Monday, December 16, 2013

Sierra Club Helps Assemble Plug In-Electric Vehicle Advocacy Powerhouse

Forty leaders from across the state convened in Orlando for
the first Plug-In Electric Vehicle Summit
On Monday December 9, the Sierra Club, Orange County Environmental Protection Division and Florida Power & Light brought together forty of the top leaders in electric vehicle (EV) advocacy. The first Florida Plug-In Electric Vehicle Summit was held in Orlando to level-set on regional electric vehicle initiatives and build a framework for moving forward as a cohesive leadership group to advance EV-friendly programs at the state level. 

During the Summit, leaders from around the state shared their EV-related successes, challenges, and priorities. The group heard from all four of the state’s Clean Cities Coalitions, as these regional stakeholder groups have been the primary drivers of electrification in Florida.  The groups reported on various research initiatives, like the Drive Electric Florida report, which was made possible by a grant awarded by the Department of Energy to stimulate infrastructure planning and policy development in Southeast Florida.

We also heard from the Electrification Coalition’s Drive Electric Orlando program, an initiative linking the city’s leading rental car agencies, top hotels and major attractions who are working together to get tourist and business travelers behind the wheel of a zero emission vehicle while in town.

Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club's Director of Fleets &
Electric Vehicle Initiatives, shares her perspective on
what is driving EV adoption across the country. 
We were joined by national representatives from Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign, Proterra Inc. (electric bus manufacturer), General Motors, and Ford Motor Company who shared their perspectives on what is driving EV sales across the nation.  These lessons provided a solid foundation for meeting the primary objective of the Summit: establishing state-level priorities for 2014 and beyond. During this roundtable style discussion facilitated by Florida Sierra Club Staff Director Frank Jackalone, an open brainstorm session resulted in a long list of programs and policies that will help to promote the adoption of zero emission electric vehicles, including:

  • Consumer incentives
  •  Building code mandates
  •  Public education initiatives
  • Public fleet mandates
  •  Zero emission vehicle goals and mandates

When facing any large challenge or formidable opponent, i.e. Big Oil, the best thing you can bring to playing field is a solid team.  So what makes a good team? Common goals, trust, wielding of resources, and mutual respect are a few of the things that come to mind. That’s why the Sierra Club and Florida Power & Light joined forces. Two groups that don’t always see eye-to-eye share a common goal: increase the adoption of zero emission electric vehicles. Electricity is the only transportation fuel that has the potential to be 100% net zero emission and as we bring cleaner sources of power on-line, the environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles will only keep getting better.

For more information on the Florida PEV Summit or on Sierra Club’s efforts to promote the adoption of EVs, contact Britten Cleveland at

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller