SMART Adds Propane AutoGas

SMART has added 61 new Connector paratransit propane autogas fuel system buses. This, says SMART, makes them the second largest propane autogas powered paratransit fleet in Michigan and one of the top five largest in the country.

“SMART is committed to responsibly and eco-consciously serving the communities in southeast Michigan. By using domestically produced propane we help support local jobs and our economy,” said John C. Hertel, IMG_4653general manager. “In addition, using the autogas technology will improve our operations, lower costs and preserve the environment in which we work, live and play.”

SMART says the propane autogas investment will reduce emissions, save money, and extend the life of the vehicles. The total fuel and maintenance savings is projected to be $1.1 – $1.7 million over the lifetime of the fleet with a return on investment of less than four months. In addition, SMART says the cost of building on-site refueling stations at each of its three terminals was determined to be less expensive than other refueling station options. The vehicles and propane stations are grant funded.

“Residents in Southeast Michigan are breathing easier due to SMART’s decision to fuel paratransit buses with propane autogas,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, whose company did the propane autogas conversions. “Plus, this abundant alternative transportation fuel means reduced operating and ownership costs for the transit agency.”

Delivery of all 61 SMART Connector autogas vehicles has been on-going since February and to date 14 vehicles have been placed into service. The full fleet is expected to be in service by the end of July.

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Advanced Disposal Opens Gas-to-Energy Plant

Advanced Disposal has opened the doors to a new gas-to-energy plant built on behalf of the Sarasota County, Florida landfill. To celebrate, elected officials, media and community members toured the landfill and facility including the new gas-to-energy plant built by Aria Energy Company. The plant is comprised of three engines that can produce as much as 4.8 MW of electricity. Gas produced by the landfill is converted by the plant’s generators. The power created at the facility, operated by Advanced Disposal, produces energy that will be sold around the state of Florida.

Sarasota County Landfill Tour“This is a really great opportunity for the county, as well as for Aria Energy, to take a resource that would otherwise be burned away into the atmosphere and use it to create something that is usable by the community,” said Sarasota County Public Utilities Solid Waste Engineer Jason Timmons.

Guests were also invited to participate in landfill facility tours. The company said in a news release this allowed consumers to better understand where the methane is created to power the generators.

Advanced Disposal General Manager Tim Ferris provided the landfill tours and answered guests’ questions. “This is an exciting time for Sarasota County Landfill,” said Ferris. “While we are not operating the new gas-to-energy facility, we are proud to operate the landfill that produces the gas, which in turn will provide energy to not only the local community, but also across the state.”

ampCNG’s CNG as Truck Fleet Surpasses 30M Miles

ampCNG’s compressed natural gas (CNG) long-haul truck fleet has surpassed 30 million miles. The Class 8 CNG trucks achieved a fuel efficiency of 6.17 miles per diesel equivalent gallon. The company says with this achievement, they have demonstrated the commercial and operational viability of CNG as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks. ampCNG’s primary business is developing, owning, and operating public access CNG fueling stations built for the heavy-duty trucking industry. ampCNG currently owns and operates 21 CNG stations nationwide (19 of which are part of amp Trillium, ampCNG’s joint venture with Trillium CNG) and has plans to open several more this year.

RDF Kenworth PhotoGrant Zimmerman, Senior Vice President of Business Development at ampCNG, said of the milestone, “We are proud that our fleet has now run 30 million miles on CNG and we will be putting our operations experience to good use. We look forward to continuing to share our proven CNG operating experience to help more trucking fleets safely reduce and stabilize their fuel costs by converting to CNG.”

The 42-truck fleet is leased by Renewable Dairy Fuels, a subsidiary of ampCNG, and operated by Ruan. The fleet carries raw milk from Fair Oaks Farms to processing facilities in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana. Since deploying the CNG trucks in 2011, ampCNG has displaced approximately 4.6 million gallons of diesel and eliminated approximately 7,100 tons of CO2.

Zimmerman added, “We don’t want to be in the trucking business, but we felt it was important to put these trucks on the road to prove that CNG works for the Class 8 market. Along the way, we reduced operating costs for our dairy customers and helped the environment. Furthermore, the drivers report that they actually prefer CNG versus their old diesel units because the CNG trucks are cleaner and quieter.”

Georgia Power Rolls Out EV Fleet

Georgia Power has rolled out a new fleet of 32 new plug-in electric hybrid Chevy Volts during an onsite event. Georgia Power Chairman, President & CEO Paul Bowers was joined by Commissioner Tim Echols of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) and Michael Beinenson of the EV Club of the South to celebrate the edition of the alternative energy electric vehicles (EVs).

Georgia Power rolls out new fleet of EVs. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power rolls out new fleet of EVs. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia PowerCEO Paul

“We are leading by example and demonstrating to our customers, and other Georgia businesses, that electric transportation works for all drivers,” said Bowers at the event. “Through constructive regulation, and partnerships with organizations like the EV Club of the South, we are growing the EV market in Georgia and helping our customers reap the overwhelming benefits of driving electric.”

Bowers also noted Commissioner Echols’ leadership in increasing awareness of EVs in Georgia, including support and involvement in the annual Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow each June.

Georgia Power, elected officials and community leaders mark the roll out of Georgia Power's new fleet of EVs. (Left - Right) Latanza Adjei (Vice President of Sales, Georgia Power); Kenny Coleman (Senior Vice President of Marketing, Georgia Power); Michael Beinenson (President, EV Club of the South); Commissioner Tim Echols (Georgia Public Service Commission); Paul Bowers (Chairman, President & CEO of Georgia Power); and Carl Jackson (Electric Transportation Manager, Georgia Power). (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power, elected officials and community leaders mark the roll out of Georgia Power’s new fleet of EVs. (Left – Right) Latanza Adjei (Vice President of Sales, Georgia Power); Kenny Coleman (Senior Vice President of Marketing, Georgia Power); Michael Beinenson (President, EV Club of the South); Commissioner Tim Echols (Georgia Public Service Commission); Paul Bowers (Chairman, President & CEO of Georgia Power); and Carl Jackson (Electric Transportation Manager, Georgia Power). (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

The new, Georgia Power-branded Chevy Volts will be seen around town in communities from Savannah to Columbus to Rome and will be driven daily by Georgia Power employees as they serve customers. The EVs will be used primarily by the company’s energy efficiency experts as they travel to conduct energy audits at homes and businesses, a service provided to help Georgia Power customers save money and energy.

In 2014, Georgia Power launched a new electric transportation initiative to advance Georgia as an exceptionally EV-friendly state through its Get Current. Drive Electric. program. The program currently includes an ongoing public education campaign, EV charger rebates for business and residential customers and special rates and charging options for EV customers.

Black & Veatch Commission Microgrid

Black & Veatch has commissioned its new microgrid system that provides power to the Rodman Innovation Pavilion located at the company’s Kansas World Headquarters. The microgrid uses a combination of natural gas, solar energy, geothermal and battery storage, and is the first of its kind in the state. It can operate as an independent power source or in support of the utility electric grid adding resiliency to the building and lowering energy costs. The microgrid provides enough clean energy to run the entire Innovation Pavilion.

“We are excited to launch this new technology that highlights the broad range of expertise we have within Black & Veatch,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO. “It also demonstrates the strong level of support and interest in the design from our professionals who are working on sustainable solutions around the world.”

Black & Veatch’s system includes two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver onsite electrical power generation. During winter months, heat is recovered from the microturbines to support heating. A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the Pavilion. The microgrid system also uses battery energy storage to capture energy from generation resources and deliver electricity to the World Headquarters during times of high electric demand, such as in the summer months.

To learn more about the complex interactions of the different energy technologies, Black & Veatch guests can interact with a large screen display that shows the microgrid operations in real time. The microgrid is continually monitored by Black & Veatch’s cloud based analytics platform, ASSET360. It collects data from the system and monitors the performance of each component based on factors like solar radiation, cloud cover, outside temperature and more. It calculates how much energy is being generated and used in the building, providing the company’s energy experts with insights on ways to improve system operations.

PERC to Highlight Propane at ACT Expo

The Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo is around the corner, May 4-7, 2015 in Dallas, Texas and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) will be showcasing propane autogas. PERC’s investments in advancing propane autogas for medium-duty technologies will be on display at the show in booth 407. Featured will be a Roush CleanTech Ford F-650, a BSI diesel substitution unit, and refueling dispensers by Superior Energy and CleanFuel USA.

ACTExpo 2015 logo“With the growing number of EPA- and CARB-certified, propane-autogas-powered vehicles available, propane autogas has become a proven solution that offers an increasing number of fleets, a lower total cost of ownership, a clean emissions profile, and affordable and scalable infrastructure options,” said Roy Willis, PERC’s president and CEO.

At the show, attendees can also learn about propane autogas’ growth in the school bus industry. Texas Commissioner of Energy Michael Williams heads the Texas Education Agency, which oversees the state’s pre-kindergarten through high school education for more than 5 million students enrolled in both traditional public schools and charter schools.

“Williams has spent years in public service, and is a notable figure dedicated to creating a healthier environment for school children. It says a lot that he supports propane autogas as a reliable solution to reducing emissions,” Willis added. “Propane autogas not only diminishes air pollution, but school districts making the switch from increasingly complex diesel buses also report seeing significantly lower operating costs due to less maintenance, fuel additives, and parts replacement.”

Navajo Students Wind Schoolyard STEM Lab

Nizhoni Elementary School in Shiprock, New Mexico has been awarded the first-ever Schoolyard STEM Lab from Samsung and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). The STEM Lab was donated during the 10th annual National Environmental Education Week.

The Schoolyard STEM Lab is an outdoor classroom space designed to work in any climate for a hands-on, immersive environmental education program that consists of a Growing Dome greenhouse where students can apply the scientific method to cultivation projects. The school’s plan is to have all students take part in exploring such topics as aquatic life, solar power and sustainability, conduct geothermal energy experiments, and conserve native plants and natural resources. Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.45.42 AMThe Growing Dome will help students better understand STEM, and will help them make connections between the natural environment and Navajo culture.

“We are excited to award Nizhoni with the Lab. It is a solid resource that they can use to leverage the natural environment to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a way that is relevant to the community,” said Diane Wood, president of NEEF. “We thank Samsung for their financial support and Growing Spaces for its partnership and installation of the Schoolyard STEM Lab.”

Located on Navajo Nation in northern New Mexico, Nizhoni’s school is considered a turnaround school- Nizhoni Elementary went from an F in 2012 to a B in 2013 on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s School Report Cards. The school district is 100 percent Title 1 federally funded due to the high-level poverty within the communities it serves and provides free breakfast and lunch to all of its students. Despite these challenges, the school is committed to equipping its students with the necessary knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in pursuing post-secondary education and early career opportunities.

“Students at Nizhoni are eager to learn,” said Principal Patsy Marquez. “We have been working hard to raise our student’s levels of achievement in areas like math, science and technology. In doing so, we need to make sure that they have access to the tools that they need in order to learn. The Schoolyard STEM Lab is a great tool that we can use to accelerate student learning by introducing all of our students to the scientific inquiry process within the context of the natural environment.”

Jennifer Choate, Nizhoni’s gifted education teacher who submitted the winning application on behalf of the school, added, “The Schoolyard STEM Lab also provides an opportunity for students to harvest their own herbs and vegetables which can be shared with the community and used by the school to prepare more nutritious meals,” added

Alt Energy Consultant Lee Enterprises Expands

leeenterprisesThe world’s largest renewable fuels consulting group is expanding its team. Lee Enterprises Consulting has added five new engineers and two additional Ph.D’s to its worldwide team of experts. The company says it is also dividing itself into four internal teams to handle biodiesel, ethanol, emerging technologies and solar/wind projects.

“As the world’s largest consulting group of its kind, we have experts in virtually every area of alternative and renewable fuels”, says CEO Wayne Lee. He notes that the company has now grown to over fifty consultants, and has reached a point where each of these core businesses needed its own dedicated leadership. “[Dr. Gerald Kutney, who will lead the Emerging Technologies Team] is an imminently qualified expert, and his knowledge in the fields of pyrolysis, waste-to-energy (WTE), forestry bioenery/bioproducts, gasification and emerging technologies made him the perfect choice to lead the Emerging Technologies Team,” said Lee. “Likewise, [new Solar/Wind Team lead] Bob Parkins is a Civil Engineer and renowned solar expert, making him the perfect selection to lead our Solar/Wind Team”.

The group also owns National Business Brokerage, Inc., a full service business brokerage firm specializing in the buying and selling of alternative and renewable fuels plants.

Bi-Fuel Autogas Conversion System Announced

NTEA Work & Truck Show took place this week in Indianapolis, Indiana and several propane announcements were made during the show including a new bi-fuel autogas conversion system. The news was delivered by BSI President Ed Hoffman, and said the Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas was under development and expected to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for certification this spring.

Hoffman said the bi-fuel s2015 Ford Transit Vanystem conversion on the Transit requires no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring, and the system provides OEM quality components and engineering with ½ the install time. He also noted with extended range capabilities the bi-fuel system insures a fleet gets where it needs to go.Twenty one gallons of propane will be added to the “tank” to be used in conjunction with traditional fuel. The Transit will be the first “plug & play” conversion to be installed by the Alliance AutoGas.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are in several configurations the wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.