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Electric car documentary filmmaker to speak Aug. 9 at UD

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    Chris Paine

    Chris Paine, who wrote and directed the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” will talk about the life and death of the electric car at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, at Clayton Hall, off New London Road, on the University of Delaware's Newark campus. The lecture is the centerpiece of a free public event that kicks off Energy and Sustainability 2009, a student-run conference to be held from Aug. 9-12.

    Paine was motivated to produce the documentary when the EV1 electric car he was leasing from GM was suddenly repossessed and destroyed. When Paine began talking with other EV1 lessees, he discovered that the entire fleet was meeting the same fate. GM had no explanation for the destruction and no apparent plans to replace the EV1 with another alternative-fuel vehicle.

    Paine mined the media for coverage of this strange phenomenon, and, when he came up blank, he decided to do some sleuthing of his own. The resulting documentary, set as a “who-done-it” and narrated by Martin Sheen, features interviews with celebrities who drove the electric car, such as Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks. It also includes commentary from some of the engineers and technicians who led the development of modern electric vehicles and related technologies.

    The film was nominated for several awards, including a Best Documentary Screenplay award from the Writer's Guild of America and a Best Documentary Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

    Paine studied film at New York University and acting at New York's Playhouse Theater and then went on to graduate from Colgate University in 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he was both an entrepreneur and a political activist. Since 2000, he has written and produced several documentaries.

    Energy and Sustainability 2009 is co-hosted by the Solar Hydrogen IGERT program and the University of Delaware Energy Institute. The open session on Sunday, Aug. 9, is aimed at opening channels of communication and awareness about energy and sustainability.

    The remaining three days of the program will include technical talks, poster presentations, networking sessions, and guest speakers. Talks by experts will address a broad range of topics, including climate change and public policy, green architecture and urban planning, the economics of climate change, solar fuels and materials, and photovoltaics for the 21st century.

    The panel disussions, which are free and open to the public, will be held on Monday and Wednesday, Aug. 10 and 12. On Aug. 10, the panel discussion will be held from 12:30-2pm in Room 101A Clayton. The panelists include the following people:

    • Liz Robinson - Head of Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia
    • Scott Hennessey SEIA representative
    • Katy Wilner - GE Energy
    • Andy Meserve - GE Energy

    On Wednesday, Aug. 12, the panel discussion will be held from 9-10.30 a.m. in Room 101A and the panelists include the following people:

    • Senator Harris McDowell
    • Representative Pamela Thornburg
    • Bill Andrew - President of Delmarva Power
    • Cary Stockbridge - CEO of Delaware Electric Cooperative

    For more information about Paine's talk or the conference, contact Mo Bremner, IGERT Program Coordinator, at (302) 831-8830 or [mbremner@ee.udel.edu].