Advanced Vehicles: Advancing Our Communities

Editor's Note: This blog introduces readers to Jules Toraya, Project Manager at the City of Atlanta's Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

Today at an event held at the White House, the Obama Administration recognized  innovators in the auto sector, and the positive impacts the resurgence of the auto industry is having in communities across the country. As the leader of the City of Atlanta's plug-in electric vehicle readiness strategy -- and an officer currently assigned to the Inactive Reserves -- I was honored to be recognized and to engage in a conversation on this topic.

My interest in advanced vehicles and clean energy is tied to my history as a Captain in the U.S. Army. After two tours in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, I became motivated to find ways to reduce petroleum consumption and minimize the need for the Department of Defense to secure America's oil supply chain. 

In my last year of active duty, I volunteered for Clean Cities Atlanta and the City of Atlanta's Mayor's Office of Sustainability to help make Atlanta Electric-Vehicle (EV) ready -- and ended up working as a full time administrator on a Department of Energy EV Community Readiness Project with the Center for Transportation and the Environment. Now, I am also coordinating a local public-private partnership, Plug-in Georgia, which is taking a regional approach and working with communities throughout Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina to ease the deployment of EVs. As more plug-in vehicles become available, they are likely to become popular since the Southeast is home to some of the lowest electric utility rates in the country. Atlanta EV infrastructure is building as more plug-in electric vehicles become available. This past Memorial Day in Atlanta, City Council opened Atlanta's first Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Charging Station to the public in honor of those who have been killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Enduring Freedom. 

Today's event with diverse industry, labor and government leaders reiterated how far we have come in developing advanced vehicles that reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil, and grow jobs in our communities. The Obama Administration's new fuel economy standards, developed in partnership with stakeholders, will encourage even more innovation, and save consumers trillions of dollars at the pump. Mayor Kasim Reed has pledged that the City of Atlanta will become one of the top 10 most sustainable cities in the United States. Supporting advanced vehicles will help us achieve this goal, and keep our communities healthy and strong.

Jules Toraya is Project Manager at the City of Atlanta's Mayor's Office of Sustainability

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