Facing an Uncertain Future in Washington, D.C.

 By: Jeff Allen, Executive Director

(March 24, 2017) At the end of February, I made my first trip back to Washington, D.C. since the November elections, and the first trip with our new Director of Government Relations, Jeanette Shaw.

We traveled to the nation’s capital primarily to attend the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s (EDTA) Annual Membership Meeting and Electric Drive Congress. We have been members of EDTA for several years and we always appreciate their insights and hard work in support of good electric vehicle policy. Clearly, all participants were concerned about the potential loss of federal tax credits for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, as well as broader policy changes that may come from the new administration.

In fact, shortly after our return to Oregon, the Trump administration announced that it would review the recently finalized federal fuel economy standards for 2022-2025. The administration has not yet attempted to revoke California’s authority to set stricter rules, which is what has allowed it and other opt-in states to mandate sales of electric vehicles; however, this remains a great concern. 

After the meeting, participants fanned out to meet with their local Senators and Representatives, and we were able to meet with nearly all of the Oregon delegation or their key staff. The common refrain on the Hill was that “nobody knows” what to expect exactly, or when changes may come… but everyone expects that big changes are, indeed, coming.

Congressman Kurt Schrader meets with Drive Oregon’s Jeff Allen (Executive Director) & Jeanette Shaw (Director of Government Relations)

We were also able to connect with key interest groups and federal agency staff. In particular, we traveled to Herndon, Virginia to meet with Electrify America and discuss its plans for spending $500 million in Volkswagen settlement funds to promote electrification over the coming 30 months. This initiative has ambitious goals and a daunting timeline, but is staffing up quickly, with some 35 positions currently posted. We look forward to welcoming the Electrify America team back to Oregon in June for EV Roadmap 10, by which time they should be able to share a public plan, approved by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board.

Other meetings with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation reinforced the message that “nobody knows” exactly what changes are coming, or when. Meanwhile, however, we take heart from the many good people in both agencies who are continuing to do great work. For example, the USDOE Vehicle Technologies Office is looking beyond specific vehicles at strategies to improve the energy efficiency of entire mobility systems, while the Federal Highway Administration continues to roll out a national network of alternative fuel corridors. Both agencies confirmed that they will be joining us at EV Roadmap 10.

While uncertainty was a theme of many of our discussions while in D.C., Drive Oregon will continue to work with our federal and state representatives to advance electric, smart mobility.

Drive Oregon’s March Networking Event: EV Tourism – Oregon’s Electric Byways

(March 17, 2017) Drive Oregon invited Andrew Grossmann, Destination Development Coordinator at Travel Oregon, to speak at this month’s networking event about the growing field of electric vehicle tourism. In his opening remarks, Drive Oregon’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen, noted that not only does Oregon have an abundance of unique natural features and cultural landmarks, it also has a history of encouraging people to travel in the state with minimal environmental impacts – the perfect combination for successful electric vehicle tourism.

Tourism, Andrew explained, is a growing industry in Oregon. As of 2015, over 105,000 people were directly employed by hotels, restaurants, tourism operators, visitor centers, and other attractions. Travel Oregon’s mission is to inspire travel that drives economic development and preserves Oregon’s way of life and natural places. Andrew noted that as the tourism industry has grown over the years, Travel Oregon has worked to promote low- and emission-free travel within the state. The Oregon Electric Byways are one of their innovative strategies.

The Electric Byways were established in 2013 and are the first of their kind in the nation. Inspired by the success of the Scenic Byway and Scenic Bikeway programs, the Electric Byways are itineraries that feature locations with access to charging, allowing drivers to travel outside metro areas without the concern of where to charge their vehicle. Also known as “range anxiety”, this concern is one of the greatest barriers to wide-scale electric vehicle adoption. The six byways are located in southern Oregon, the coast, Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood, and the Willamette Valley. Andrew explained that Oregon is the perfect location for the Electric Byways because of the state’s low cost of electricity, established charging infrastructure including the West Coast Electric Highway, and a growing number of electric vehicle drivers. 

Andrew announced that Travel Oregon recently updated the Electric Byways website, which now includes in-depth descriptions of the itineraries, nearby activities and charging station locations. Travel Oregon is also finalizing a promotional brochure, which will be available online at the end of March, and a printed state map of the Electric Byways, which includes charging stations identified by connector type. The purpose of the map, Andrew explained, is to show people that Oregon is very accessible by electric vehicle. Andrew noted that PlugShare is the source of Travel Oregon’s charging station data and will encourage users to verify station availability on the PlugShare app.

Andrew closed his presentation with the exciting news that Travel Oregon is partnering with Drive Oregon to launch a charging station rebate program in 2017, the first of it’s kind in the U.S. The purpose of the program is to support businesses within the tourism industry that want to attract electric vehicle drivers. Up to $5,000 rebates will be available for hotels and restaurants in Oregon for costs related to purchasing and installing Level 2 or fast charging stations. The program will begin accepting applications later this year.

Electric vehicle tourism encourages electric vehicle adoption because it illustrates that these vehicles can go anywhere – with a little planning. Travel Oregon’s development of the Electric Byways and unique promotional marketing materials will continue to encourage more drivers to go electric. Road trip, anyone?

To view a short video interview with Andrew, visit our Facebook page.

Andrew Grossman’s presentation can be viewed here: 

 

Drive Oregon’s January Event: Crowdfunding and EVs

(January 23, 2015) Drive Oregon has kicked off the new year with its first monthly networking event of 2015! If you missed this event or would like to review the discussions you heard, check out our recap below, including downloadable PowerPoint presentations.

Crowdfunding: Changing the Future of Business Fundraising 

On Wednesday, January 14th, Drive Oregon conducted its January event with a focus on crowdfunding and its potential impact on organizations in the electric vehicle industry.

“Crowdfunding” is a rapidly-growing business trend of pooling small amounts of capital from a network of supporters. It has been experiencing a steady increase in platforms worldwide, and was estimated to add up over 270,00 jobs and $65 billion to the economy worldwide in 2014.

To facilitate this discussion, Drive Oregon hosted three crowdfunding professionals to provide an overview of crowdfunding, including the strengths and challenges of this strategy and tips for successful campaigns. Our presentations closed by explaining a new, unique Oregon rule for securities crowdfunding and how this rule will change the way start-ups and small businesses in Oregon can raise capital.

Lou Doctor, President of Crowd Supply, provided an overview of product-based crowdfunding and how his business is providing a more store-like approach the practice, taking responsibility for product follow-through and delivery. He touched on the many elements that go into successful crowdfunding campaigns – from active marketing and PR to understanding the demands and needs of consumers. Lou also emphasized that while there have been successful viral campaigns on crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, most campaigns do not receive this kind of attention and require a lot of hard work, patience, and thoughtfulness.

Brad Davis, General Manager at EcoSpeed, spoke about his Kickstarter crowdfunding success last summer where he raised almost $100,000 in one month for an EcoSpeed e-bike product. He explained what he did right (heavy promotion of the campaign, a video that was viewed over 11,000 times, and a lot of work invested before launching the campaign) and what he did wrong (launching the campaign later in the year than desired due to unexpectedly lengthy prep time). Brad concluded by highlighting how EcoSpeed’s product-based crowdfunding campaign has not only helped fund his product, but has helped his organization build relationships and bring the related community together.

Brad’s Presentation – For Viewing and Downloading

Amy Pearl, Founder and CEO of Hatch Innovation, concluded our presentations by discussing another type of crowdfunding – investing securities into a company. Amy provided an overview of the new Oregon rule that she administered, which allows Oregon residents to invest in local companies capping at $2,500 per deal (the second lowest in the country, after Maryland) and raising up to $250,000 to fund an array of business expenses. Starting on January 15th, 2015, start-ups and small businesses in Oregon can now benefit from these securities-based investments that are driven by local entrepreneurs.

Amy’s Presentation – For Viewing and Downloading

 

Check out Drive Oregon’s other events, including:

EV Roadmap

Visit our calendar for other event information!