June 16, 2022 was a celebration of the passage of the Phoenix Transportation Electrification Action Plan. Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari of Phoenix’s District 7 announced the unanimous passage of the ambitious plan which includes the goal of having 280,000 electric vehicles on the roads of Phoenix, 500 charging stations to meet the predicted supply and demand of electric vehicles, and prioritizes equity and education on electric vehicles so that all communities are well-informed on the emerging technology and can actively participate and have a voice in the conversation.
Councilwoman Ansari, who previously worked as a senior policy advisor with the United Nations on climate change, air pollution, and public health, understands the gravity of the Plan and its impact not only for the city of Phoenix but the state of Arizona and the country at large.
“Data shows us that transportation and specifically gas-powered vehicles are the leading cause of greenhouse gas emission in Phoenix as well as air pollution. So electrifying our transportation sector is one of the most significant actions our city can take for climate and for public health,” said the Councilwoman. She also stated that with rising gas prices and high amounts of air pollution the Plan “could not have come at a better time.”
“It is our responsibility to make sure that the Phoenicians have affordable and easy access to infrastructure needed to power a clean all electric future. And this Plan puts us on track to do just that.”
Councilwoman Ansari is confident that they will be able to produce the projected 280,000 electric vehicles within the given timeframe, and she touted private companies’ commitment to start producing more electric vehicles and phasing out the production of gasoline powered vehicles to help them reach that goal.
“It’s really the private sector that’s already made these commitments to phasing out fossil fuel vehicles and heavy research and development into EV,” said Councilwoman Ansari, referencing General Motors’ announcement of planning to phase out gasoline powered vehicles by 2035.
Several members of the Phoenix Transportation Electrification Action Plan subcommittee were also in attendance to emphasize the community facets of the plan that will help communities, mainly the underserved and low income, understand and adopt electric vehicle usage. Among the subcommittee’s priorities are education, equity, and demystifying common misconceptions about electric vehicles.
“Education and outreach are going to be key”, said Lisa Perez, an active member of the Phoenix Planning Commission. Perez also stated that the biggest misconception to address within communities is understanding the cost of electric vehicles and helping them realize that in the long run, electric vehicles are cheaper than they realize.
For Darice Ellis, an Environment Quality Specialist at the Phoenix Office of Sustainability, her priority was a focus on weaving equity through all parts of the plan, which, for her, was “personal”.
“As you see the report, you’re gonna see that [equity] is weaved throughout. Sometimes when you look at things and policies that we put together, you’ll see one page of it, one paragraph, one sentence, you’re going to see equity. And that was intentional. And there was a lot of work put into that. And so I’m very proud to say you’re going to see an equity lens added to every aspect and every priority that is set in this Plan”, said Ellis. She also said that they even paid special attention to advertising materials and being intentional about how the Plan was being promoted.
“We had some tough conversations. It even came down to the graphics. When you see an electric vehicle, and you see that there’s someone charging it, it’s always a white male. You see, the hand is always a white male. And we had to talk about that, like, do we want to do that? How do we want, if we’re trying to get feedback from communities and be inclusive, we want to make these folks feel included. And you start by how you’re presenting your materials.”
In the eyes of Ellis, the greatest stride the city can take towards electric vehicle preparation is paying attention to what communities are saying.
“I really think it’s listening to the communities and letting them tell us what their needs are. And that to me will meet the equity goals that we have set.”
To those who contributed to the great event – THANK YOU!!
To the other members of the subcommittee who took the time to speak with us about the Plan and share their insights:
Caryn Potter– Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
Kathy Knoop – General Motors
Catherine O’Brien – Salt River Project
AND to the EV companies in attendance, thank you for making the celebration experiential, by sharing your electric cars, bikes, and scooters!
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