Electrification Coalition Congratulates Columbus, Ohio, “Test Market of the USA,” As Winner of Historic Smart City Challenge

Columbus is receiving up to $40 million in funding from DOT, and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen to create a model transportation system. The Electrification Coalition to facilitate electric vehicle deployment as lead implementation partner.

Washington, D.C. — The Electrification Coalition (EC) offers its congratulations to Columbus, Ohio, just announced as the winner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Smart City Challenge. Columbus emerged as the winner out of seven finalist cities by offering a highly competitive proposal that shared their innovative vision to transform the city’s transportation sector and revitalize the community. As winner, Columbus will be awarded up to $40 million from DOT to implement its strategy, and an additional $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc.

The EC also congratulates the other six semifinalists and the many other cities that offered thoughtful plans. The Electrification Coalition looks forward to continuing the discussion with these cities on how to develop urban transportation systems that are innovative, efficient, and slash oil dependence.

“Columbus showed incredible vision and leadership in developing a community-wide investment to become a national leader in EV adoption. We look forward to working with Columbus to make it a great place to plug in and drive,” said Ben Prochazka, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Electrification Coalition.

The Columbus proposal demonstrated a comprehensive plan that included a $90 million matching fund from local area businesses. Other notable elements of the city’s plan include:

  • Expanding its municipal electric vehicle fleet and integrating smart sensor data throughout the region to improve traffic, reduce accidents and slash emissions from all vehicles.
  • Securing a commitment from CEOs of the city’s top 50+ businesses and institutions to purchase and drive electric vehicles, and to install EV charging stations for employees.
  • Improving low-income access to ride-sharing and other public transportation, so residents without cars or smart phones can travel to jobs and other vital destinations.
  • Enhancing smart grid technology to increase efficiency and shave peak load, using EVs as distributed energy storage devices.
  • Installing significant wind and solar power generating capacity over the next four years.

The Smart City Challenge, which drew applications from 78 cities around the country, created a critical discussion of “what’s possible,” exploring scalable solutions to improve the accessibility and efficiency of urban transportation as well as reducing oil consumption through vehicle electrification. The challenge has spurred cities to propose new ideas that, if implemented, could have far reaching impacts nationwide. Today’s announcement is part of DOT’s strategy to fully embrace technology and innovation to help solve today and tomorrow’s transportation challenges. As DOT’s launch partner, Vulcan’s goal is to catalyze reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through creative and practical solutions to transform transportation.

“Columbus is known as the ‘Test Market of the USA,’ with retail stores and restaurants trying new concepts in Columbus before expanding across the country. With DOT and Vulcan announcing Columbus as the winner of the Smart City Challenge, the Electrification Coalition believes Columbus to be the perfect test market to reshape urban transportation,” said EC President and CEO Robbie Diamond. “This country is desperate for innovation and 21st-century transportation solutions like electric and self-driving cars to end our dangerous dependence on the monopoly of oil in transportation. We are excited to see Columbus lead the way.”

As Vulcan’s implementation partner in the Smart City Challenge, the Electrification Coalition brings a long history of expertise creating and managing comprehensive “deployment communities,”—including the pioneering Drive Electric Orlando and Drive Electric Northern Colorado projects—to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. In the public sector, the EC collaborates with mayors and city managers to transition municipal fleets away from petroleum fuels through the Energy Secure Cities Coalition.

The EC looks forward to working with Vulcan and the City of Columbus as it redefines the concept of mobility within its city limits.

Amy Malaki

Amy Malaki is the Director of Partnerships and Policy at SkyNRG and SkyNRG Americas, pioneering global leaders in sustainable aviation fuel production and supply. Prior to SkyNRG, Amy was the Associate Director for the transportation portfolio at the ClimateWorks Foundation where she developed philanthropic investment strategies to advance a sustainable, equitable and low-carbon mobility system. She also pioneered the organization’s international aviation decarbonization strategy. Prior to that she focused on Asia business development at Better Place, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle network startup. She has a B.A. in Chinese and China studies from the University of Washington and an M.A. in international policy studies (energy and environment) from Stanford University.