MyEnergi Lifestyle Initiative Launched

A new initiative, MyEnergi Lifestyle, has been launched to demonstrate how a typical American family can significantly reduce their electricity bills and carbon dioxide footprint. The campaign is a collaboration between Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool and combines energy efficiency tips with plug-in vehicle technology. Specifically, MyEnergi Lifestyle showcases how combining renewable energy generation with “time-flexible” loads optimizes energy consumption across a plug-in vehicle and home appliances.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY MYENERGIMy a home incorporates MyEnergi Lifestyle, A computer model developed by Georgia Institute of Technology predicts a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and savings of more than 9,000 kg of CO2 (55 percent reduction) from a single home. The new program is being featured during the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas this week.

“More than ever, cars are sharing the same energy source as the home,” said Mike Tinskey, global director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Ford Motor Company. “The time is right for the home appliance and transportation sectors to converge if we are going to tackle a myriad of sustainability challenges in a rapidly changing world.”

According to Warwick Stirling, global director for energy and sustainability for the Whirlpool Corporation, the average American home uses more than 11,000 kWh of electricity per year. However, he said, recent technologies can help a family use energy smarter and more efficiently.

“SunPower is offering Ford plug-in vehicle owners the world’s most efficient solar power systems to ensure they maximize emission-free power generation for use at home and for their vehicles,” said Ken Fong, SunPower general manager, Americas. “SunPower systems offer the industry’s best warranty, so homeowners can count on 25 years or more of clean power to support their sustainability goals and generate significant annual savings on their electricity bills.”

Joanne Edwards, added, that as innovation in home electrical technology advances, so does the need for safe, reliable power distribution. She is the vice president and general manager of Eaton’s residential division and notes that giving homeowners the tools to tap into distributed power in their homes allows them to modify their behavior and reduce energy consumption.

San Diego Zoo Goes Solar

The San Diego Zoo has gone solar. It’s Solar-to-EV-project, in partnership with Smart City San Diego, is run by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGR&E). The solar system is comprised of Kyocera Solar photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. All Kyocera solar panels used in this project were manufactured in the U.S. at the company’s San Diego facility.

“Kyocera is celebrating 41 years in San Diego, and 37 years as a leader in solar energy solutions,” said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. “We’re proud to work with other San Diego companies that are equally committed to making sustainable energy a reality, especially at one of the most well-known landmarks in the country.”

Ten solar canopies, designed and installed by Independent Energy Solutions (IES), produce 90 kilowatts (kW) of energy, or enough to power 59 homes, as well as five EV charging stations, including one in a nearby ADA-accessible parking space.

One feature of this system, that varies from most currently operating systems, is that while electric vehicles (EVs) are being charged in the Zoo’s parking lot by the solar power, and then the remaining solar energy goes to the electrical grid, a high-tech battery system stores solar power for future use. Today, most solar systems do not have the ability to store energy for later use.

Using lithium-polymer battery technology, its 100-kW energy storage system is charged by the solar canopies to offset demand on the electrical grid and recharge EVs after sunset. When the battery is full, excess energy generated from sunlight is put into the grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community. The solar canopies also provide shade to approximately 50 cars in the Zoo’s southeast parking area.

Linda Strand, president and CEO of IES added, “This project showcases how energy storage, electric vehicle charging and solar energy can be successfully integrated, providing benefits to the public while remaining environmentally sound.”

New EV Charging Station App

ChargePoint has launched a new free electric vehicle (EV) charging station mobile app for all iPhone and Android smart phones. The app features a redesigned look and features all EV charging stations installed in the U.S. The user can browse information about the stations including distance and the cost to charge.

“ChargePoint is the world’s largest electric vehicle global charging network,” said Pat Romano, president and CEO of ChargePoint. “One feature EV drivers have requested is the ability to navigate, access and charge at any electric vehicle charging station, not just those on the ChargePoint network. With more than ten thousand EV charging spots on the ChargePoint network and thousands more out of the network this is the easiest way to find any EV charging station anywhere in North America.”

The EV charging station mobile app also gives drivers real-time charging station status, detailed station information including pricing and the ability to view your home charging station. EV drivers can make EV charging station reservations, payments and find location information as well.

Smith Electric Opens Facility in Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles have announced that Smith will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago, creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. The company’s decision to locate a facility in the windy city was influenced by the Mayor’s voucher system created to accelerate the conversion from diesel to zero-emission, all-electric commercial fleet vehicles. In addition, the city, with a growing battery and electric vehicle industry, also offers some development incentive for Smith. Chicago will be Smith’s third location in the United States, joining their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City.

“I’m proud to welcome another growing company with a great mission to Chicago. Soon hundreds of Chicagoans will be able to put their skills to use providing businesses worldwide with high-quality, zero-emission, American-made vehicles,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Smith Electric Vehicles is an innovative company in a forward-looking, essential industry that is a central part of Chicago’s economic future.”

Smith is  a leading manufacturer of all-electric commercial vehicles, which are considered zero-emission and less expensive to own and operate when compared with traditional diesel trucks. The company produces trucks for multiple industries, including food & beverage, utility, telecommunications, retail, grocery, parcel and postal delivery, school transportation, military, and government. Smith’s customers include many of the world’s largest fleet operators, including PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the U.S. Military.

During the press event, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced a $15 million incentive program to encourage companies to convert their fleets to electric vehicles. Believed to be the first of its kind, the plan rewards fleets on an increasing scale for converting to EVs. The incentives will be in the form of vouchers to assist with conversion costs. Chicago is also considering additional incentives such as preferential loading jobs and decreased registration costs.

“A mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption,” noted Smith CEO Bryan Hansel. “Chicago’s location, commitment to adoption in municipal fleets, concentration of commercial vehicles, talented workforce and importance to the global business community make it a perfect choice to grow our company and this industry.  The leadership being shown with the mayor’s CDOT voucher program is a prime example of how Chicago is creating the template for a new energy city.”

DoShort Review – Sustainable Transport Fuels

What do you do when you’ve got a frustrating case of insomnia? You read books about energy. Okay, maybe not something you would do but it always keeps me good and entertained. Last night I read the DoShort, “Sustainable Transport Fuels Business Brief,” by David Thorpe in less than two hours. That is part of the sell – learn about a topic in 90 minutes or less. This is a brillant concept lads.

So what did I learn? I got a briefing on research, development and deployment of sustainable fuels around the world. The DoShort kicked off with a brief overview of the history of transportation fuels, relevant legislation, and the role of emissions reduction in determining the sustainable viability of a future fuel.

Next were a series of briefs on various types of fuels beginning with biofuels. The discussion included current technologies and technologies to watch, feedstocks, infrastructure, partnerships, pros and cons and opportunities and challenges. This same type of format was used in the brief sections about electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, fuel cells, and a fuel I’d never heard of called hydrazine hydrate. There is even a concept car developed by Daihatsu. Who knew?

Much of the brief was focused on biofuels, since today they are the primary source of alternative fuels for the transportation sector (when specifically discussing fleets, the leading fuel is propane autogas). Here was an interesting tidbit I picked up: according to the IEA Bioenergy Implementing Agreement there are at least 67 local, regional or global initiatives to develop sustainability criteria and standards for biofuels.  (And if you’ve been reading this blog for the past six years you notice that biofuels, and currently the Renewable Fuels Standard, are constantly under attack). The most significant initiatives are: The Global Bioenergy Partnership, The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, International Organization for Standardization, and the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification System.

While I have encyclopedic volumes of energy info stuck in my head, I got most of it reading many good, but dense books that took hours. What I’ve also known is that most people don’t have the time, nor interest, in reading all of these books. That’s why I do it for you and why I now consider these DoShorts such a winner – the reader of “Sustainable Transport Fuels Business Brief ” can sit down at a meeting and can impress the boss with a working knowledge of transportation fuels, in 90 minutes or less.

DOE Announces Alt Energy Vehicle Grants

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced 20 new projects to help states and local governments develop infrastructure, training, and regional planning needed to help accelerate the adoption of alternative fuel cars and trucks. These alternative vehicles can run on “fuels” such as natural gas, electricity and propane. In total, the DOE has awarded nearly $11 million.

“Building a clean and secure U.S. transportation system that leverages our domestic energy sources will give American families, businesses, and communities more options and reduce fueling costs,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a press statement. “At the same time, these projects will help lead the way to further reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and protecting our nation’s air and water.”

Through the DOE’s Clean Cities initiative, projects will address a range of community infrastructure and training needs, such as providing safety and technical training for fleet operators, mechanics, first responders, and code officials; streamlining permitting and procurement processes; and helping public and private fleets integrate petroleum reduction strategies into their operations.

For example, the American Lung Association in Minnesota, based in St. Paul, Minnesota was awarded $248,788. The funds will be used for The Accelerating Alternatives for Minnesota Drivers project, that will provide safety and technical assistance and training related to Plug-in Vehicle (PEV) and natural gas fueling infrastructure; establish the Minnesota Natural Gas Vehicle Workgroup and create a strategic plan for statewide natural gas vehicle implementation; establish a Minnesota green fleet recognition program; and create the DriveElectricMN.org website as an online resource for electric vehicle (EV) users (and potential EV users) in Minnesota.

Click here for a full list of Clean Cities Coalitions that were awarded funds.

GE Purchasing 2,000 C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrids

General Electric (GE) is purchasing 2,000 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids as part of its commitment to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. The purchase ups GE’s alternative vehicle fleet to 5,000 in its goal of 25,000 vehicles. The EPA has rated C-MAX Energi with a 108 miles per gallon city rating and 620 mile single tank range. In addition to the purchase, Ford, who manufactures the electric vehicles (EVs), will promote GE’s WattStation charging station and CNG in a Box, natural gas fueling station with commercial buyers.

“Ford is launching six new electrified vehicles – a big bet that fuel prices will continue rising and lead to more demand for advanced fuel-efficient vehicles,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “We are pleased to partner with GE, a company that is charting a similar course, to promote advanced technology and energy savings.”

The two companies will also work with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study GE employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance. Researchers will use Ford’s MyFord Mobile app – with real-time battery charge status and value charging that automatically recharges at lower-cost, off-peak electricity rates.

Mark Vachon, vice president of ecomagination at GE, said “At GE, we are focused on providing our customers and our fleet with more economically and environmentally efficient vehicles. The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a great addition to our expanding fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.”

According to Professor Bert Bras of Georgia Tech, understanding driving and charging habits are key to advancing vehicle charging infrastructure. He said the acceleration of research and development of new technologies will help to improve efficiency  driver satisfaction and environmental benefits. The findings of the study will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights and help foster continued adoption of EVs into fleets.

Plug-In Vehicle Owners Group Launches in St. Paul

A new Plug-In Vehicle Owners Group has come together geared towards Minnesota owners of electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrids. During the first meeting, owners came together at the American Lung Association in Minnesota headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota to share experiences, ideas and learn more about electric-technology transportation.

More than two dozen plug-in pioneers shared their experiences and heard an overview on the latest developments in plug-in vehicles. The meeting, which included a look at the new Telsa Model S all-electric sedan (Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year) was recognized as a National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey. Odyssey is supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, through a grant for the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program.

The Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners Circle, will meet every other month and EV enthusiasts are encouraged to join. Visit their website for information.

LCFS Would Benefit Minnesota

According to a recent study from Political Economy Research Institute, a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in Minnesota would have a positive environmental and economic impact. The paper, “The Employment Impacts of a Low- Carbon Fuel Standard for Minnesota,” studied the employment impacts of three different scenarios both to 2021 and further to 2035. In each situation, employment is measured on the number of jobs that could be created in construction and manufacturing (CM) as the transportation infrastructure expands, as well as the number of jobs that would be created in harvesting, transportation, and production (HTP).

In each scenario, employment increases, the least in Scenario 1 and the most in Scenario 3:

  • Scenario 1: assume no change to the distribution of transportation fuel consumption.
  • Scenario 2: assume that the fuel mix will change in response to a national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2)
  • Scenario 3: outlines a more agressive change in the fuel mix in response to instituting a statewide Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

In addition to employment impacts, the study also looks at strategies within the ethanol industry to lower carbon intensity. These include: using renewable energy in place of fossil fuels; increasing the use of flex-fuel vehicles (Minnesota has the largest number of E85 pumps in the country); increasing the blend wall for low level ethanol blends; and increasing production of cellulosic ethanol. The study also looks at increasing the use of biodiesel blends (from B2 to B20) and increasing the number of electric vehicles (EV).

The key findings: Continue reading

EV Connect Launches EV Dealer Program

In anticipation of the growing electric vehicle market – nearly 29 different EV models will be launched and hit the lots next year – EV Connect is launching its new Dealer EV program. The goal is to make EV sales easier by helping car dealerships learn to overcome consumer concerns about owning an EV vehicle. The company has also added a dedicated Dealer Liaison Team to boost communication and build stronger relationships between EV Connect and dealerships.

“Unlike traditional vehicle sales, EV sales force car dealerships to learn a new language centered on the electric drive train, batteries, kilowatts, amps, volts, and how they affect the daily life of an EV owner. In addition, the single most frequent sales objection from potential EV buyers is regarding how they will charge their vehicle” said Jordan Ramer, CEO, EV Connect. “Dealer EV is a program through which dealers can refer EV buyers to EV Connect for charge station education, deployment solutions and management services. EV Connect will do the rest of the heavy-lifting.”

EV Connect currently manages thousands of EV charging stations across the country. As part of this program, they work with EV drivers to ensure they get the information and charge station location information they need.

Blink Charges Surpasses 1 Million EV Charges

ECOtality has hit a first for the country: it has surpassed one million electric vehicle (EV) residential charge events on its Blink Charges. The company says it is the first in the industry to reach this milestone. At the end of June 2012, the company had 800,000 charge events.

This is not the only milestone the company recently achieved. It has also recorded 40 million miles of driver data records and analyzed that 1.70 million gallons of gas has been saved. Data collected through the EV Project, of which ECOtality is the project manager, is presented on a quarterly basis.

“Through the data recorded on Blink chargers for The EV Project, we have clearly demonstrated the viability of this marketplace and continued growth of EV’s across the nation,” said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality, Inc. “Recording more than 1 million charge events is not only an iconic milestone for ECOtality, The EV Project and the industry, but is also proof that EVs are here to stay.”

Nissan Leaf Gets Top Rating

The 100 percent electric vehicle (EV) Nissan LEAF has scored a top rating on TotalCarScore.com as the number one car for commuting. The website scores vehicles based on evaluations from sources such as Consumer Guide, Edmunds.com, MSN Autos, The Car Connection and more. The “10 Best Cars for Commuting” was determined by the vehicle’s total car score combined with its fuel efficiency rating in city-driving conditions.

“What we like about this list is that it truly measures the LEAF in the way it was intended—as a zero-emissions car with no-compromise performance,” said Brendan Jones, director, Electric Vehicle Marketing and Sales Strategy. “Our data shows that Nissan LEAF owners drive an average of 31 miles per day, which makes it a perfect choice to meet the daily driving needs of most Americans.”

The Nissan LEAF uses no gas yet still offers a number of great features including heated front and rear seats, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, Automatic on-off LED Headlights, Navigation system, CARWINGS telematics service, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System and XM® Satellite Radio. Not enough? Drivers can add additional features including a Level 3 480V quick charge port, fog lights, photovoltaic solar panel rear spoiler (shown in photo) and RearView Camera Monitor.

Alt Energy Vehicle Roadshow Hits Florida

The Alternative Fueled Vehicle Roadshow is driving into Florida. Sponsored by Clean Cities North Florida, Clean Cities Gold Coast, Clean Cities Tampa Bay and Clean Cities Central Florida, the eight city tour begins on September 18, 2012 and ends on September 27, 2012. During the event, attendees will learn about options for fueling vehicles with alternative transportation fuels rather than traditional gasoline or diesel. They will also learn about the economic and sustainable benefits of alternative fuels.

Each three hour event is free and will also showcase options for fleet managers and municipalities to save money when powering their vehicles with fuels such as biofuels, propane, natural gas and electricity. Several vehicles on site will be a hybrid Chevy Volt, bi-fuel Ford Fusion, propane-fueled truck, a compressed natural gas (CNG) school bus, and an all electric Nissan Leaf are only a few of the vehicles being showcased.

Following the showcase, attendees can participate in a two hour roundtable presentation featuring 10 speakers who will cover the technologies more in depth. Several Florida state officials will be participating in various events as well as individuals from the Florida Public Service Commission, Florida Department of Agriculture and the Consumer Services’ Office of energy.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required. Click here to get a list of tour locations.

Kohl’s Expands EV Charging Station Initiative

Kohl’s is expanding its electric vehicle (EV) charging station initiative with 36 new stations across 18 different locations in the U.S. Once the additional EV stations are complete this fall, the company will have 101 charging stations at 52 Kohl’s locations across 14 states. Customers are able to charge up at no cost while they shop.

“Since Kohl’s EV charging station initiative began in December 2011, it has received extremely positive feedback from our customers who are excited about the added convenience,” said John Worthington, Kohl’s chief administrative officer. “From our solar program to our green building efforts, Kohl’s has been pleased to be able to grow sustainability programs that make sense for our business, customers and communities – and our EV program is one more great example.”

The program is a partnership between Kohl’s, Duke Energy, ChargePoint, and ECOtality. In Indiana, the company worked with Duke Energy to install six charging stations as part of Indiana’s Project Plug-IN. The company has expanded its partnership with ECOtality to install 30 EV charging stations at 15 Kohl’s in Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.

Drivers can activate the charging stations in several ways including radio frequency identification (RFID) cards available at Kohl’s customer service desk or via phone numbers provided on the charging stations.

PlugShare Surpasses 100,000 EV Users

Drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) have several options for finding public and private locations to charge up. PlugShare, a mobile and web application developed by Xatori, has grown its nationwide charging network to more than 100,000 users and 11,000 charging stations across the U.S. When the application was first launched, there were only 500 charging stations included.

The mobile app does more than just tell an EV driver where the closet, available charging station is located. It is also a source of information that details EV behavior. Along with a new app GreenCharge, the information is now giving unique insights into nationwide adoption of electric vehicles. For example, the average user drives 1,050 miles per month and spends around $30 dollars in charging costs. EV drivers save around $75 per month in fuel costs and 360 lbs of CO2 emissions.

The data has determined the Top 10 EV-ready cities in North America:

1. Portland
2. Dallas
3. Nashville
4. San Francisco Bay Area
5. Seattle
6. Orlando
7. Austin
8. Tucson
9. Honolulu
10. Washington D.C. Area

“PlugShare’s success is largely thanks to the EV community at large, and we’re committed to helping provide new products and services that help engage with them,” said Xatori Founder and CEO Forrest North. “With the information we gather on charging stations and driving behaviors, we hope to inform the EV industry to continue to develop solutions that support and further the shift to electric vehicles.”