In early June, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Representative Kathy Castor met with CUTR leadership to discuss the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC), a U.S. Department of Energy designated program.
TBCCC was designated in 2014 and works with community members and stakeholders to advance clean energy throughout the Tampa Bay region. TBCCC coalition members have diverse backgrounds, including fleets, equipment manufacturers, city and county governments, fuel providers, utilities, universities and colleges, transit agencies, community organizations, and individuals. TBCCC aims to reduce the greenhouse gas profile in the Tampa Bay area through alternative fuels and resources, and the program is led by CUTR researchers Alexander Kolpakov and Austin Sipiora and governed by a seven-person Executive Steering Committee comprised of representatives from TECO, Clearwater Gas, USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, Tampa International Airport, and Florida Transportation Systems, Inc.
Austin, a graduate of the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability and Urban and Regional Planning program, and a lifelong Tampa Bay resident, began her career as an intern for the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition in 2015, a year after the program’s designation. Austin became a full-time researcher with the program in 2017 and leads the program’s efforts in building a framework and technical assistance network in the region.
Florida is second in the country for electric vehicle (EV) registration and ownership is predicted to rise. The federal government is giving the Florida Department of Transportation $198M towards EV infrastructure; Volkswagen has invested $25M into highway corridor charging; Tampa Electric Company (TECO) plans to install 200 chargers across their service territory.
EVs have expanded to include a variety of vehicles and weights, including transportation fleets, and vehicles in both the private and public sector are interested in electrification. The coalition is here to help.
“Sometimes there are high upfront costs, but overall, with fuel and maintenance costs savings, electrification will positively impact the budgets and fleets. We assist stakeholders by identifying grants to increase cost-savings, providing training, offering opportunities for networking with peer fleets, and supporting fleet transition efforts by providing analytical support and other technical assistance,” said Austin.
TBCCC runs analyses for both public and private fleets and, using the U.S. Department of Energy’s calculators and tools, draws up plans and recommendations for these agencies. By proactively supporting alternative fuels, including electrification, TBCCC works to expand alternative fuels and build a communication network for local fleets and other stakeholders engaged in this work. TBCCC also is dedicated to raising awareness and education of the benefits of alternative fuels with the public and regularly hosts and attends transportation events and sustainability fairs to discuss alternative fuels and the importance of decreasing emissions.
EVs are only a portion of TBCCC’s fuel-neutral mission; TBCCC is one of several organizations working on Florida’s Alternative Fuel Resiliency Plan, a guide for alternative fuels during weather events, best practices, and lessons learned. The Plan will provide best management practices for alternative fuel technologies, including procedures, protocols, and instructions for emergency communication with alternative fuel stations and fleets essential for emergency response.
“Alternative transportation fuels, including electrification, offer such a great opportunity to reduce emissions, enhance resiliency, and improve the health and vitality of our local communities. Pairing these cleaner vehicles with renewable energy, such as solar and renewable natural gas, can support a cleaner footprint for our region’s transportation and energy uses. I’m optimistic that there’s a bright future ahead for Tampa Bay.”