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Driving Canada’s Clean Energy Future

August 13, 2012 / Cara Clairman, Plug'n Drive

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I have to be honest. This is my first blog post. Ever. I am guest blogging for “Know Your Power” to document some of the important and exciting developments around electric cars and my experiences in promoting their adoption.

First things first.  People are always asking me why I started Plug’nDrive. I had a great job as VP of Sustainable Development at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Ontario’s largest generator of electricity. It was in this job that I hit upon what I consider to be a classic sustainability winner: electric vehicles (EV) are good for the environment, society and the economy.

If you plug your car in at night in Ontario (and in most other Canadian provinces) you are plugging into surplus baseload electricity that is both low emitting and low cost. More information about this is available by clicking here. As our electricity supply gets greener, so does EV driving.  Electricity is primarily locally made, whereas gasoline is often not.  In addition, Ontario has smart meters, time of use pricing and a vibrant auto sector: all good reasons why Ontario should be a leader in the deployment of EVs.

And the business case for EVs can be made in other provinces too.

The business case was so compelling to me that I pitched Tom Mitchell, CEO of OPG, about turning Plug’nDrive – which at that time was a sustainability project internal to OPG – into an independent non-profit.  He gave the idea a ringing endorsement – and we were off to the races.

So, in June 2011, I set up the non-profit corporation with a top notch Board of Directors and set out to find some other like-minded companies to help support the cause.  Our first order of business was to raise awareness. We know that EVs are good for the environment and economy, but how good are they? How do we spread the word? How do we change behaviours?

We all know making vehicles available is not enough.  People have 100 years of experience with gasoline-powered cars – how can we convince them that EVs are worth a try? How do we move people from “that’s interesting” to “I want to drive one of those!”?

And thus we began our EV Road Show, an educational campaign to raise awareness around the environmental and economic benefits of EVs (click here for a list of events near you).  In addition to this outreach, we have begun a program we call Charge My Car to assist consumers who are ready to embrace the technology, but need some help in the “how-to”.  For instance, how do I get a home charger? Which cars are available and where? Where are the public chargers?  Answers to all your questions about EVs can be found by clicking here.

If the business case for EV’s is not clear for you yet, please watch this!

Convinced? If not, invite me to talk to your company or group in person. I’ll even bring an electric car. We all need to be part of driving Canada’s clean energy future.

Stay tuned as we begin on a journey to convince drivers that they can make the change to electric, reduce their CO₂ footprint, and help the local economy at the same time.

Cara Clairman is the President and CEO of Plug’nDrive.

For more information, visit www.plugndrive.ca or follow @PlugN_Drive on Twitter.

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