Last month, leading up to Independence Day, Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities coalition program manager Maggie Striz Calnin participated in the first National Clean Cities Stakeholder Summit hosted by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Held in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indy 500, the Summit’s theme was “Taking the fast track to petroleum reduction.”

The 2011 Clean Cities Stakeholder Summit provided a forum for collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy, Clean Cities coordinators, and national and local stakeholders, like major fleets and utility companies, to discuss the short- and long-term opportunities, challenges, and strategies for greater adoption of alternative fuels, advanced vehicle technologies, and other petroleum-reduction practices in the transportation sector.

Session topics covered at the Summit included each of the technology sectors in the Clean Cities portfolio – biodiesel, ethanol (or, “flex fuel”), propane (or, “autogas”), natural gas and a heavy focus on electric vehicles – which is a priority vehicle technology for the Obama Administration. Beyond alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technology, petroleum reduction practices like engine idle reduction, and tools for communicating clean transportation success stories like Clean Cities TV, were featured as well. Each of these “Technology Alleys” opened with an overview of supply trends, current market status, the latest in research, and top opportunities in the market place, followed by U.S. DOE discussing Clean Cities accomplishments, and near- to medium-term strategies.

Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities members General Motors (Kristin Zimmerman, Manager, Advanced Technology Infrastructure, Chevy Volt Program) and Consumers Energy (Seth Gerber, Electric Vehicles Program Manager) were invited to participate on panels during the Electric Drive Community Readiness Training on Monday, June 27. Ms. Zimmerman spoke as an expert on electric vehicle charging infrastructure, while Mr. Gerber spoke about utility rate structures for electric vehicle charging.

The Summit’s Day at the Track sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were kicked off by racing legend Lyn St. James who spoke about her leadership in alternative fuel testing in the 1980s. U.S. DOE Assistant Director for Policy & International Affairs, David Sandalow made a major announcement in recognizing the latest members of the National Clean Fleets Partnership. Coca-Cola, Enterprise Holdings, General Electric, OSRAM SYLVANIA, Ryder and Staples joined charter Partnership members AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, UPS and Verizon in this program to achieve greater fleet fuel efficiency and speed deployment of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles. These highly visible fleets, with thousands of vehicles are in a position to have a significant, direct impact on reducing petroleum consumption in the U.S., as well as an added impact by helping to raise awareness of the benefits of clean transportation. The vehicle and fuel purchasing power of these fleets also helps to bring economies of scale to alternative fuels and advanced vehicles bringing down costs for these new technologies.

The event offered key opportunities to network with contacts and learn from each other, particularly during the poster session on Tuesday, June 28 in which the successes of GLACC and the nation’s nearly 90 other Clean Cities coalitions were showcased. It is expected that the National Stakeholder Summit will become an annual event – and GLACC members are encouraged to contact us if you are interested in being informed of potential opportunities to attend future Summits.