thank you, Maria. Audrey.

Audrey LaForest: Hi everyone, I am Audrey LaForest, I’m the Washington, D.C., reporter for Automotive News, where I cover auto policy, regulation, and pretty much anything auto and government related going on. I was based in Detroit initially because of the pandemic, but happy to say that I’m officially in Washington, DC as of June of this year.

ST: Glad you could be here! I’ll start with you, Maria. When did you first start covering electric vehicles in your work? Certainly what was your impression of EVs back then?

MG: Sure, so I really started focusing or covering EVs in 2011, that’s when I started at inside climate news. And focused a lot on what’s interesting. I was reading back on some of the stories that I wrote. Then in preparation for this panel and a lot of the same issues I wrote about, then we’re still discussing today building up charging infrastructure. Vehicle to grid pilots or systems that use the batteries in electric vehicles to connect to the grid for storage and other services. My impression at the time, I think I thought it was a really novel kind of maybe a little bit out there technology. And certainly I was aware of earlier efforts to develop electric vehicles. So this wasn’t the first go around, but it just at the time, it was a much smaller portion of the transportation picture. I think in 2011, there were about 15,000 all electric passenger EVs on the roads, and now there’s more than a million. So that was sort kind of an indication of how much it’s grown just in the amount of time I’ve been covering it. The sector? Well, we certainly have seen a tremendous amount of growth. Audrey, when did you first start covering evs? And also, I guess the same question for you, what was your impression back then? Yeah so I had an interesting introduction to the EV world, so I started covering parts of the EV industry and whatnot in 2017, when I was writing for plastics news, which is another crane communications publication. So I was focused more so on the auto suppliers plastics injection molders, kind of making the parts that would go into the vehicles. So in around that time, really, the conversation was about materials that would eventually go into those vehicles and what some of the auto suppliers were doing in terms of battery covers and lightweighting making the vehicles lighter since the battery packs are heavy. But when I would attend auto conferences, the conversation was still EVs are coming, but you know, maybe there’s still a ways off. You know, we still have all of these challenges to figure out. And I think the interesting now is the conversation has really shifted to EVs are definitely coming. Like we’ve got automakers and government aligned in saying that the future is electric. So it’s really I think for me, it seems like it’s really sped up. It certainly has, and I think that that’s a big piece of it. We had companies who were sort of fighting the EV movement back then and now, as you said. The manufacturers and government are sort of hand in hand moving us to this, to this new world where we’re going to have to see ice go away and this will be the predominant vehicles on the road. Or what component of this EV transition do you cover the most in your work? I know that there’s areas that are environmental, climate related, policy, education. What’s what’s your niche? Yeah, so for me, as the Washington reporter, policy is definitely the top priority for me. So basically, I’m looking at everything that’s going on primarily at the federal level to either support or slow a transition to electric vehicles since a lot of our readers at automotive news are part of the auto industry, including dealers. So I’m looking at what a lot of the automotive trade associations are doing, what they’re lobbying for, what policies they support or what policies they might oppose, and basically how including how dealers will be affected by what’s going on in Washington. So I try to give our readers really an inside look into everything going on Capitol Hill that might trickle down to the state level. And I guess these days, there’s a lot going on Capitol Hill when it comes to infrastructure.

ST: Oh Yes. Never a dull moment. Exactly Maria, do you have a particular niche also in the EV area? Is it climate, environmental policy technology with your space?

MG: I kind of. I cover a broad range of EV related issues, but lately a lot of the work I’ve been doing for grist, which is focused on climate justice and solutions. So I’ve been writing stories that look at the transition to electrified transportation from an equity line. So who are the communities? Where are EV Chargers being installed? Who can access them electric buses? How does that help increase access to electrified transportation or the shift toward heavy duty freight trucks, other kinds of electric vehicles? How does that improve air quality in vulnerable disadvantaged communities and kind of expand the benefits of an electric car beyond just the individual level? So, yeah, focusing more recently on equity, the sort of equity lens. But also I’ve written about the technology components, sort of the cutting edge research into the actual drive trains and things like that themselves.

ST: OK and, you know, I think that’s a good point. We spend a lot of time really concentrating on the passenger vehicle, but we see regulation and laws across the country now that are also impacting freight. And so we have to think about these trucks and buses, whether they be school buses or motor coach buses, and how they will be impacted by the shift to electric vehicles. Given that you’re each covering sort of different part of the EV reporting space, is there something that you find your readers to be most interested in when it comes to this area? So I’ll take the question to both of you.

AL: I think for the automotive news readers, they’re definitely interested in what’s going on in Washington, especially right now, just because, you know, President Biden has been pretty clear that some of his centerpiece policy issues are centered on the climate, and EVs are a big part of that. And I know one of the things that has stirred up a lot of automakers and other groups in the industry is on the EV tax credits. What the house proposed, as well as what has been proposed in the Senate in terms of the Union bonus that the EVs would get. And as I’m sure you guys know, not all automakers here in the US operate unionized factories. So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out as the reconciliation bill. Is it reaches the House floor. And then what happens in the Senate ultimately, so that’s definitely top of mind for our readers, I think.

ST: Maria, what about your readers?

MG: Sure, so I think that folks who read my story might be interested in learning about how the infrastructure technology is rolling out in their communities, or maybe sort of what does this news mean for me in my community beyond just sort of announcements and things like that? What’s actually being built? How can I access it? Not so much service journalism per say, but kind of even just talking with my friends when they ask me what I’m working on. They’re really intrigued by it. OK, well, what could that look like here in my neighborhood?

ST: So, you know, in this new technology-based world, we have an opportunity to gauge the kind of interactions our readers have with us when we have a publication. So if we write something, we can see that this is getting a significant amount of engagement on Twitter or in some other social media space. Is there a particular topic that you either one of you write on and I’ll start with you, Maria. That seems to get the most audience engagement with respect to electric vehicles.

MG: That’s a good question, I don’t I don’t as a freelancer, I actually don’t see the numbers too much, but I do know that battery related stories get a lot of interest, so kind of from the technology standpoint. And there’s as EVs become more prevalent, there’s a lot more conversation about the materials used to make these batteries. Supply chain issues that are disrupting battery production. How do we recycle them? What does it mean? What is what is the pollution impact of creating a world of batteries? So I think that that’s something that sort of beyond the EV itself, folks are really interested in learning about. 

ST: And Audrey, are you seeing some metrics in terms of what gets the most engagement? 

AL: Yeah, I mean, I think right now it’s hard for any story, right, to really gain more audience eyes other than the chip shortage has been probably primarily the most popular of stories that we write about that has the most reader engagement, which I’ll tie that to the electric vehicles because it’s a supply chain issue. And so, you know, automakers, including the government, are trying to figure out how to build a domestic EV supply chain here, especially with the raw materials and batteries. And that’s a big challenge. And we’re kind of seeing what can happen when there’s a pandemic or something else unforeseen that disrupts the global supply chain for the necessary items that automakers and others rely on. So I think supply chain stories are definitely the biggest ones that get the most reader engagement right now.

ST: OK so you both have been in space where you’ve been reporting on electric vehicles for some time now during that period of time. Have you seen a change in the audience who’s following you, who’s interested in these discussions? Who’s participating? So I’ll start with you, Maria.

AL: OK, I’ll just go ahead. I think for our readership, it’s like I said our readers are in the auto industry primarily, but I think what we’ve maybe seen is that there’s other stakeholders that are interested in what we’re reporting on now since we do have such a close eye on the auto industry. So there might be maybe some more people from different policy areas or various think tanks and things like that. I think maybe our audience or our readership has extended to those areas a little bit. 

ST: Maria, have you seen a change in your audience? 

MG: Yeah let’s say generally that maybe what once felt like sort of a specialized or niche topic now feels more general and that there are folks who are concerned about or even just interested in clean energy development and sustainability issues who are kind of engaging with electric vehicle. Related stories. Whereas maybe before it would be the people who are geeking out over the latest Tesla developments or something like that. 

ST: And I think I also find that the conversation is now being had in places you least suspect the grocery store line, you know, grandma at the dinner table. More and more people are getting interested in the notion of an electric vehicle world. I want to. Turn to how media coverage of electric vehicles has changed. You know, Maria, you mentioned when you were first covering the industry, there were about 15,000 EVs on the road and today we have more than a million. How has media coverage changed in that time? Sort of in a totality not looking at you necessarily specifically, but what do you see as changes that have taken place? 

MG: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that in general, the media, especially reporting on technology, trying to strike a balance between being excited about a new development and being skeptical about something or potentially even critical about it. And I think maybe when I first started reporting on electric vehicles, there was definitely a greater amount of skepticism because really we hadn’t seen the development that we’ve seen today. And so and it’s not always clear if promises and projects are going to pan out. So I think now the tone maybe is a little bit. This is sort of a Audrey was saying earlier to not will it happen, but it is happening the transition to electric vehicles. So and there’s still skepticism and criticism, but it’s maybe about what the transition looks like versus we will it even happen? Can we even do it? 

ST: Audrey, are you seeing those kinds of changes as well? 

AL: Yeah, I certainly agree. I mean, when I was covering auto suppliers in the plastics industry, they were starting to think about, OK, how do we get involved in the EV market? How can we maybe integrate some parts of what’s needed in electric vehicles into what we offer, what we make to? Whereas now, at least from a supplier standpoint, you’re seeing maybe companies actually making moves in terms of acquisitions or merging with other bigger suppliers that already have a piece of the EV pie. And I think really, from the media perspective, it’s really accelerated. And like Maria had said too, it’s. It’s not in a question of if, it’s a question of maybe how soon does this big transition really happen to where consumers aren’t really asking the question, is this a vehicle? Is this vehicle electric? It just it is electric or fuel cell? And I think from the automakers standpoint, I mean, the industry it’s been reported by 2025 will invest over $300 billion in electrification. You see that in the product that’s coming down the pipeline. Ford just yesterday had the announcement with sk innovation, their battery supplier that they’re investing $11 billion in to make electric vehicles and batteries in Kentucky and Tennessee. So I mean. That I mean, that is something that Ford has said is their single. Their largest manufacturing investment to date, so it’s definitely shifted the conversation a lot, I think. I think it’s changing. 

ST: I agree with that. We’ve seen a real move of who was getting involved in the discussion and what we’re discussing. And like anything else that we’re talking about these days, we have to mention the pandemic because it’s all around us. And an impacting almost every facet of our lives. Have you seen any impact to electric vehicle coverage as a result of the pandemic? I’m not sure, Audrey, you know, as you’re dealing with manufacturers, and we did mention that the chip shortage and in some are certainly laying that at the feet of the pandemic. But are there other changes in EV coverage that you can say are related to the pandemic? 

AL: I mean, other than the chip shortage, I mean, the chip shortage has had the biggest impact for sure, just because automakers have had to figure out how to what, like what, where to cut production or halt production, how to build certain vehicles without the chips kind of planning around that. But other pandemic related impacts on EVs or EV coverage, I’m not sure. Maybe I could. Just given that for over a year, we weren’t all able to really meet or talk or discuss things like business related, of course, to like we were used to. Maybe that kind of delayed some decision making or planning, but nothing that nothing that I’ve noticed or that I can think of right now. 

ST: All right, Maria, are you seeing impacts to the EV coverage as a result of the pandemic?

MG: Well, I think certainly at the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, when we were in the United states, seeing sort of the initial lockdowns and fewer cars, drastically fewer cars were on the roads and we noticed, oh, this is what it’s like when you don’t have a bunch of tailpipes spewing pollution that there was, at least in my own coverage, sort of more of an emphasis on the air quality benefits of eliminating gasoline and diesel combustion and thinking about that from a passenger vehicle standpoint. But certainly the potential benefits of switching heavy duty transportation buses, school buses, et cetera, to batteries or fuel cells. So I think that it’s sort of really illustrated in a very visceral way what it looks like when the roads are cleaner. And I’ve been thinking about that, even myself, I live near a highway and it makes me think about, oh, wasn’t that time was nice when it was kind of quiet. Now it’s noisy again. 

ST: I think we’re on the roads now almost more than we were beforehand because of the use of our personal cars. Audrey how have the current, I should say, the change in administration? What could you say is the difference in the coverage now that we have a President Biden administration and their views on electric vehicles? 

AL: Yeah, so I started out as the Washington reporter for automotive news in February 2020 20, so kind of right before we all started working from home. And I got the tail end of the Trump administration covering what they were doing. And, you know, primarily at that time, the main focus was usmca, trade tariffs and other actions obviously related to figuring out how to address the pandemic and whatnot. And a lot of those actions did impact the auto industry as well. But you didn’t hear you didn’t really hear that much from President former President Trump about electric vehicles. Some might say that he wasn’t the biggest fan of EVS, but under the Biden administration, from the automotive viewpoint, it has definitely his focus has really been about the climate goals cutting greenhouse gas emissions and EVs are absolutely a huge part of that. And you, you see it and you hear it and you read it from the administration all the time. I mean, electric vehicles are in. I won’t say all of the president’s executive orders that he’s issued since his inauguration, but they’re in a lot of them when I do a word search scanning them. They pop up quite a bit. And even from a congressional standpoint, there you see Congress talking a lot more about electric vehicles and things like that and infrastructure more so than under the Trump administration, I think. 

ST: I want to turn to a topic that near and dear to my heart, is the issue of equity. And Maria, I’m going to direct this question first to you from a national perspective. Have you seen a change in the conversation when it comes to having these be more accessible or affordable? From an equity standpoint.

MG: I think so, and certainly just speaking for myself and my own coverage, I think the conversation has shifted from not just sort of the, you know, these early adopter types who have the resources financially and knowledge to adopt these views and more about how can we increase access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure? Yeah so I think there’s been a shift in not just about who can access EVs and how, but also what does a more equitable transportation system look like as a whole, not just replacing internal combustion engines for batteries but creating networks. As you said, sort of mobility is freedom. So connecting people to bus stops and subway stations and sort of the I think there’s an appreciation for the need to look at transportation more holistically as well. 

ST: Now, I like the idea. One of the things that I talk about is a transportation network in the future. So instead of looking at transportation in silos, the opportunity to look at it really very globally. So that you can get people from point A to point b, and it could include a variety of modes of transportation, whether it’s on foot, on an electric bicycle or an electric vehicle or an electric bus. I want to ask you. To that end, about what I see is EV trends or developments. Are there any EV trends or developments that have kind of surprised you or caught you off guard? I’ll start with Audrey. You know, what kind of changes have you seen or trends that surprised you in this industry? 

AL: I’m not I’m not sure about anything that’s surprised me, per say, I think really any trend or news that comes out that helps close the gap on battery range and access to public charging is interesting just because those are really stepping stones for potentially getting more consumers to consider buying any of it kind of ties into the equity equity, affordable accessibility conversation that you had spoken to Maria about. Because if you think about consumers in rural areas, I think a lot of people are still wondering, well, what does this mean for me? Or this doesn’t affect me? I don’t understand why there’s so much focus on this because they’re just. You know, they don’t have access to charging infrastructure the way that areas closer to bigger cities might, and that’s definitely that’s an access to charging infrastructure for sure. Is is a big challenge. And so I’m looking forward to seeing how that trend develops down the road. 

ST: Maria, is there something that you can say with an EV trend or development that may have surprised you or something you’re looking forward to? 

MG: Yeah, I think one thing that surprised me, or I guess maybe I was really interested to learn that was happening was sort of the rapid growth of electric bus adoption globally because in the US it’s there is some and some cities are adopting buses. It’s certainly more so now in recent years. But worldwide, China, of course, being sort of the top EV market, but also in Latin America, African cities, we’re seeing a lot of electric bus adoptions. And so that was really interesting to me too, because being based in the US writing about US clean energy development, sometimes I tend to think about things through that lens, but it’s happening globally. And there are different challenges to rolling out electrified transportation. Different kind of climate conditions. And different access to ExaGrid Infrastructure and resources. So I think just sort of learning that it’s not, it’s happening worldwide and it has sort of it’s a different story everywhere you look. 

ST: That’s a good point. And I guess I want to. I want to kind of develop that area that you just talked about a little bit, I’ll ask Maria this question and move to Audrey as well. Do you see distinct differences in the coverage of electric vehicles in the United States versus maybe certain parts of the world or specific nations around the world? 

MG: I think that well, I guess the sort of overgeneralize, I think in general with clean energy policies and EV development as well in other countries, it’s not so controversial. It’s sort of this is something that’s interesting and that’s happening, whereas here it’s sort of maybe it’s more politicized in a way that than it is in other countries. 

ST: Audrey, what do you have an opinion on? Are there differences in other countries or other specific regions of the world when it comes to evs? 

AL: Yeah, I mean, I really agree with what Maria said, that maybe it’s a little bit more politicized here. And I think we can see that in some of the conversations that are coming out because of actions that the Biden administration is pursuing. And just from the automaker announcements as well. I think also maybe it points to the US and the lack of. Reliable public transportation here. You know, it’s. I’m from metro Detroit, so it’s, you know, Detroit’s a big city, but everyone has a personal vehicle. We are a driving city to where, yes, people do use the buses there, but it’s there. It’s if you have to get to your job or an appointment, you’re better off driving yourself there. There have been some improvements improvements with that. But you know, I think it’s just, yeah, I think in other countries, public transportation is just it’s just something that you do. It’s there and it’s reliable and here it’s a challenge. 

ST: Maria, what do you see as your role as a journalist, as we have this transition to clean energy in terms of how it relates to electric vehicle adoption? 

MG: I see my role as really, I guess it sounds basic, but giving people information, maybe answering questions that they have. As I was saying in my friends and kind of my personal life, it’s people are starting to talk more about electric cars and they’re curious. And so as a journalist, I think it’s my role is to kind of look at what’s going on, where are the interesting pilot projects, where the interesting technology developments and policies, investments to expand infrastructure, et cetera? But then what are the challenges and why hasn’t why haven’t EVs been adopted more widely, more quickly? What could hold them back? So kind of giving them the full context, I think, not just hyping it or sort of being swinging too far in the other direction with skepticism, but sort of showing them what’s happening, what’s possible and how to get there. 

ST: OK and Audrey, I guess I’ll ask you the same question. Do you see yourself having a specific role when it comes to EV adoption? 

AL: Yeah, I think just being here in Washington, d.c., although it’s a little bit more difficult to meet with people, given that we’re still in a pandemic. But I really think that my role is to shed light on a lot of the things that are happening in Washington and on Capitol Hill and how that affects the auto industry, whether that’s in Congress or coming from President Biden or even among the many auto trade associations here that represent dealers and automakers and suppliers. You know, I’m really here to sort through some of the regulatory and policy issues that come up, especially as EVs gain broader acceptance and just ultimately what it means for the auto industry. And how they’re a part of the solution or just the issue in general. 

ST: You know, one of the statements that we’ve seen is that there is a decline. It may be a little small, I think, but a decline in the use of or the ownership of a personal passenger vehicle. Do you think that that’s the case, and then how long we would get to a period from where we would be moving from a nation that is reliant, as you had said, on a personal vehicle ownership and moving more towards shared and connected and eventually a fully electric vehicle ownership? So I’ll start with you, Maria, on that question. 

MG: Sure, so, but I have seen Bloomberg, new energy finance head sort of projections that maybe we’ve kind of the internal combustion engine sales have peaked potentially, and I don’t really have as full of a picture as maybe an analyst for it. But I can say my own life that I purchased the car recently, and it was a gas car. Because I live in New York city, I don’t have any place to charge an electric vehicle. I often visit family in Ohio and there’s not. There are a few charging stations for Teslas along the way, but not sort of a reliable, reliable, robust infrastructure network. And so I think for me, it’s kind of. I don’t know, I it’s hard to say how long it’ll take to make that transition. And with the pandemic and to now I have a baby, we’re driving a lot. Way more than we used to before we didn’t drive at all because we have this wonderful public transportation in New York. So, yeah, it’s I feel, I guess, a little bit. Like, maybe shameful is not the right word, but it’s sort of a bit, you know, it helps me appreciate the challenges of scaling electric transportation. I guess, though, I did read that the MTA is implementing dozens of electric public buses. So that could be a way to access it better. 

ST: I think what you said is really important. There are significant number of challenges that individuals face personally, when even if your heart is there, is the infrastructure in existence that will allow you to make that transition. So I’m reading the same reports that you are that we are allegedly on a decline. I’m not sure if the pandemic has sort of plateaued that for a little bit. And until we see a further decline. What is your perspective on that? 

AL: I mean, I think in terms of your question earlier about shared mobility, personal vehicle ownership, I think. That is something that’s harder to predict right now, just given the pandemic to where we’ve seen consumers getting back into vehicles, vehicle demand has been pretty high. And, you know, it’s kind of maybe delayed or shaken up the whole idea of shared mobility when we’re trying to social distance and avoid other people’s germs and whatnot. So I think that part that piece of it is a little bit challenging just given the pandemic. And you know what, where we’re all at on the other side of this in terms of the end of the internal combustion engine. I’m not sure I’m ready to put an end date on it yet, but I think the auto industry has been very clear about the direction that they’re headed in or that they want to head in and that but they’ve also been very clear that support and that transition is absolutely dependent on the support that they get from government, either at from the federal, state and local level and the partnerships that develop within or among the private sector to foster greater consumer adoption. Whether that’s in terms of the purchase incentives, but also charging infrastructure, which is key right now, we need that nationwide charging infrastructure. So that you feel confident to travel certain distances in an electric vehicle, as well as figuring out the whole domestic supply chain challenge. So there’s a lot of questions still. So we’ll see down the road how they get answered. 

ST: I’m going to ask you both a final question before we go to take some questions from our audience. And I think that this is sort of like some what makes you most hopeful about the future of transportation electrification? Maria, I’ll start with you on that one. 

MG: I think I guess what makes me hopeful is that the progress that the industry has seen to date. The even though it’s still relatively limited, the fact that more than a million electric cars are on US roads today, infrastructure is rolling out. There is a real it seems to be a real commitment for manufacturers and policymakers to electrify transportation and sort of a growing acknowledgment of the dangers in the health impacts that we expose people to by burning fossil fuels and for transportation for all energy sources. So I think it makes me helpful that it seems that the broader public is convinced that these are issues worth addressing and that progress is being made. 

AL: Right I think for me, I mean, I tend to ask people a similar question just because when I look at this great big transition that the auto industry is undertaking and that the US is undertaking, it just seems like it seems like a lot. It seems like there are just a lot of challenges that are unresolved and a lot of questions that are still unanswered. So, you know, for me, sometimes it’s easy to be more of a pessimistic and to maybe question the pace or the likelihood of a smooth transition. But there are a lot of people out there much more involved in the EV world and policy world that are really doing a great job at figuring this out, and they enjoy taking on these challenging questions and coming up with solutions. So that’s really what makes me hopeful when I talk to people, policymakers, stakeholders, et cetera, who have really kind of made it their life goal to see this through. 

ST: So thank you both so much. I’m going to turn it over to Kay, who is going to take some questions from the audience. So Kay, back to you. 

KC: Great thank you, Selika. So now we will take some questions from the audience as a reminder, if you have any questions, please submit them in the Q&A. Here’s a question that I love I think folks would love to hear everyone’s response to. As with all current media, there is a prevalence of misinformation out there. How do you see the related stories dealing with misinformation? And, Maria, do you want to take it first? 

MG: Sure, I guess, well, I’m not sure if the question is asking if the media is perpetuating the misinformation or if there’s misinformation that the media sort of correcting. Do you have a sense? 

KC: I would. I don’t know, but I would say the former. Let’s take that stance on it. 

MG: Sure. I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? No, I’m sorry. 

KC: No, no, no worries. So given that there’s a lot of misinformation out there, do you think let’s say let’s raise it this way, do you think that media plays a role in perpetuating this information? Do they have a responsibility to correct it? 

MG: I think if the media is perpetuating misinformation, they should correct it. I think that, you know, as a reporter who works with other reporters, I would say that’s never the goal, at least among genuine journalists. You know, we strive to be truthful. I think there’s a challenge at times, maybe in covering technology in particular because there is an exciting development. There’s a start up that says something, something really big and flashy, and we repeat that. And so the onus is on us really to maybe challenge that or look into it more deeply. But I know it’s tricky because especially for news organizations that are dependent on clicks and traffic, that a story with Elon Musk and the headline is going to do way better than, you know, it just it’s going to do well. So there’s sort of maybe a tendency to cover certain topics, certain people because of how well it will do. But I do think that misinformation should be correct. Corrected I don’t necessarily agree that it’s a problem beyond genuine mistakes that happen. 

KC: OK, Audrey, would you like to comment? 

AL: Yeah, I mean, from my position at automotive news, obviously, if we get something wrong, then it’s absolutely our duty to correct it and to publish a correction as needed. I think also as a reporter, it’s important for us to talk to a variety of sources to where we can really get a handle on the EV related topic. And that can also be a challenge. Just because we’re not the people working on EVs per se. We’re reporting on the information that’s, you know, that’s newsy or that’s timely or that’s being distributed by the companies or people that we cover. I think from my perspective, when government says they’re going to do xyz or an automaker says they’re going to do xy z, then it’s my responsibility to kind hold them accountable and to follow up with them afterward to see if they’re following through with their commitment or whatever they said that they were going to do, especially in terms of some of these EV related announcements and whatnot. 

KC: Makes sense. Thank you. Actually, I’d like to pose this question to Selika: as a founding partner of autonomous vehicles consulting and someone who covers both EVs and autonomous vehicles. How would you say that these two technologies are related and from your perspective, will acceptance and evolution go hand in hand? 

ST: Thanks for the question. I often think that EVs are really a roadmap for AVs as we see government and manufacturers now hand in hand moving us on this EV roll. I think the same thing will have to happen for AVs to have widespread usage that government and and these manufacturers are going to have to sort of come together and form partnerships. But it all stems around public acceptance and public engagement. We don’t have enough education out there and that goes for both electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. The notion that an EV or an AV may not be safe is something that we have to dispel with good and proper education. All too often, this is sort of to piggyback on that question. You just asked Maria and Audrey. We have some manufacturers who have created the cult of personality where we’re more focused on the persona than we are the product. And so we’re going to have to pull those apart and explain to people what the benefits are to society at large. And I think if we provide enough education starting at the very young ages, we’ll have mass adoption. 

KC: Thank you, Maria. Audrey, would you like to comment? 

AL: Yeah, I mean, I agree with what Celica said in terms of the education, consumer education being really important, and I think that’s probably an area that maybe as reporters even or companies aren’t doing enough of dealers primarily, you know, when EVs become more readily available, dealers, auto dealers are really going to be, you know, in some cases, the first person that speaks to consumer about an electric vehicle and what they need to know about it. And so the OEM educating the dealer too is going to be really, really important because what goes in the vehicles a little bit different and how the vehicle operates obviously is different, and there’s just different safety risks and service service needs and whatnot. So yeah, I think the education factor is really important to even from a charging standpoint, like how do I how do I charge it? You know, what do I have to do and what shouldn’t I do to maintain a good battery life and whatnot? 

KC: So thank you, Maria, do you want to weigh in? 

MG: I think they’ve responded quite well. 

KC: OK, OK, we’ll move on to another question from the Q&A. This question is: there does not seem to be much coverage of the policies to ban ICE vehicles like California banning the sale of ice cars after 2035. Do you agree that this angle is underreported? Audrey, why don’t we start with you? 

AL: So for us or for me, we don’t focus as much on the state by state issues. My beat tends to skew a little bit more toward the federal issue or federal topics. What’s coming out of the Biden administration? I know that New York had just passed a similar law to what California Gavin Newsom had come out with last year in terms of phasing out sales of new gas powered vehicles by 2035. But, you know, and and maybe it is underreported. I think if you’re in the state of California, you know about that. We did actually cover the California mandate, but I was talking to someone actually last week who said, you know, I was asking them whether these state level mandates put pressure on the federal government and the Biden administration to potentially consider a Zev mandate as well. And she had said that, you know, topics like issues like this usually start at the state by state level, and then it might eventually get addressed by Congress when especially if the auto industry is like, we don’t want to have to deal with a 50 state patchwork of regulations. So they just need they need a national mandate or something. But also, President Joe Biden has said that he’s not going to set a specific target date for the phase out or require it with a mandate or an executive order like that. 

KC: Thank you. Maria? 

MG: Sure I don’t know if it’s under reported, but if it is or even if it’s not, it’s certainly really worth covering. I think it’s a really interesting question. Even I was just kind of rereading the announcement from New York about phasing out internal combustion engines. And I have a lot of questions about what that looks like, especially if the technology is not widely available and accessible by those timelines. So I think it’s definitely an area that the media will and should continue to cover it and think about those logistical challenges and what it actually means in practice. 

KC: OK, thank you. Is there a different media strategy when approaching coverage of personal EVs versus heavy duty vehicles like buses and trucks? And Maria, would you want to weigh in on that? 

MG: Well, I think that when I read about buses and trucks versus passenger cars, I think there’s more of a focus on the air quality benefits in the heavy duty fleet side because they’re such major contributors and they use diesel. So they’re just these sort of big tailpipe emitters and certainly passenger vehicles are as well. But those tend to maybe focus more on the air quality benefits with the bigger cars, whereas the passenger vehicles. It seems kind of more about individual mobility in that way in terms of a strategy, I don’t really I’m kind of thinking a lot about how I report on them differently, but I do think they we do kind of discuss them in different ways. 

KC: Audrey? 

AL: I would say yes, just because at automotive news, we don’t typically focus on heavy duty trucks and buses and whatnot, there are. A probably more than a handful of other business or industry related trade publications that do focus on those two areas specifically. So I would say yes, like in our coverage, it’s definitely split from our focus area. 

KC: OK, great. We are almost out of time, so I want to actually just ask Selika is there any are there any closing remarks you’d like to make or big picture thoughts to share? Given today’s conversation before we wrap up? 

ST: Thank you. I think one of the things that I want people to think about is, you know, mobility impacts us in a variety of ways. It’s not just getting from point A to point b, but how do you access good food, jobs, housing and health care and. The thing that electric vehicles is supposed to sell, because of course, new technology is always supposed to be solving a problem is what’s happening with our environment? What have been the consequences of all this emissions from internal combustion vehicles on our society over time? Electric vehicles do have the ability to not just change emissions that are in the air. It has the opportunity to put hundreds of thousands of people to work, connect people to greater transportation networks so that we start to look at mobility is not just me and how I get from one point to the next, because for me, it might be very easy and my radius of travel could be a five mile distance. But for all the other people that are impacted by it and globally, what affects you affects me in the long run. Transportation is mobility. And with that mobility, it allows people the freedom to access all these important things in our lives. And hopefully, although it sounds sort of lofty and aspirational, is really that we have a better quality of life. So I would encourage people to educate themselves as they can. This isn’t an easy, quick fix. It’s not a tomorrow thing, and we’re going to snap our fingers and the world will be better. But one step at a time, both starting with education and then us.we not just as a city or a state or a nation, but as we globally turn to other and better forms of fuel, we will make our world a better place to live in. Thank you.

KC: Thank you, well-said, and thank you to all of our panelists and to everyone for joining today. Please join us for the rest of our national drive electric week events. They’re going on through Friday. You can find out more about them by visiting it’s also found there in the chat, and the recording of today’s event will be emailed to you. To learn more about generation 180, check out generation 182. And while you’re there, sign the going electric pledge. Thank you for joining us and hope everyone has a great afternoon. 

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”


NDEW 2021: From Pumps to Plugs: Reimagining Your Gas Station

September 27, 2021

This live event occurred on September 27, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series celebrating National Drive Electric Week.

Major gas stations are adding EV chargers alongside their gasoline pumps, making long road trips with EVs even more feasible. Range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past as new charging locations become available. Check out the live conversation we had with panelists from gas stations and convenience stores across the country who are part of the transition from pumps to plugs:


Stuart Gardner:
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Generation180’s National Drive Electric Week event, Pumps to Plugs: Reimagining Your Gas Station. If you’re here to learn how electric vehicle charging infrastructure is becoming more accessible across the country, then you’re in the right place. Today, we’re joined by 3 fascinating experts, each with a unique perspective on the future of charging. Gerard DiBona Jr., Project manager, Corporate operations at Land Hope Farms. John Eichberger, Executive director at The Fuels Institute. And Annie Gilleo, Manager, Policy and market development at Green Lots.

But before we get started, I want to tell you briefly about Generation180. We’re a national non-profit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia, working to inspire and equip individuals to take action on clean energy. My name is Stuart Gardner and I’m joined by my colleague Blair St. Ledger-Olson and a special thank you to our team members working behind the scenes to help support this event. Next slide. Here’s a quick look at Generation180’s, three major focus areas of work.

We’re working to flip the energy script, helping us move from a narrative focused on climate, doom and gloom to a story on where we need to go. A world power by 100% clean energy. A story that says we can do this and we all have a role to play. We focus on individuals in their homes and communities because your energy matters. Certain behaviors and technologies not only help fight climate change, but they also help build the social momentum and political will. We need to get big system-level changes. We lead to major nationwide campaigns. Solar For All Schools and Electrify Your Ride, which work to make EVs more accessible. Solar and EVs are clean energy solutions proven to address two of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and transportation.

Excellent OK, so just a few quick housekeeping items. All attendees will remain on mute throughout the event, so you use the Q&A to submit your questions. We’ll get to as many of your questions as we can over the next hour. So without further ado, let’s hear from our guests. Gerard, do you want to kick us off and introduce yourself?

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”

Gerard DiBona: Sure, no problem, thank you, Stuart. My name is Gerard DiBona and I’m the corporate operations project manager here at land hope farms. We are a small, three stores currently right now, with one underway in development. At one point we had about 20 stores and early 90s turned around and sold them. And then just started redeveloping and bringing stores back to fruition here. My background is in facilities, construction and operations.

SG: Awesome, thank you. Annie, how about how about you?

Annie Gilleo: Sure, I think, Stuart. I’m Annie Gilleo. I manage policy and market development for Green Lots. Green lots is a technology company that makes software platform for managing EV charging, and then we also provide turnkey services for our customers. So everything from site assessment to engineering, construction, hardware, procurement and so forth. Green lot supports a large portion of the DC fast charging infrastructure in North America and also a growing number of level two Chargers. I’ll say a bit more about our customers and sort of why we are so interested in this conversation, we’re having today. Our customers are typically larger organizations, so utilities, fleets, automakers, cities, retailers that have large footprints. And we tend to take more of a business to business approach rather than a consumer facing approach. So one example would be that green lots is the network provider for electrify America’s DC fast charging network. So all of the services we provide for them are white labels. You see, Electrify America stations, green lots is behind the scenes there. The other thing I wanted to just mention is that green lots is a member of the shell renewables and energy solutions group. And so, you know, a lot of our mission is driven by that as well. Shell announced at the beginning of this year that it plans to deploy 500,000 charging stations globally by 2025 and green lots. Work is a key part of that strategy. So we’re actively working with Shell’s mobility team to identify opportunities to incorporate EV charging at their existing fueling stations and green lights is also, of course, taking a broad view to opportunities to deploy EV charging across use cases with our other customers.

SG: That’s great, thank you, Annie. And John, how about you?

John Eichberger: I’m John Eichberger with The Fuels Institute. The Fuels Institute is a non-profit research group, and the term fuels makes people think petroleum, but we’re basically defined fuel as any energy that moves vehicles around on the ground. We launched an electric vehicle council last year as well to focus specifically on charging infrastructure. So we’re doing a lot of research on how many do we need, where do we need them? When do we need them putting together papers to help businesses figure out how to get into the business and what their options are and how to navigate the path forward? And personally, I’ve started with the National Association of convenience stores representing convenience fuel retailing industry about 21 years ago. So the I was the guy on Capitol Hill trying to explain when gas prices went up. So this whole idea of how do we get from pumps to charging as kind of a nexus in my career. So looking forward to a conversation today.

SG: That’s great. Thank you so much. Kind of along those lines, John, how big of a conversation is going on now among convenience stores and fuel providers regarding electric vehicle chargers? Is it on their radar? Like, are you guys are actively discussing this? 

JE: Yeah, it’s really on the radar. I’ve done probably 50 presentations this year and 45, 46 of them on our electric vehicle infrastructure. I’m still part of the leadership team at acts as well, and I’ll tell you the conversations we’re having at that level with the leadership of the association is really focused on how do we create a business environment. So that it makes sense to put in Chargers so that we’re there to service the customers when they start transitioning to a new vehicle? The big challenge is there’s not enough demand out there to really make the Roy work out. And so those putting Chargers in now are doing it really just kind of be first mover and get out there in the market and help out their customers. But the economics are so challenging. So a lot of the work we’re doing through the fuels Institute is looking at that business case and how do we establish a market strategy? So any retailer who wants to get into the business can do it in the most cost effective way and time. It just right so that they can actually get an Roy in a short term while servicing their customers when the needs there. So the attention is laser focused. We have the annual trade show next week. We have 3 education sessions dedicated to EV infrastructure. We’ve got, I think, 16 to 20 different exhibitors showing EVS, equipment and services. So the attention is laser focused on it because it is a huge shift in how they go to go to market, and they really want to figure out how to do it right.

BSLO: Wow, that’s really interesting. And thank you for joining us. It’s it sounds like you have quite a handful of events going on right now. But on that same note? To John’s point, you know, he just said it is hard to make that leap, and so I’m curious as to what the process looks like for land hope farms when they first decided to install EV Chargers and what that decision making process looked like.

GDB: So at LandHope farms, we’re constantly reviewing new products and new ideas to stay current with some of the industry. We’re also looking at our customers as well evaluating our current base, and we started to see more and more customers starting coming in with different EVs. And that just kind of sparked the initial idea of, hey, we should try to do this. It’s not too frequent here in Pennsylvania to see too many of the C stores. We’re home to Wawa, one of the biggest c-store chains on the East coast, and there weren’t too many of them here in Pennsylvania that had the EV Chargers. So we wanted to look into that to try to stay ahead of that curve. So that initially sparked our interest in it, as well as looking at local businesses, local businesses like Longwood Gardens as close to us. It’s a national, huge property here that has a lot of flowers, plants and things like that, and they were looking at EV Chargers for their facility and we have some common network connections over there so that they helped us facilitate that as well from a local business standpoint. And then we actually have RV Chargers or with ChargePoint, and they help facilitate the entire process from planning to execution.

SG: Awesome, and you have kind of following up there, Annie and John, is that kind of the typical process that from your experience, convenience stores and fuel providers go through, like kind of wanting to be a first mover or they’re seeing demand like, How’s that? How’s that work? You know, who’s initiating the conversation as a business owner or is it the charging infrastructure provider saying, hey, you guys should consider this?

AG: I’m happy to jump in there, John, with just kind of the green lots experience, which is sort that it’s really worked both ways. I think in particular you’re seeing sort of a mix of different business types in a see store space. You have really huge companies, you have small mom and pop stores, and that means kind of different level of awareness and resourcing when it comes to interest and ability to install EV charging. So green lots has been very active in trying to set up conversations with convenience store and fueling associations. We’ve been working through shell to identify wholesalers who have interest in EV charging. You know, it really is about bringing information to these potential customers and then kind of the key factors will be different depending on who we’re talking to. For some, it’s about how easy can we make the project? What can we do to facilitate it so that they need to do as little as possible? It’s about where incentives might be available to help bring down that upfront cost. And then you just kind of, yeah, the interest in being a first mover because that really is a big part of the equation is just making sure that you are getting your footprint in those ideal locations now as the market is taking off. And I think that for some of the customers that we talked to, there is the recognition that we’re going electric, right? That’s the way the transportation system is going. For others, I think there’s still a large wait and see approach, and I think that will shift over the next couple of years. But the conversations are really they really vary depending on what type of potential customer you’re talking to. I don’t know, John, if you have kind of a similar

JE: Yes, it’s more regional, I think there’s definitely the type of business you run, but also regionally, if you’re in California or in Florida, New York, yeah, you’re seeing EVS, you know, but I’ve got we got members in the areas who’ve never seen an electric vehicle. They still believe they’re a myth in a mythological creature, and they don’t believe it’s coming. And so getting them to kind of open up and talk about one of my opportunities here. But I think for the most part, if you got the progressive stores, yeah, they may be looking out and reaching out to equipment providers or network providers. But we’ve been working with a lot of the networks, including green lights and Electrify America and EV go and Tesla try to help them partner up with potential convenience store operators in their target geographical markets. So they’ve got certain areas they want to put their Chargers in. And so we’re trying to marry them up with convenience retailers who may have facilities that would accommodate their side, their space. So we actually have two new papers coming out next week on future proofing your store so that you can create an environment when the time is right. You can put a Chargers in there because not everyone can accommodate a charging operation and to Andy’s 0.90 1,000 convenience stores are single store companies. These aren’t your target audience for the most part, but the companies that have a larger footprint where they can accommodate four or five DC fast Chargers. That’s kind of where you want to be. And you also want to put in areas where the highway corridors are facilitating long distance travel and in communities where we have a lot of multi-unit dwellings. So there’s a lot of things going into it, but it really is a hodgepodge and one of the things we’re trying to do is get the industry to really recognize that. Are you going to lose your business tomorrow? Our EV is going to take over the world tomorrow. No, they’re not. Are they going to continue to grow at a faster pace over the next 10 to 15, 20 years? Absolutely And you need to be able to accommodate your customers. Because ultimately you don’t want to lose your traditional customer. If your customers come into your store two or three times a week and they buy an EV and you don’t have a charger. Are they going to continue coming two or three times a week? You need to make sure they understand you’re there for them, whatever their energy, whether it be food, energy or transportation, energy, whatever their needs are, you want to make sure you’re satisfying them and getting them to recognize that when they’re in markets where they’ve never seen an electric vehicle is a major challenge.

BSLO: Well, I mean, you just hit upon some of the topics we talk about constantly on our team about how, you know, the theory of a just transition needs to also apply to gas station owners and making sure that we’re preserving those jobs and helping them electrify their businesses. So that they aren’t negatively impacted by the transition to electric vehicles. So thank you for that. And I’m going to keep you on the spotlight, John. And I think you touched you started to touch upon it a little bit earlier, but given today, we actually are seeing oil prices at a three-year high. I am wondering how does the EV charging industry or the fuels Institute as a whole really watch that fluctuation of gas prices? And are there conversations happening about how those higher gas prices can help drive the adoption of more fuel-efficient models? And are you seeing those spikes in the gas prices helped to push that conversation forward?

JE: It’s a conversation we’ve had for years, you know, do get you higher gas prices, get people to buy smaller cars and lower gas prices, get them to buy pickups. The answer is no. People buy the vehicles they need. They have a certain use and duty cycle for their life that they need. Within that class of vehicle. They may shop around for the best price, best fuel efficiency, all those things. That being said, higher prices will support EVs because as EVs become more cost-competitive at purchase price as the range gets better, as infrastructure grows and as the, quite frankly, as the buying population gets a little bit younger at that, the younger generation become the primary buyer. They’re going to look at any vehicle. I look and even go, why would I want to plug-in my car? They’re going to say, why would I not? I plugged in everything since the day I was born. Everything’s been plugged in, so it’s just a natural and the technology is going to be so just right for them at that time. But we have to keep in mind gas prices when they go high is a regressive impact. It really does hurt disadvantaged communities and lower income people who may not be able to buy an EV just yet because not affordable at that level. The challenge we have with the gas prices. Now is that a massive drop in demand last year because of the pandemic shut down a lot of production. Now we have demand back up. We’re almost at the same level miles traveled and gasoline demand that we had before the pandemic. But we haven’t restarted all the oil production because the global leaders have made that quite clear. Oil, your days are numbered. We want to ban combustion engines. We want you out of business. It’s kind of hard to justify putting a couple million into a new well, when you’re being told by your government, we don’t want you to play here anymore. And so I think we’re looking at this challenge with we need to increase the production to get this prices down to support all communities and all customers. But at the same time, the higher prices help accelerate the EV trend is a real challenge here. How to balance that out. But gas prices have get really high before people start making significant changes in their behavior and changing what they’re going to drive, the benefit of the EV market is the type of vehicle customers want to buy are now being offered an electrified powertrains, whereas two years ago they were not. So we’re starting to see that balance come into a place where the customer is going to have an actual choice, rather than having to make a leap of faith to a technology or change their behavior that can have a legitimate choice. And then we’ll flip a coin. I mean, probably have very different training and very different perspectives on what they’re going to choose and when they’re going to choose it. But at least they can have a legitimate choice, which is a great thing.

AG: No, I think you’re right on choice makes all the difference. And the fact that we’re seeing pickup trucks come onto the market. I’m on the wait list for a Ford f-150 lightning. That to me, is a real game changer. Like I think. I’m ure that electrification can reach near and far rural urban, anyone who wants a car has an electric choice.

SG: Awesome Yeah. So, you know, and again, kind of for Annie and John and for all of you, you know, when you’re talking with, say, the members of the association or you’re talking with your customers that are using your infrastructure products, what are some of their greatest concerns about adding electric vehicle chargers? And Gerard, like what were some of Land Hope Farm’s biggest concerns about adding electric vehicle charging? You know, what are the barriers that we’re having to address now?

GDB: As far as any of the barriers were concerned, we just wanted to make sure that we were strategic about the placement of the Chargers. You know, this is going to be an area that our customers were going to frequent, the ones that have the electric vehicles, they were going to frequent that area. We wanted to put them in a position where they could grow to additional Chargers in those parking spaces. So that our current customer base with the electric vehicles didn’t have to go searching for them somewhere else after the fact. So placement was a strategy as well as growth in to the fast Chargers. Right now, we have level 2 Chargers at our stores and level two charger, you know, 15 minutes to a half hour. You know, if depending on what you’re going to see at a see store, you know, isn’t going to give you too much of a result as much as a fast charger, but you’re also cost comes in the factor availability. Who’s going to be using it that all factors into that. But for today’s market, the level 2 Chargers get our feet wet. We get kind of accustomed to frequent of use and how our customers are using them. We’re seeing about between both stores. We have a store in Oxford and a store. Our store here right below our corporate office here in unionville, which is Kennett Square. We’re seeing about 25 users per month. And of 25 of those users, about eight of them are charging for greater than 1 hour.

SG: All right. Annie, when you’re dealing with potential customers or existing customers, like what are some of their concerns about adding electric vehicle charging?

AG: I mean, I think first and foremost, when we’re looking at an existing fueling station, just space considerations are probably the first thing that we look at. Most EV charging that we’re adding is not displacing other fuel pumps, right? You’re adding it in a grassy area, potentially taking away a couple of parking spaces. And so just making sure that there is physically enough space for those chargers, it’s probably the first thing that we’d look at. You know, I think that by and large, there is an understanding that this is an investment for the future and not necessarily something that’s going to have a quick return on investment today. So I wouldn’t call that a concern. So much as a consideration and a reality that our customers need to accept. I think that the other thing that we’re seeing in terms of just general concerns are, you know, how to best engage with the utility to understand operating costs and rate structure, how to interface with the equipment and software. So that they can manage load in an effective way, potentially adjusting prices throughout the day. So really optimizing both kind of the utility side and then the kind of revenue creation side are some of the things that our customers are thinking about.

JE: I think that’s critical. And one of the things we’ve been trying to do is I’ve been kind of brokering conversation between the retail leaders and utilities to talk about demand charges because right now the demand charge can make it very non-economical. The capital investment they can justify, they can figure out how to get away and that sort of operating cost when there’s not enough throughput. And we’re creating a calculator that we’ve been testing. We’re to release it pretty soon. We’re a retailer can go and put in what their investment is, what their are. All I want is what the type of charger they’re putting in, how many transactions are going to have to calculate what the Roy is, find out how much is going to cost them to sell the electricity, how much it’s going to cost, how much they have to charge the customer to overcome the demand costs. And what came from that was the more transactions you have, the less of a challenge the demand charges are. But until you have that throughput and that demand those demand charges can be an absolute killer, which is why so many convenience stores are partnering the third party network provider who takes care of all of that. And basically, you know, they come and go, we’re going to pay you x number of a month for these 10 parking spaces. To do anything, the challenge is now that retailer is now basically outsourcing their brand and their customer to somebody else, and they don’t have control over that, so it makes it challenging. The other thing we’re doing is we’re putting together a pilot project right now where we’re going to try to evaluate what the economic value of a customer is while they’re on site. We want to be able to try to track them from the charger inside the store, find out what they’re buying in there, how long they are milling around in the store and how that compares to another type of customer. So we can actually really understand the full value of that visit. And then roll it out to the industry. So we can create benchmarks so we can actually accelerate that calculation. So that a retailer can say, I know this is going to be good for my business and I’m going to make the investments. So a lot of uncertainties out there, a lot of questions about the economics, a lot of questions about the level of demand and all those things need to be answered before you’re going to have a lot of people jumping into this.

BSLO: Well, that’s really interesting, but I can’t wait to see that data. Personally, I’ve always heard, you know, that a lot of money is coming from a lot of revenue is coming from the purchases inside the gas station, the convenience store and not necessarily just from the gas itself. So it’d be really interesting to see that cost differential there. And how it plays out.

JE: Yeah so for the benchmark, you know, 2/3 of a store’s revenue comes from the pump, 2/3 of the profit comes from inside the store.

SG: Wow!

JE:  It’s a very low margin business, and it’s going to be a low margin at the charger as well. How do we tie it all together and just make the economics work out?

BSLO: Well, on that note, in terms of the differences of what people are doing when they’re charging, I’m an electric vehicle owner and I primarily charge at home. I’ve used a public DC fast charger twice in my year as an EV owner because it’s really my daily driver. So you’ve got historically where I would have had to go to the gas station every time I wanted to fill up. Now I can do that at home, so or at the grocery store. And I’m wondering how in terms of, and John and Annie and Gerard, this is for everyone how you look at the placement of those vehicles are sorry of those Chargers. And we’ve got a question in the Q&A as well on this topic about what’s the different strategy for charging infrastructure to support long trips versus everyday daily drives. And so I’m curious as to how those different strategies and where you’ve got these, this infrastructure place now come together as we look at this rollout. 

AG: I’m happy to take a crack at that one, Blair. You know, I do think it’s important to just first recognize that we’re at the early stages of EV adoption, so you’re right. Today, the majority of charging happens at home. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what it will look like exactly in the future, right? As more apartment dwellers adopt EVs. Maybe garage orphans. I don’t have a garage myself or a driveway, so public charging is super important to me. So maybe the early adopters lean a little more heavily on residential than we might expect in the future. And I guess the other thing I’d add there is just commercial vehicles will increasingly also be using that, that public charging infrastructure. So I I, you know, in thinking through what does the landscape look like? Where are we placing charging equipment? I do think that today’s fuel providers are really well positioned to meet the need of around town, long distance travelers, commercial vehicles, rideshare vehicles, anyone who needs a quick charge. Of course, that won’t be the only way you’re charging, right. You charge your cell phone wherever and whenever you can. And I think that’s kind of more similar to what we’re going to be seeing in the EV space. So I do think it’s important to realize that it’s not going to be a one to one conversion of gas stations to EV charging stations. And so I guess just circling back to what we were talking about earlier, I think that’s why we’re really trying to encourage the fuel providers and convenience stores that we work with to move quickly. So that they can secure their footprint as the transportation landscape changes. You know, it’s not necessarily going to be that every gas station becomes an EV charging station that we’ll be looking to use those lands and businesses for other things, potentially. I guess the other thing I would just say the question was about best use cases for different charging types. And you know, that is one of the nice things about electric vehicle charging is that you have some flexibility or fast Chargers or getting faster. Those are also more expensive, usually to use. So those are great for road trips or emergency scenarios, folks who have long, long shipping routes, for example, something like that. If you’re going to the library or the grocery store, a level 2 charger that charges a little more slowly is probably right for you. I think. Various speeds is that also gives the folks who are more interested in kind of grid integration. A lot of room to make sure that we’re charging in beneficial ways as well. 

JE: I think I agree, I think and I just said and you kind of took some of the words out of my mouth is. We hear we need 1/2 million chargers, but they don’t have to all be the same charger and we don’t need 350 kilowatt Chargers everywhere. If you’re in a community where people are driving 20 miles a day, but they need a quick charge, maybe a 50 kilowatts enough that they’re not replenishing that many miles on a regular basis. And the message, I think given the convenience retailers is right now, as you said, you will need to travel. You have to go buy gas, you have to go to convenience store gas station with an EV. You don’t have to do that. Anybody but charge in a lot of places at home, at the grocery, you said library. I don’t know. Do we even have libraries anymore? But you said libraries will go with that. But when you get in your car and you go, Oh man, I didn’t charge what’s top of mind? You’re going to the gas station if that gas doesn’t have a DC fast charger that gas stations no longer on their list of options. And so that first mover advantage that demonstration of commitment to your customers is critical. So when they need a charge and they don’t have time to wait, you can give them a 50 mile charge in five minutes. You have to have that capacity to do that. So it’s all about right sizing the market, the right timing. And if we can do it that way, we can itemize what our use case scenarios are, what charging configuration works for, what use case. We can actually save a lot of money and investment in insulation and accelerate it if we do it strategically and smartly. One size fits all is not going to work. We need to be very customized on how we do this. And luckily, I think there’s a lot of people looking at that. Our research that we’re doing right now, it’s going to is looking at that specifically as well to kind of help accelerate that discussion. 

BSLO: That’s really interesting, thank you, guys. Jarod, do you have anything to add? 

GDB: Yeah, I was just going to say, you know, both Annie and John hit both of the points. They’re about accessibility. S stores, you know, generally on typically very busy intersections. You know, you look for the busiest intersection, drop a see store there and you’re going to see a lot of activity. So just starting at a see store level, having those Chargers available to our customers is so critical because, you know, to John’s point, you might only need an extra 20 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles or whatever, you know, just to go in there. Come into our store, get a quick charge. Get a boost to get you to your next point of destination. And hopefully there’s an EV charger around that area, too. You know, we’re actually we’re designing our stores to be more comfortable with waiting. So if you do need that extra time, you can connect into our free fi internet. We have countertop seating available for about 20 of our customers. We also have picnic benches when it’s nice outside, know if you want to space out. You can do that too. Out there that Wi-Fi internet, that high speed internet will get you out there. So it just making it more of not only a transition point where you can recharge like a hub, but also making it accessible for somebody to just want to take a break and actually enjoy the lunch and just get a charge as well or watch a we had a customer come in. She parked her car at the charger, docked up, started charging, went in, came in, got some of our suit, sat right back down outside. And the picnic bench fired up Hulu and just started watching. She was here for an hour. You know, sitting there like, oh, that’s cool. Check that out. So it’s about making it comfortable while you wait as well as the destination. So not only from a recharging stance, but making it comfortable for the customers as well. 

JE: And that’s a critical way you guys have done because that’s what I’ve been talking about to a lot of people as well as think about the multi-unit dweller who’s not going to have access to charging at home. They’re going to need to stop off somewhere 2 times a week, maybe three times a week if they can come to drug store, plug-in for half hour in the morning, twice a week, come and get some breakfast uses free Wi-Fi. Keep up their emails. Do some of their early morning work while they’re charging the car that becomes part of their weekly routine and Annie’s point cell phone. If you have a charger, they’re going to plug-in when they’re there. Even though they’re five 10 minutes, they’re going to plug-in because it’s there and it’s easy. I used to hold up my phone all the time and speeches go. How many of you got on an airplane with 40% left in your battery and wasn’t panicked already? You’re desperately looking for a wall outlet somewhere in the airport. The same thing with EVs. If you have a charger, they’re going to use it. And if you don’t have a charger and they’re going to get lunch but your competitor does, guess where they’re going. They’re going to go with a charger is because it’s convenient and it’s there. So there’s a lot of opportunities, but I love what you describe the way you’re configuring your stores. I think it makes a lot of sense. 

SG: Yeah, that’s great context, Gerard, thank you. At the fuels Institute. Tell us about that group and like what type of people are part of that group and what conversations are you having? 

JE: Yeah so you can imagine some of it was somewhat self-serving. I mentioned you fuels or everything’s petroleum. So the EV industry wasn’t really flooding our gates to come in and participate in our discussions. So we set up the EV council to focus. We’ve got network providers, we’ve got some oems, we’ve got equipment providers, we have retailers, there’s some utilities, a lot of non-profits who want to get in the mix and help move the discussion on infrastructure long. And we’ve really narrowed our focus to infrastructure. So we’ve published a report summarizing the regulations at State level and in 100 different msas that pertain to installation, operation of EVC. We’ve published a literature review on EV consumer behavior. We’ve published a site host toolkit to help people walk through hey, maybe I want to do an EV charger to hey, I just flipped on the power and I’m actually selling electricity. We’re doing research right now on when, where, how, what type we’re doing research on what policies have been successful in helping encourage EV deployment, which have not. And that’s from a quantified perspective, as well as interviews with program administrators, program recipients. And then we’re doing another one looking at the local regulations, what are the best practices for local regulatory structures to facilitate installation? There’s a lot of soft costs, a lot of delays because local regulatory officials don’t understand the market or they don’t. They have antiquated regulations. How do we get rid of those hurdles? And just like I said before, customers need to have choices of vehicles. Let’s give businesses real choice in terms of getting into the business by eliminating the challenges that don’t need to be there. And so that’s kind of what we’re doing. We’re trying to bring the different stakeholders together to share experiences. We’re starting to look at medium. And heavy-duty charging facilities now. And we had a session a couple of weeks ago looking at electric island out, and I think it’s hot in Portland with Portland general electric, and they’ve set up a charging station for big rig trucks. And so we’re really trying to get people to talk and share experiences. So we can accelerate the decision making process and make it easier. This doesn’t need to be so difficult to get into the business, and we can knock down some of those barriers and help it out. 

BSLO: That’s really interesting, John, thank you. So I want to move this next question up on our list. It’s actually from the Q&A, and I think it’s for Gerard primarily. And if anybody wants to address this as well. Feel free, but what are you specifically dried and wind farms? How are you looking at partnering EV charging with clean power? So solar, for instance? And then for other folks, I’m curious as to where this has landed in your conversations as you’ve been helping other brands also install EV charging. 

GDB: So as far as solar power goes, we have looked at different options for place. Once again, it’s similar to the discussion with the EVS, the EV Chargers. Where are you going to place them? Future growth? How’s that going to tie back into your system with your solar panels? You have all the cables similar to the EV chargers, you have the cables, conduits and all that good stuff. So when you’re talking from a planning stance development stance, there’s those costs up front. Any incentives that were there, you want to leverage your incentives, any incentives that are available. There’s incentives that are out there right now for solar power that we’re still looking into. There is thought in the planning process right now for us to integrate the EV Chargers to be powered by solar right now. There’s other C stores out there that are looking at planning that as well. And we’re looking to keep up with that process. But as of right now, our EV Chargers are powered off of the grid that we currently have, and we’re looking at bringing that into the future with solar panels. And that’s going to be critical to for success in any business that’s going to be hosting the EV Chargers. 

AG: Yeah, the other thing I would just add about integrating renewable energy resources or storage into an EV charging project is that it has potentially a pretty great implication for operating costs as well as you’re not. You’re able to mitigate some of those demand charges by drawing on storage or by using solar at key points in the day. So I think when we’re looking ahead at both how to make the business case better for the folks that are investing in EV charging and also how to lessen the impact on our grid, that’s going to be a really key part of the strategy. 

JE: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely spot on. If you can do some battery buffering systems, some sort of storage to minimize your demand charges to supplement your power during the peak time of time of use rates. How can you capitalize on that? And if you’re going to use solar, you need to have storage. And that’s really the only way to harness that. And I think we’re seeing more and more than networks and equipment. Writers look into these battery packs to go with their chargers, to help with the economics, to help with good resiliency. All these things are going to be critical and we’re just now chipping at the edges. But there’s so much opportunity here. Distributive power, all those things are possible, but we have to build it and really work together. Figure out how it all works, how it all works, but the opportunities are huge. 

SG: t kind of along those lines of opportunities. You know, it’s not uncommon now to see Chargers at like Sheets and Wawa locations. And in the chat, someone was talking about how, you know, wal-marts have a lot of Chargers now is does anyone come to mind that is really kind of the leader in putting charging infrastructure alongside their gas pumps? You know, who’s really taking a lead there? 

JE: So I’ll rattle off an hour EV counsel Sheets is on EV council, come and go out of Iowa is doing a lot of interesting stuff. It all depends on your market. You’re not going to see every store getting into it. And a lot of the stores that you just mentioned are outsourcing to a third party network provider because they don’t want to deal with the economics and the hurdle of it. There’s other big chains who are looking at a heavily circle. K is looking heavy. 7-eleven made a big announcement a couple of months ago. They’re going heavy shell green lots, they’re going heavy. There’s a whole bunch of big players looking to get into it. Had they made big investments and have they built out a lot of stations yet now, but we’re starting to see them Amendment and their plans are there, and it’s all about getting those numbers to work because even big energy companies have made the announcement. I mean, and you said, I think shell wants to do half a million by 2025. They also want to make money at it. So this isn’t altruism. I mean, they’re in it for business. And so the economics have to work. Otherwise they’re not going to be turning concrete. But you’re going to see a lot more players get into it over the next five years as the market grows and as demand grows, the realization of like, holy cow, this is real because I’ll tell you, I still have people telling me this is wrong. This is this is not going to work. This is going to fail. And I have to keep reminding them, you know, people said rock and roll was a fad to where we are today. 

SG:I like that. Yeah, that example. 

AG: Yeah, John, I think you make a good point. It is ultimately a business decision, right? And I think we’ve seen a lot of really big announcements, and I think that there is a lot of competition in this space for getting these EV charging stations deployed. But what that looks like right now is kind of shopping around for where it makes financial sense. And so I do think it’s really important to draw that link. But even though these private companies are really willing to put skin in the game and to make these investments, they’re also really driving those investments to places where policy and regulation and utility programs can support those investments and help bring down some of that upfront costs. So I think it’s not just the shells and the Myers and the wal-marts of the world who are either partnering or directly investing to deploy EV charging. It’s that they are supported by beneficial policies and programs that can help minimize some of those costs. 

SG: And Gerard, it must make you all land hope. Farms feel pretty good about your strategy when you see some of these nationwide convenience stores and fuel providers doing the things that you’ve already done. 

GDB: Absolutely, I mean, we’re a small chain convenience store, so we do have the flexibility to accelerate decision making, you know, there’s not too many people involved with the decision making process. So it does make things a lot easier, but it has to make sense to John and Annie’s points. It’s all about what your market’s going to be. You know, the availability. I mean, we’re probably 45 minutes to about an hour outside of downtown Philadelphia, downtown Philadelphia. You’re going to see Chargers everywhere. As a matter of fact, the Wawa down there, the new Wawa down by the Navy yard, they just put there’s probably about 10 Tesla Chargers down there, and that was just a recent construction. So I saw it when I was driving by to go to the stadium. So that was new for me to see that and be like, wow, this is really cool, like, really neat that they’re doing that. We don’t really have that market up here. We’re in more rural area, more farm. Attracting business, so as far as like a disrupter stance, we haven’t seen too much disruption from the electrical charge to the gasoline model at this point yet. We do, we do get our customers are using them, but we still have consistent fuel sales. It’s not going to be something that’s going to be a light switch that turns off overnight and it’s going to be it’s going to be driven by market. I mean, that’s. That’s what we’re discussing here, so but we want to be in front of it and be a part of it as it continues to grow. So that’s critical for us. 

JE: And that’s a big point you made about market because we hear a lot of news about the projected sales of EVs. You know, 40% of sales, we’re going to be EV by 2035 or whatever the number are. That doesn’t mean the number of vehicles on the road are going to be 40% EV. So I did a market turnover now assessment. I think Bloomberg OK. Last year, it said by 20, 40, 60% of all equity sales would be plug-in. Well, if that’s true and you think about typical sales and scrappage rates, that only converts less than a third of the market to EV by 2040 at a 60% sales rate, now it starts going up faster than that. But I use that to explain to convenience retailers, look, you don’t need a panic. You know, this isn’t happening overnight, but you need a plan and you need to be aware of your market surroundings. Look at the trends, don’t look at national trends. Always look at your local trends and start talking to your utility. Now, start talking to your regulators and start talking to your strategic partners now to make the plan so you can get into the business when it’s right to do it. But I’ve had a lot of people calling me go, man, should I even build any more gas stations? A combustion engines are going to be on the road for 50, 60, 70 years. Yes you still don’t have a demand for fuel. Not as much. We’re going to see 1% to 2% drop in fuel demand, probably annually over the next 2021, 30 years. Fuel efficiency, electrification, all that stuff. We’re going to coexist for a very long time. And so you need to plan for both. It’s just it’s going to be a little more complicated because it’s not just one and done, but there’s time. But if you don’t plan now, you’re not going to get the incentives to help you because you’re going to phase out over time and you may lose first mover advantage to your competitor and lose that customer mind space. You need to be in that customer’s mind space in order to keep them coming to your store. And if you’re not offering them what they’re looking for, you just lost them for good. So that’s kind of the message we’re talking about, but there’s time, but don’t wait too long. 

BSLO: It’s really interesting, thank you all. Rolling with the market. Market drivers seem for a second. I can say when I was primarily driving a gas vehicle, I had a brand of gas stations that I always went to. It’s where I had my little charger points thing that gave me the discounts charger points thing is going to be the new branded term, FYI, everyone get on board. But when we’re looking at electric vehicle charging, especially if there aren’t, if you’re doing a long trip and you don’t have the same access to the same charging brand all throughout your journey, how are we making sure that EV owners have trust in all of these different brands of charging stations, as well as streamlining the types of charging plugs that we’re seeing at all of them, so that if I pull up to a charger, I know no matter what kind of plug I have, I can use it. And John, I think we’ll start with you, since you oversee so many different clients and then let everybody else respond as well. 

JE: Interoperability, the ability to charge at any charge you come to is a big, big deal if you take a look at the market dynamics now, Tesla has 75% share of new vehicles sold. That’s going to start eroding over time because more vehicles are coming on. They also have probably the biggest network out there because they made the investment, but it’s proprietary. If you’re driving a General Motors vehicle, you cannot charge it a Tesla location. Now they have indicated they plan to open up their network with an adapter to other vehicles. When we get to a point where the customer knows they can charge wherever they are, whenever they are. However, they are and it’s a commodity, then that’s going to open up the doors a lot. Gasoline is a commodity. Yes, there are certain additives and stuff that’s to distinguish them a little bit. But for the most part, you buy an 87 octane fuel at any gas station that’s going to perform just like every other gas station does. Electrons are the same exact way. What we have to get to a point where the vehicle is agnostic to what charger pulls up to and the Chargers agnostic to what vehicle pulls up to it. Once we get to that point now, we start seeing a seamless integration in the market, and that’s the direction I think we’re going. That direction is going to take a little while to get there because competition is really, really fierce. But eventually, that’ll start melting. 

AG: Yeah. John, interoperability is one of GreenLots’ favorite words. Definitely core to our approach to market. And I think really what we see as key to making the market work for all drivers that you can pull up to a charging station and be sure that you can use it, that if you’re a charging station owner, you can swap hardware and software and have interoperability there. And so, you know, in addition to just thinking about plug type, the one other thing that I would add to this is just that within various networks, we are working together to make sure that drivers have that seamless experience. And over the past year, we’ve announced roaming agreements with most major charging networks across North America. So that you can charge at any station regardless of what app you have downloaded on your phone or what RFID card you have on your keychain. You’re not prevented from charging because of any memberships. There are no fees to charging at other stations and so forth. So I think creating that experience where, you know, we’re not at the point yet where we can really play favorites because we’re still trying to get Chargers in the ground, right? So making sure that where there is a station, you’re able to use it, that’s going to be really critical in building driver confidence. 

SG: And it sounds like from Gerard’s previous point, if it’s all just electricity, the real competitive advantage then comes from that customer experience. So what do people have access to while they’re charging? That really differentiates you as a convenience store fuel provider? 

JE: One of the things that’s going to be challenging, Stuart, is cost. How much is the electricity going to cost? Right now, customers can drive 45 miles an hour to find the best priced fuel without even slowing down. When we start getting into a competitive market with electricity charging, the cost to recharge might come into play in the consumer’s decision. We don’t know how that’s going to play out yet. And when you’re dealing with how many electricity jurisdictions do we have at different rates, policies and stuff? Stations located across that demarcation line between one utility to the other, their cost of electricity could be remarkably different. So eventually we’re going to get to a transparency model where we’ll be able to advertise how much electricity is. Is there a session fee? Is there an access fee? Is it just straight kilowatt hours to? customers are able to choose not only the amenities, but the cost breakdown because we have to develop a competitive market. So customers are getting the best value. The challenge is utilities have never had to compete and so they don’t quite understand when we talk about competition, that kind of we don’t understand what that means. We have our jurisdiction. We don’t have to compete. This high priority for the convenience retailing industry is we’re used to people leaving us for Penny a gallon. How are we going to be able to price electricity in a competitive market, transparent market and in a way that is protecting the consumers interest as well? It’s going to be that’s going to take some time to work that one out. 

SG: We just have a few minutes left. We’ve been getting some of the attendees questions. What are some of the best resources for a convenience store fuel provider who’s considering installing EV chargers? Where does someone go? Where did you guys even start when you started considering this? 

GDB: So when we started considering it, we actually reached out locally to other businesses that had them, Longwood Gardens was a big, you know, connection of ours. We have a relationship with them over there. They had invited us over to take a look and see what they were doing, the plan for these very green oriented companies. So we wanted to mirror that because they have a really good reputation locally and on a statewide national level. People come in, they go to Longwood Gardens. So when that opportunity was presented to us, we took a look at it. They were using chargepoint. We reached out at the conversation with chargepoint, and then they provided us all the information to get us started. Chargepoint being an infrastructure provider. And, you know, the economics made sense for us, and that’s what got us going, I mean, the incentives are important, too. You know, the incentives are going to be the big drivers having take a look and see what is available as far as not only from an infrastructure provider, but see what local energy companies. We have PICO around here, see what they can do to help you out. You know, federal municipal level incentives. I mean, they’re going to be huge as well. know, look at the website, see what’s available, that’s out there. You can never over research this right now. There’s a ton of material that’s out there. 

AG: Yeah, I think, Gerard, your kind of two highlights where what I was going to say is, well, you know, one reach out to and the church. Or, you know, one of our competitors, and we’re happy to walk you through kind of what a project would look like, what options are and kind of make you feel more comfortable with the process. Utility is also a great resource, as Gerard mentioned, like they, lots of them have programs to help make the process cheaper and simpler. They’re going to want to know regardless, whether you’re whether or not you’re installing EV charging. So that’s one of the first places that I would turn would be to your account manager at the utility. They’ll help you figure out what’s available to you from the utility, potentially from the state as well. 

JE: Yeah, I agree with of both of what they said. And he said, I mean, you can’t throw a stone without finding somebody who wants to help you do this now. It can be challenging if you don’t know who to call. We are working through knacks to build a website where match making is easier. So you can get a convenient mortgage EV and all the resources we’ve been building are there. But we’re hopefully by the beginning of next year to have a platform where you can load up your store characteristics, what you’re looking to do and have a list of vendors that will match you with that. You can then reach out automatically and ask them for information, whether they be network providers, utility providers, engineers or whoever to help them get into the business for trying to automate that. So if somebody has interest, they can go, log on, put up their information and then be immediately connected with people who can help them. But I agree with my first call me and my utility find OK, one what would it take me to have the power I need because I may not have the capabilities? Do they have a makeready program to get me ready? A lot of retailers are concerned about competing with their utility on the provision of electric charging. Is my utility thinking about installing and operating their own Chargers in that kind of need to know that because you need to understand that competitive market there, but you’re never going to that unless you call your utility. And you know, that’s that. Probably my first call is, OK, what do I have to do from your perspective? I’m going to sell your product. How do I do that? Gas stations have been dealing with refiners for years. Then you start looking at their utility as their product supplier, and they’re partnering on this because that’s a critical element. 

SG: I just posted each of your personal cell phone numbers in the chat, so should be really easy for people to get additional information. 

BSLO: That was not me.

SG: You know, it’s we’re at one o’clock, basically. There’s loads of more questions. There’s great questions in the Q&A, but just wanted to thank you all for joining. This event will be posted on our YouTube channel, so check that out. For more information about Generation180, you can go to We’d like to encourage everyone. We have a whole week of events and recognition of National drive electric week, so tomorrow is EVs and the media. How reporting has changed about electric vehicles on Wednesday. We have a great topic on policy and EV and public transit. Thursday night we have EV trivia where you can win some big prizes. We have a special guest comedian joining us as well. And then Friday, all about electric school buses. So thank you all. One of the messages we heard here was about really market demand, so I want to encourage everyone. If you’re not driving an electric vehicle, you know, go to and pledge to make your next vehicle electric. So thanks so much and have a great week.

The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:

“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”


Energy & Education: A Climate Plan for K-12 Schools

September 22, 2021

We talk a lot about the role we all must play in tackling the climate crisis. There’s no shortage of work to be done, and no time for anyone to sit out—including the education sector. 

K-12 schools have a hefty environmental footprint. Approximately 100,000 public K-12 schools sit on 2 million acres of land and are one of the largest public energy consumers. They also operate the largest mass transit fleet in the country, using 480,000 school buses. Schools also serve over 7 billion meals each year and generate 530,000 tons of food waste.

Recognizing that K-12 schools can play a key role in large-scale climate solutions, the Aspen Institute launched the K12 Climate Action initiative last fall. The project brings together education, environment, youth, civil rights leaders, and others to help elevate climate as a priority issue and create a comprehensive action plan to address climate change in the U.S. by leveraging the power of the education sector. Generation180 was one of the organizations in the coalition supporting this work.

Four Pillars of Climate Action

The K12 Climate Action Plan identifies four pillars of climate action: mitigation, adaptation, education, and advancement of equity.


There are many strategies highlighted in the action plan that schools can use to lower their environmental footprints and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include reducing energy consumption from buildings, switching to electric school buses, minimizing and composting food waste, and improving water efficiency. 

Aspen’s K12 action plan featured Generation180 data about the collective potential of schools to reduce their impact by using solar energy. Our research found that by the start of 2020, there were 6,839 solar public K-12 schools in the U.S., with a 144% growth rate in the last five years. Yet, only 7% of public schools currently use solar energy. About half of all states allow power purchase agreements, which enable third-party ownership and minimize upfront costs, enabling schools to reinvest into teacher pay and their students. Generation180 is beginning to broaden our work to help schools address the largest source of carbon emissions in this country: transportation. Ninety-four percent of school buses are powered by diesel engines, which create air pollution, harm student health, and impact academic performance and absenteeism. Students of color are disproportionately exposed to air pollution, contributing to higher rates of asthma and other health issues. Electrifying school buses saves schools money (a whopping $170,000 in lifetime savings), and helps students breathe cleaner air.


The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear how school disruptions affect all communities. The increasingly widespread impacts of climate change are also interrupting student learning and harming student health. Schools can play a pivotal role in helping our communities adapt. Schools that adopt more resilient infrastructure — such as solar + battery storage microgrids,  which allow schools to retain key functions when other buildings lose power — can be critical community hubs for providing shelter and other services during an emergency.


Educators have an opportunity to prepare the next generation to be better equipped to address climate change and succeed in the clean energy economy. All subjects can be connected to climate change to support teaching and learning about sustainability, the environment, and green jobs,—and to empower students to advance climate solutions.

For example, the NYC DOE, the largest school system in the nation, prepares its 1.1 million students for a future powered by clean energy through more than 250 solar projects that allow for hands-on, STEM learning opportunities for students.

Advancing Equity

The action plan recommends that school districts develop and implement comprehensive K-12 climate action plans. To keep equity in focus, the action plans must ensure the voices of communities most impacted by climate change are central to decision-making, including students. 

Many districts around the country have already worked to prioritize sustainability and serve as models for climate action, such as Stockton Unified School District and Middlesex County Public Schools.

All Hands on Deck

Just like group projects in school require collaboration in order to succeed, so does this action plan.

The K-12 plan outlines policy recommendations at the local, state, and federal levels, including proposing that governments at all levels help schools create and implement their own individual climate action plans. Governments can also provide financial and technical support to help schools invest in clean energy solutions, like solar and electric buses. Interagency coordination is a critical piece of the K-12 climate action puzzle.

By mobilizing the education sector to prioritize and implement climate solutions, we can build lasting change to advance a more equitable, sustainable future for today’s students.

Want to learn more about how we seize this opportunity to transform our energy system and education system? Read the full K-12 action report here.


Stronger, Faster, Cheaper: Clean energy makes the military better

September 15, 2021

Thinking about going electric on your next vehicle purchase? So is the American military. Recently, the Army kicked the tires on an all-electric version of its Infantry Squad Vehicle, and it’s investing $50 million  over the next year on ways to get around without fossil fuel.

Beyond electric vehicles, a move to clean energy is underway across the U.S. Armed Forces, including solar installations, microgrids, and alternative fuels. Military leaders have long recognized that dependence on fossil fuels is a security risk at home and a deadly liability on the battlefield. Thousands  of casualties, for example, have been attributed to attacks on fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We also happen to have an administration that recognizes the climate crisis as a national security risk. As he took office in January, President Biden signed an executive order declaring that “climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security.”

But even back when the election of Donald Trump sent a dark cloud over the world of clean energy, the military was soldiering on with projects such as solar arrays on U.S. bases and an all-electric warship, the USS Zumwalt. After all, the Department of Defense (DoD) accounts for more than three-quarters of the entire federal government’s energy consumption, and it has a goal to reach 25% renewable energy by 2025. Judging from its most recent report on energy, the agency is a little more than halfway there.

The USS Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s largest and most advanced stealth destroyer.

And like the rest of us, the DoD is looking for ways to save on energy—its annual energy budget exceeds $3 billion—and be more resilient in the face of power disruptions. The department saw more utility outages lasting longer than eight hours in fiscal year 2019 compared to the year before, according to its energy management report, and outages of all lengths cost the agency more than $4 million .

Given these large bills, installing renewable energy makes both strategic and financial sense. At Fort Hood in Texas, switching to solar and wind power—which now supply about 45% of the site’s energy—saved $2.5 million in the first year alone. And DoD is testing microgrids backed up by robust batteries on a replica base at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory dubbed Fort Renewable.

Switching to solar and wind power saved Fort Hood $2.5 million in the first year alone.

So, when it comes to remaking its energy supply, DoD is working on it… but more needs to be done.

“Let’s be clear. We’re behind,” Army Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley told DefenseNews last year, referring specifically to the electric vehicle transition. “All of the various nations that we work with, they’re all going to electric power with their automotive fleet, and right now, although we do [science and technology] and we’ve got some research and development going on and we can build prototypes, in terms of a transition plan, we are not there.”

U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Robert G. Sutton (L) and Corporal Moses E. Perez, field wireman with Combat Logistics Regiment 15 install new solar panels on Combat Outpost Shukvani, Helmand province, Afghanistan, November 19, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alexander Quiles/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS

With hundreds  of bases operating worldwide and many tactical and security considerations, it’s not surprising that the DoD isn’t converting to clean energy at warp speed. But with an annual budget exceeding $705 billion and more than a million troops, few organizations are better positioned to push the envelope on energy. Former military energy advisers Michael Wu and Jon Powers argue the agency should, among other things, establish an Office of Energy Innovation that would focus on “electrifying the tactical edge,” which could include ships and aircraft. 

This last bit—the tough-to-electrify sectors like flight and marine transport—is where the military could really help move the world away from dirty fuels. Military innovation tends to make its way into the civilian realm. (Duct tape? Who knew!)  Yes, that includes the Humvee, which begat the gas-guzzling Hummer.

But in the future, our armed forces could be a seedbed for cleaner travel and more resilient electricity strategies that benefit all of us.


The simplest, most important supply & demand graph ever

September 1, 2021

Buckle up, everyone. We’re going back to high school economics class for a hot minute to witness a little supply-and-demand MAGIC. Remember watching your teacher draw endless variations of those graphs on the chalkboard (or whiteboard for you fancy millennials)?

teacher drawing graph on chalkboard

Why are we headed back to high school econ? Every once in a while, it’s helpful to zoom out and remind ourselves what all this effort behind wind and solar energy, electric vehicles, global politics, electrification, and more is all driving toward. The end goal of our energy transition is to fully power our world with clean, renewable energy. Put another way, we want to arrive at the point when our supply of clean energy completely matches our demand for energy.


Here’s the takeaway, though, class: we need that glorious day—when the supply curve meets the demand curve—to arrive as soon as possible. In the context of the climate crisis, getting there a decade earlier, for example, makes a world of difference (pun very much intended). 

How do we make this 100% clean energy moment arrive as soon as possible? We need to bend the curves. If we slow down the growth of energy demand (bend the curve down) and speed up the growth of clean energy supply (bend the curve up), the chart does something kinda magical: it makes the 100% clean energy moment arrive much more quickly than you might expect.

supply and demand graph showing energy demand and clean energy supply

Whammo. That’s some econ magic, y’all. So how exactly do we bend those curves? 


Another (more colorful) way to visualize things

In order to answer that important question, let’s look at another visualization of our energy supply and demand—this one with a bit more detail. This chart shows where our energy comes from (on the left), and to what end uses it flows (on the right). The specifics won’t be on the test, but the gist is that supply is on the left and demand is on the right:

Sankey diagram showing the U.S. energy flows
Breaking down America’s energy sources and consumption in 2020. Credit: Visual Capitalist

After you’ve had a minute let this rainbow of colors soak in, we’re ready to answer our key questions: how do we bend those supply and demand curves?


How to bend the supply curve up

How do we accelerate the growth rate of renewable energy? While the chart above is fascinating to look at, it’s also alarming to see the amount of petroleum and natural gas on which we still rely. The important reminder here is that this snapshot in time doesn’t show the growth curve renewables are on over time. They’ve had remarkable growth over the past decade—and they’re just getting started. Here are three key ways to bend the clean, renewable energy supply curve (i.e., accelerate growth) even more:

  1. Set a clean electricity standard: While some state governments have set their own standards (requiring utilities to get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources), the climate crisis now demands a more aggressive timeline. The federal government could weigh in with a national standard in order to speed up growth of renewable energy, using a variety of carrots and sticks to urge utilities to pick up their pace. In fact, such a standard should be included in the reconciliation bill currently being discussed on Capitol Hill—and it’s likely Congress’ last good chance to implement this critical policy.
  2. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels: Despite what the coal, oil, and gas industries (and their entourage of politicians) would have us think, most Americans would be shocked at how much we prop up fossil fuels versus renewables. We’re talking over $35 billion in direct and consumption subsidies and nearly $700 billion in “implicit” subsidies (the costs to the U.S. government from climate change, air pollution, and infrastructure damage that fossil fuels aren’t paying) every year. If we turned off this spigot and directed even a fraction of that money toward deploying renewable energy, we could bend that growth curve up dramatically.
  3. Electrify everything: Look back at the colorful chart: if more of our end uses on the right (e.g., “Transportation,” “Residential,” “Commercial”) were able to run on electricity instead of on oil and gas, it would drive more growth of renewables (which can generate electricity very cost-effectively) and less production of fossil fuels. What’s that cool word for making things “be able to run on electricity”? Electrification. Think switching from gas-powered cars, trucks, buses, machinery, appliances, and HVAC to electric versions. 

How to bend the demand curve down

Now that we’ve covered how to bend the supply curve up, let’s turn our attention to the less-sexy job of bending the demand curve down—i.e., reducing our demand for energy. Using less (of anything) doesn’t quite capture the American public’s imagination like building massive wind turbines does, but the good news is that reducing demand can be an incredibly cost-efficient way of saving money, lowering emissions, and hastening the arrival of our 100% clean energy moment—all without hampering economic growth (California is a successful example of this). Here are three key ways to bend the demand curve down:

    1. Make our buildings more energy efficient: This report summarizes it best: “Architectural designs, construction practices, and technologies are available today that minimize energy and resource use in buildings and optimize the benefits to people of high performance—cleaner air, more comfortable homes and workspaces, and lower utility bills. And improved building efficiency is a win for city leaders and local planners: every $1 invested in efficiency saves $2 in new power plants and electricity distribution costs.”
    2. Change our most energy-intensive behaviors: Certain individual behaviors require a ton of energy to make happen, and doing less of them would go a long way toward reducing energy demand. Behaviors like reducing food waste, eating less meat, and flying less are both energy- and carbon-intensive—even though all the energy input is sometimes hidden from consumers’ view (“embedded”). 
    3. Electrify everything: Same idea as mentioned above, but for a different reason here: electric motors are simply far more efficient machines than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. Switching from a gas furnace to a heat pump can reduce a home’s electricity use for heating by 50%; electric vehicle powertrains are 3-6x more efficient than comparable gas-powered powertrains. Electric machines aren’t just better for pollution and the climate crisis—they’re now simply better.


The result

If we’re able to bend the growth curves of both supply and demand, we can accelerate the arrival of a world fully powered by clean, renewable energy. And in case you needed a reminder, speed is of the essence. Every little bit of acceleration matters, as climate scientist Allison Crimmins reminded us just a few weeks ago: “…Every action counts to avoid those [climate] impacts. So every bit of temperature, every tenth of a degree that we can avoid is going to be better. Every single action matters. Every year matters.”