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  • Writer's pictureMadelyn Collins

Charging Forward – June 2023

Happy Summer! This month I, Madelyn Collins, SACE's newest team member and Electric Transportation Equity Manager, am writing June's 'Charging Forward' newsletter in Dory Larsen's steed while she enjoys some well-deserved summer fun that will recharge her batteries. Before we get deeper into this month's newsletter, a little about me:

Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, I experienced what the end of the world felt like when my community, home, and sense of self were swept away in Hurricane Katrina. Today, through the practice of intersectional environmentalism, a term coined by activist and writer, Leah Thomas in 2020, I strive to recognize and address environmental injustices in my work and in the communities around me through a “People + Planet” lens, as humans and nature are part of the same delicate ecosystem of life that cannot be separated in our work.

In my role with SACE, I will work to grow electric transportation ownership and access for all and support equitable electric transportation policies and programs already in place. I will also be contributing my own knowledge and experience to further the progress of connecting electrification benefits across the region while actively advancing my equity-implementing skills.

I believe in order for a just and equitable electric transition to happen, we have to bridge the divide in decision-making power. There has to be an emphasis on collaboration, community empowerment, and investment and resources going to the people that are closest to the issue. It truly does take a village to accomplish anything, and I’m excited to work with the mosaic of lived experiences in the Southeast to better our environment and to connect to the dynamic Southeast community to promote equitable electric transportation in the Southeast! Read more of my story.

In addition to celebrating the start of summer, we're also celebrating 30 years of Clean Cities! Funded by the Department of Energy, the Clean Cities network has built bipartisan support, deep connections within the transportation industry, and active partnerships with 20,000 public and private stakeholders to advance affordable, efficient, and clean transportation fuels and technologies. Alongside the Department of Energy, Clean Cities recently launched the Energy and Environmental Justice Initiative (EEJI) to help ensure the benefits of federal investments in clean transportation reach underserved and overburdened communities as part of Justice40. We're looking forward to seeing the seeds of the initiative flower in communities across the Southeast.

To understand EV Sales and charging deployment in a national context, please read our report. Source: “Transportation Electrification in the Southeast” report 2022 year-end updates; Atlas EV Hub + Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

We've got our eye on North Carolina this month. According to our 2022 year-end updates from our "Transportation Electrification in the Southeast" report, North Carolina is #3 in the Southeast when it comes to EV sales, and as SACE's Stan Cross notes later in the newsletter, these sales are overwhelmingly Tesla's, largely due to their superior driving and charging experience compared to other auto manufacturers. We're hopeful that when states take advantage of National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) funding and the number of EV charging stations grow, EV sales of all makes and models will continue to increase in the state.

As we continue to track the progress of electric transportation growth in the Southeast and beyond, we remain grateful for our readers who stay connected to us and others on Facebook and Twitter. To receive these newsletters in your inbox, click here to sign up!

Charging Forward,

Madelyn Collins


Powering the EV Movement

My EV Road Trip from Knoxville to Atlanta

Madelyn Collins, SACE's Electric Transportation Equity Manager recently embarked on a quintessentially American pastime with an electric twist – taking a road trip in a Tesla Model X! Learn how her EV road trip of firsts from Knoxville, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia went and how the experience fueled her to continue to advocate for electric transportation to shape a healthier and more just environment. Read more.

Takeaways from the Environmental Justice Summit: Understanding a Region’s History to Support its Future

On June 7th, SACE staff joined over a dozen stakeholders for the Southeast Environmental Justice Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was hosted by the Harambee House Citizens for Environmental Justice and aimed at advancing climate and environmental justice for everyone. SACE, along with other organizations, sponsored the five-day summit. Attendees learned about local and federal initiatives to promote environmental justice policies in the Southeast. Many organizations, including SACE, represented by Board Chair, Leon Jacobs, conducted panels to reaffirm and underscore the importance of environmental justice and how to combat years of environmental injustices in communities throughout the Southeast. Read more.

SACE Signs Letter Supporting GreenLatinos Call To Action

SACE joined 34 other organizations in signing a call to action letter led by GreenLatinos to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set the strongest vehicle emissions standards. Strong emissions standards will protect Americans’ health, especially for those living in Latino/e communities disproportionately overburdened by transportation pollution. Read more.

Driving on Sunshine: Visiting The Bottom Bookstore to Get Ready for Pride

Right in the heart of East Knoxville on Magnolia Street sits a multi-use community space called The Bottom. It is a Black-owned, community-based non-profit that started as a bookstore and has grown into a dedicated safe space for Black people to build community, celebrate culture, and engage in creativity in Knoxville. It is a place that many, including Madelyn Collins of SACE, inhabit to recharge both body and mind. And recently, Madelyn shared the driving experience of SACE's Tesla Model X, "Driving on Sunshine" – which is charged using solar power – with community members Ty Murray and Jaleria Rivera. Read more.


Get Plugged-In

Centralina Community Engagement Coordinator

Job Opportunity

Centralina Regional Council seeks a full time Community Engagement Coordinator to equip and empower the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition (CCFC) to deliver projects that center energy and environmental justice in support of the Justice40 Initiative, which requires at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain federal programs and grant funds to flow to disadvantaged communities. The Community Engagement Coordinator position is a new role that focuses on identifying, cultivating, developing and sustaining relationships with community-based organizations and other community partners who can support and contribute to environmental justice projects. The candidate selected for this position will serve as a key partner and bridge between CCFC and disadvantaged communities across our nine-county region to help CCFC center community priorities and lived experiences in project design and implementation.

Centralina Community Engagement Coordinator Interested individuals are encouraged to send a resume and cover letter to: with “Community Engagement Coordinator” in the subject line. Deadline: Open until filled with rolling interviews. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply early. Learn More

Southeast Portal for Electric Transportation Opportunities


The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability at Duke University, in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute, has launched an online hub that highlights timely opportunities and upcoming events related to transportation electrification in the Southeast.

Hosted by the Southeast Electric Transportation Regional Initiative (SETRI) – of which SACE is a part – the Southeast Portal for Electric Transportation Opportunities aggregates and increases the visibility of active federal, state, university and other private and public funding sources; comment solicitations; research opportunities; events; and other participatory efforts to advance transportation electrification in the region. In April, the White House Electric Vehicle Acceleration Challenge recognized development of the portal as an example of private and public investments aimed at speeding up production and adoption of affordable EVs.

If your organization has any events / participation opportunities / surveys / funding / etc. relevant to the Southeast you’d like to be listed in the future, view the request form.

Southeast Portal for Electric Transportation Opportunities

Just Future Summit

In-Person Event

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy team is excited to attend the Greenlining Institute’s annual Just Future Summit. The Summit brings together the most important voices in the movement for racial justice and convenes over 1,000 change-makers to build momentum for transformative change.

To mark Greenlining’s 30th anniversary, they're bringing it back to in-person in Oakland, California for the first time since 2019 with stand-up comedian and director W. Kamau Bell attending as this year’s featured speaker whose insight into this country’s relationship with race will set the tone for the Just Future Summit–one of the country’s largest racial equity conferences.

Just Future Summit October 19 – 20 | Oakland, California Register and Learn More

Sol Summit 2023: Don't Keep That Same Energy

In-Person Event

In August of 2023, Sol Nation Inc. will host their 5th annual Sol Summit that equips historically marginalized communities with education, training, and resources to address injustice specifically in the areas of climate, environmental, and economic impacts. This annual summit is a platform that uses art and culture, workshops, hackerspaces, and makerspaces to empower attendees to return to their communities and institute SOLutions.

Sol Summit 2023: Don't Keep That Same Energy

August 24 - 26 | Charlotte, North Carolina

Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land


The Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land (CEML) will demonstrate the technical and economic viability of deploying clean energy on current (operating) and former (abandoned or inactive) mine land. Up to five clean energy projects will be carried out in geographically diverse regions, at least two of which must be solar projects. These demonstration projects are expected to be replicable, providing knowledge and experience that catalyze the next generation of clean energy on mine land projects.

The CEML Program received $500 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will provide financial investment, technical assistance, and other resources to advance the widespread deployment of clean energy projects on current and former mine land.

Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land Full applications due August 31, 2023 Learn More and Apply

EPA Clean School Bus Program Grants


The EPA anticipates awarding approximately $400 million in competitive grant funding under the Clean School Bus (CSB) Grants Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The program is soliciting applications nationwide for a grant competition to fund the replacement of existing school buses with clean and zero-emission (ZE) school buses.

Head to the EPA's website to find more information on:

  • 2023 Request of Funding Opportunity

  • Important Dates

  • Application Documents

  • Questions and Answers

  • Eligible Applicants

  • Funding Prioritizations

  • Application Process

  • Tools and Resources

All application packages need to be submitted electronically to EPA through no later than Tuesday, August 22, 2023, at 11:59 PM ET to be considered for funding.

EPA Clean School Bus Program Grants Apply by Tuesday, August 22, 2023, at 11:59 PM ET


Paving the Way

Power play: Tesla becoming car of choice in North Carolina's electric vehicle shift

Over the past five years, Tesla models have accounted for more than two-thirds of new electric-vehicle registrations in North Carolina, according to figures provided at the Journal’s request by the N.C. Department of Transportation. Stan Cross, electric transportation policy director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy noted that one reason for their success is that Tesla has built, "a robust network of fast charging stations that provide Tesla drivers with convenient and reliable access to every corner of the state, something other EVs cannot currently offer.”

“The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $7.5 billion in public charging station funding will help level the playing field, but Tesla will continue to dominate as long as the traditional automakers waffle between electric and gas vehicles and resist taking any responsibility for their customers’ charging needs,” Cross added. Read more.

Tesla's success has led to auto manufacturers like GM, Ford, Polestar, Rivian, and Volvo to adopt Tesla's charging standard in order to provide a more robust charging network for their customers. This is a pivotal moment that has the potential to focus the EV charging industry on delivering accessible, convenient, and reliable EV charging everywhere every time. Accessibility, convenience, and reliability, which have largely eluded non-Tesla charging station makers and operators, not for lack of trying, are the benchmarks of success. The challenge at hand is complex and is going to take industry-wide collaboration among EV and EV charger manufacturers, software providers, and supply chain companies to deliver the optimal EV driving experience to the rapidly expanding EV market.

Black farming community fights to get fair deal as state takes land for Ford plant roadways

Ford Motor Company's future $5.6 billion electric truck plant Blue Oval City is bringing telltale signs of economic prosperity to rural west Tennessee, with local land real estate prices skyrocketing across small towns like Stanton, Tennessee. But, at the same time that asking prices for acres of land are on the rise, farmers like Marvin Sanderlin are being cut out from taking advantage of the economic development that Ford brings.

Sanderlin said, “They want your land, but they don’t want you to participate in the wealth.”

To build a highway route to Blue Oval City, Ford is offering Sanderlin and others in the largely rural African-American farming region below market value compensation for their land that will be developed or inaccessible as the highway is built. Many predominantly Black farmers in the area like Sanderlin welcome the development for the prosperity it will bring to their children; but their uneasiness lies in this being the latest fight in a generational struggle to hold onto what they own. Read more.

Lithium mining debate: Can Gaston County embrace green energy without sacrificing rural life?

Families in Gaston County, North Carolina are concerned that a proposed mining operation from Piedmont Lithium will harm the area's "near perfect" pastoral lifestyle. The mining company is after a belt of lithium-rich mineral deposit in western North Carolina that runs into Gaston County farm country, a resource that could bolster the Biden administration's clean energy plan since lithium is used in the production of electric vehicles.

The proposed open-pit mine, yet to be approved by the N.C. Mining Commission, could help shoulder the nation’s green energy goals, but it could come at the cost of Gaston County's environmental health and quality of life, one example being the risk the open-pit mining method has on lowering the water table in a community where many rely on well water. With many vocal critics of the project, community members are taking to City Council meetings and the like to act against Piedmont Lithium's Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) request which will enable them to commence the intrusive process. Read more.

Fights for Climate, Labor and Indigenous Rights Converge at Auto Supply Chains

Electric vehicles are on the rise in the United States and across the world, with U.S. electric car sales increased from 0.2 percent in 2011 to 4.6 percent in 2021. But, this innovation and the production process behind it comes at the cost of vulnerable communities and even still, the climate health. Production for materials used in EVs are still carbon-intensive, Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by the extraction of minerals needed in production, and we've yet to see if the workers who take on the new clean energy jobs will have the right to unionize.

Collectives of environmental and human rights advocacy organizations, like Lead the Charge, want to ensure that the groundbreaking global transition to EVs will not only shift away from climate-destroying fossil fuels, but advance goals around basic rights, especially for Indigenous communities and workers on the frontline. Read more.


Kicking Gas

Every month we'll spotlight stories and photos from YOU, our readers, about how EVs play a role in your world. To be featured in an upcoming ETS newsletter, send us an email here! We'll also highlight our partners and allies from our testimonials page and feature photos from events SACE has participated in across the region.

Pearl Eva Walker | Memphis, Tennessee

This week, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm traveled via electric vehicle across the Southeast on a "People Powered Summer Road Trip" to highlight efforts to modernize the nation’s electrical transmission system and build up domestic sourcing for battery components, that will further enhance our national security.

During her visits, Secretary Granholm met with industry leaders and convene community town halls to discuss how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is providing opportunities to help the South lead the nation in the clean energy transition. SACE was fortunate that Julian Harden, our Clean Energy Coordinator, and Pearl Eva Walker, SACE's Civic Engagement Consultant, attended Town Halls with Secretary Granholm in Atlanta and Memphis respectively. Amongst other topics, Secretary Granholm discussed how equitably electrifying transportation can to address some of the most systemic inequities that some communities are disproportionately experiencing as a result of climate change.

Pictured above left to right: House Minority leader and candidate for Memphis mayor Rep Karen Camper District 87 and Pearl Walker; Pearl Walker, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Granholm and Pearl Walker; Senator Ramesh Akbari of the 29th district in Memphis and Pearl Walker.

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