Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles

Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) joined Plug-In America and Clark County to present the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum on Thursday, March 12, 2020. More than 100 key stakeholders gathered to learn about the benefits of transportation electrification and explore public and private sector efforts to accelerate the transition to electric transportation in the Silver State. 

“Driving on electricity makes sense,” said Tom Polikalas, SWEEP’s Nevada Representative. “Electric vehicles save money, reduce pollution and protect our climate. We’re excited that Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature are considering new actions to accelerate electric vehicle deployment and expand the EV industry.”

Dr. Kristen Averyt, a highly honored research professor at UNLV, served as moderator for the day. Other speakers and panelists included (in speaking order):

  • Joel Levin, Executive Director, Plug-In America 
  • Michael Naft, Clark County Commissioner 
  • David Bobzien, Director, Governor’s Office of Energy
  • Kristopher Sanchez , Deputy Director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development 
  • Will Barrett, Director of Clean Air Advocacy, American Lung Association 
  • Ben Prochazka, National Director, Electrification Coalition 
  • Leslie Mujica, Executive Director, Las Vegas Power Professionals-IBEW 357/NECA
  • Jeff Allen, Executive Director, FORTH  
  • Nevada State Senator Chris Brooks
  • Marie Steele, Beneficial Electrification Program Manager, NV Energy
  • Mark Stallons, CEO, Valley Electric Association (VEA)
  • Thomas Ashley, Vice President of Policy, Greenlots  
  • Francesca Wahl, Business Development and Policy, Tesla

During the lunch break sponsored by NV Energy, the three featured speakers were:

  • Hayley Williamson, Chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) 
  • Nevada Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Chair of the Legislative Interim Committee on Energy   
  • Brad Crowell, Director, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, NV Department of Conservation and Natural Resources  

Following lunch, the forum went into break-out sessions designed to go into depth on topics including: possible legislative activity in 2021; opportunities for businesses to convert their fleets to electric vehicles; city and local government activities and policies to advance electric transportation; transit agency and school bus fleet developments, challenges, and opportunities. These workshops were designed to envision a road map for long-term transportation electrification tactics for Nevada. These break-out sessions were led by:

  • Andy Maggi, Executive Director, Nevada Conservation League 
  • Marie Steele, NV Energy and sharing the perspective of the Southern Nevada Fleet Association
  • Francesca Wahl, Business Development and Policy, Tesla 
  • Ben Prochazka, National Director, Electrification Coalition 
  • Rudy Zamora, Program Director, Chispa Nevada 

In the audience were representatives of several state agencies, local governments, chambers of commerce, casinos, universities, electric utilities, solar companies, building associations, auto dealerships, non-profit associations, as well as other interested citizens and advocates. 

“Ride and drive” opportunities were the highlight of the day for many attendees, who had the chance to test out exciting new electric vehicles before and after the forum. On hand were the Jaguar I-PACE EV400; Land Rover HSE P400e; Porsche Panamera 4; Porsche Taycan Turbo S;  Audi e-tron;  Audi Q5 S Line; Nissan Leaf;  Volvo XC60 T8;  Volvo S60 T8; BMW X3 xdrive30e; and the Zero Motorcycle.
“The turnout at this event was impressive,” said Tom Polikalas, SWEEP’s Nevada representative. “A wide range of people in Nevada are interested in electric transportation and working together for cleaner air and sustainable economic development.”

Katherine Stainken of Plug In America, who worked with SWEEP on comparable events in other states as well as the March 12 forum in southern Nevada, agreed. “This was one of our most successful events in large part because of its diversity of support and participation,” said Stainken. “We also greatly appreciate the leadership, expertise, and enthusiasm Nevadans have for transportation electrification.”

Thanks to Stan Hanel, outreach coordinator for the Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator, and Andy MacKay, executive director of the Nevada Federated Auto Dealers Association (NFADA), and Laura Andrews of Plug-In America for helping to coordinate the ride and drive. Additional thanks to Jaguar Las Vegas, Findlay Auto Group, Gaudin Motor Company, United Nissan, Auto Nation, Findlay Volvo, BMW of Las Vegas, and Major Powersports for bringing test vehicles. 

NV Energy was the forum’s Platinum sponsor; Chispa was the gold sponsor; E2 and Jaguar-Land Rover of Las Vegas were Silver sponsors. Supporters included the City of Henderson, the City of Las Vegas, Nye County, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Governor’s Office of Energy,  the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Vegas Chamber, NECA/IBEW Powering Nevada, the Nevada Federated Auto Dealers Association (NFADA), the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association (SNHBA), Valley Electric Association, Inc., the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission, the Nevada Conservation League’s Education Fund, and UNLV.
“Nevada is on the road to clean, efficient transportation,” noted Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at SWEEP. “We again thank the decision-makers and industry leaders from across Nevada and elsewhere who participated in the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum.  SWEEP looks forward to working with leaders across the state to deliver the benefits of electric transportation to all Nevadans.”

Note: Recordings of speakers and panels are available for viewing via the Chispa Nevada Facebook page.

What Nevada Leaders Had to Say About the Forum

Michael Naft - Clark County Commissioner

“Clark County is home to more than 2.3 million people and welcomes more than 45.6 million visitors annually. We must prepare our communities with commercial and residential charging stations and affordable electric car options and be prepared to seize any emerging economic opportunities. The electrification of transportation is something that Clark County has embraced with our newly created Office of Sustainability by joining the County Climate Coalition, which affirms our commitment to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement’s standards of environmental stability and combating climate change. We have an expanding all-electric vehicle fleet that currently has 58 vehicles. We also have the largest hybrid fleet of all government agencies across the state of Nevada. This Forum connected a lot of dots to help us prepare for the road ahead.”

Kristen Averyt - Research Professor for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“Under the leadership of Governor Sisolak, Nevada intends to be at the forefront of addressing climate change and capturing the many benefits of establishing a sustainable economy throughout the Silver State. With transportation related emissions now representing the greatest share of greenhouse gases in Nevada, we must work together to rapidly decarbonize Nevada’s transportation sector to protect the health of Nevada’s children and families and meet the ambitious pollution reduction goals climate science demands. Innovative transportation solutions will be integral to this effort and I appreciate the organizers and participants at the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum in bringing together the policy leaders and innovators who will help create a sustainable transportation future for all Nevadans.”

Kristopher Sanchez - Governor’s Office of Economic Development

As a business-friendly state, Nevada can support all of its industries through investment in our transportation infrastructure. Many companies want to transition to all-electric fleets for cost savings, and access convenient charging stations and affordable, clean transit options for customers and employees. The Transportation Electrification Forum laid the groundwork for better transportation to support Nevada’s workforce and diversify our economy.”

Will Barrett - Director of Advocacy and Clean Air for the American Lung Association

“Las Vegas and Reno both appeared on the lists of most polluted cities in the United States in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2019. Nevada’s state and local governments can help families breathe cleaner air by expanding zero emission transportation choices, especially as the population grows. This Forum helped bring actionable steps to decision-makers to help clean Nevada’s air.”

Joel Levin - Executive Director for Plug In America

“Nevada and the electric vehicle economy are inextricably linked. From drivers to manufacturers to ratepayers, electric vehicles are for everyone, and the benefits accrue to all Nevadans. This Forum brings electric makes and models at varying price points to the event and gives attendees a chance to test drive the newest electric cars and learn about the advantages of these vehicles, from fuel savings to lower maintenance costs to a zippy, quiet ride.”

Tom Polikalas is SWEEP's Nevada representative. Polikalas is a strong advocate of energy efficiency as a powerful tool to benefit our local, state, and national economies.