The 2012 Energy Independence Summit, sponsored in part by Westport, was held last month in Washington DC. Organized by Transportation Energy Partners, the event gave Clean Cities coordinators a chance to share best practices and educate federal policy makers about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and the need to overcome the barriers to the widespread use of clean vehicles and fuels.
Jonathan Burke, Westport Vice President, Global Market Development, moderated a round table discussion sponsored by Westport: “State of the Clean Fuels & Vehicle Industry: Barriers and Opportunities.” The summit also featured sessions and presentations from clean transportation experts on:
· Federal funding and incentives to promote alternative fuels, vehicles and infrastructure
· Successful alternative fuels and vehicle projects across the country
· Innovative state and local policies and programs that are advancing markets for cleaner fuels and vehicles
Clean Cities Coordinators and industry partners had a day on Capitol Hill, briefing Congressional leaders about the alternative fuel, advanced vehicle and infrastructure projects as well as other successes achieved with support of government leaders and industry.
Keynote speakers included White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies Director Daniel Sperling. Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy was the special guest speaker.
According to the Energy Independence Summit website, TEP has been, since 2002, organizing an event in Washington, D.C., that allows Clean Cities representatives to speak with their legislators. This year’s summit provided an opportunity to demonstrate the broad-based grassroots support among business leaders, state and local government officials, and community leaders for clean transportation energy policies that enhance energy security and create new jobs.The summit highlighted the need for the global economy to look at ways to reduce the use of oil as a transportation fuel because of its implications to energy security, climate change and health effects. The issue of energy security, the reduction of oil imports and the development of alternative domestic sources for energy was a focus of discussions. Incentives (both monetary and non monetary) and policies that promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles are needed to bring certainty to the market and to help transition the market away from oil. One of the barriers to adoption has been the the higher cost to consumers of alt fuel vehicles, plus anxiety over fuel availability, supply and infrastructure.
Despite the higher vehicle prices, the lower cost of fuels such as natural gas make the case for alt fuels, especially in the trucking sector, more compelling. Jim Bruce from UPS highlighted that by reducing the costs in trucking, it reduces the costs of goods and is good for the economy.
This year’s event was a great success in educating policy makers and politicians about the importance of promoting alternative fuels and vehicles for the long term growth of the economy, promoting energy security and petroleum reduction programs, and providing lower GHG alternatives to traditional fuels.