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EV Charging Comes to Atlanta Airport!

EV Charging Comes to Atlanta Airport and in a BIG way!

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What started out as a conversation between Georgia Public Service Comissioner Timothy G. Echols, City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and his Director of Sustainability Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (recently promoted to Chief Resiliency Officer) has advanced to the first phase of three phases of electric vehicle charging stations at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The first 102 charging ports were officially unveiled on Thursday January 12, 2017.  And that was very welcome news to metro Atlanta EV drivers.

How did this finally happen?  Read on about the individuals who led the charge to make electric vehicle charging at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport happen.

don-francisDon Francis, Executive Director Clean Cities Georgia.  Don has been championing charging at the Atlanta airport for at least five years and has been actively part of the planning process that has brought the first phase of chargers. Don’s widespread network of government, industry and think tank partners along with his deep knowledge of EVs and EV charging drives his quest to ensure that the state of Georgia continues to support the growth of electric vehicles and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Don has overseen charging station infrastructure in Georgia for over 20 years, going back to the GM EV1 project.

tim-echolsTim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commmission. Tim has been the most vocal publicly elected official supporting electric vehicles and charging stations for years. Tim took a position during the 2015 Georgia General Assembly to retain a modified ZEV/LEV vehicle tax credit to continue to support clean energy and to improve Georgia’s air quality. Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?As a tireless champion, Tim does not give up easily.  It was Tim’s conversation with Mayor Reed and Ms.Benfield that sparked the commitment on the part of Mayor Reed to aggressively ‘close the EV charging gap’ at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.  Tim builds bridges ‘across the aisle’ as demonstated by his re-election to the Georgia Public Service Commission this past November, garnering the largest number of votes of any elected official in the history of the State of Georgia.

stephanie-stucky-benfieldStephanie Stuckey Benfield joined the Mayor’s Office as Director of Sustainability in mid-2015 and immediately began to make her mark on alternative fuel vehicles. The City’s fleet began to transition from ‘gas guzzlers’ to fuel efficent vehicles with charging infrastructure to support the city’s EVs.  Stephanie, who is known to ride one of the city’s bicycle’s to meetings downtown, together with Don Francis and Tim Echols, saw the huge need for electric vehicle charging at the airport and in partnering with the Airport Sustainability team, initiated the dialogue with Mayor Reed suggesting that maybe 50 stations were needed. His Honor quickly increased that number 6-fold. Stephanie is truly walking the talk and recently purchased a pre-owned 2014 Tesla Model S 60 following a test drive of a new Tesla at the City of Atlanta’s first Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive event. True to her values, Stephanie purchased a ‘recycled’ electric vehicle!

paul-bowersPaul Bowers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Georgia Power, A Southern Company.  It takes amazing commitment on the part of a public utility to get behind an initiative with candidly, a negligable ROI. With just over 25,000 EV’s, it would have been very easy for Paul Bowers to politely decline support for the EV Community Charging program, which is in the process of rolling out up to 61 recharging islands with both DCFC and Level 2 stations throughout the State of Georgia.  Instead under Mr. Bowers leadership, Georgia Power has embraced and significantly advanced the ability to own an electric vehicle in Georgia as the result of the series of committments that he and his organization have made, including supporting the multi-year charging stations project at Atlanta Airport.

mayor-kaseem-reedCity of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Hartsfield Jackson Airport General Manager Roosevelt Council Junior.  Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plays host to 100,000,000 passengers a year, the majority of whom do not live in metro Atlanta. The airport is in the midst of a $6 Billion modernization program which includes the demolition and reconstruction of the North and South terminal parking decks targeting 2018-2020 timeframe.  Mayor Reed is committed to making Hartsfield Jackson International Airport the “Greenest Airport in the World.” Mayor Reed Puts Atlanta on the Global Climate Stage

councilman-gm-airportWhen asked about the timing for electric vehicle charging at the airport, Mr. Council’s predecessor said 2-3 years aligned with the new parking decks.When Mayor Reed gave the word just several months ago (summer 2016), Mr. Council got to work and found a way, partnering with Polly Sattler, Senior Sustainability Planner, to make electric vehicle charging happen throughout the airport in January 2017!   Thank you Mayor Reed for lighting the fire and thank you Mr. Council for carrying the torch!

The January 12, 2017 media event was held in the International Terminal Short Term parking deck where 75 people gathered for the announcement, several of whom were delighted to plug and and charge up during the event many had been waiting for a very long time!

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 Photo Credit:  Jeff Cohen


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Why Re-Elect Tim Echols to the Georgia Public Service Commission?

Seems being an incumbent in any office these days is a liability.  People know what you stand for, can evaluate your decisions and voting record and challengers can unfortunately mis-appropriate your words to sway voters against you.

Sadly, that is exactly what one of the contenders for Public Service Commission is doing to Tim G. Echols.  Rather than clearly stating her own position and why she would be the better candidate, this contender has taken Tim’s ardent support for electric vehicles in Georgia and oddly turned it into something it never was:  a quest to line Tim’s own pockets with a ‘free car’.

If you know Tim even in the slightest, you know that, is not how he rolls!

Like many of us, through the availability of the Zero Emission Vehicle tax credit, Tim was able to afford a $35,000+ first generation electric vehicle and experience for himself the potential for electrification of the automobile and yes help EVangelize (as I do) the need for EVs in Georgia and to help combat non-attainment air quality in metro Atlanta.

Tim fought for the tax credit to the very end of the 2015 Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session, working with a diverse team spanning CleanCities Georgia, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the EV Club of the South to retain some level of tax incentive to realize the benefits of more drivers in Georgia behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Where were his opponents a year ago on this issue?  Silent.

Tim has invested a lot of time learning about renewable energy sources and the economics behind these technologies.  He hosts public forums, tirelessly travels around the State of Georgia advocating for these renewable resources and yes, has built the appropriate relationships with our state’s largest providers of energy: he challenges them!

So Georgia voters have a decision to make on May 24th about returning Tim G. Echols to the Public Service Commission.  It’s clear how I am voting.  Look at the facts and I think it will become clear to you as well.