Smart City Banner - Columbus, Ohio

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that Columbus, Ohio, is the winner of the Department’s Smart City Challenge. As winner of the Challenge, which attracted 78 applicants, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from the DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. This $50 million will supplement an impressive $90 million “Acceleration Fund” that Columbus has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan.

Key to Columbus’s proposal, which will be a model for cities across America, is the “Smart Columbus Electrification Plan,” which is comprised of five strategies:

  1. Displace carbon-intensive electricity generation with zero-carbon renewable power;
  2. Decarbonize regional vehicle fleets, relying mainly on electricity with efficiency and alternative fuels assisting;
  3. Build out smart transportation systems that reduce GhGs while improving mobility for residents, visitors and freight;
  4. Drive significant electrification into personal mobility through policy, investments and education; and
  5. Build out infrastructure for smart charging with EV grid-connectivity to lower EV adoption barriers.

Skyline of Columbus, OhioAchievement of the above strategies will be measured based on the following:

  1. Electricity Supply Decarbonization (including 915 MW of commercial/industrial wind/solar statewide, 3.4 MW of residential solar, and 1.33% annual improvement in grid and building efficiency);
  2. Fleet Electrification (300 EVs in public fleets, 448 EVs in private fleets, and 30 EVs for car/ride sharing);
  3. Transit, Autonomous and Multi-Modal Systems in the city (including a completed Bus Rapid Transit corridor and 3000 Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) connected vehicles, 6 deployed autonomous electric vehicles for last-mile service and 10 kiosks w/common payment platform, and car/bike sharing);
  4. Driving Consumer Adoption (3,200 registered EVs by 2018 (encouraged by $1000/vehicle consumer rebates and $200/vehicle dealer payments), 100 events (such as multi-day EV test drives) with 7,500 consumers, and 15 dealer trainings with 200 participants); and
  5. Charging Infrastructure (1,000 new residential Level 2 chargers, 300 new public Level 2 chargers, and 10-15 public DC-fast chargers).

With the goal of developing a nationally replicable EV adoption and transportation decarbonization model for mid-sized cities, Columbus and its partners will explore a variety of financing mechanisms and policies necessary to attain scale. Examples include vehicle leasing for fleets based on total lifetime cost of ownership, solar financing including Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Environmental Impact Bonds (EIBs), electric vehicle infrastructure banks (EVIBs), and regulatory approvals for utility investments in “smart” EV charging infrastructure at scale. The Smart Columbus team will also pilot innovative rebate programs to spur consumer investments in EVs and charging infrastructure.

The competition’s final round included brief videos from each participant; here is Columbus’s:

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Smart City Challenge Winner Is Columbus, Ohio
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