Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC)
TBCCC Hosts Spring Stakeholder Meeting at Tampa International Airport
More than 40 local stakeholders and members attended the meeting, which also served as an opportunity to introduce a national workplace charging initiative and gain feedback from stakeholders on increasing electric vehicle (EV) awareness in the Tampa Bay region. The TBCCC Steering Committee was represented by Kenneth Hernandez and Keith Gruetzmacher of TECO Energy, Dr. George Philippidis of USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, Jeff Sims of Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, and Brian Langille of Clearwater Gas, who was accompanied by Chuck Warrington, managing director and executive officer of Clearwater Gas.
Attendees gathered in the TPA Board Room and were welcomed by Al Illustrato, vice president of Facilities and Administration at Tampa International, and by Steve Reich, coordinator for TBCCC. Reich updated stakeholders on the status of the coalition, including membership changes and a review of the coalition budget. He also announced a new appointment to the TBCCC Steering Committee, Melissa Solberg, sustainability manager at TPA.
"We are very pleased that Melissa is joining the Steering Committee of TBCCC," said Reich. "The leadership role that her organization is playing in the community, as well as her professional involvement and knowledge, will be valuable assets to our coalition."
Alex Kolpakov, co-coordinator for TBCCC, reviewed the results from the coalition's recent Annual Report, which includes the total petroleum displacement and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction for the region. In 2015, TBCCC stakeholders achieved a GHG emissions reduction of over 8,000 tons through alternative fuel vehicles, idle reduction strategies, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.
Kolpakov thanked the stakeholders who participated in the data collection, and noted that continued and increased participation in the annual survey is crucial for the coalition's reporting measures. Attendees were then invited to share their input on the coalition's progress.
Following a short break, the program focus turned to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Workplace Charging Challenge initiative. Britta Gross, director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy for General Motors, discussed current trends in EV implementation, the need to overcome barriers to EV adoption, and the benefits of workplace charging.
Gross also emphasized the need to build a consistent, statewide branding approach to promote EVs and the importance of educating the public on the benefits of electric vehicles.
"Every EV incentive and infrastructure project should also play a key role in growing consumer awareness of EVs," said Gross. "Workplace charging is a great way to raise awareness among employees, and a long-distance network of fast-chargers around Florida can help drive consumer confidence in EV driving range."
Gross introduced the national EV Everywhere campaign, which is DOE's umbrella effort to increase awareness and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. She encouraged stakeholders to promote the campaign by sharing their EV stories on social media, displaying EV Everywhere decals on their EVs, and educating others on the benefits of EV adoption.
Peter King, program manager for electric vehicles at JEA and Workplace Charging Challenge (WPCC) ambassador for Drive Electric Florida, followed Gross's presentation with an in-depth look at the Challenge, a national initiative aiming to have 500 U.S. employers as partners by 2018. King called on workplaces to adopt a leadership position in promoting and providing EV charging as part of their corporate sustainability practices.
"I anticipate more customers will be asking about workplace charging, and we will increasingly see EV charging as an essential feature of sustainability actions for companies," said King.
Helda Rodriguez, president of NovaCharge, described the current state of EV adoption in Florida and explained EV charging infrastructure installation and costs.
"Despite low gas prices and speculations about EV viability, there is strong growth in the EV sector," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez discussed additional cost-savings opportunities for EV installation, such as the reauthorization of the 30% tax credit for alternative fuel refueling property (see IRS Form 8911). Additional funding may come from the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, but the details have not yet been released. Rodriguez also encouraged stakeholders to reach out to local utility providers, many of whom are offering incentives.
Following the EV presentations, Melissa Solberg introduced stakeholders to the airport's sustainability initiatives and expansion. TPA's sustainability plan, titled "Legacy of Environmental Actions for Our Future" (LEAF), promotes prosperity in the Tampa Bay region through responsible growth and enhancement of the natural beauty and quality of life in the community. Highlights of the LEAF program include high-performance building design, community-building initiatives, natural systems management, waste management, green procurement, energy management, and enhancing regional economic impact.
Solberg and fellow TPA personnel closed the meeting by conducting a walking tour of the airport's green parking options, including 12 new EV stations, followed by a bus tour through airside to see the $955 million airport expansion, which includes a 1.4-mile track and electrified, automated people-mover and a new rental car facility. Attendees also got a first-hand look at the 2-MW solar array located on top of the airport's economy parking garage. Tampa International partnered with TECO Energy to construct the array, which has produced 1,141,500 kWh hours to date, resulting in over 1.7 million lbs. reduction in GHG emissions.