On November 17th, 2022, Virginia Clean Cities in collaboration with Drive Electric Virginia hosted the second annual Drive Electric Virginia Forum, providing experts a platform to speak and answer questions about their respective industries. During the event, there was a wonderful array of perspectives on the future of electrification within the Commonwealth, ranging from the power and presence of Electric Vehicle (EV) clubs to discussions of how to ensure underserved communities are not left behind. The Drive Electric USA program is now a 24-state spanning organization committed to the acceleration of vehicle electrification and has a hand in every project area, from utility and regulator engagement to educating the public and government officials on EVs.
Chief Organizer of Drive Electric Richmond Charles Gerena began the discussion on the importance of EV clubs. He explained that interacting with the community and having a local presence can make impressions, sparking curiosity. Having a local EV club allows for outreach and education on Electric Vehicles that would not be possible without these programs to bring visibility to EV mobility methods. Furthermore clubs can provide a larger voice of advocacy for EV expansion by backing the Clean Car Standard, providing comments on Virginia’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program (NEVI), and strengthening accessibility by calling for more protection of EV charging. For future, Mr. Gerena recommends Virginia pass funding dedicated to the expansion of these EV clubs, which would greatly contribute to EV outreach, education, visibility, and accessibility.
Arianna Jones, Vice President of Drive Electric Tidewater, discussed their outreach experience during the National Drive Electric Week. As a sub-chapter of Drive Electric VA, Drive Electric Tidewater has hosted events utilizing their cars to bring awareness to the expansion of EVs, including “Tidewater Tesla and Taps,” ice-cream, and coffee socials. These gatherings allow local EV owners to meet and greet over similar interests, all while helping to educate and prepare people for EV adoption. For the next year, Drive Electric Tidewater will to host events centered on promoting accessibility to charging and education on EV maintenance.
Jared Jenson with General Motors (GM) works with both dealerships and communities to expand EV adoption through work with site hosts. Using the Dealer Community Charging Program, GM gains valuable insight on where to place charging equipment in addition to giving guidance to site hosts, ensuring successful future maintenance and use. Eligible charger locations must be within a site’s sale territory, meet program guidelines, have a minimum of two chargers per area, be well lit, visible, and easily accessible. Successful areas in the past include universities, entertainment/sports venues, multi-unit dwellings, and other assorted retail sites. The level two chargers can be funded through a three-part investment plan, with costs spreading over GM, the dealership, and the site host. Site hosts are only responsible for acquiring permits, paying for installation, and maintaining a functional electrical line. All other shipping and parts are provided by either the dealership or GM, making it easier than ever to install EV charging stations!
Erin Puryear, Manager at Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), talked about the utilities side of the EV landscape including experimental EV charging rates and ODEC’s EV charging plans for the next three to five years. ODEC plans on piloting new chargers, a “try before you buy” electric forklift program, and a managed charging program with telematics. Additionally they plan on hosting an EV education summit in Spring, 2023. As the EV landscape grows, ODEC will evaluate and use funding opportunities to grow its presence to increase availability of electric vehicles.
Dr. Shelly Francis of EVNoire was the final speaker at the event and covered topics associated with accessibility of electric vehicles for all walks of society. EVNoire’s vision is a world where all communities have access to electric transportation of some form. For this to occur, Dr. Francis emphasizes the need for every community to be part of the conversation, which can be achieved to clubs and organizations such as EVHybridNoire. As largest organization of Black and Latino EV drivers and enthusiasts, EVNoire’s research reflects a mixed methods approach to address mobility, factoring in variables such as wealth, race, and health impacts of transportation emissions on communities. Their Mid-Atlantic research further found that in its current state, a major divide in EV accessibility exists between rural and urban areas as well as between wealthy and historically underserved communities. The data is essential for further expansion of the EV landscape while ensuring every community has equal access to charging equipment and EV education.
For more information, watch the panelists speak and answer questions in the video below!
- Matthew Wade (VCC) – 00:00
- Charles Gerena (EV Clubs) – 15:20
- Arianna Jones (EV Clubs) – 25:50
- Question & Answer 1 – 29:18
- Jared Jensen (Manufacturing) – 39:00
- Erin Puryear (Utilities) – 52:00
- Dr. Shelly Francis – 1:06:00
- Question & Answer 2 – 1:21:20