Southeastern Effort to Promote Alternative Fuels

se-fuelsThe Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition has joined sister Clean Cities organizations in the Southeast to promote the use of alternative fuels and vehicles. The joint effort includes U.S. Department of Energy designated Clean Cities coalitions in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Drivers recognize that gas prices historically won’t stay at these lower prices for long,” said Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition. “We suggest fleets ‘bank’ their current fuel savings to invest in new advanced technology vehicles. We recognize alternative fuels have advantages that go beyond the price tag at any particular point in time.”

Bentley said alternative fuels offer fleets in the public and private sectors more stable and predictable costs, as well as lower vehicle maintenance costs. They also offer environmental advantages and economic benefits to local communities.

Bentley notes that the Southeast is a big growth market for alternative fuel vehicles. “For example, Atlanta ranks second only to San Francisco as a market for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Similarly, in 2013, Tennessee ranked ninth in the country for electric car registrations.” He adds that they expect the trend to continue in the region.

Clean Energy Investments Jump

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), clean energy investment rose for the first time in three years in 2014. New funds for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon energy technologies gained 16 percent to $310 billion last year. It was the first growth since 2011, erasing the impact of lower solar-panel prices and falling subsides in the U.S. and Europe that hurt the industry in previous years.

The study reported that clean energy benefited from a number of trends that will be difficult to replicate in 2015. For example, with China’s commitment to renewables, funding increased 32 percent. In addition, a record $19.4 billion was committed to offshore wind projects during the year.

BNEF Trends in Renewable Energy ReportThe industry benefited from a number of trends that will be challenging to replicate this year. Funding surged because of a 32 percent expansion in China’s commitment to renewables, as well as a record $19.4 billion committed to offshore wind projects that were years in the making. And prior to the major drop in gas prices, investments were on the rise for electric vehicle development.

“Healthy investment in clean energy may surprise some commentators, who have been predicting trouble for renewables as a result of the oil price collapse,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board of the London-based researcher. “Our answer is that 2014 was too early to see any noticeable effect on investment. The impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation.”

However, the BNEF, there may be trouble on the horizon for electric cars and offshore wind but even with lower oil prices, they predict installations for solar and wind power to grow about 10 percent in 2015. BNEF says the findings ease concerns that the oil price rout that began in the middle of last year would lead to a sharp reduction in funds for low-carbon energy, which is more costly than fossil fuels.

“This increase in renewable energy investment demonstrates the resilience of the sector in the face of tumbling oil prices,” said Ben Warren, head of environmental finance at the consulting firm EY. “This trend is set to continue as technology around renewables becomes more affordable. The increasing role that renewable energy plays in emerging markets will also help ensure sustainable growth for the sector.”

 

Chevy Premiers Bolt EV Concept

Chevrolet has premiered its Bolt EV concept car, a long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000. Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a 2015 Chevy Bolt EV Concept Carpillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

According to Chevy, drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” continued Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

Click here to learn more about the Bolt EV.

ChargePoint Home Debuts in the New Year

The new year has brought drivers of plug in electric vehicles (EV) a new way to charge at home. ChargePoint Home is now available and according to the company some notable features include its size as well as at its ultra-sleek, durable design – about the size of an average tablet.

ChargePoint Home“ChargePoint has spent years perfecting commercial charging stations, and with over 20,000 charging spots, we have built the largest EV charging network in the world. With our entrance into the single family home market, we are giving even more people the most advanced tools needed to confidently and conveniently drive an EV,” said ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano. “Smart homes, smart phones and smart cars. It makes sense to connect them to create a user-friendly, efficient and complete charging system at home.”

With ChargePoint Home, drivers can charge up to 25 miles per hour and easily manage the charger from their smartphone. Some of the key features include:

  • Scheduling through the ChargePoint app to minimize energy costs and work around your life
  • Remote start and stop charging
  • Set reminders to ensure you never forget to plug in
  • Different cord lengths available to fit any garage
  • Integration with your ChargePoint account to track all your charging information
  • Works with Nest Learning Thermostat

ChargePoint Home plugs into a standard 240V outlet and has a universal J1772 connector that is compatible with all cars and can be installed either indoors or outdoors. ChargePoint Home will be on the market this summer.

Wyoming Biodiesel, CNG, Electric Drivers Could Face Tax

Wyoming logoPossibly trying to prove that no good deed goes unpunished, drivers of biodiesel-, compressed natural gas-, and electric-powered vehicles in Wyoming could face a new road tax. This article from the Jackson Hole News & Guide says a tax on alternative fuels is pending in the state’s legislature.

Most Wyoming drivers pay 24 cents tax at the pump for gasoline; the alternative fuels tax would tax fuels other than gasoline the same 24 cents on an amount equivalent to a gallon of gasoline.

Taxes on gas — and those that would be collected on other energy — are earmarked to pay the cost of the state’s roads.

“There needs to be some kind of equitable way for them to contribute to the upkeep of roads and signage,” said Rep. Michael K. Madden, chairman of the Joint Revenue Interim Committee that will sponsor the bill.

The bill’s sponsor says the new tax would make things more fair.

Ironically, the Wyoming legislature is usually pretty averse to road taxes. But when you consider the amount of fossil fuels produced by the state, it’s no wonder in this case lawmakers are looking at a measure that would give Big Oil another leg up.

DOE Honors Alabama Clean Cities Leaders

Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition Executive Director Mark Bentley and President Phillip Wiedmeyer have been honored for their work in making Alabama cities cleaner places to live, work and play by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). National Clean Cities Co-Director Linda Bluestein recently inducted the pair into the Clean Cities Hall of Fame where representatives from nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions from across the country gathered for the 2014 Clean Cities Coordinator Workshop.

In 2013 alone, the Alabama coalition saved more than 3 million gallons of petroleum and averted more than 12,000 tons of greenhouse gases through the deployment of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, idle reduction and fuel economy improvements. The coalition has developed effective programs to support fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, natural B-W Alabama Clean Fuelsgas, propane, electricity and hydrogen. These accomplishments contributed to Clean Cities’ major milestone in 2013 of reducing U.S. petroleum consumption by one billion gallons in a single year for the first time ever.

“For many years, Mark and Phillip have proved themselves to be true pioneers and have made a significant impact in the deployment of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, both in their coalition area as well as nationally,” said Bluestein.

Bentley has been the executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition since 2006. Wiedmeyer has served as president for the coalition since 2002.

“It’s been our privilege over the years to promote the use of alternative fuels that are better for our environment, easier on our wallets, good for our local economy and a step toward energy independence for our country,” Bentley said. “We are delighted to be recognized for this important work.”

NRG eVgo Expands EV Charging to Atlanta

NRG eVgo has announced plans to expand its comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to Atlanta, Georgia. According to IHS Automotive, Atlanta emerged as the second major metropolitan market for EV sales, following San Francisco. Atlanta is geographically large, meaning most people commute to work, and have a need for a sustainable, reliable charging infrastructure.

NRG eVgo says its DC fast chargers are the fastest chargers available today and can charge an EV in less than 30 minutes. The charging network will be located along major roads in retail locations. The company will also be providing comprehensive EV infrastructure covering workplaces, multi-family buildings, and residences in the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

“We are pleased that NRG has chosen to expand its eVgo charging network in the City of Atlanta,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Establishing a robust fast-charging network is essential to even broader adoption of electric vehicle use, both here in Atlanta and across the country.”

NRG eVgo charging stationThis fast charging network supports eVgo’s partnership with Nissan to expand the “No Charge to Charge” program to the Atlanta market. Already in 13 markets, “No Charge to Charge” is a first-of-its-kind partnership that provides Nissan LEAF buyers with complimentary 24-month access to the eVgo network, as well as other EV charging networks, using a single EZ-Charge access card.

Arun Banskota, President of NRG eVgo said of the announcement, “Atlanta drivers have embraced cleaner, more efficient vehicles to make their city one of the fastest growing EV markets in the country. Combining Atlanta’s enthusiasm for driving electric with the range confidence of a fast charging infrastructure will create an unbeatable combination that sets the stage for further EV adoption across the metro area and country.”

New Program to Train Vets in Clean Energy

Cerritos College located in Norwalk, California has announced a new training program to certify military veterans and other applicants to meet the growing need for electrical field service technicians (EFSTs). These are the workers who help to maintain solar power and electric vehicle infrastructure.

The program is the result of a partnership among Cerritos College’s Technology Division, the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE) sector, a California Community Colleges workforce program, and True South Renewables, Inc. The five-month college certification program will teach students how to maintain and repair solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and equipment needing Cerritos Collegegeneral maintenance. Cerritos College and ATRE worked closely with True South Renewables to develop the extensive curriculum for this unique program.

“This is an important initiative to provide military personnel who were electricians in the service with training to receive certification in a high-paying, growing civilian field,” said Rue Phillips, CEO of True South Renewables based in Huntington Beach, Calif. “In addition, these graduates are needed. Few outside the solar power industry are aware of the volume of operations and maintenance work required to ensure the optimum performance of large solar fields and photovoltaic systems on commercial and residential rooftops.”

Classes start Jan. 12, 2015 at the Cerritos College campus and applications are now being accepted. Applicants must be experienced electricians with accumulated service knowledge and skills in the electronics/electrician and IT sectors. Qualified U.S. veterans are being prioritized for entry and will be able to secure financial support upon acceptance.

“We are proud to offer this program to the community, enabling qualified veterans, the unemployed and under-employed to receive training that fills a critical shortage of technicians in the trillion-dollar solar and EV markets,” added Jannet Malig, ATRE regional director based at Cerritos College. “Graduates of the program will be introduced to industry leaders with the expectation that we will achieve 99% job placement for graduating students.”

Sydney Int’l Airport Testing EV Passenger Bus

Carbridge Pty. Ltd., Australia’s leading airport ground transportation provider, has begun a six-month testing program with an Electric Bus at Sydney International Airport. BYD Company built the bus that was selected for the pilot program. The EV bus has been touted for its industry leading operational range and will be used as an airport passenger shuttle.

BYD Australia eBusDuring a launch ceremony held at Sydney International Airport, BYD Asia Pacific General Manager Liu Xueliang said, “Compared with fossil-fueled buses, BYD’s pure electric bus has zero emissions, doesn’t make noise and ensures a comfortable ride without disturbances associated with conventional buses of combustion engines. These characteristics will provide a great experience for visitors to the Airport.”

Some unique features of the bus include the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery, in-wheel hub motors and regenerative braking system. According to BYD, the iron-phosphate battery is fire-safe and non-toxic; there are no caustic materials contained in the battery, no toxic electrolytes or heavy metals and the battery can be completely recycled.

Sydney Airport plans to electrify their entire bus fleet in the coming years.

EEI Announces EV Initiatives

Earlier this week several key utility leaders met with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss more wide-spread adoption of electric vehicles. During the discussions Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn announced two electric power industry initiatives to further commercialize electric transportation technologies. The first initiative is a commitment by more than 70 investor-owned electric utilities to devote at least five percent of their annual fleet acquisition budgets to the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies. This represents an investment of approximately $50 million annually.

Chevy Volt at charging stationThe second program is a new Employee Adoption and Education Initiative to encourage its member utilities to participate in the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge and to help drive PEV adoption among utility employees. Additionally, EEI has agreed to serve as an ambassador to the Workplace Charging Challenge.

“We are pleased that the Administration recognizes the unprecedented effort and commitment by our industry to lead by example and to drive innovations in the electric transportation market,” said Kuhn. “Advancing plug-in electric vehicles and technologies is an industry priority, and we are proud to undertake our new initiative to encourage PEV adoption among our more than 500,000 employees. Through these combined efforts, we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to build on the current successes of the electric transportation market and to accelerate deployment even further.”

EEI’s initiatives are part of a broad industry effort to accelerate the adoption of PEVs and technologies by utilities. A white paper released by EEI in June titled, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” offers a road map for a long-term, coordinated effort to further spur the development of electric vehicle technologies in the transportation market. The effort is led by EEI’s Electric Transportation Task Force, which is co-chaired by Tony Earley and Portland General Electric CEO and President Jim Piro.

Fly, Fight & Win Includes Electric, Biodiesel & Ethanol

U.S. Air Force tests first all-electric vehicle fleet in CaliforniaMy Air Force brethren are known for being able to fly, fight and win, and now, they’ll be doing it using electric vehicles, biodiesel and ethanol. This news release from the U.S Air Force says the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles was unveiled at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

The rollout of the 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in the DOD’s demonstration of emerging technology and the vehicles will serve as a resource to the electrical grid when they’re not being driven.

“Everything we do to fly, fight and win requires energy, whether it’s aviation fuel for our aircraft or power to run the bases that support them,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “This vehicle-to-grid pilot is a great example of how Airmen are driving the Air Force forward and finding new and innovative ways to make every dollar count.”

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. The vehicles have the capability to direct power both to and from the electrical grid when they’re not being driven, known as vehicle-to-grid technology. Unique charging stations have been installed on Los Angeles AFB to support the vehicles’ V2G capability…

In addition to the PEV fleet in L.A., the Air Force is also investigating the benefits of other alternative fuel vehicles. More than 9,000 ethanol flex fuel vehicles are in the service’s inventory worldwide, along with 50 biodiesel fuel stations on its installations.

The Air Force plans to expand this demonstration project to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

ChargePoint Now Accepts PayPal

ChargePoint now accepts PayPal. PayPal has long supported electric vehicles (EVs) and has installed 34 ChargePoint ports at their San Jose, California, campus for employees and visitors. The company states by enabling people to pay for a charge using PayPal, they are giving their customers a faster and easier way to pay.ChargePoint-PayPal

ChargePoint stations are independently owned so businesses and individuals are free to set pricing however they prefer. Some station owners prefer to offer charging for free as an amenity or to attract visitors. Others set a price to cover costs or drive revenue. Over half of the 19,000 charging spots on the ChargePoint network are free. When there is a fee to use a station, drivers can pay with their ChargePoint account by adding their credit card. Now, drivers can also use PayPal to get a charge.

“With PayPal as a payment option, it’s even easier for drivers to plug in to a ChargePoint station,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “Combining the largest network for EV charging with a leader in digital payments means that more drivers can make the switch to electric.”

Now when asked for payment information, drivers can choose PayPal and will be directed to PayPal.com to enter their username and password. To start charging, drivers can use the ChargePoint mobile app or wave their ChargePoint card in front of the station’s card reader. The first time a driver accesses a station that requires a fee, a $25 deposit will be charged to their account and payment will be deducted from that deposit.

Sierra Club Releases EV Finder Tool

Consumers interested in electric vehicles (EVs) now have a way to do their research. A new ‘pick-a-plug‘ web tool has been released by the Sierra Club. The app asks the user a few questions about driving habits and vehicle needs, and then generates a list of Pick a Plug In AppEVs that fit the bill. Sierra Club said there is no overall best EV – the best EV for any given driver depends on how many miles a day the person drives, whether the person takes frequent long trips, whether there is a place to plug in the car, and how much money the person is prepared to spend.

“There are a lot of compelling reasons why more than a quarter million Americans have already bought EVs since they first came on the mass market a few years ago,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the Sierra Club’s Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative. “They are cool high-tech wonders, there is little or no need to ever visit a gas station, they are much cheaper to fuel -the equivalent of about $1 a gallon, and they are much better for the environment -even when considering the emissions from the electricity to charge them up.”

Today there is a $2,500-7,500 federal tax credit that comes with the purchase of an EV, and many cities and states offer additional incentives, like a purchase/lease rebate, carpool lane access, and special utility rates for EV drivers. Linked to the new ‘pick-a-plug-in’ web tool is Sierra Club’s online EV Guide where all of this information is available by zip code, as well as a tool that calculates how much carbon emissions and fueling costs the EV will save compared to the average conventional car.

Currently, less than 1 percent of U.S. households have an EV, but according to a poll conducted last year by the Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly half of American households could purchase an EV for their next car based on driving needs and access to electrical outlets or EV charging stations.

Panasonic to Install 68 EV Charging Stations

Panasonic is providing engineering, construction and procurement services to Powertree Services Inc. (Powertree) to build 68 electric vehicle charging stations at several multi-unit residential properties in San Francisco, California. The EV charging stations will be powered by solar energy a battery storage component. When complete the EV charging stations will have the ability to supply high power charging to vehicles, ancillary services provided to the utility to support the grid, solar power to tenants and supplemental power to the buildings. The stations are scheduled to be completed by Earth Day 2015.

Powertree EV charging station“Panasonic is committed to driving new technologies and collaborating with entrepreneurs to help bring about renewable energy options and a sustainable future. Our work now will pay off in terms of future economic and other benefits for building owners, and a reduction in greenhouse gases,” said Panasonic Enterprise Solutions’ Jamie Evans, Eco Solutions Managing Director.

When complete, the 68 stations will result in a total installed capacity of 6.1 megawatts of power and 2.5 megawatts of EV charging capacity. Each station is configured to support up to 70 amps or 18 kilowatts. This is roughly equivalent to 60 to 70 miles of range for every hour of charging. The exact rate of charging depends on vehicle models. The stations will be powered by on site photovoltaic panels, and can generate clean energy for building use, or have the ability to provide backup generation, in the event of a grid outage.

Stacey Reineccius, founder and CEO of Powertree, added, “Owners of multi-tenant apartment and mixed use buildings face a rising demand from tenants, drivers and new regulations that combine to require them to install, manage, upgrade electric charging facilities and support electric vehicles. With Powertree Services owners can turn this potentially burdensome situation into new value and offer attractive new amenities for their tenants even in medium to small urban properties with no capital outlay by the property owner.”

BYD Motors Debuts Largest Battery Powered EV

The world has been introduced to the largest batter powered vehicle developed by BYD Motors. The company unveiled the double barreled EV bus during the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, Texas this week. During a ceremony, attendees were invited by VP Michael Austin to, “throw off the shackles of a single-fueled system – an electric platform is ‘adaptable’ – it becomes cleaner as you do, through the use of renewable wind, water and solar renewable power generation.

60-foot BYD transit busAustin challenged the status-quo of those promoting fossil fuels as a clean alternative. “The consequences of our choices today will leave a legacy that our children will live with, both environmentally and economically, for decades into the future.”

The Lancaster eBus, a 60-foot, articulated battery-electric bus, can drive 170+ miles with a passenger load of up to 120 people. “BYD’s mission is to create safer and more environmentally-friendly battery technologies. This has resulted in the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable, and incredibly long-cycle technology — the foundation of BYD’s Electric buses,” BYD Motors Fleet Sales Vice President, Brendan Riley. “These buses run entirely off battery power lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of 2-4 hours. No additional generation capacity is needed to be built to charge our buses at night since the grid is only 40% utilized.

Also on display at the BYD Exhibit was a 40-foot, Battery-electric Transit bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authority. AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling boasted that the 40-foot bus on the Expo show floor was the only bus, “that drove over 1500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles all the way to Houston for the Expo under its own power.”

AVTA tested BYD buses in the hottest part of the Lancaster, California summer in August with full air-conditioning running and with 5250 pounds of sand bags to simulate a full passenger load. Hickling added, “We drove nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises — up to 250 miles per bus charge and we covered almost 750 miles in 24 hours! We are very impressed with BYD technology and quality. The most interesting news about this 1500 mile journey to Texas is that it was completed for $200 in electricity–the lowest cost trip to the show of all buses.”