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California School District Responds to Climate Emergency with Energy Resilience

September 26, 2022

This case study was originally published in the 3rd edition of Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. K-12 Schools (2020). This story was updated September 2022. 

When Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) students came back to school this year, they were welcomed with newly installed solar canopies at fourteen school sites that will power close to all of the district’s electricity needs. During the school year, battery storage will be installed at six of those sites to form solar-powered microgrids that can store energy onsite and provide power to the buildings when the grid goes down.

Mudslide in Santa Barbara County in January 2018

The district began planning for energy resilience after historic wildfires and mudslides devastated the Montecito community in Santa Barbara County in January 2018. The schools were called on to serve as safe havens and emergency response centers. Nearly five years after that climate emergency, the school district is prepared for future power outages with energy resilience hubs that can keep schools operating and provide needed services for community members. 

Two years before the disastrous mudslides occurred, a newly elected member of the Board of Education, Laura Capps, had begun advocating for the district to become more environmentally sustainable. As a longtime Santa Barbara resident, she was proud of Santa Barbara’s history as the birthplace of the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. She thought the school district could be doing more to protect the planet for future generations, and she wanted to change the fact that none of the schools in the district had solar panels. Capps discovered that one neighboring district had cut electricity costs by almost $1 million annually by producing its own solar energy, prompting her to become the champion for installing solar arrays at SBUSD. 

Although Capps had repeatedly brought up the benefits of solar energy at board meetings and budget discussions, she could not get the support of other board members and district leaders, who were more concerned with competing priorities. According to Capps, “there was the feeling that if you focus on sustainability you are taking your eye off the ball of literacy — the more fundamental mission of a school system.”

Only after natural disaster struck the community did Capps finally get agreement to move forward with solar arrays and to develop a comprehensive energy resilience plan. In 2019, the district began to move forward with energy resilience plans as the threat of wildfires around California caused statewide utilities to de-energize power lines to prevent from sparking wildfires. Millions of Californians lost power that year due to these public safety power shut-offs triggered by threats of wildfires.

Photo credit: Clean Coalition

Santa Barbara Unified School District teamed up with nonprofit Clean Coalition to develop plans for state-of-the-art, solar-powered microgrids that deliver a high level of energy resilience and diminished electricity costs. The district now has 4.2 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity across fourteen sites, including twelve schools, a district office, and a food storage warehouse. The solar canopies will power 94-98% of the district’s electricity needs. The battery storage being installed at six of the fourteen sites will have 1.9 MW power rating/3.8 MWh battery capacity. The battery storage can support all of the electricity loads of those buildings when solar energy is plentiful.

The district financed the project through a 28-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the project developer Engie, which required no upfront capital costs paid by the district. In total, the projects are estimated to save the school district a total of $7.8 million throughout the life of the 28-year agreement. According to Clean Coalition, the solar-powered microgrids provide an additional $6.5 million in value-of-resilience (VOR), which is the monetary value of keeping the building powered.

 “It’s a win for our finances — this project will save $8 million over the lifetime of the project, which is money that can go directly back into the classroom. And it is clearly a win for our community — this will help us reach Santa Barbara city’s target of zero emissions. Finally, we are doing our part by transitioning to renewable energy,”  said Laura Capps, SBUSD Board of Education

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Gen180’s Year in Review

December 22, 2021

Whether you’ve been part of the Gen180 community for years or just joined recently, we’re glad you’re on board! You might have joined to get resources from the Solar for All Schools campaign, to attend an Electrify Your Ride event, to get the weekly Flip the Script newsletter in your inbox, or for a variety of other reasons. 

However we first got connected, our goal is to inspire and equip you to take action on clean energy—in your home, your workplace, your community, your state, and beyond. The big idea behind all of our work is that the transition to a clean energy future is not only possible but fully underway—and you have a critical role to play in accelerating it

As 2021 comes to a close, we wanted to offer up a visual overview of what Generation180 has been up to—and why. Some of the work you may be familiar with, and some of it might be new to you. Whether it’s our work around humorous content, illustrative or video storytelling, arts and culture, research, or resources, you might find something that piques your interest. So head over to this page and take a look!

Screenshot of Gen180's portfolio website
Click on the image to visit our portfolio website

Here’s an overview of the work we’ve been putting out into the world:


Humor

Esteban Gast video

Humor is a powerful tool that has been underutilized in the climate movement to date. It can lower defenses, subtly (or not so subtly) provide new perspectives, and travels much further than facts do online. That’s why we’ve made videos, comics, and a recently launched podcast featuring comedians.


Illustrative Storytelling

Where words, facts, and figures fail, images can often succeed. Our illustrative work spans a variety of formats, from weekly comics to long-form pieces. We’re always looking to try new techniques and formats that will surprise and engage our audience. Did you catch our long-form comic covering America’s EV love story’?


Video Storytelling

A key capability from day one, video production continues to be one of Generation180’s strong suits. With a combination of in-house expertise and best-in-class creative partners, our aim is to be imaginative, bold, responsive, and effective. In this example above, we used video storytelling to help raise up the voices of Virginians who care about clean air and clean cars.


Arts and Culture

It’s a well-known fact that politics lives downstream from culture. We take this adage to heart by partnering with artists and helping clean energy advocates integrate their priorities into their lifestyle. It’s why we co-created a children’s book about voting, sponsored the creation of a mural, and have shirts, hats, mugs, and more that you can wear and use out in the world.


Research and Analysis

Our original research, reports, and resources have helped establish Generation180’s credibility as a player in the climate and clean energy movement and an issue leader on solar schools and electric vehicles. We’ve leveraged these assets to earn media coverage, influence policymakers, and equip decision-makers with actionable information. Just last month we published the 2021 edition of our Virginia Drives Electric report.


Ambassador Resources

Inspiring and equipping individuals to impact those around them is one of the fastest and most effective ways to accelerate change. This is at the heart of Generation180’s theory of change. That’s why we’ve provided these “ambassadors” with training, peer-to-peer networking, and occasions to engage with media and everyday audiences. Check out our Clean Energy School Leaders Network or our newly published EV Ambassador Library.

We hope you have a fantastic, safe, meaningful holiday season. Stay tuned for 2022 as we are scaling our work nationally and to new states including, PA, NC and more. Onward!

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Event Recording: Virginia Drives Electric Virtual Town Hall

December 20, 2021

This live event occurred on December 16, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series.

On December 16, Generation180, Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, Climate Cabinet, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network hosted a virtual town hall event with Virginia General Assembly members focused on transportation electrification, with special guest Don Hall from the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association.

Virginia recently took significant strides to reduce pollution and accelerate the Commonwealth’s transition to a clean energy economy by passing policies that support electric vehicle adoption, such as the Advanced Clean Car Standards. Now it’s time to build on this progress and further solidify Virginia’s future as a leader in advanced transportation and transportation electrification.

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This holiday season, don’t clam up about climate

November 24, 2021

Welcome to Thanksgiving 2021. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Engage with that relative who loves to talk about how climate change is a hoax every time the mercury dips below 50 degrees. 

We’re here with some tips. But first, a spoiler alert: No one has yet devised a proven rhetorical tool for boosting the relevance of scientific fact over emotions, conspiracies, and plain old inertia. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be in a climate crisis to begin with. Already, you know better than to hope your fossil-friendly uncle or cousin is going to walk away from a dinner chat thinking, “Hey, maybe I was wrong to talk trash about Greta Thunberg. Now what should I research first, an electric car or solar panels?” 

Why bother then, you might ask? It can be frustrating to talk with someone who is denying or dismissing an issue so fundamental to our survival on this planet. And then there’s the concern that if you drop some facts, you might inadvertently cause your relative to double down on climate change denial—we’ll get to that one in a minute.

The debunking dance

A good goal for any conversation about climate change, aside from retaining your sanity, is simply to counter misinformation, and to do it without shaming people or arguing them down. 

When you do this, you are achieving two things: You’re preventing that bad info from “sticking” with other people in the room (especially kids), and you’re actively refuting falsehoods where they have already taken hold. Both of these are strategies laid out in the helpful Debunking Handbook 2020, written by a team of 22 scholars and posted at the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. 

The debunking handbook, appropriately enough, debunks a common perception about debunking: The aforementioned notion that a person will hold tighter to false beliefs when presented with evidence to the contrary. This is called the backfire effect, and it seems especially relevant in a world where one can go to any number of websites that peddle fave denier ideas

But recent research suggests the backfire effect, though it does happen, is not inevitable. 

“Backfire effects occur only occasionally, and the risk of occurrence is lower in most situations than once thought,” say the Debunking Handbook authors. “Do not refrain from attempting to debunk or correct misinformation out of fear that doing so will backfire or increase beliefs in false information.”

The debunking handbook suggests a sort of fact-sandwich strategy that lends itself to a written debunk, say, on social media. You lead with a simple fact, nod to the myth, explain the problem with the myth, and close by restating facts. 

For example: “Turns out the last seven years have been the warmest on record. So when the weather turns cold and you hear, ‘It’s 30 degrees out today, there is no such thing as global warming,’ know that that’s ignoring the wider trend. Yes, we still have cold days. Overall, though, the world is warmer than ever, and the hot days are getting hotter.”

Six ideas for talking about climate change

Okay, maybe that fact-sandwich approach gets you a few likes on Facebook. And maybe you’re the type who can coolly rattle off some climate facts over crudites like it’s nothing. For the rest of us, it’s useful to have some guidance for in-person encounters. To that end:

1. Have a conversation, not a debate. Climate scientist Astrid Caldas, who speaks to all kinds of audiences, says in a video about combating misinformation, “It’s never a lecture. It’s a conversation.” If you try to “win” with the most facts or get emotional to the point of having a heated argument, both sides lose. 

2. Ask questions—and listen to the answers. One of the best ways to start a conversation, of course, is to ask a question. The organizational psychologist Adam Grant has suggested that motivational interviewing, a technique developed to treat addictions, can also get people to reconsider false notions. Even without trying to change someone’s mind, asking questions can give you a better sense of what their concerns are.

3. Find common ground. Caldas also recommends knowing your audience—that, along with asking questions, helps locate where you might agree. “Connecting with people is easier than people think,” she says. “There is always something that we have in common with somebody.” Maybe your dad thinks all this talk about ditching fossil fuels to save the planet is nonsense. But he might have an open ear to spending less on gasoline with a fuel-efficient car or lowering the monthly power bill by installing solar panels.

4. Talk about what they care about. Many studies on communication and behavior confirm the importance of appealing (or avoiding a challenge) to a person’s sense of identity. Research shows that people may respond best to peer pressure (do any of your dad’s buddies have EVs?) or messages that confirm their own world view. One study found Republicans were more likely to recycle in response to messaging about civic duty, as opposed to being green. When making your point, you don’t have to reference environmental groups and Democrats, which could undermine your message, depending on your audience. NASA has a ton of great facts on climate change. Or you can bring up how the military was still powering ahead with clean energy under Trump, because it’s strategically smart.

5. Focus on the positive. This goes back to the common ground idea. Rather than get bogged down in whether or not humans are causing climate change, can you agree that some aspects of the clean energy economy are really cool? There’s a reason Republican Texas is also the country’s top wind energy state. Human ingenuity has driven job-creating sources of homegrown, renewable energy. Heck, there are electric cars out that can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds. Who cares that they don’t burn gasoline?

6. Know when to let go. Remember not to be what Grant calls a “logic bully” who is out to convert or defeat opponents. If you’re talking (civilly) about climate change at all, that’s a win—as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has pointed out, conversations are “the only way revolutions ever started.” Not speaking out leads to a “spiral of silence,” the Debunking Handbook says, where a “mute majority cedes a narrative to a vocal but misinformed minority.” 

Denial comes in many forms. As it gets harder to ignore the pervasive reality of climate change, some saw plenty of climate change denial 2.0 at COP26. The hallmarks: downplaying the urgency of the crisis, dragging feet on action, or watering down commitments. Your cranky aunt certainly isn’t the only one facing this crisis with folded arms.

But it’s also worth noting that the number of Americans who say they are alarmed about climate change has increased 50% over the past five years, while the “dismissive” camp is shrinking. And solutions are out there. You might not be able to change anyone’s mind over a single meal, but you can stand up for facts and hope

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Comedians Conquering Climate Change: our new podcast

November 11, 2021

It’s officially Launch Day for our brand new podcast, Comedians Conquering Climate Change.  We’re pretty sure it’s the funniest, most accessible, and shortest podcast addressing today’s critical climate and clean energy topics available in the podcast-sphere. We’ve published two episodes so far and have more coming each week, so check it out here.

What’s this project all about?

Comedians Conquering Climate Change is the funniest, most accessible, shortest podcast addressing today’s critical climate and clean energy topics. Our host, comedian, writer, and teacher Esteban Gast, is joined each week by a fellow comedian to single-handedly save the planet. Need we say more?

Why did Gen180 make this?

The core of our work here at Generation180 is changing the narrative around climate and clean energy. In order to get to a clean energy future, we’re going to need more than just alarm, doom, and gloom. We need a compelling, accessible vision of the future, a focus on solutions, and a stronger dose of emotions—like hope, resilience, and humor. Humor is a powerful tool that has been underutilized in the climate movement to date. It can lower defenses, introduce new perspectives, and it travels much further than data and pie charts do online.

What’s funny about climate change?

If the above ☝🏽 explanation didn’t convince you, here’s another attempt: Yes, the climate crisis is an existential threat that is deadly serious business. But humor helps us tackle serious topics all the time (there are countless sitcoms, books, standup comedy, and even humor-based protests as examples of this). As comedian Rollie Williams says, “Climate change is an emergency, but it’s not a sprint.” This podcast is a moment to take a breath, have a laugh, and learn something all at the same time. 

Much more to come! Make sure to subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or your favorite podcasting platform) to catch weekly episodes as they’re released.

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The absurd truth about fossil fuel subsidies

October 13, 2021

This article is from the October 13, 2021, issue of Flip the Script, a weekly newsletter moving you from climate stress to clean energy action. Sign up here to get it in your inbox (and share the link with a friend).

October 2021 update: According to a recent IMF report, the burning of coal, oil, and gas was subsidized by $5.9 trillion in 2020. This new way of calculating the proper pricing of pollution takes into account the health costs of air pollution and contributions to the impacts of global warming.

Fossil fuel subsidies are a pivotal problem to tackle if we want to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy.

By now, it’s abundantly clear that we need to transition to a clean energy system at “wartime mobilization” speed. But a few key things are preventing us from getting there faster, and here’s one of the worst offenders: continued massive subsidies for fossil fuels. U.S. taxpayers spend tens of billions of dollars a year subsidizing new fossil fuel exploration, production, and consumption, which directly affects how much oil, natural gas, and coal gets produced—and how much clean energy doesn’t.

Despite what the coal, oil, and gas industries (and their entourage of politicians) would have us think, most of us would be shocked at how much we prop up fossil fuels versus renewables. The playing field isn’t even close to level. Here’s a breakdown of some numbers of which every American citizen should be aware.

The high price of subsidies

First, let’s consider just the direct subsidies for fossil fuel production—money that flows directly from the government to fossil fuel companies to support activities like exploration, extraction, and development. A conservative estimate from Oil Change International puts the U.S. total at around $20.5 billion annually, including $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives. A whopping 80 percent of this goes to oil and gas (with the rest supporting coal), and most of the subsidies are in the form of tax deductions and exemptions and other “obscure tax loopholes and accounting tricks” that result in massive avoided costs for fossil fuel producers.

U.S. taxpayers spend tens of billions of dollars a year subsidizing new fossil fuel exploration, production, and consumption, which directly affects how much oil, natural gas, and coal gets produced—and how much clean energy doesn’t.

By comparison, direct U.S. subsidies to renewables are much smaller, and renewable energy developers aren’t even able to access many of the same breaks that fossil fuel industries do.  Moreover, most of the tax breaks that renewables get—like the investment and production tax credits for wind and solar—are only temporary (so far), with expiration dates looming. Looking at the permanent tax expenditures alone, these favor the fossil fuel industry over the renewable energy sector 7 to 1, with permanent tax spending for renewables totaling only around $1.1 billion in 2016.

But this is only a small part of the picture. On top of the direct production subsidies, fossil fuels are bolstered by massive additional supports, including an estimated $14.5 billion in subsidies on the consumption side (payments that help consumers with things like paying for home heating oil), and by around $2.1 billion a year in subsidies paid for overseas fossil fuel projects.

Overshadowing all of these are the indirect or “implicit” subsidies for fossil fuels, which range from the infrastructure spending to maintain the sprawling (and aging) fossil-based energy system, to the diverse impacts that burning fossil fuels has on our health and climate. The International Monetary Fund estimated that the costs to the U.S. government from climate change, local air pollution impacts, and infrastructure damage not captured by energy taxes totaled $686 billion in 2015.

Another massive indirect subsidy to fossil fuels? The estimated $81 billion that the U.S. military spends to protect oil supplies around the globe, including the direct military spending on things like protecting oil shipping routes and maintaining troops near strategic oil-producing locations. This figure doesn’t even include the non-budgeted expenses associated with, for example, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their wider costs in terms of higher oil prices, lost lives, etc., estimated at more than $5 trillion. Altogether, this roughly translates to a subsidy of $100 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions just for protecting U.S. oil interests.

Why it matters

Why do subsidies matter? For one, they directly impact how fossil fuel companies make their decisions moving forward, especially when oil prices are low and the economics might not otherwise work out. A Stockholm Environment Institute analysis from 2017 found that at low oil prices of $50 a barrel, tax preferences and other direct subsidies would enable nearly half of new, non-yet-developed oil fields to be profitable when they otherwise would not be. This could result in increasing U.S. oil production by 17 billion barrels over the next few decades, or the equivalent of 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide. In other words, the link between subsidies, oil production levels, and climate impacts is very real.

Coal, too, likely wouldn’t be a “viable” energy source in the U.S. without the ongoing subsidies (tax breaks) and supportive regulatory policies that prop it up. New coal plants are no longer economical, and the costs of converting old coal plants to “clean coal” are exorbitant (many existing plants are essentially being paid just to stay open to maintain reserve capacity). Even though fossil fuels increasingly can’t compete with many renewable energy sources, their continued subsidization keeps them on life support, adding to the risk of “locking us in” to carbon-intensive energy sources and their associated emissions. Fossil fuel subsidies also take public funds from other uses, such as social spending and (of course) funding for cleaner energy options.

Why do subsidies matter? For one, they directly impact how fossil fuel companies make their decisions moving forward, especially when oil prices are low and the economics might not otherwise work out.

But the writing is on the wall. Even with massive subsidies, the vulnerability of oil, gas, and coal companies is hard to ignore. Financial regulators worry about the investment risks associated with “stranded assets,” or high-carbon assets like coal plants, oil fields, and other fossil fuel infrastructure that will no longer be financially viable in the context of the transition to clean energy. Already, between 2011 and mid-2020, 95 gigawatts of U.S. coal capacity was closed or switched to another fuel, and another 25 gigawatts is slated to shut down by 2025. Fossil fuel subsidies and perverse energy policies are essentially enabling the fossil fuel “fossils” to hang on by the skin of their teeth.

Moving forward, quicker

So what are our options moving forward? An obvious first step would be to remove direct government subsidies (including tax and accounting loopholes), which is easier said than done. The Obama administration identified $8.7 billion a year in federal fossil fuel subsidies to eliminate, but wasn’t able to get the cuts through Congress, while the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda prioritized speeding up oil, gas, and coal production, which impeded progress on clean energy. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies, but this is still politically tricky. Another key proposal is to introduce a price per ton of carbon emitted, which would greatly increase the cost of doing business for fossil fuel companies, helping to better reflect the true cost of these fuels.

Meanwhile, more money needs to be directed toward the clean energy transition, particularly efforts to “electrify everything” (especially transportation) and to transition the power grid to renewables, so that our economies (and lives) are increasingly zero-carbon, not fossil-fueled. This includes upping subsidies for renewables. As the Environmental Defense Fund has noted: “Yes, we need to price carbon, but we also need to subsidize cleaner alternatives—in the true sense of what it means to subsidize: to do so for the benefit of the public.” So let’s get to work and start leveling the playing field.

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NDEW 2021: Electric School Buses: Communities in the Driver’s Seat

October 1, 2021

This live event occurred on October 1, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series celebrating National Drive Electric Week.

Half a million school buses are in use in the United States, most of them running on diesel. For the sake of the 20 million children who ride the bus each day, school buses need to be at the forefront of transportation electrification. In this event, we heard directly from those who are advocating to make the switch:

Transcript

Tish Tablan: Hello, everyone, my name is Tish Tablan. I’m a program director at Generation180, and I’m excited to be your event host today. We’re glad to have you join us today for National Drive Electric Week. Generation180 has been hosting an event each day of this week. And I’m honored to get to wrap up the series with today’s topic: Electric school buses, communities in the driver’s seat. Each day, 25 million students ride school buses, which are mostly loud, polluting diesel buses that are harmful to the health of children and communities. Parents, students and community members are leading the charge to electrify the school buses. And today we’ll get to hear from two of those community leaders who are sparking change in Phoenix, Arizona, which is known for having some of the worst air pollution in the country. And in Miami, Florida, which houses the fourth largest school district in the country. So we’re glad to have you with us today. So you can join us and hear their stories.

Before we get started, I will share a few reminders. All attendees are already muted with video turned off. If you have any questions, we will answer them at the end. But please put your questions in the Q&A box instead of the chat, and we will have a recording available after the session and you’ll be receiving an email with a link. So let’s get started. Next slide, please.

So today’s event is brought to you by 3 non-profit organizations working together on the electrification of school buses, Generation180 works to inspire and equip people to take clean energy action in their homes and communities. We focus on helping school districts access the benefits of clean energy technologies such as solar and electric buses. We empower school community leaders to be champions for clean energy and support other school districts to make the switch. Our partner, World Resources Institute, is a global research organization that develops practical solutions that improve people’s lives and protect nature. We have with us today WRIs director of the Electric School Bus Initiative, which aims to make healthier and more equitable electric mobility the new normal for an entire generation by electrifying the entire US fleet of 480,000 school buses by 2030. It’s an ambitious vision. CHISPA envisions an inclusive and reflective democracy where the Latinx community is rights to clean air and water. Healthy neighborhoods and a safe climate are well protected for generations to come, and we’ll be hearing more today from our panelists about the success of their Clean Rides for Healthy Ninos campaign in Arizona. So thank you to my colleagues at Generation180, WRI, and CHISPA for your support and putting together a fantastic event today. Next slide.

I now have the pleasure of introducing our amazing speakers today. Sue Gander, the director of the electric school bus initiative at WRI, will be playing a dual role of both presenter and co-host today. So prior to WRI, she was the managing director of policy for the electrification coalition, where she worked to accelerate the adoption of EVs at scale. So these previous work also includes directing the energy infrastructure and environment division at the National Governors Association and serving at the US EPA center for clean air policy. Sue is also the founder and chair of the Women of electric vehicles DC chapter. So it’s my pleasure to hand it over to Sue now, who will introduce our other two panelists? 

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.”

Sue Gander: Great thank you so much, Tish. It’s great to be with all of you to help celebrate National Drive Electric Week, and we’re looking forward to the day where every week, every day when we drive, we’re driving electric. And school buses are a really important part of driving electric in, particularly because kids can’t drive. So we need to make sure that what they ride in is as safe as healthy as possible and really thrilled to introduce you to the two folks on the ground that are helping make this happen. Amazing leaders in this space. So we’re going to hear from both Masavi Perea today, as well as Michelle Drucker. Let me just say a little bit about them. Normally, I don’t give a full bio of speakers, but they are both such amazing people. I really think you’ll appreciate what they have to say, even more by getting to know them a little bit.

So Masavi Perea is the organizing director for CHISPA Arizona. For the last five years, he’s been building coalitions across Arizona. It’s a program of the League of Conservation Voters. It’s growing Latinx voices, political power and civic engagement for a cleaner future in Arizona. He helped launch the Clean Buses for Healthy Nino’s campaign in Arizona, and as Tish mentioned, it’s a state with really poor air quality. It’s the fifth-worst air pollution in the country. Before this role, Masavi was an organizer with the roofers union and a painters union. And in those roles as a labor rights activist, he helped establish a Workers’ Center in Phoenix in the Phoenix area. He’s originally from Chihuahua Mexico, which if folks know it’s the land of the indigenous Murray people and he’s been involved in immigrants rights movements from early on. Really important personal statement here. Masavi believes that working together with those who have been in the front lines and organizing our communities from the base are the most effective ways to positively impact individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities and our Mother Earth. And you’ll get to hear him say more of that for himself, but really delighted to hear from him and hear about the work going on in Arizona. And, you know, just really excited about the work that CHISPA has been doing in this area.

We’re also going to hear from Michelle Drucker. She’s a PTSA leader with the miami-dade County Public schools, and I’ve gotten to know Michelle through her work with DuVernay in advancing their efforts there. She serves as the vice chair for the 100% clean energy task force at the miami-dade County Public schools. It’s the fourth largest school district in the country, so again, a really large area that’s going to have a lot of impact overall, I guess. In her day job, she serves as assistant Chief Counsel for the Department of Homeland security, where she’s worked for over 2 decades, and she found her passion for sustainability. She’s been recognized for sustainability efforts within that department. And has turned her vision there and her passion there to working towards sustainability at her children’s school. So she’s a PTSA leader at the mass Academy High School, and she launched the green champions program for students and parents, and they’re working towards making the school a net zero energy and net zero waste school. Their advocacy has spread across the city and led to the district passing an ambitious resolution, committing to 100% clean energy by 2030. So really inspiring leaders, and I think they demonstrate how small efforts lead to larger efforts lead to a movement, and we want to see that movement succeed across the country. So excited to have them with us. We’re going to get into a little bit of a panel discussion with them and then have some time for Q&A.

But I’m going to start off with just a quick set of slides to kind of level set everyone on where are we with the electrification of the school bus fleet so we can kind of get that out of the way. So thank you for teeing up those slides here. So why? Why do we care about electrifying the school bus fleet? We heard about the die, very ambitious goal, and one reason is that we can the technologies here today. We’re already meeting the needs of students and school districts. !invisible!, through buses that are being deployed across the country, but it’s also a matter of we can’t not do this if we want to address the need to decarbonize the transportation sector, also improve air quality health outcomes, provide resiliency opportunities, integrate renewable support economic development in an industry that’s very US focus. This is our answer here and we have the opportunity to do it. So we’re excited to move quickly with a sense of urgency that entails. The next thing I really want to lean in on is the focus on equity at debris. We’re sending our work on equity. And we encourage others to think about this as well. We know that kids everywhere are being exposed to pollution. That’s affecting their health and their cognitive abilities. But we also know that kids from disadvantaged communities and communities of color are more likely to ride the bus. And and, you know, therefore or are more exposed to these damaging impacts than their counterparts. And those same kids also face underlying conditions that affect their ability to learn and to thrive. So we’re sending X-ray to help ensure that the benefits of electric school buses are attainable and accessible to those that are facing the greatest challenges. And by doing that, we’re creating benefits for everyone. So electric school buses, there are great technology, they have multiple benefits, they’re here today. What’s standing in the way? There’s a number of challenges out there. We know that there are higher costs up front. The current price tag is approximately three times that of a diesel bus. We need to work on getting that lower and making them more accessible. We know that infrastructure development takes time, takes money. We need to have the interconnections and the availability for the buses to be able to charge up. We know this is a new technology on. Most school districts are not familiar with it. So we need to make them comfortable, help them get comfortable and have them share out their experiences. We know also that there’s a number of technology myths that persist. One of the largest ones that we continually hear about is that school buses don’t have the range to meet the needs of school districts. But what we’ve seen in the data has shown is that the current buses fulfill the needs of about 90% of the routes that are out there in terms of the ability to travel long distances. So getting information about those myths and demystifying this technology is really critical. And we also need to scale quickly if we really want to address the urgency of air quality and the urgency of climate change. And that’s going to take a lot of effort to move to that move to that point of where we want to be in 2030. Overall, these challenges do impact disadvantaged communities disproportionately. So again, it circles back to the opportunity and the need to focus on equitable solutions. So where are we now? We’re just getting started. We’re kind of out of the depot, but we have a ways to go to reach what we hope is a tipping point for electric school buses in the next five years. So we have about 100 electric school buses that have been procured, delivered or an operation in the US out of that fleet of 480,000. So it’s less than 1% If you’re kind of doing the math at home. But we also know that there’s at least one electric school bus in 33 states, so we’re showing that it works. We’re showing that there’s demand and there’s interest across the country. They are concentrated in more of a handful of school districts. Of the 13,000 school districts that are out there, about 300 of them have 2% of all the, Ah, there’s 2% of those have the electric school buses. So, you know, that’s a relatively small number. There they are in areas that are most vulnerable. And so that’s good to see that there’s a connection there, and they’re largely in suburban areas, but kind of spread across the kind of towns and rural areas. So again, we’re seeing that there’s, you know, there’s interest, there’s demand and there’s applicability across all sorts of geographies as well. So what’s on the horizon? One of the big topics going on is the funding that is, we hope, going to be available. I know it’s, you know, up and down on an hourly and a daily basis at the federal level. But we’re pleased that the infrastructure investment and Jobs Act has included two funding streams to support electric school buses. One is a $2.5 billion pot over five years for zero emission buses only, and one is another one that includes also low emission school buses. And of course, we’re hopeful that most of that goes towards zero emission buses. There’s also a current program that just got released yesterday that I want to flag for folks. It’s under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. There’s a $7 million pot coming out through EPA to fund electric school buses only, and it’s targeted towards underserved communities with air quality and health challenges. So really encourage folks to look into that. The deadline is in November to get those applications in. It’s a pretty easy as we understand application, it’s a two page application, so we really encourage people to look at that. It’s a limited number of buses. It’s going to be about, you know, maybe in a couple of dozens of buses, but it’s a $300,000 opportunity per bus. And then, of course, there’s also opportunities for additional allocations of VW settlement funds. There’s utility programs for vehicles and infrastructure and a host of state and federal regulatory efforts. So there’s a lot of action happening at all levels of policy making, and that’s a great platform for the community action that’s happening and that we’re going to hear about from our two panelists. So turn it back over to you, Tish, to lead us into that discussion. 

TT: Great, thank you so much, sue, for setting up the landscape of where we are in the country with advancing electric school buses and sharing some resources we should know about. So it sounds like we have a long way to go with a number of buses we have on the road. So I hope this gives our audience a real sense of just how ahead of the curve, our two panelists are here today and working with their communities. They are true leaders and I’m excited to dive in and have them tell us more about their campaigns. So Masavi, can you turn your video back on, please? And michelle? Michelle, why don’t we start with you? It would be great if you can just give us an overview of your community’s electric school bus campaign. Just describe the school district’s commitments and the progress and the implementation that’s been achieved. And then also circle back to how did it get started. You know, I think this is a great story to tell, and we’d love to hear it.

Michelle Drucker: OK, thank you. And I am a little late to get here because we were just finishing up 100% clean energy task force meeting where we talked about those funds that you mentioned as well, too. So and that really all got started because of an initiative within one school. We have a program at a Marine Stewardship and stem theme school in Miami called mast academy, and we were seeking Florida Department of Florida Department of Environmental Protection green Apple school status. And one of the recommendations is a no idling campaign. And we have a covered loading zone and the emissions were quite bad. So the student went out. She measured the emissions. She was shocked to see that the emissions were 10 times higher than the EPA’S recommended, I guess 500 parts per million just for CO2. And it was a simple little syringe full. It wasn’t even sophisticated equipment, and she won a statewide science fair competition. Based on that, she brought the data to her school board member. At this time, we were learning about the Volkswagen settlement funds and we showed up at a school board meeting and Holly presented her information. I mean, it was just three minutes. That’s all you get to speak, and we said, hey, please, let’s pursue this funding. The air quality is a big problem at our school with the buses and the first go around, there was a lot of resistance. We’re really not interested, but we just kept coming back. And we just applied that pressure because how can you say no to free? And it is hard when you’re dealing with old habits and inertia and things like that. And you have a bus, there’s a bus driver shortage. I mean, it feels a little bit tone deaf, I guess, to say, hey, we want electric buses when they can’t even get drivers, but it’s been well received and we actually showed up a second time we had the bus drivers union also show up. The second time to make sure they did apply for these funds, and they said, we really want this as well for our drivers because Lifetime drivers get COPD and terrible lung conditions. And the other benefit of these buses is they’re quiet. So we brought an electric bus down to Miami to really just put that final nail in to make sure that they did apply for this money. So miami-dade schools, not every district apply, but miami-dade schools applied for 50 buses. They’re getting $11.6 million over a four years. It’ll be 10 buses, 10, 15, 15 out of a fleet of 1,200. So we are looking to scale up the electrification faster because our kids are very motivated to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, as urged by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate change. So that really motivates our students and our families, and that’s how we ended up with in front of you guys today. So thank you for wanting to hear about our story.

TT: Yeah, Michelle, that’s so exciting to hear about the students start the spark to this campaign and really having students be the ones to speak up and measure emissions in your own kind of parking area where the emissions are just collecting underneath that canopy. And I love that you got bus driver voices included as well, but they want to advocate for their own health. And in case you missed that, Michelle was mentioning she was late because her job, her volunteer had as an advocate never ends. She was just coming from her 100% clean energy task force meeting where they were talking about this. So it truly gives you a sense of how dedicated they are to this. This is I have they’re wearing all the time, Masavi. I’d love to hear your story as well. If you can give us an overview of how your campaign got started and where you are and what kind of progress you’ve made with electric school buses in the Phoenix area.

Masavi Perea: Yes, absolutely. Thank you. Good morning and good afternoon, everyone. Alex is nice to hear from you. You know, I’m very excited because of this conversation, because when we started almost five years ago, you know, we didn’t know how to start. We were connecting environmental justice with our community. And then we learn about the bushwhacking sentiment and we saw that as an opportunity. So after many conversations with the community, you know, we kind of agree that as they reported before, right in Phoenix, Maricopa county, the air quality it is, it is horrible. So we were like, OK, how can we work in this? So and then we say, OK, let’s start with the youngest. Let’s start with the most vulnerable community, which are the kids. So that’s when we start looking for options, and that’s when we start that clean buses for healthy meals. And it was a lot of conversations with community with parents, but also very interesting because when we were talking with electoral officials, they were like, OK, that’s a good idea. And then when we were talking with administrators a little bit, when Michelle said they were like, no, we have many other priorities, right? So for me, like this conversation this week, this is kind of like a dream because four or five years ago, we never thought that this could be possible. You know, actually, the background picture that I have here is that when I met the first electric bus and I have my two kids there, right? This one of the reasons why I’m doing this too, right? But I mean, they were very excited because they were like that. I don’t think that that ever that’s going to happen to have electric bus, you know, but now it’s a reality. So, so we did a study with many conversations like so was one issue that in Maricopa is affecting our community. The latinx community or Niños or kids is asthma in. There are rates in Maricopa County that are in some places and some school districts. We have up to 40% of kids are affected by asthma. And of course, those kids are brown and black. Right so that was an excuse to continue organizing. And now we are very happy, right? As the report bus at the beginning of this conversation, right? There are some electric buses around. And in Arizona, we have two electric buses running right now and then we have more coming up. And the good news is that our other school district there start calling us like, hey, how can we work together? You know, after four years of knocking doors that no one was listening of, you know, being on all these very interesting school district meetings, right? But the most important to have parents like buying the idea and fighting for environmental justice. 

SG: I just wanted to actually pick up on that a little bit. Masavi, and, you know, through your experience and in, you know, just so glad that you kept up the fight, right to be able to be here when hopefully we’re on the precipice of getting additional funding that you and others can use? Do you have any advice for the parents, the advocates that are out there listening to this? What can they do if they want to get something started in their community or want to help support the movement that might be started in a community just in any kind of tidbits or advice you want to offer?

MP: So that’s a very good question. Thank you for that. Well, the base is to start a conversation with the community, right? Our community is very noticeable. You know, we are very resilient, you know, but also we are very open to the change. We are very open to the challenge, right? So to have that conversation with the community, you know, and ask them, like, how do you think that we can get better? How how do you think that we can solve these issues? Right so participation, engagement and be very open? You know, I remember like a couple, a couple of moms, they used to ask me, hey, we can just put like a solar panel, one of these buses, and then it’s going to be electric. And I’m like, whoa, I love that it will be that easy. You know, so has to be like a process of education and also something very interesting. So as we know, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, right? There are many organizations who are already working and they have a lot of information. So we have to bring also the experts, right, because we choose Verizon, right? Let’s say that we are experts in community, right, engaging in community, but we are not experts in anything and in technology, but the technology is out there. So I think the eye opening the aha moments that we have us as an organization parents, but also elected officials and administrators, that was amazing to see like that all these technologies are already available, right? And of course, right. One of the conflicts at the beginning was a lack of resources. Right but I mean, also what we learned later is that the schools, they are going to be saving money. And most important, the health sector is going to save a lot of money too, right? Because our kids are going to be more healthy. And that is also something that pushes. I don’t know if the rest of the community right, but on the Latino community, when you start talking about your kids, you know, parents like, OK, now I’m listening, you know, and that was I think that was a very important moment in your campaign, and that’s something that I will recommend, right? Let’s talk about their kids are present and future kids.

SG: Yeah well, Michelle, I’m wondering maybe if you can add on to that with your experience and your advice to other parents, other students and folks that want to support them.

MD: So I can tell you that, honestly, following Holly’s model and she it was maybe a $10 syringe with a little tube and she measured emissions and go to your school board members, show up at your school board. There is so much data. Test scores have been shown to go up. There’s actually a Wall Street Journal article that they said poor English because they are measuring about almost an 8% improvement in English scores. Also, the buses are quieter and I think things like bullying and if a child’s in distress, you can hear the kids on the bus. I think it just creates a calmer experience for the children. They brought a bus down and the kids rode it and they loved it. The drivers love it. It’s just a win-win all around, and I would just go, talk to your school board member, say, hey, they’re doing this in Miami. There’s money out there. Why can’t we do this? What do you need from us to move this forward? One other thing we reached out to because we’re a STEM school and it’s in it, even though it’s a magnet, it’s a pretty affluent student population. We did reach out to the NAACP and a lot of their drivers. You know, a lot of these blue collar jobs are from that community. So it really resonated with them and getting that, getting that, that equity piece in there, it just makes the messaging. So much more palatable than, you know, kids that privileged kids saying, I want an electric bus. It just comes more powerfully when you include the whole community. And that wasn’t hard for us to do because there is an equity inclusion part with NAACP as well as you’ve got the CHISPA program as well. So everybody wants this. It’s just a matter of showing them that the political will is out there.

TT: I love that. That’s a great point, Michelle. I mean, really, this is a bunch of school buses benefit everyone. I think that’s such a compelling reason to transition to electric buses. And, you know, miami-dade County Public schools in particular, it’s the fourth largest school district in the country, with over 350,000 students. And you’re part of this big metropolitan area, you know, kind of tapping into what you’re saying about reaching out to other people and other partners. Can you talk a little bit more about how do you transform such a large district? There may be other folks and big districts out there, though, like how do I even start touching this? And it seem daunting, so you can add on to like, how do you start getting by? You know, you started with one student in a STEM Academy in your district, and it seems like it’s grown well beyond that. So how did you get from the one student and a couple of parents phase to a big district commitment, going 100% clean energy?

MD: You just keep showing up. Just be persistent. We live, we live here and down in Florida. We have the Everglades and the mother of the Everglades is a Marjory Stoneman Douglas. And she used to say, you know, be persistent when it counts. Just be a nuisance. Keep showing up. You know, pick your battles, don’t be in their face. But if you just keep showing up, it’s such a no brainer that someone is going to finally get traction. We did get news coverage as well. And we had a lot of kids that were interested. There’s just there is a lot of interest in there. You just need to ask the kids if we’ll show up to a school board meeting and I think you’ll get a lot of response.

SG: With that, so Masavi, I’m wondering if you can circle back or we can circle back a little bit to what you were seeing in your community and you mentioned the asthma rates, the high, high pollution. Is there anything that jumps to your mind in terms of specific stories that you heard or when you were talking with parents, you know how, how they kind of connected with you on that point? You know, just love to kind of bring it to life a little bit. 

MP: Sure I think something very important about environmental justice is that this field is very intersectional, right? So and there is a question here, right, about workers and organizers and how not to burnout, because at the beginning it was a very hard campaign like how we are going to start talking about that no one else talked before, right? Like like in. Right so like in Maricopa county, right? Like the movements were for immigration movement. Stop police brutality, jobs for that right? So how to bring this new field into this conversation? So I think that that was very important. But again, going back to the intersection, all right. I think to me by connecting with the health sector, right, that was very important. There is a one hospital in Phoenix, the Children’s Hospital. They have what they call asthma mobile, right? And they focus on and on, on areas where the Latino and Black community lives, right? And talking with these people that they are doing their job, their amazing job. They told me there were some schools that the kids have the rate on asthma. It was all the way to 80 percent, you know, so I was like, 10. Does you know so so I have to learn a little bit more like understanding of asthma and all that else, you know? So with that, I think we were able to put a sense of urgency into this, right? I love Michele story about what is happening in Florida, right? But I think something that we are very proud in Arizona, right? And this is with no competition or anything right? But we focus on the most. Well, details on the most vulnerable communities, right, like in our community, like with so Kai Wright and Phoenix union, right, those two districts, they are like probably 95% of brown and black kids, right? And we were able to accomplish that because we create a momentum, but also because the most important we create a sense of urgency. You know, when a lot of people is talking about climate change, right, they put a sense of urgency, but they put it like out there. If we talk about environmental justice, that our kids are getting sick and sicker every day, I think that’s when, when, when we push the needle, we, you know, and we put also fire into the people that need to do the work.

TT: Yeah I’m so glad that she was able to kind of capture this need and concern in the community. 80% asthma rate is shocking, and I’m trying to envision what you’re calling an asthma mobile like. Is that like a cart or something that drives around with just because the asthma rates are so high? That’s amazing. You know, this is such a, you know, important work. And Michelle and Masavi, it seems like it’s very personal for you to be able to dedicate so much time to this. Michelle, can I throw it to you? Like, do you have something that’s personally driving you to be part of this campaign or what kind of personally motivating for you about this work?

MD: Sure so I’m a lifelong Floridian, I’m a career public servant, I actually work for Homeland Security and I and I’m a mother of three, and I believe the biggest threat to the Homeland absolutely is this climate crisis. You know, I’ve seen I work on the Miami river and I can see the river rising year by year, and I feel I shouldn’t be able to observe this geological phenomenon with the naked eye. And 50 years, I’m 50 two, so I find it the place where I grew up. In Martin county, it’s the Indian River Lagoon. It has now a toxic green algae blooms that’s killing manatees. People’s pets are dying. I mean, these are the waterways that I enjoyed as a child. I want my children to have those experiences. They have terrible sargassum seaweed blooms. Now here down in Miami. I mean, just the environmental degradation is so fast and so frightening. And I think I had that aha moment actually with my agency, we created a Green Team. And there is a sustainability plan at the federal level. And that’s when I understood, oh, these are the most important things that we should be doing to reduce emissions because there’s so much alarmism, but not a lot of action items that people understand they can be involved in. So I just this one little anecdote. I remember listening to this recommendation to buy loose tea instead of tea bags to reduce your waste. And I thought, I don’t think tea bags are causing like the Arctic shelf to melt. I think we got to you got to find the things that are most important. So car emissions, actually, food waste is a huge one. Food waste and plant based diet. I didn’t know these things and you start learning and it’s scary. I know, 2021, 30 is around the corner that’s cut emissions 50% or it’s irreversible. That creates a sense of urgency and that I’m seeing it every day and. So, yeah, it’s a little bit my family is like, can we go a day without talking about climate change, mom? So it cuts both ways.

TT: Yes, I hear you. Yeah, that’s kind of amazing that you can sort of see climate change happening in real time out your window. That’s incredible. Masavi, how about you? Do you have kind of something personally motivating you to keep you going in this work?

MP: Well, I mean, absolutely right. And that’s why I choose this picture, right? Because when I showed my kids the electric bus, they were like, oh, so this is what you are talking about, you know, this is what. And then and then they are people that probably we are not going to see these buses in our timeline, but they have right and also right. I mean, other than I’m a father, I’m an uncle. You know, I’m a neighbor. You know, I’m going to be very soon, grandfather, you know, so. So I’m excited, right? For for all these changes. But I absolutely my family and my community, you know, try me to do my best and to make a change. And also, right, like the indigenous communities philosophy, they say that we need to leave this world better for the next generation. So if we are not, you know, if we don’t do that, we are not doing our job, we are not doing our responsibility.

SG: Yeah so you all have been amazingly successful, you know, because of all the hard work and the persistence and the great stories. Just if I was just wondering if there’s one or two things that jump out to you as like a particular barrier that you faced when you were, you know, pushing on the local school districts or facing, you know, resistance because we know this wasn’t just like, hey, you know, tell the story and everybody stands in line and and lines up to help. So is there a barrier or two that you want to speak to and kind of how, you know, take a step by step? Like, how did you how did you overcome that? Because we, you know, we talked about funding or infrastructure, you know, just the technology barriers, just anything that jumps out at you. And I don’t know Michelle, you want to go first. We’ll give Masavi a break and then we’ll go back to Masavi.

MD: I think you have to be a reliable source of information if you’re asking for things, so you do need to inform yourself on what resources are out there. You have to kind of know what’s happening with the buses at your school and how long, you know, maybe how long they’re idling or what kind of hazard is out there. I mean, just to school boards here from demanding parents all the time. And I think if you highlight like, OK, here’s a problem, but there’s a solution and we want to help you get to the solution. We want to make you guys the hero of the story. Not, not necessarily. They don’t want the parent to be a hero of the story. So you’ve got to really appeal. It is political relationship building is super important. You’ve got to be respectful, and you have to come with answers. So I think that that’s part of it. And there are answers out there like WRI has a great resource. And so I would just say, you know, educate yourself and then be persistent, be polite. And it’ll happen. It just you have to keep showing up.

SG: Great, Masavi, any other thoughts?

MP: Absolutely, no. I think the resistance it was there and probably still there. You know, I mean, from all the angles, from all the angles these like since companies incorporation, there is no secret that there is. There are companies making millions on the diesel and all the stuff. You know, there is no secret. There is no secret that utility companies were at the beginning. Like probably this is not a good idea because it’s going to be done more work, you know? But I mean, with technology, is it? It looks like utility companies also are understanding like this is a win win, right? But also, you know, very interesting parents because parents, we trust in the school system. Right so so we thought, well, I mean, the schools, I’m pretty sure they are taking care of my kids, you know, and they are, you know, but they don’t have all the tools, they don’t have all the resources, you know? So I think also that was part of the conversation, right? So, you know, and in the community, you know, I think sometimes we do the approach in a little bit different, right? We we have been for God in for so many times, for so long, you know that our approach has been sometimes unapologetic. You know, it’s like calling us as it is, you know, and in a lot of people, we’re not very happy with me or we choose at the beginning, right? But now it’s very interesting. Now they are calling us back, like, hey, remember three years ago that you were talking about electric buses? Can we have a conversation? And I’m sure we will.

TT: That’s great, you turned it around on them, but first you were a nuisance to them and now you’re a resource, that’s great speaking of building on that success, I know in Maricopa County they already have a couple of buses on the road. Can you share some of the reactions you’ve gotten from parents, students, drivers, administrators? What’s been the experience now that you have a couple on the road? Did anything stand out to you?

MP: Yes, no. It was very nice to see the mayor of Phoenix, you know, in one of these inaugurations. It was very nice to see the excitement of the administrators of the school district because again, as you said, right at the beginning, we were like, Oh man, again, we are going to talk about this. We have too many things about to talk about in this school district meeting why you want to talk about buses, you know, so I think that and for kids who have been in our campaigns and parents, that that is possible, that we can make a change like right here right now. You know, if we organize well and if we, you know, if we bring all the community allies, you know, because some conversation that I used to have with the other community organizations, we’re like, yes, we need an immigration reform. We need to stop police brutality. We need better education. We need better help. But we need a better environment because if our kids are sick, we are not going to be able to work. We are not going to be able to learn, you know, we are not going to be able to do many things. You know, so so let’s work all together, you know, with patience and with respect, you know, acknowledging those who have been working on these issues like way before then us.

SG: Great, I actually love how you can act, you know, maybe what people might think of as a small thing, you know, the electric school bus to these sort of concentric circles, right? Because it’s the kids, it’s the learning, it’s the whole fabric of the community in a way not to put too much onto it, but, you know, really does have those connections. So maybe for each of you and Masavi, you can start off. What’s next on your campaign? Where do you hope to go in the next year, a couple of years? Just give us a sense of the direction for you all.

MP: Sure, well, in Tucson, Arizona, as I say, we are having conversations with the other school districts. We are thinking about options to bring more money, right, and also like to create coalitions. About about that and to bring like different levels of government and compromise and also on a national level, I’m very happy to see a national also very open in conversation with other states that there are no us so. So I think right now it’s going to be again to connect with, you know, like with all these organizations that are impro of a better environment. And yeah, that’s yeah, it’s great to see it happening. Michelle, what’s next on your end?

MD: getting through December of this year and making sure our task force report is tight and compelling and that our school board adopts our recommendations. But we did draft a somebody asked about the Sierra Club’s climate parents was the one who kind of helped us come up with this task force resolution. We did one as a PTA first and then we had webinars in the summer for school board members as they were running for election and said, hey, we want clean energy schools, we want buses. And they came and then sort of once you get them hooked in and they internalize it. And they make it part of their campaign, getting these board members on the record is the other thing that you need to do to make sure that you can close the loop on these things. We don’t have one electric bus yet here in Miami. We have a promise to get buses, but it’s not here yet. And until it’s here, I don’t feel our job is done. I think quality control matters. You’ve got to be successful before you can scale up. But I know for the County council, we’re hoping to elevate our resolution to the Florida PTA so that other school districts and PTA will consider adopting the same and getting their school boards on. Get on the bus as well.

TT: Awesome, thank you. So I think we’re just going to throw out one more question, and I’ll really open it to Sue, Masavi, and Michelle. You know, you both had amazing campaigns. I know Michelle, you’ve talked to me about what you’ve learned from other school districts, even in the Florida area. And I’ll just say, like, what have you learned from other school districts or other campaigns that are doing it that were helpful for you as you’re getting started or kind of or takeaways that you’ve seen in other places? And actually, I’ll start with Masavi.

MP: Sure, I think, something that we learn, right, we will learn from other school districts that they were already using the electric buses like in California. Right so we are by Arizona. We we compromise with all our school districts, with the school that we were working. We were working with Phoenix Union and car right and Roosevelt, right. And we pay the two. We pay for the transportation directors to take a trip to California. So they can see with their own eyes how they were working. So I think again, that was an eye opening. And again, we need to work in different levels. Elected officials, administrators and community. So we focus a lot on the administrators. So they can learn again what other entities were already doing. And after that, they were like, yeah, let’s do this. And since then, we have been working together.

TT: All right. How about you, Michelle? Any other campaigns?

MD: We got a lot of help actually from Sierra Club’s climate parents and drafting a resolution? And to be able to say, oh, well, well, actually, we also looked at other districts within our state. And when you’re the fourth largest district, but you’re not pursuing electric buses. Our superintendent is kind of inherently kind of competitive. So I think like leveraging that piece of it helped and being able to say, oh, Los Angeles has already done this, or California has already rolled out of 10 of these buses. And in fact, what was great is we actually talked to the drivers. I can’t remember the California district that’s almost already transitioned. That was huge. Like, that was wonderful. They had the mechanic, the drivers talk to our drivers and I think that kind of brought our campaign to the next level was to be able to provide assurances that this is a transition that you will be really happy with.

SG: I’ll maybe jump in there, I mean, again, these are the folks on the ground, but we’ve been talking to school districts across the country and hearing a lot of really similar stories. It’s interesting. I, I think maybe teeing off of both of what Masavi and Michelle said, what I wrote down in response here was first off, you know, we’re hearing Yes about a lot of challenges and questions, but also that it can be done. And the story that jumped to my mind was one of the representatives on the advisory council that we have at the World Resources Institute. For our work is Bill Rosso’s, who works at Stockton, California. And he has an amazing story of how he is in the midst of the pandemic, which we know was a very challenging time for the entire country and school school people involved in schooling. In particular, they were able to start their deployment of electric school buses within 11 months. In terms of, you know, yes, they had access to great funding available through California in particular. So fortunate to be there but working with the utility and working with the community involving the kids, just a great story that shows it can be done. You know, it’s not easy, but let’s not think it’s a tomorrow thing. It can be a today thing. Absolutely And then the importance of peer to peer stories, again, we know that that’s what’s really going to be useful and important for this to take hold, you know, just sort of like, you know, picturing, you know, kind of that pebble in the water that then kind of expands out and has those ripple effects. You know, it’s every time we hear a great story of a driver or a student or a fleet administrator or school board member that sees how this works and then can tell their peers, yeah, this, you know, this can be done and we can do it. You know, that has such a huge impact. So I’m really excited to see all of that happening as well.

TT: Yeah, thank you, sue, for sharing some of that, it looks like we just lost Michelle for a moment, but we’re going to go ahead and circle on circle up to the Q&A and we’ve got lots of great questions in the chat. So I’m going to actually put it back to you because one of the first questions is about technical assistance, as Michelle mentioned, you know, she had to really learn this herself. I know WRI is providing a lot of resources. So can you talk a bit about the technical assistance that WRI has to offer and other resources that are available? 

SG: So well, I’ll start by saying there’s a lot of great folks that have done a lot of great work already. She’s been out there for a long time working on these issues, other organizations as well on the ground that have developed great, great resources. So definitely want to give shout outs to them as well. What we’re working towards is first off, helping with a cohort of school districts and really diving in deep with them, helping to develop a roadmap for their efforts. And miami-dade is one of those, but then scaling up to provide those resources in terms of the steps that need to be taken. And, you know, kind of each note along the way, how do you work with the different players? How do work with the community. And how do you move that forward? We’re going to be posting it’s more of an intake form for this because we’re getting tons of questions and we want to be able to have a systematic way for doing that. So encourage folks to check back on our website for that. And really, we’re at the early stages of working with different partners that are out there to develop those tools and those resources. One of the things that was in the slides was just the story about where are the school buses? So we’ve got a great map and a great database so people can learn like, oh, where are these happening? And we’re working on a number of case studies. So that folks can see how did this actually play out in Stockton, in white plains, in other places around the country so that we can learn from that? So I’m really looking forward to pushing those out and providing that. And ultimately, we need to get to scale and that’s through folks at the community level, you know, kind of helping each other as well because it’s, you know, as I said, 13,000 school districts and, you know, many times more that schools. So just really excited for that and for partners around the country that have been working on this for a long time.

TT: Yeah, thanks Sue. Yeah, it’s incredible what his vision is for us to scale quickly. And I’m so glad that your resource out there for community members who want to make this happen. Masavi there’s a question in the chat that I’d love to ask you. The question is: Has has your has CHISPA found any support from white allies, and do you have any advice for what white allies on how to support this work?

Yes, absolutely. That’s a great question, and the answer is Yes. We that we have CHISPA world. We work with committees or committees, and we create this what we call interface committee and mostly white people. And they have been an amazing partner. They help us on making phone calls and emails. I mean, there have been just fabulous and something also that I want to acknowledge about that and that I respect and that they gave us this space. You know, they are they were not here like telling us what to do. They were here like, OK, how can we support you? And we appreciate that a lot because, you know, they respect us and they help us like. And absolutely, I think the interfaith the community has been super helpful on that. Sending emails, letters, you know, attending our events. And I want to thank for that. And yes, this is a very right. I mean, everyone is welcome, right? I mean, if you know they are respectful, absolutely everyone is welcome. So I want to acknowledge that the interfaith community has been super helpful and mostly they were like, white allies?

TT: Yeah now you mentioned intersectionality before Masavi, and your campaign really lives and breathes it, so that’s amazing. Thank you for that answer. We have a couple of questions about financing. And I’ll pose that maybe to Masavi first of just how did you? Maybe you can explain how did your district afford the buses that you have? And then how did you get them to buy in to kind of how we’re going to purchase the next buses? So can you explain the purchasing part and maybe you, Sue, you’ll be able to kind of fill in. And like how other districts are doing it to you, but I’ll start with you, Masavi.

MP: Sure well, as I say, the way how we begin was sending the transportation director to California to see that. And then they were making the right questions to the right people. Right I’m just I’m a community organizer, right? So I didn’t know anything about that. So, so these people, they were asking those questions, right? And then later we connect them with a federal grant. Right and I think a different departments got connected the Maricopa air quality. They have like federal grants, you know, so so I think that has been again right connections because again, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are organizations who are doing an amazing job on that. So I think which is connect the connection and then they did their part because something where it was like, I remember when a school district. Person who told me when that person just moved in, he she told me, Masavi, we are going to do this. I mean, we need to do a lot of research, but we are going to do it, you know, and she did it, you know? So that was an amazing experience. So connecting that and connecting agencies, right, that they have the money. Yeah, there’s money out there. You kind of have to find it. There’s the VW settlement funds is what’s funding a lot of buses around the country. I think there were there’s some local funds pitched in. I think there was a bond in the County was part of it, a paid for locally as well, in your case, Masavi? Yes again, that was going back to the intersectionality, right? The schools were or the district were like, OK, this is something that we want, but how can we do it, you know? And then they say, OK, let’s create a bond. And then our parents were very involved on the band and on the bond, you know, like asking other people knocking on doors like, hey, let’s support this bond. And you know, because again, right when we asked people to give money taxes like people normally like, no, we don’t want to raise taxes, but our community was like, no, this is good. This is for the common good. So, so our parents were very involved in that, too.

TT: I love that. Yeah, that’s I don’t hear about many other communities that have invested through bonds. And in that way to fund buses. That’s a great example. Sue I’m going to kick it to you. You know this better. What are some other ways you’re seeing schools can kind of overcome that cost difference?

SG: Yeah, no. Well, Masavi, you know, picked up a lot of them. It’s kind of got to turn over every stone and think about that. And that’s one of the things we’re also pushing for in the rollout of any federal program is to be able to stack those different resources. And you know, I think already mentioned some of the federal money that’s out there, the VW settlement money, certainly more and more funding coming through utility programs and making those accessible are kind of the bigger pots of money. And we’ve seen some interest within green banks that states are setting up. Connecticut green bank is one, but there’s a real opportunity there to again, it’s about leveraging it can be private or public capital to try to move forward on things. There’s some new models that are out there to approach this more through a leasing or kind of transportation as a service approach that a number of different companies are looking at. And certainly that’s an approach that could be done on the public side or the private side as well. When you look at the magnitude of investment that we need, it’s going to definitely be a combination of all those sources. And you know, I think it was Masavi that mentioned this is a real health issue. So, you know, one of the things we’re looking at and thinking about like, how do we tie this into that piece of funding? How do we look at resiliency aspects of school buses if there’s value there, you know, and it’s, you know, we need to work through the technology. And it’s not going to work everywhere. But you know, if there’s value there, what’s the value stream that can be applied to school buses? Because we, you know, it can meet so many different needs. So I think there’s a good base of both funding and financing that’s out there. And as we think about moving from where we are now and then moving to scale, this is where we really need to just amp those all up. And, you know, think about the opportunities there. We we had a great conversation with or have been looking at the Department of Energy’s loan office loan programs, and there’s two programs out there already or one program out there already that can benefit school buses. So how do we lean into that, that funding as well? So I think it’s a matter of just being intentional about there’s a suite of funding out there. A lot of it’s been used for clean energy and for other forms of electrification. How do we adapt that and make that something that school buses can use?

TT: Thank you so much for sharing all of that. I’m sure that is the number one question that people start with is we love this. It makes so much sense for clean air and clean transportation, but how do we pay for it? So thank you so much to sue and Masavi and Michelle for sharing your expertise and your stories with us today. That’s unfortunately, that’s all the time we have today. I feel like I could keep talking to all of you all day long, but we’re going to wrap up our webinar today. Thank you to our partners for helping us put on the event today. Thank you to all of you listening and for spending your valuable time with us.

So each registrant will receive an email with a link to the recording and the transcript of today’s events, you’ll actually also be able to find the video recording and the transcript on our website at generation180.org. So there will be a blog post for each of the events that we posted throughout national drive electric week from Monday through Friday. You can check it out on our website. I think we also had a couple more resources to share. We there are some great videos of students and community members in Arizona and in Miami that we wanted to share and ran out of time. I think we’re going to post it in the chat here as well, just so you all can link to it and learn more because there’s just more content about these great stories as well. So let’s see if we can pop those in the chat. OK, great, I think they’re in. But that’s it, thank you so much for joining us today and have a wonderful rest of your day and enjoy your weekend. Thanks again.

Blog

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:

Transcript

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.”

Blog

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, Forbes.com, and Grist:

Transcript

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 www.generation180.org/national-drive-electric-week-2021 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.”

Blog

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:

Transcript


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 Generation180.org. 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 Generation180.org 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.”

Blog

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.”

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Event recording: Ask an EV Owner

August 26, 2021

One of our favorite event formats is simply getting real EV owners on a panel to answer real questions! This time around we covered questions around initial concerns about going electric, EV road trips, the used EV buying experience, range anxiety and more. Share this recording with someone who could use some real talk from real owners.

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