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Johnson Says Collaborative Partnerships Can Help Fuel Growth of Alternative Fuel Vehicles

As prepared for delivery 

Remarks by
Martha N. Johnson
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition Electric Vehicle Workshop
Bellevue, Washington
April 20, 2011

Thank you, Deputy Mayor Conrad Lee. It’s great to be here in Washington; it’s a welcome break from the other Washington.

I’m delighted to be here with you all today to kick off the Charging Ahead with Electric Vehicles Workshop.

We at GSA are keenly interested in these efforts.

GSA’s mission is to use our expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions, and by so doing, foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people.

We support the Department of Veterans Affairs so that they can support our veterans. We provide infrastructure for the Department of Education so that they can focus on educating tomorrow’s leaders.

GSA is the steward of more than 360 million square feet of real estate – more than 3 percent of U.S. commercial office space – and we touch and guide a river of consumption worth $95 billion. We also handle the procurement and management of more than 400,000 federal vehicles –two-thirds of the federal fleet.

We do everything for everybody. We work across the executive, legislative, judicial, state and local branches of government. We provide services and support for real estate, information technology, fleet, credit cards, commodities, services, and disposal.

We are, in a sense, a membrane, transferring knowledge and interpreting market messages for our customers and transmitting their needs and operational requirements to the private sector.

Under ordinary circumstances, this is a big job. But these are not ordinary circumstances.

Our country faces serious challenges both at home and abroad.

Our troops need support, our veterans need care, our children need good schools, and our infrastructure needs an upgrade.

We’re wrestling with our dependence on dirty fuels to power our cars, our homes, and our workplaces.

That said, we see encouraging news.

Two years after a terrible recession, our economy is growing, and showing real signs of strength. For the fourth month in a row, the unemployment rate has dropped, to 8.8 percent in March. March’s employment report also shows that the private sector added 230,000 jobs in industries ranging from manufacturing to education and construction. We see jobs being created at the highest rates in a decade with 13 consecutive months of private employment growth, adding a total of 1.8 million private-sector jobs.

To continue to encourage this growth, President Barack Obama has set an ambitious course for the government and for the nation. He knows that the economy of the 21st century will be built on pillars of green jobs and sustainable technologies. To get there – to win the future – we need to amplify our creativity and encourage new veins of discovery. It’s a bold challenge. But it’s what we do –and what we’ve always done – best.

Across the country – at companies large and small, in schools and universities – Americans are buckling down to it, testing, trying, and seeking the solutions that we need to ensure a brighter tomorrow.

Government of all levels can help, too, by providing needed capital and investment to support new technologies and industries. Indeed, right here in Bellevue, the city is the first in the region to install an electric-vehicle charging station, and I understand that there are more than a dozen planned for installation.

Or, look at the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition. Supported by $15 million in Department of Energy Recovery Act funding, the coalition is helping cities and companies take the leap to the next level of technology and efficiency. By installing 200 electric-vehicle charging stations and helping to purchase electric vehicles for government fleets, the coalition is providing material support for this fledgling industry. And it doesn’t stop there.

Continuing in the long line of American public/private collaborations, the coalition and their partners Ecotality and Charge!America are working together to install more than 1,200 charging stations throughout the Puget Sound area at homes, businesses, and municipal buildings.

Much like the energy that fuels electric vehicles, it’s collaborative partnerships such as these that have fueled America’s greatest achievements. Working together, industry and government have mapped the smallest particles – the human genetic code – and peered into the vast reaches of the universe.

Together, we have brought cars, airplanes, and computers to millions of people, lifted untold numbers out of poverty, put a man on the moon, and built the finest schools, community colleges, and universities in the world. Together, we in America have led the world from the industrial age to the information age. And now we must look further still.

When the president declared in his State of the Union that he expects to see 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, he was serious. Under his direction, the federal government is breaking down barriers, expanding incentives, and supporting the research necessary to launch this industry to the next level.

GSA is about to embark on a pilot project of 100 electric vehicles deployed throughout the federal fleet. We received final authority in the continuing resolution on April 15. The impact of investing in this technology can be tremendous.

In a fleet as large as GSA’s, even incremental fuel-efficiency improvements can make a big difference. Consider the impact of a one mile per gallon increase in fuel economy to an annual procurement of more than 65,000 vehicles annually. That would save nearly 1 million gallons of petroleum, 9,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and more than $3 million annually. That makes sense for our customers and delivers value to the taxpayer.

We’re excited about this pilot program, and I’m confident that it will be a success both for the government and for the American people. It will be an important step on our path towards a sustainable future.

The conversations you have today and the lessons you take back with you are yet more steps on that same path. Each presentation and conversation is important. Every workshop and learning session is a chance to build our collective knowledge base.

Through partnerships, and by stretching to find the solutions to our common challenges, we will out-innovate our competition, secure our leadership position in the world, build a greener tomorrow, and win our collective future.

Thank you.