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Energy Saver Heroes: Clean Cities Coordinators

April 2, 2009 - 3:32pm

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The idea of an Energy Saver takes on a whole new meaning when considering the coalition coordinators of EERE’s Clean Cities program. Clean Cities, the deployment arm of EERE’s Vehicle Technology Program, works to support local decisions to reduce petroleum consumption in transportation. We have 86 different coalitions across the country, each of which takes its own local approach to this goal. As the voluntary leaders of these coalitions, coordinators bring together a huge variety of stakeholders, including local businesses, city governments, fuel providers, and community organizations. Working with these stakeholders, the coordinators can help them decide which technologies – including alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, and idle reduction measures – can decrease their petroleum use. In fact, our coordinators’ on-the-ground work has helped put 579,000 alternative fuel vehicles on the road and reduce two billion gallons of petroleum.

At our recent Clean Cities’ 15-year anniversary celebration, we recognized our coordinators’ great dedication. To reflect on this milestone, I invited Kellie Walsh, the long-standing coordinator of the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance, to write about her experiences and motivations. Her coalition has been named among the Top Ten Clean Cities coalitions, assisted stakeholders in obtaining over one million dollars worth of grants, and been awarded with General Motors’ top Clean Cities coalition award. She’s been an inspiration to me in my work with outreach on alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles, and I hope she can be an inspiration to you, in whatever way you choose to be an Energy Saver.

- Shannon Brescher Shea

 

A Clean Cities Coalition Retrospective
Kellie Walsh

As I sit here, thinking about how the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance, Inc. will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September, I stop to reflect on my seven and a half years as the Coalition’s Executive Director.

Prior to coming to CICCA, I had been with Citizens Gas and Coke Utility, a founding member of the Coalition, for 15 years. The day the Coalition was designated was the day I returned to work after being on maternity leave for the birth of our first child. For obvious reasons, the long hours at that position were no longer attractive to me. As the Coalition had recently received a support grant from the DOE to hire a part-time coordinator, I was offered the job in October 2001.

I’ll admit it was a little scary going from a salaried utility position, with many weeks of paid vacation and excellent benefits, to a part-time Executive Director for an “unknown” federal program. But, looking back now, I do not regret the decision I made. It has given me the blessing of being available for our daughters and keeping my professional mind sharp with the connection to the business world.

Being in the “green” transportation industry before it was “cool” and working with my fellow coordinators to move it to the forefront of our nation’s energy debate is something I never imagined possible. But I am very proud to have been and continue to be a part of this process. The people I have met, and the projects and partnerships that we have developed, have put the Clean Cities program and our coalition’s name on the lips of movers and shakers locally and nationally.

On a personal level, the 2006/2007 years were very rewarding for me and the coalition, as we were presented with numerous local and national awards. The recognition nearest to my heart was the Clean Cities 2006 Coordinator Choice Award, which my Clean Cities peers awarded to me.

On a national level, this past October, we celebrated the opening of our nation’s first biofuels corridor, from Gary, IN to Mobile AL. This corridor makes it possible for flex fuel vehicle owners to drive on E85 the entire distance of I-65. In turn, it provides the project roadmap for other coalitions and industry partners to develop similar corridors across the nation. I believe that our project will be the spring board for alternative fuels to truly make in-roads (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) into reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It is one of the first steps in developing the infrastructure necessary for us, as Americans, to stand on our own two legs when it come to our nation’s transportation energy needs.

I thank everyone (too numerous to name) for making my position and participation in this program a possibility.

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