Smart and Fast EV event brings national leaders to St Paul

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IMG_1620Our recent Smart and Fast event was a great opportunity for business, utility, and policy leaders to hear from two distinct leading voices in the electric vehicle (EV) space – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the Director of the Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Program, Bob Graham.

After 23 years in the Marine Corps and service in the First Gulf war, Mayor Ballard made Indianapolis the first major city in the US to commit to the conversion of its entire municipal non-police fleet to electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles and a plan to convert the entire city government fleet to post-oil technology by 2025, citing concern over energy security and compromises to national security created by national oil dependence.

Bob Graham came out of retirement to accept a two year contract with the DOE and his role is clear: to move the market on electric vehicles. An expert on public policies that support EV expansion and infrastructure around the nation, Graham identified one area as particularly critical for national movement: state action plans on EVs. And when he says “states,” he means everyone: the agencies, the utilities, the private sector, and the NGOs.

Everyone everywhere needs to be involved in this discussion. Because at first blush, EVs can appear to be a fringe topic: they are predominantly purchased by well-to-do households; they aren’t readily understood by the general public; and with only 3,100 vehicles in Minnesota, they just aren’t numerous enough to imprint upon our collective consciousness.
But this is not a fringe issue at all: in fact, electric vehicles are central to cleaning up our energy systems. EVs present the opportunity to clean up our transportation system while building a smarter more responsive grid that takes advantage of the stored energy while cars sit parked at work and home.

To demonstrate one step toward that cleaner, more responsive transportation grid, Fresh Energy Executive Director Michael Noble played the promotional video for Revolt, Great River Energy’s clean charging program announced earlier this summer. As the first program of its kind in the nation, Revolt allows EV owners to refuel their vehicles using 100% renewable power, at no extra charge, for the life of the vehicle.

It’s these kinds of game-changing programs that demonstrate just how critical utilities are to the value proposition of EVs – and how important it is for groups like Fresh Energy to continue to collaborate on finding new policies that help bring more EVs to Minnesota.

The Smart and Fast EV event was one in a series of Power Pairings designed to drive discussion and conversation around issues impacting Minnesota consumers, businesses, and utilities. There are two more events coming up this fall that you won’t want to miss.

October 15 – Heating and cooling from sustainable forestry: Join Evergreen Energy CEO Ken Smith and forestry expert Katie Fernholz of Dovetail Partners to explore the question: Can sustainably harvested wood fuel carbon neutral combined heat and power in Minnesota?

November 18 – Solar for All: How those trying to block rooftop solar are their own worst enemy. Jon Wellinghoff, Co-chair, Stoel Rives energy team and immediate past Chairman of FERC and James Tong, Vice President, Strategy and Government Affairs, Clean Power Finance.

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