Corporate Responsibility

Kimco joins California’s Drive the Dream initiative to strengthen corporate responsibility commitment

Posted by: David Jamieson David Jamieson
on October 1, 2013

Kimco joined 40 organizations two weeks ago at the Drive the Dream event hosted by the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative in San Francisco. Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown led a round-table meeting with some 50 business leaders, including myself, who shared their corporate commitments to social responsibility, and specifically, their pledges to support the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market. Kimco was invited to attend the event to discuss the role we’re playing in building California’s PEV market, and talk about ideas for accelerating our collective efforts with public and private sectors.

Drive the Dream organizations

PLUGGED INTO COLLABORATION: Some 40 organizations committed to supporting California’s plug-in electric vehicle market

From where we sit, supporting California’s PEV initiatives plays well with our goals to operate in environmentally mindful ways and build value for shareholders and retailers. Our PEV efforts this year will include installing NRG eVgo Freedom Stations at seven Kimco shopping centers in California, which we blogged about earlier this month.

We see PEV charging stations as an amenity that will attract a growing amount of new foot traffic to the centers. The stations also let us continue our commitment to enhancing the sustainability of our centers, while also supporting state and national energy programs.

I brought this to light during our round table, which included organizations as diverse as Google, Walgreens, Coca-Cola, SAP, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Pacific Gas & Electric, and The American Lung Association. Also at the event were 16 new plug-in hybrid and electric cars from eight automakers, including BMW, Tesla, Toyota, Honda, GM, and others.

Kimco was among just two landlords in attendance, which highlights the leadership role we are building in corporate social responsibility within the retail real estate industry. We are involved in energy programs because we want to be where the rubber meets the road — defining and implementing corporate responsibility initiatives that drive long-term growth and value creation within the industry.

In fact, this very topic was brought up during the round table. Our conversation turned to the challenges we’ve all been experiencing in our sustainability efforts. One challenge mentioned was that landlords need to be greater participants in PEV initiatives.

Drive the Dream PEVs

INNOVATION ENGINES: Automakers showcased their hybrid and electric cars at the Drive the Dream event

I acknowledged the concern and explained Kimco’s perspective. Since our core business is real estate, the economic model for having EV charging stations at our centers wasn’t strong enough initially. However, we have since found a partner in NRG eVgo that has satisfied our growth and value expectations, and complemented our business strengths.

I also explained that part of our strategic approach has been to defer the obligation to maintain, manage, promote, and control the charging systems to the experts, and in this case, eVgo. This model has made economic and operational sense. If there were other incentives in the market, our approach could change. We have 100 centers in California, so I mentioned there is room to expand charging station infrastructure through continued partnerships and as makes fiscal sense.

Other major topics we covered at the round table were new technology concepts, the opportunities they can provide, and how we can implement these technologies to build the PEV market. One interesting technology was shared by Qualcomm, which is developing what it is calling Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging technology that lets consumer wirelessly charge their electric vehicles at home.

Gov. Brown also made a big announcement, stating that he intends to sign two new bills supporting electric vehicles in California. One is AB 8, which will provide $2 billion in funding to extend rebates for electric vehicles through 2023. The other is SB 359, which earmarks $30 million to fund several state programs that promote low-emissions vehicles, including the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.

These bills, the Drive the Dream event, and other energy initiatives continue to cement California as the national leader in creating a cleaner environment. We’ve now developed a viable way to tap this market as a source of growth and value for shareholders and retailers, and will continue to strengthen our corporate responsibility efforts in other innovative ways.

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