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Published on August 27th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan

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How Cities Can Advance EV Adoption — Palo Alto Example (Exclusive Video)

August 27th, 2015 by  

Third in my series on the Renewable Cities “Trends, innovations, and barriers in electrifying transportation” panel that I moderated, this article is about Gil Friend’s wonderful presentation. (See my intro and Brian Hansen’s presentation on Copenhagen electrification and clean transport for the prequels.)

Gil is Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, and is also a sustainability legend. As the Renewables Cities website summarizes, “Gil is widely considered one of the founders of the sustainable business movement. He was named an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame (with Ray Anderson, Amory Lovins, Karl-Henrik Robert and Bob Willard), and ‘one of the 10 most influential sustainability voices in America’ by The Guardian.” So, it is no surprise to see Palo Alto on the innovation edge of electric vehicle (and solar power) policies.

We’ve previously published about Palo Alto’s aim to become the first carbon-neutral city, a law passed in 2013 to make all new homes electric car friendly, streamlines solar permitting, solar feed-in tariffs, and a 100% renewable electricity commitment passed in 2013, but I learned a lot more about Palo Alto’s leadership from Gil’s presentation. I’ll summarize some of the highlights underneath, but as always, I recommend actually watching the presentation:


 

Similar to Brian Hansen, Gil insightfully highlighted the importance of building a complete transportation system, not simply electrifying cars. This is a point that I think many electric car advocates still need to hear. We need better cities — not just cleaner cars. One cool thing they are developing to help with that is an app that integrates all mobility options in Silicon Valley in a useful way.

But, yes, electrification of motor vehicles is a critical piece of the pie too, so Gil discussed Palo Alto’s EV readiness plan (such as requiring new buildings be “EV ready”), city procurement of EVs (some really interesting points in regard to that, such as the city’s need to shift from just looking at purchase price to looking at total cost of ownership), and other ways of encouraging EV adoption.

Again, below is the audio of the full panel if you want to hear the full panel right now and just want to listen. Otherwise, I’ll continue writing about each of the presentations in the coming days. Also, btw, you can download slides from most of the Renewable Cities presentations here if you are interested in diving deeper into the conference.


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • Bubba Nicholson

    If the English trial of roadway induction is successful, adopt that technology and electrify your main thoroughfares. Providing large numbers of EVSE stations along the roadside owned by the city rather than inside pay garages would also benefit EV adoption.

    • Brent Jatko

      Worth upvoting, but your “if” is a really big “if” in my opinion.

  • Brent Jatko

    The fact that Palo Alto’s electric power is generated by a municipal utility may streamline the process somewhat. I think the real bottleneck in the process will be lack of labor in the building trades needed to upgrade the “last few feet” of the power distribution network. i.e., breaker boxes, wiring, etc., to accommodate the needs of electric car owners.

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