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Clean Cities Expands and Strengthens Nationwide Partnerships

November 20, 2012 - 12:14pm

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The Energy Department deeply values the experts we work with across the country. While our National Laboratories have a wealth of information, we know the best way to tap into local knowledge is through on-the-ground connections.

That’s why our Clean Cities initiative works with 85 local, self-organized groups to put alternative fuels and fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. These public-private partnerships combine the Department’s technical resources with community networks to reduce the use of oil in vehicles. Coalitions guide businesses with large fleets of vehicles as well as individual drivers through the range of petroleum-saving options, helping them find the vehicles that meet their needs.

Since 1993, Clean Cities has saved more than 3.5 billion gallons of petroleum, assisted in deploying more than half a million alternative fuel vehicles and facilitated the installation of more than 6,000 alternative fueling and charging stations. As a result, the coalitions have substantially expanded the use of biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, propane and electric drive vehicles across the county. Clean Cities continues to build on that foundation by supporting the growth of these coalitions and their regional efforts.

In October, Clean Cities was proud to welcome the newest member of its network -- the Land-of-Sky Vehicles Coalition based in western North Carolina. To become a designated coalition, a local community must gather alternative fuel adoption commitments from stakeholders, choose and fund a coordinator, and analyze the alternative fuels market. Based on that research, the community sets local goals for petroleum reduction and a strategy to meet the goals. Because coalitions do this work ahead of time, they’re ready to serve their area’s needs as soon as they’re designated. Once they join the network, coalitions organize outreach events, assist business fleet managers with technical decisions, advise local governments on policy and work with stakeholders to build alternative fuel stations.

Even before it was designated, Land-of-Sky made tremendous strides in promoting clean energy alternatives. Last year alone, the coalition saved nearly half a million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, and worked with about 100 stakeholders -- no small feat for new coalition. In addition to local governments, utilities, transit systems, fuel providers, auto dealers and small businesses, the coalition is partnering with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway to improve air quality in those majestic places.

As Clean Cities celebrates a new dot on our map, we’re also finding innovative ways to support the work of our existing coalitions. We’re pleased to announce 20 new alternative fuel implementation projects across the country totaling $11 million in funding. These projects will help cities and regions tackle four essential areas to reducing petroleum in transportation: policies, barriers, safety and training, and market development/outreach. For example:

  • Increasing state, regional and local government coordination can help leverage current resources. The Gas Technology Institute will work to make existing government fueling stations in southeastern Wisconsin, greater Chicago and northern Indiana available to private fleets.
  • Educating a workforce to support these vehicles helps build consumer confidence. The Clean Energy Coalition will be partnering with community colleges in Michigan to train first responders, mechanics and electricians.
  • Providing fleet managers with practical technical assistance can help them capitalize on the economic and environmental benefits of alternative fuel vehicles. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will collaborate with fleets to create and implement petroleum reduction plans.

These awards build and expand on projects selected in 2010 to support community readiness for plug-in electric vehicles.

As Clean Cities moves into its 20th year, we look forward to finding new ways to build relationships around the country and strengthen our existing network. With Clean Cities’ territory covering nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population, it’s likely that you have a coalition near you working to increase affordable, reliable and sustainable alternatives to petroleum.

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