Electric vehicles and other eco-friendly technologies showed their power during “Electrify the Island”: the Sarasota-based kickoff event for the fifth annual National Drive Electric Week, which featured local events across the nation.

It was Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s third year hosting the event on its City Island campus, and the fourth annual celebration held in Sarasota.

Mote is a world-class marine science and education institution that launched a Sustainable Energy Initiative in 2012 to enhance the Lab’s environmentally sound practices including using solar power, electric car chargers and other eco-friendly technologies and practices to conserve energy, water and other natural resources.

“Mote Marine Laboratory was pleased to host Electrify the Island to celebrate National Drive Electric Week for a third year in a row,” said Nigel Mould, Mote Trustee. “Mote launched its Sustainable Energy Initiative to enhance the Lab’s sustainable practices including installation of two free, electric vehicle charging stations located in the Aquarium’s parking lot and an array of solar panels located on the Lab’s buildings. This annual event showcases Mote’s dedication to sustainable practices, while also getting the community involved. As a nonprofit, Mote relies on the support of the community and this event is just one way to give back.”

Electrify the Island featured a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) expo, ride-and-drive sessions that allowed visitors to test some of the sleekest EVs around including cars from BMW of Sarasota and Sunset Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, along with vendors focused on sustainability and energy efficiency and educational booths provided by Andrews & Associates Realty, Inc., Freedom 4 Electric Bike Company; Region Solar, Sarasota County, City of Sarasota and others.

“This year, we had an incredible response from the community and we thank everyone for their support,” said Chris Sharek, Co-Chair of Electrify the Island and President of Sharek Solutions. “The importance of this year’s event was to showcase the diversity that is now available to the public. There are currently 18 different electric vehicles to choose from, each with their own advantages. Driving electric is fun, but it is also environmentally important. A fully-electric vehicle means no gasoline, no oil, and an incredibly sustainable use of energy.”

BMW of Sarasota displayed the BMW i8, the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car. Guests were welcome to speak to BMW of Sarasota representatives about the efficiency and dynamics of the BMW i8.

The event featured two free, public forums. A panel discussion titled “EV 101” allowed EV owners, representatives from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and the public to discuss EV essentials. A forum about multi-unit dwellings allowed guests to discuss challenges faced by condo residents who own EVs. At a special ceremony, city and county officials, including Commission Chair Carolyn Mason from Sarasota County and Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell from the City of Sarasota, read proclamations honoring Electrify the Island and National Drive Electric Week.

“If people need a place to learn about electric vehicles, events like this are perfect,” said Patrick Gannon, Co-Chair of Electrify the Island and President of Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association. “Local EV owners are enthusiastic to share their knowledge and the forums bring experts to the community and create much needed conversation about the importance of driving electric. We also hope that the event sparks discussion well after the event.”

If you couldn’t attend Electrify the Island, consider dropping by Mote on another Saturday this month: Mote’s admission is reduced to $6 for Florida residents every Saturday in September 2015.

The 2015 Electrify the Island was made possible by the following sponsors: Florida Power & Light Company; BMW of Sarasota; Brilliant Harvest, LLC; Sunset Chevrolet, Buick, GMC; Gettel Nissan; Sarasota Ford; Apollo Sunguard Systems, Inc.; and Willis A. Smith Construction.