Florida Electrifies Transportation Infrastructure
Linda Bluestein, co-director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, plugs in a Chevrolet Volt rented through Drive Electric Orlando. Photo via Colleen Kettles, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition
The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition (CFCCC) is participating in Drive Electric Orlando (DEO), an opportunity for tourists to get behind the wheel of a plug-in electric vehicle (EV). It’s a project led by the Florida Office of Energy and the Electrification Coalition, which has partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, area hotels, and theme parks to offer the region’s business and leisure visitors the chance for an extended test drive of an electric car. The goal of the program is to encourage more people to consider EVs for their next automobile purchase.
“The DEO showcases the City of Orlando’s extensive urban electric vehicle charging infrastructure and has served as a spark for growing electric vehicle charging infrastructure at our partner hotels and theme parks,” CFCCC Coordinator, Colleen Kettles said. “It’s a testament to the region’s collaborative spirit and shows that, together, we can increase adoption of alternative fuels and the implementation of fuel-saving efficiency measures.”
Test driving a plug-in EV is just one of CFCCC’s many programs to promote sustainable transportation practices in central Florida. Since the conclusion of the Kennedy Space Center’s Space Shuttle Program, the region has made a concerted effort to transition from a space economy to a clean energy economy.
Beginning in 2014, CFCCC has worked with area colleges, industry, and CareerSource Brevard — its local workforce board — to deliver the Clean Cities training program that teaches first responders how to safely respond to accidents involving alternative-fuel vehicles. Working with the National Alternative Fuel Training Consortium (NAFTC) and using demonstration vehicles provided by industry partners, the effort has trained more than 300 emergency responders and another 60 battalion chiefs who will be able to train additional responders.
When demonstration vehicles are not available, the training uses video to show emergency personnel where to find vehicle badging, fuel tanks, shut-off valves, and other important safety elements of alternative-fuel vehicles.
“Alternative fuels and advanced vehicles are an integral part of our efforts to build a clean energy economy,” Kettles said. “Together with our stakeholders, we’ve created a robust training program that supports the public safety component of a complete alternative transportation system.”
Through the innovative and collaborative work of CFCCC and its partners, central Florida’s fleets displaced more than 3.3 million gallons of petroleum and averted nearly 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2014.