Green Reservation

Green Reservation

Episode 4041
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We hear the phrase “we’re all in this together” a lot these days. And that certainly applies to preserving our precious natural resources. This week, we see how those with the longest ties to our natural history are taking bold steps to ensure a clean future.  

The Cherokee nation is located in a 9,000 square mile area of northeastern Oklahoma. Unlike other reservations, Cherokee tribal land is checkerboarded in and around state jurisdictions, and Cherokee citizens are very much a part of the local communities. So maintaining their own civic infrastructure and preserving Cherokee culture while keeping pace with modern society is a vital task.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr.: "Well, our belief, and it’s one that’s held our people together for generations, is that we look seven generations into the future. We look at what our actions today are doing for generations from now. And I think in the world we live in today, it’s important to reduce our carbon footprint, to look for avenues to explore green energy, and I’m standing next to our solar canopy, which is one of our key initiatives to meet that objective, reduce that carbon footprint -- think ahead to future generations, make sure that this reservation that we’re on right now, is going to be clean and pristine. Hopefully cleaner as we go by, thanks to these kinds of initiatives for generations into the future."

The Indian Nations Council of Governments is also home to the Tulsa Area Clean Cities Coalition, easing the way for the Cherokee Nation and other tribal partners to team up through clean cities on a number of clean vehicle projects.  

This solar canopy, completed in 2017, currently houses eight, free, public level 2 electric car charging outlets at the Cherokee Nation's main administrative complex. 

It generates up to 58,000 kilowatt-hours per year and augments grid power supplied to the buildings when not used for charging vehicles.

When it was installed, there were actually very few electric vehicles registered in the area, but in a classic case of “build it and they will come,” the local EV population, and demand for charging, has grown rapidly.

Chad Hasha: "Since we’ve installed this canopy, we’ve seen both the number of electric vehicles utilizing it increase. Actually we have to increase the number of stalls available. And we have also since that time purchased a number of electric vehicles to supplement our tribal fleet operations."

Once complete, the solar site’s electric vehicle charging capacity will be doubled to 16. 

The Cherokee Nation’s EV Initiative also includes four DC fast chargers and additional level twos, installed or planned for tribal lands throughout the area, as well as a significant investment in public transportation.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr.: "We have an electric school bus here in the Cherokee nation, I think it’s the first in the region, and we have some electric transit buses, which we think are the first for a rural-based transit system in the United States."

With just 2000 fluent speakers remaining, attrition of tribal elders through natural causes and from the COVID pandemic losing many tribal elders to COVID has threatened the very viability of the Cherokee language for the future. 

This electric school bus transports students in the Cherokee Nation’s groundbreaking language immersion program, where new generations of native speakers are being trained to teach others and keep this vital link to the past alive.

These newly-arrived Proterra electric transit buses carry bilingual signage throughout the interior to act as teaching tools, and as a reminder to all of the importance of not just preserving, but continuing Cherokee traditions.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr.: "If you go elsewhere in the reservation, you’ll see community organizations that are really the hub and the lifeblood of these little communities that again have existed since before the state of Oklahoma was here."

We have to connect people, from home to work and home to health centers. Doing that in an environmentally sustainable way is important, and these transit buses are a big part of that.

And there’s a little bit of a teaching moment about where does energy come from, how do we harness something like the sunlight to power this little community. So, these sorts of things, I think are sparking some interest among young people, which is of particular interest to me, because they’re the ones who are going to take on leading this nation in the future.

EV Sales 4

EV Sales

Episode 4336
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The headlines are everywhere: electric vehicle sales are down! Dealers are swamped with unsold EVs! Car companies are doubling down on internal-combustion engines! The EV era is over before it began! And so on…

You know, there’s a lot of misinformation swirling around these days about the state of the current EV market. So, what are the facts and where might EVs go from here?

We’re in the midst of the most revolutionary shake up of the automotive market since the car replaced the horse as our preferred form of personal transportation back in the early 1900s. Then, as now, drivers faced the same decision of choosing petrol or electric power for their cars, and carmakers offered both options.

EV Sales 1

As it turned out, the rapid expansion of our interstate road system outpaced the electrification of rural America, paving the way for petroleum to take the lead in widespread availability, and to largely squeeze electrics out of the car market. Fast forward a hundred years: America is now wired from coast to coast, and advances in battery technology have made it possible for electric vehicles to perform competitively with gas and diesel models.

But more importantly, environmental concerns have become an important factor in determining our fuel of choice, fostering the second coming of the electric vehicle.

Now EV sales, including both plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics, are surging beyond the early adopter and novelty stage, rising 46.5% in 2022 and 53.8% in 2023, achieving a record 9% of the total car market last year. After such rapid growth, some moderation was expected, but are EV sales really falling as headlines proclaim?

The short answer is no. While growth has slowed, plug-in vehicles still grew 17% in the first quarter of 2024, increasing their market share further as overall car sales rose only 5%.

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JOHN O’DONNELL: “There’s a lot of articles and media suggesting that we’ve already reached a plateau for EV sales, and that’s false, that’s incorrect. The rate of adoption is slowing, but it’s still increasing nationwide. State by state, it varies.The coasts, east and west coasts, have the higher penetration. The center of the country is adopting at a more slow rate, but make no mistake, this is not going away simply because somebody wrote an article.”

Another trend we’ve noticed is that consumers’ preferred type of EV is shifting. For all of 2023, about 80% of EVs sold were pure battery electric. But plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid sales are growing, and currently make up a quarter of total EV sales.

When faced with the EV market’s three-headed conundrum: limited number of affordable battery electric choices, fear of range anxiety, and a public charging infrastructure that’s still a work in progress, many buyers see plug in hybrids as a safe near-term bridge to eventually going all-electric. And that shift is now forecast to widen for the foreseeable future, as manufacturers release more new PHEVs into the market.

EV Sales

JOHN O’DONNELL: “Consumer affordability is always on our minds, representing the people who sell the cars, but it’s also on the mind of the state, local and federal governments. They know that they need to help us balance the amount of technology, which costs money through research and development, and what the average consumer can afford.”

The good news for consumers is that EV prices are already coming down, and, with dozens of new electric vehicles of all types expected to enter the market over the next 18 months, there is little doubt that such increased competition will cause EV prices to moderate even further. Thus, most market experts are still conservatively predicting EVs to pass the 12% market share point for all of 2024, and 15%, or over 2 million new EVs on the road, in 2025.

Add to that continuing improvements in driving range and charging infrastructure, and the future of EVs in America is still quite bright. American consumers are smart enough to question the naysayers. They know that the time is finally right for the electric automobile to come into its own. It’s not only the best thing for the environment, it just makes good driving sense.