By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The city and AAW Infrastructure Partners, L3C, celebrated their partnership to fund electric vehicles for the city with a kickoff ceremony Aug. 7.
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. supports the innovative EV-Mobility and Economic Stimulus Program, designed to give Dearborn the means to purchase electric vehicles and charging stations in the future, according to a city press release.
AAW is a low profit, limited liability corporation, arranged as a social enterprise to raise money for community projects, as well as, match funding for grant opportunities, according to its website.
The EV-Mobility Program donates funding for the purchase and installation of LED Lighting and EV charging stations, as well as funding to offset the cost of electric vehicles over internal combustion engine vehicles, at no cost to cities.
“We utilize a city-supported, digital marketing platform featuring mobile AAWCouPons and AAW Advergaming as the means of raising donated funding,” its website read. “Importantly, this ‘democratized’ digital advertising product is designed to support ‘main-street America’ and is affordable for even the smallest local business or startup.”
Funds for the program are generated when customers visit participating sponsors and make a purchase, with a percentage going to city infrastructure needs. Match funding is provided by the AAW for infrastructure improvements along with county, state or federal grants. Upgrades for LED lighting and electric vehicle charging stations are then made saving operating costs.
In return, sponsors who participate through digital AW CouPons receive an increase in business.
The 50 sponsors in Dearborn supporting the program include ACCESS, Brome Modern Eatery, Dearborn Family Pet Care, Jan Door, Kearns Brothers, Lebon Sweets, La Pita, Henry Ford Health System, and Park Place Catering.
During the Aug. 7 ceremony, AAW CEO and Founder Tom Wither thanked the local sponsors for their participation in the program.
“It’s a very exciting, new aspect of digital marketing which has enormous potential,” he said. “The 50 supporters we have right now is from a total of 12,000 businesses in Dearborn alone so we’ve got a ways to go.”
The advertising-sponsorship arrangements made with local businesses, organizations and individuals generates funds which are applied to energy-efficient projects that save money for the cities and in return, AAW promotes the businesses to encourage sales or customer traffic.
According to the city’s press release, “AAW representatives encourage advertisers-sponsors to take advantage of free energy assessments from DTE Energy to help them reduce their energy costs and save money.”
Wither said the partnership wouldn’t be possible without having relationships with O’Reilly and Dearborn Sustainability Coordinator David Norwood.
“We think we’re really spot on with this program here and we’ve had success in the past with other projects … always green and always clean,” Wither said. “With this here, what we’re doing is helping, starting with Dearborn to electrify the fleet vehicles.”
The city is embarking on the partnership with AAW because it follows a similar successful model AAW previously administered, one which resulted in the installation of energy-efficient lighting and EV charging stations in Dearborn parking lots and structures, as stated in the city’s release.
“This innovative program is structured to provide us the money to buy electric vehicles, which cost more than traditional gas-powered vehicles,” O’Reilly said in February. “The funds we receive from the program will mean that we can promote energy-efficiency in our fleet, but without any additional cost to our taxpayers. It is in line with our commitment to sustainability.”
According to the AAW media release, in the EV-Mobility and Economic Stimulus Program is a component to generate money that could eventually be used for a transportation program helping mobility-challenged residents. Senior citizens and veterans are two of the groups that could receive transportation to medical appointments and other necessary errands.
“In the long run, we should save money operating electric vehicles, and that money can be added to AAW program donations to subsidize mobility on demand rides,” O’Reilly said.
The first 2020 Ford Hybrid SUV Interceptor for the Police Department was parked outside of the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave., during the ceremony.
According to a Ford Motor Co. press release in January the “all-new 2020 Police Interceptor Utility, with standard hybrid all-wheel-drive powertrain, will save police agencies and taxpayers as much as $5,700 per vehicle annually in fuel costs — computed using fuel costs of $2.75 to $4.50 per gallon — over current Police Interceptor Utility equipped with 3.7-liter gas engine.
According to the AAW media release, the Dearborn ceremony also launched a “statewide campaign to provide Michigan cities with a new way to support their local businesses; the ability to purchase EVs at the same price as gas-fueled vehicles; ‘no-cost’ EV charging stations; a means of carbon-neutral EV charging; and a plan of action to use fuel savings of fleet EVs to in the future ‘painlessly’, subsidize rides for transit-challenged residents ‘without raising taxes or increasing utility rates.’”
For information on the digital coupons supporting the program go to aawcoupons.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)