I established Tucson Plugs In (TPI) as a name for the first National Plug In Day (NPID) held in Tucson, Arizona, in October of 2011. These NPID electric vehicle awareness events were staged in about 40 cities across the US that first year, and the handfuls of us involved at the local levels were encouraged to brand our activities with regionally-identifiable monikers. Thus, TPI was the name I used again in 2012 and 2013 for subsequent NPID Tucson gatherings, which were now being produced locally under the organizational umbrella of the Tucson Electric Vehicle Association (TEVA) and with technical assistance coming at the time from the Pima Association of Governments' Clean Cities Program.
The TPI name laid dormant for several years following this initial activity, while EV outreach generally grew and began to fill TEVA's social events calendar year round. But the name was eventually dusted off again by mid 2018. This time, Tucson Plugs In would describe a free-standing and ongoing organizational entity, established with the expressed mission of continuing to promote EV adoption in southern Arizona, along with an increased emphasis on renewable energy awareness, especially solar.
The public unveiling of Tucson Plugs In occurred in October 2018, with my dogged i-MiEV being displayed at Tucson Meet Yourself in the historic downtown. There were also two memorable visits to Biosphere 2 in Oracle, one that December and another the following spring. But the largest public showing by far was in March 2019, when a trio of EVs were the first ever to be displayed in Science City at the Tucson Festival of Books under the Tucson Plugs In banner.
The COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the idea of bringing EVs to the public eye for what ended up being several years. This was a time of national networking on Zoom conferences and a refining of the idea that it wouldn't be just our cars that would have to ween themselves off fossil fuel to effectively combat climate change. It was everything in our houses . . . our kitchen stoves, hot water heaters and HVAC systems. The aspirational Green New Deal of 2018 would become far more detailed energy policy proposals advanced by progressive presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The phrases "Electrify Everything" and "Climate Justice" gained currency during this period with nationally-based advocacy groups, and we witnessed historic clean energy legislation signed into law in 2022.
It's an exciting time to be involved in this sort of advocacy. But there's a lot of work still to be done and Tucson Plug In will be very active in 2023. I encourage all reading this to check back here soon to see where we'll be and what we'll be doing moving forward.