Fri 8/22 @ 7 – 9am
By John Benson
As one of the most important meals of the day, breakfast provides energy. However, it’s not the type of alternative energy that will be discussed at the Earth Day Coalition’s monthly Fuel for Thought breakfast speaker series targeting alternative-fuel vehicle-fleet owners.
Those attending the unique series will get a firsthand chance to meet regional leaders who made decisions to adopt alternative fuel vehicles, advanced vehicle technologies and-or make biofuels early in the game. The discussions will delve into the economic realities of owning and maintaining a fleet of greener and cleaner vehicles.
The inaugural Fuel for Thought event features Greater Cleveland RTA Budget Management Analyst Kari Solomon sharing insights around the transit agency’s recent decision to reinvest in buses that run on natural gas.
The Dept. of Energy Clean Cities Program started in 1993 with the goal of reducing the U.S. nationwide petroleum consumption, while promoting energy, economic and environmental security. The coalition representing Northeast Ohio brings together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to help reach Dept. of Energy goals by providing educational tools, networking services, technical assistance and financial support to promote the use of alternative and renewable fuels as well as other clean transportation measures and technologies.
Cool Cleveland talked to NE Ohio Clean Cities Coalition Coordinator Elaine Barnes about the impetus and goals behind Fuel for Thought.
Cool Cleveland: First of all, what are we hoping to accomplish with the Fuel for Thought series?
Elaine Barnes: We’re doing it in honor of Earth Day Coalition’s 15th year anniversary designation as part of the U.S. Dept. of Energies Clean Cities program. We’re doing it to highlight great innovations of technology, as well as people’s process of making a decision of embracing alternative fuels for their vehicle fleets. We think the breakfast series is a good way to go because it’ll be a small, intimate group that will get to talk to someone who actually makes decisions on either creating the technology or adopting technology. It’s an opportunity to learn about them – the good, the bad and the ugly – and then talk one-on-one with people.
What kind of guests can we look forward to in the future?
For this event we’re talking to RTA about their decision to re-embrace natural gas as a fuel for their buses. Looking ahead, we’re hoping to bring in Tesla to talk about why they decided to open their patents. We’ll also talk about some local-related patent holders who work in the fuel cell. One of the groups that will be coming in is the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition to talk about the high-end electric and fuel cell technologies as well. We’ll probably bring in some people from Case Western Reserve who have patents on batteries and fuel cell technology.
What type of audience does the Fuel for Thought series target?
Basically, fleet owners and people who are interested in learning about the technology. So some of them will be geared towards fleet owners. The RTA will be looking at people with larger fleets of heavier duty vehicles but the fuel cells that come in will be a lot of our technical people, people at universities, government people. I know the city of Cleveland is very interested in coming in the series. So is Cuyahoga County. I’ve gotten calls from a lot of municipalities who want to send their people in to learn from people who are actually deploying technologies in innovative ways
Correct me if I’m wrong but the current public sentiment seems to be in favor of alternative fuels. The problem is the cost is too steep for most folks to embrace.
That’s what we hear a lot, and that’s why we’re having our AltFuel Cruise In, which invites all of our dealers, backyard conversions and colleges that work on automotive technology to come display their wares Sept. 9 at Whiskey Island. The price point is coming way down, and we’ve had a lot of success with that. So we’ve really tried to hit all the different markets with the different types of series and events we have around alt-fuel vehicles.
In your opinion, why are alternative fuel sources something we all should be following closely?
Because really what these vehicles are doing is letting us know what is going to be the next generation of energy technologies out on the road. We’re learning about both energy generation and energy production in small little packets that are vehicles. And we’re looking at diversifying that energy portfolio and energy-use portfolio to find what’s really going to be best for the economy, the environment and for energy technology.
Finally, what everyone wants to know is how long until we have solar paneled-exterior cars?
You can make that now. The technology is out there that you can have a car that runs on solar power. What we like in the United States is the combustion engine. So one of the things we’re looking at is how to take the love of the combustion engine and turn it into an electric powered vehicle, but that’s definitely down the road.
The first Fuel for Thought event takes place from 7 to 9 a.m. Aug. 22 at the Cleveland Airport Marriot. The cost is $25 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Call 216-281-6468, ext. 231 or go online.
[Photo: Dominic Alves (Flickr)]
When he’s not writing about music or entertainment, he can be found coaching his two boys in basketball, football and baseball or watching movies with his lovely wife, Maria. John also occasionally writes for CoolCleveland.com.