Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sarasota County Hears from Local Advocates on Electric Vehicles and Air Quality

On Tuesday, May 6, Sierra Club’s Florida Healthy Air Campaign and the Sarasota County Sustainability Department delivered a message to the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners: electric vehicles (EVs) present a critical opportunity to reduce the harmful ozone pollution that plagues the community, while sparing drivers from volatile gasoline prices. 

During the  presentation to the Commission, Sierra Club offered recommendations to the County Commission on ways they can help promote widespread adoption of EVs. The recommendations were well received.  In fact, Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson agreed and added that more EV charging infrastructure would be needed in the southern parts of the County to provide equality with other areas.  A federal grant that funded the deployment of nine charging stations in 2011, all clustered in North County, "left a bad taste in people's mouth," said the Commissioner. 

Why is the transition to electric vehicles so important for Sarasota? Clean air, for one.

The region suffers from an average of 5 days per year where ground-level ozone makes it unhealthy for vulnerable populations to be outside, including children and teens, anyone 65 or older, people who exercise outdoors, and people with existing respiratory problems or cardiovascular disease 1
Members of the Suncoast Electric Vehicle Collaborative pose for a
picture following the presentation to Sarasota County Commission May 6
To increase electric car use, Sierra Club made the following recommendations:
  • Implement loans, grants, and/or rebates to hotels, workplaces, destinations, and tourist attractions for the installation of PEV charging equipment.
  • Provide education and outreach tools to hotels, workplaces, and tourist destinations on offering charging.
  • Purchase and strategically place additional electric vehicle charging stations for public use, focusing on major destinations/tourist attractions and major arteries and corridors.  
The Sierra Club was backed at the hearing by members of the the Suncoast Electric Vehicle Collaborative, a group started in 2013 to create a road map for electric vehicle community readiness.  The Collaborative began with a series of workshops that are designed to address major barriers to local EV adoption and identify opportunities to overcome those barriers.  The group successfully developed a strategy to achieve the short-term and long-term goals.

The focus now shifts to making sure the Sarasota Air Quality Department funds these recommendations in the upcoming budget.  To stay up to date with the Suncoast Electric Vehicle Collaborative’s progress during the budget workshops, follow us on Facebook

Local media coverage:

SNN [video]: 

Herald Tribune [print]:

Sarasota News Leader [digital magazine]:

WTSP [video]: