My experience as an Energy Fellow at the University of Rhode Island Outreach Center working with Ocean State Clean Cities showed me the many layers of the energy field and how versatile and useful my skills can be in the professional world. The program introduced me to the whole other side of energy, the behind the scenes allocation of energy, emerging technologies, efficiency programs, and increased use. As an undergraduate student majoring in environmental and natural resource economics, the program was ideal to further my studies and work experience.
Ocean State Clean Cities (OSCC) is a program within the URI energy fellows program. The main goal of this coalition is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions released from the transportation sector. The ways in which we try to reduce these emissions is through the promotion of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles, idle reduction technologies, and by practicing better driving techniques. The six alternative fuels we currently promote the use of are electric, propane, natural gas, ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen. All of these alternative fuels produce fewer carbon emissions when burned than traditional gasoline and diesel fuels. The reason we want to reduce emissions from the transportation sector is because the transportation sector is one of the leading users of energy.
I had many different duties during my year as an energy fellow, many of which put me out of my comfort zone. The main duties of my position were to stay updated on current environmental issues, incentives and technologies related to fuel reduction, alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles, idle reduction technologies, and promoting fuel saving driving techniques. This information is then communicated to the public through social media outreach, holding alternative fuel stakeholder meetings that let the industry stakeholders network, and periodic email newsletters. We take advantage of the abundant information and resources that are available to the coalition through industry partners.
The accomplishments I have made through the internship have helped me grow in many ways. I helped to facilitate alternative fuel stakeholder meetings by planning, organizing, and running such events. In 2014, OSCC held five stakeholder meetings: two natural gas meetings, an electric car meeting, and a hydrogen meeting. The best things I took from these meetings was seeing the different aspects of alternative fuel industries, meeting powerful industry individuals, and the confidence of knowing that I helped make the meeting happen.
I am currently working on launching a campaign for URI to commit to and promote the practice of anti-idling. Idling is when a vehicle’s engine is left running when not in motion. This is unnecessary at times for many vehicles and if idle time is reduced, cleaner air and a noticeable reduction of fuel spent will be the result. The main targets of this anti-idling campaign are the vehicles that are often left running at times when it isn’t necessary, vehicles unloading goods, ticketing cars, service vehicles, and even when picking up a friend.
We plan to install “no idling” signs around the URI campus at loading docks and in front of dorms, places where it is most likely for drivers to leave their car running when it isn’t necessary. The goal of this campaign, “the big picture”, is to improve air quality on campus, reduce amounts of fuel burned and reduce reliance on foreign fuel sources. My experiences working as an energy fellow and for Ocean State Clean Cities is priceless, I have learned so much and I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Thanks for reading!
By: Justin Venturini
Environmental & Natural Resource Economics Major
December 10th, 2014