The Electrification of Commercial Fleet Operators

AMPLY Power

As the transportation industry is going through a massive electrification transition, AMPLY Power, INC. has emerged as one of the leading companies to offer charging-as-a-service to commercial fleet operators. To the average person, this means that as commercial transportation companies begin to implement electric vehicles into their fleet, someone needs to manage how they are being charged and when so that they are being as efficient as possible. Going Green had the opportunity to sit down with Heidi Sickler, Director of Policy at AMPLY Power, Inc. to learn more about how AMPLY had the foresight to get ahead of the game when it comes to the electrification of commercial fleet operators.

Heidi Sickler, Director of Policy at AMPLY Power, Inc.

Tell us about your background: 

Over the last decade, I’ve had the luxury of supporting cleantech companies that I believe in. As Director of Policy at AMPLY Power, I lead our legislative and regulatory advocacy at all levels of government. AMPLY Power optimizes charging for electric vehicle fleets. At AMPLY, I develop and advance legislation and regulation addressing our most intractable climate challenges in collaboration with climate scientists, environmental advocates, policymakers, labor groups, investors and electric vehicle (EV) innovators. I also serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Electric Vehicle Council, providing policy guidance on strategies to achieve greenhouse gas reductions, including accelerating electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Prior to joining AMPLY, I served on the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program Investment Plan Advisory Committee and was also the head of EV policy at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). I am also a Capitol Hill alumnus, having served three Members of Congress on a range of issues, including transportation, energy, agriculture and banking policy. In addition to my EV policy work, I am most proud of my work on expanding sustainable transportation in Los Angeles, including spearheading LA’s inaugural CicLAvia event during my time in the LA Mayor’s Office.

What caused you to get into your industry? 

As a lifelong runner, I have a deep-rooted passion for the outdoors and in preserving it for future generations. This passion has reinforced my commitment to advancing clean technologies and smart policy at all levels of government and business to help combat climate change. I believe that trail running and climate action go hand in hand. Life as a runner before the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act would not have been fun in most settings. As the saying goes, anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water.

I’m also incredibly fortunate to have world class mentors and coaches who have had a powerful influence on my career path. Having a mentor whose trailblazing work in electric vehicle technology has paved the way for me, my peers, and future generations of sustainability leaders and entrepreneurs, has been an incredibly important part of my professional journey.

What trends are you seeing in your industry? 

High mileage fleets are playing an increasing role in California’s transportation system, including transit fleets, school bus fleets, airport shuttle bus fleets, drayage truck fleets, and shared autonomous vehicle fleets, to name a few. Electrifying high-mileage fleets is a high-impact strategy for reducing emissions — they drive more than three times the average distance of non-commercial vehicles and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per passenger by up to fifty percent per mile. These fleets’ diverse use cases and operations ultimately dictate their infrastructure needs. In short, the electrification of fleets can help cities achieve more converted electric miles dollar for dollar through their charging demand and use case, and avoid encouraging higher rates of personal vehicle ownership. At AMPLY Power, we are proud to be working with fleet operators, including battery-electric transit and school bus fleets, to optimize their fleet charging. AMPLY’s charging management system ensures that electric fleets are charged when electricity rates are lowest, reducing electricity costs for fleet operators by over 50 percent in certain utility territories.

AMPLY Power software allowing you to track a fleet in real time.

What is one Action Item for our listeners and viewers to take away from this conversation? 

Don’t underestimate your long-term impact. It matters more than you think. Contact your local elected leaders and advocacy groups to get involved in the sustainability issues that matter most to you. To put it in running terms, political apathy means the difference between mindfully running outdoors or just pounding the dirt. If your city doesn’t have chargers for zero-emission vehicles, bike lanes, or green spaces and you want them, work with your local Mayor and City Council to get them. If you want zero-emission school buses or transit buses in your community, work with your school district, state legislators, and congressional representatives to get them. If you’re concerned about ocean pollution and preserving biodiversity, contact your state or federal Environmental Protection Agency. If you want to engage and empower voters to elect Environmental champions, contact your local League of Conservation Voters.

What is a fun fact about you? 

While out on a trail run one rainy afternoon, I crossed paths with a mountain lion tracking a deer. I heard a high-pitched squeal as they tumbled down the forested hillside, landing on the single-track trail in front of me. Luckily, the sound of the driving rain muffled my muddy footsteps as I backtracked up a hill and hydroplaned my way back to the trailhead. Although I’ve spent countless miles outrunning competitors, I knew I would not be able to outrun a mountain lion. They can run up to 50 miles per hour. Six miles later, I arrived at the trailhead just as the local park ranger pulled into the parking lot. The park ranger explained that I had just encountered one of nine mountain lions residing in the park. I felt blessed and terrified at the same time to have witnessed such a monumental act of nature.

Where do you see your industry ten years from now? 

Throughout my career, I’ve worked with mayors and community stakeholders on expanding multimodal transportation networks, including LA Metro’s 30/10 Initiative focused on accelerating the construction of 12 transit projects throughout LA County. Parallel to the growth in multimodal networks and EV technology, we’re seeing a decline in personal car ownership, especially vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). The number of millennials who purchased a new ICE vehicle dropped 30 percent from 2007 to 2014. While overall car sales plummeted in Europe last year, sales of EVs have tripled due to tougher EU car emission standards and EV purchase incentives. The International Energy Agency estimates that EV sales worldwide climbed to over 3 million or by 40 percent, making 2020 a record-breaking year for e-mobility.

cars parked in front of company building
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

I also think we’ll see greater utility and OEM investment in vehicle-to-grid integration technologies. California currently has over 800,000 Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) on the road, a number expected to more than double over the next 5 years. Most of these are battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) that could also provide valuable services to the power grid when not in use. For example, energy stored in an EV could be used to keep the lights on during power shutoff events, while also helping to green the grid and improve local air quality. By some estimates, most passenger vehicles spend 96 percent of the time parked. With the right infrastructure in place, this presents a tremendous opportunity for EVs to benefit both the grid and their owners. For example, according to a 2018 study, the 1.5 million ZEVs expected by 2025 could temporarily power nearly three million homes and do so with greater flexibility than conventional solutions. Theoretically, this full fleet of vehicles could provide 5,000 megawatts of energy storage — the equivalent of over $15 billion in stationary backup power options. We know that strategies to mitigate power outages are at the top of policymakers’ priority list. Leveraging EVs for this task can boost California’s clean energy economy in the process.

Heidi will be a featured guest on the Going Green podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the Going Green podcast to get the latest renewable energy, sustainability, and cleantech news from leaders in the industry.

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