ADOMANI EV Bus Approved in California

You may soon begin to see children in California heading to school in an all electric bus (EV). The California Highway Patrol has approved the ADOMANI all-electric Blue Bird school bus for use. The bus was developed through a partnership between the Gilroy Unified School District and ADOMANI and the result is a solar fueled EV 50 passenger type-D school bus. The converted school bus will debut this fall.

The Gilroy Unified School District provided ADOMANI with a 2007 Blue Bird All American diesel school bus, and by replacing the engine with their patented electric conversion kit, ADOMANI returned a plug-in electric. The bus has an overall range of 40 miles in between charges, tailored to meet the district’s need of a 22 mile route. ADOMANI can supply a school or commercial bus with enough battery power to travel 100 miles.

ADOMANI EV busADOMANI chose to utilize the same plug as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, making its buses adaptable to universal charging stations. The Gilroy Unified School District’s charging station has been supplemented with solar panels, making the bus a zero emission vehicle.

Verbal approval of ADOMANI’s converted school bus came one day after initial inspection. Recent ADOMANI board member addition and school bus industry expert Jim Reynolds said, “That is by far the fastest I have seen approval come in. I was anticipating a few months of processing.”

This is ADOMANI’s second converted Blue Bird school bus. ADOMANI has created a conversion kit specialized for the All American Blue Bird school bus that can be installed in a couple weeks. Ninety percent of the OEM parts are retained, allowing mechanics to remain familiar with parts like the transmission, compressor, radiator, alternator, etc. With the quick success of the project, the company plans to move their headquarters from Florida to California.

“After the conversion for Gilroy, moving to California seemed like the right fit, though we plan to retrofit vehicles throughout the country,” said Edward Monfort, the founder and CTO of ADOMANI. “I am thrilled to be working with school buses and to have an opportunity to enter a market that can improve lives and the environment.”

DOE Funds EV Everywhere Grand Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced more than $55 million for 31 new projects to accelerate research and development of critical vehicle technologies that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce costs. These new projects are aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, as well as improvements in other vehicle technologies such as powertrains, fuel, tires and auxiliary systems.

Launched in 2012, the goal of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is by 2022 to make the U.S. automotive industry the first to produce plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) that are as affordable and convenient as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles. According to the DOE, in just the last several years, significant cost reductions and improvements in vehicle vehicle_targetsperformance have had a dramatic impact on the U.S. automotive market. PEV sales continue to grow – sales in the first six months of 2014 were over 30 percent higher than the same period in 2013 – and the cost of battery technology has come down by over 60 percent since 2009.

“Investments in the next generation of vehicle technologies will both strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel efficient, clean energy future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Improving vehicle efficiency is instrumental to establishing a 21st century transportation sector that creates jobs as well as protects future generations from harmful carbon emissions.”

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance with the DOE, the Department of the Army is contributing an additional $3.7 million in co-funding to support projects focused on beyond lithium ion battery technologies and reducing friction and wear in the powertrain. The Army will also test and evaluate fuel-efficient tires resulting from projects at its facilities in Warren, Michigan.

“Partnering with the Energy Department, we are accelerating the development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies that will strengthen our military, economy, and energy security,” said Dr. Paul Rogers, director the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The selections announced are under two major topic areas:

Critical Technologies to meet the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge: 19 projects are aimed at reducing the cost and improving the performance of key PEV components. This includes improving “beyond lithium ion technologies” that use higher energy storage materials, and developing and commercializing wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors that offer significant advances in performance while reducing the price of vehicle power electronics. Other projects focus on advancing lightweight materials research to help electric vehicles increase their range and reduce battery needs, and developing advanced climate control technologies that reduce energy used for passenger comfort and increase the drive range of plug-in electric vehicles.

Fuel Efficiency Improvements in Passenger Vehicles and Commercial Trucks: 12 projects are aimed at improvements including developing and demonstrating dual-fuel/bi-fuel technologies to reduce petroleum usage, accelerating growth in high-efficiency, cost-competitive engine and powertrain systems for light-duty vehicles, and accelerating the introduction of advanced lubricants and coatings to increase the efficiency of vehicles on the road today as well as future vehicles.

Sierra Magazine Releases 2014 Coolest Schools

The “Coolest Schools” in America rankings are out and the top school is University of California, Irvine. Compiled annually by Sierra Club, the rankings focus on America’s greenest colleges. The ranking universities displayed a deep and Dickinson College Studentsthorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility. More than 150 schools filled out an extensive survey created in a collaboration between Sierra and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“For eight years Sierra magazine has encouraged America’s colleges and universities to fully embrace their unique and multifaceted role in tackling the climate crisis and protecting America’s air, water, public health, and beautiful places,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor in chief. “From innovative research and development to powering campuses with wind and solar, to educating students in the most advanced thinking on sustainability, colleges and universities are leaders and models for the rest of society. Sierra magazine congratulates those that made our annual ‘Coolest Schools’ list.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2014 are:

1. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
2. American University (Washington, DC)
3. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
4. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
5. Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR)
6. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
7. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
8. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
9. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
10. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

This is UC Irvine’s fifth consecutive year as a top 10 finalist, but its first time as the winner, thanks in part to its three on-campus solar projects, a 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are consistently exceeded. Other factors that helped those at the top of our list: American University has D.C.’s largest solar array; Dickinson runs an organic farm; Stanford is divesting from coal; and USF supplies a solar charging station for electric vehicles.

“The Cool Schools ranking is yet another indication of how deeply young people understand the benefits of clean energy and of how adept they are at turning awareness into action,” said Karissa Gerhke, director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “To capitalize on this power, the Sierra Student Coalition will join with students across the country this fall to launch the Campuses for Clean Energy campaign, a transformative movement that will demand 100 percent clean energy for campuses.

Audi Moves to Improve EV Owner Experience

A3-sportback-etron-exterior-08Audi of America has announced the launch of a new program: Audi energy. The program is designed to improve the electric vehicle ownership experience as well as reduce the carbon footprint that comes with vehicle production, distribution and driving. Ultimately, the program will produce a new plug in hybrid vehicle – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – estimated to be available in the U.S. in mid 2015.

The program has three elements associated with the A3 e-etron:

  • At-home Audi-designed Level 2 charging developed with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions;
  • Audi will purchase carbon offset certificates in California and Africa to offset GHG emissions; and
  • Sunpower will provide optional home solar power system for Audi owners including a new home energy storage solution to capture additional solar energy.

“The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron will offer drivers an eco-conscious vehicle ownership experience,” said Wayne Killen, General Manager, Product Strategy and Launch. “Audi energy takes this to the next level with solutions that allow for sustainable fuel driving and a lower carbon footprint. We believe this will be one of the most comprehensive offering in the industry today.”

Plug-In Electric Vehicles Talk in the Cloud

Plug-In electric vehicles (EV) will soon be “talking in the cloud” as Ford Motor Company collaborates with seven of the world’s largest automakers and 15 utility companies to develop technologies for EVs to talk to the utilities via the cloud. According to Ford, this would help manage energy use and improve the efficiency of the power grid.

The pilot program will create a standards-based communications platform for use by plug-in EVs and the electric grids. This platform will enable the utilities to contact vehicle customers who have opted-in to the program, sending a request for those cars to stop charging temporarily to help manage a grid that is DCF 1.0becoming overloaded. This approach uses existing communications technology and standards, such as Ford’s MyFord® Mobile App, and pushes to advance those systems by enabling two-way communication between the electric grid and electric vehicles.

“This innovative platform provides a critical enabler for the next step in vehicle electrification,” said Mike Tinskey, associate global director, Electrification Infrastructure for Ford. “It’s a way for plug-in electric vehicle drivers to be financially rewarded for their willingness to help manage the electric grid.”

Participating utility companies are prepared to offer financial incentives to owners who make their cars available to the grid, similar to utilities offering customers discounts for allowing their home air conditioning to run intermittently during times of high demand. Customers who opt-in to the program can charge their cars at a location of their choice and have the ability to ignore the utility’s request to stop charging.

The formal collaboration between the automakers, utilities and Electric Power Research Institute began in fall 2012. However, the concept and application of electric vehicle/grid integration has been studied extensively by numerous research groups for more than 10 years.

Caesars Entertainment Adds EV Charging Stations

Caesars Entertainment resorts is adding new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at 13 of their resorts and casinos. In partnership with NV Energy, nearly all of Caesars’ Northern and Southern Nevada resorts and casinos now have operational EV charging stations on site, in addition to Harrah’s Resort Southern California. A total of 48 charging ports have been installed in guest parking lots as well as valet areas, and are available for guests to use at no cost.

caesars-entertainment-logoCaesars is planning on expanding its EV charging network into other domestic resorts and when completed, their entire U.S. resorts and casinos will feature EV charging stations.

Caesars’ EV charging stations are on the ChargePoint network, allowing drivers to easily check station availability and find charging spots in real time through the ChargePoint mobile app, the web and car navigation units. The Level 2 charging ports at Caesars’ stations accommodate both hybrids and all-electric models using the industry standard J1772 plug, and charge vehicles in less time compared to plugging in the average home garage.

“We want to make it easy for our guests to continue their green habits while they stay and play at our resorts. Supporting the adoption of electrical vehicles is important to Caesars, and we are thrilled to make convenient charging another great amenity for our guests,” said Eric Dominguez, corporate director of facilities, engineering and sustainable operations at Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars is promoting awareness and encouraging cleaner forms of transportation, which directly ties into the company’s low carbon strategy and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A recipient of the EPA’s Climate Leadership Award, Caesars has cut greenhouse gas emissions at its domestic properties by over 12 percent from 2007 to 2013 on an absolute basis, while reducing energy intensity by 20 percent.

“As a company, we aim to not only reduce our impact on the environment, but lead other companies and inspire our communities to take environmentally-friendly actions,” added Dominguez. “We look at the EV station project as an essential stride towards a future of green transportation.”

Steller Solar Offers Project LiveWire Experience

Harley-Davidson has unveiled its first all electric motorcycle and are giving consumers a chance to experience this new ride through its Project LiveWire Experience. The first event will take place in San Diego July 24, 2014-July 26, 2014 hosted by Stellar Solar and San Diego Harley-Davidson. Project LiveWire will be at the Morena Boulevard location with the main event taking place Saturday, July 26 from 12 – 4pm. All three days will feature complimentary solar powered food and beverages from the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station.

Stellar Solar Harley Project LiveWireFans who take a test ride will be able to give feedback to Haley-Davidson as they tweak their electric motorcycle – the electric bike is still under development. During the three-day event, consumers will also be able to participate through a Jumpstart simulator that provides an experience almost as good as the real thing.

Stellar Solar is connected with San Diego Harley-Davidson through General Manager Ty Miller who had a Stellar Solar system installed on his home. “When we received word that San Diego Harley-Davidson was going to be one of the first locations on the tour, the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station immediately came to mind as a perfect fit to help power the event,” Miller said. “Electric motorcycles and solar power complement each other nicely and we are happy to promote solar along side this innovative motorcycle.”

Kent Harle, CEO of Stellar Solar and avid motorcycle enthusiast is excited for the event. “I’ve been riding motorcycles for a long time and the Project LiveWire is a unique and very impressive machine. I’d buy one today if they were on the market. I can’t wait to test ride it. This is a perfect event for our Mobile Solar Station and we are proud to be associated with San Diego Harley-Davidson.”

City of Columbus Dedicates CNG Station

Columbus, Ohio is now home to its second compressed natural gas (CNG) station. The station was made possible in part from funds provided by Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO). CFO provides technical support for transportation professionals, advocates for sustainable transportation energy policies and serves as a resource clearinghouse for fleets, policy makers and the public.

“We have been so fortunate to assist a wide range of businesses and individuals in exploring the advantages of alternative fuels,” said CFO Executive Director Sam Spofforth. “We help each organization to look at the variety of options available to them, and, when available, help them get the grant funding they need to get their projects off the ground.”

sidebar4One way CFO does this is through the organization’s Driving Force Fleet Advisors which provide assessment and planning, project development assistance, funding strategies, monitoring, follow-up and training to fleet managers. Fleets can also gain certification and public recognition for their efforts through CFO’s Ohio Green Fleets.

When the City of Columbus began its move to alternative fuel vehicles, there was little infrastructure in the state for compressed natural gas (CNG) explained Kelly Reagan, the city fleet administrator. “Mayor (Michael) Coleman made the commitment that we would build our own fueling infrastructure to support this alternative vehicle program.”

The city now operates two public access fast-fill CNG stations, with two additional stations planned, which will be open to the public. In addition, the city operates two electric vehicle charging stations that are also open to the public. “Clean Fuels Ohio gave us the opportunity to start down this road,” said Mayor Coleman. “They provided the resources we needed to start this program. They helped us get underway.”

In the case of Dillon Transport, partnering with a customer, Owens Corning, provided a pathway to a multi- state project. “Our work with Clean Fuels Ohio resulted in an attractive funding package that appealed to our customer,” explained Dillion Transport Vice President Charles Musgrove. The company has converted 17 Ohio trucks to natural gas, and fuels through an expanding network of public stations in Ohio. The company has a similar operation with the customer in Florida. In addition, Dillon Transport is increasing its use of CNG vehicles nationwide.

Ultimately, the cost of fossil fuels and a concern for sustainability have motivated many fleets to make the commitment to alternative fuel vehicles. “Companies began really needing to find answers, once it was obvious that fuel prices were going to remain high,” added Spofforth. “Companies want to do the right thing – but they don’t quite know how to put the pieces together, get funding and make the choices they need to make. We’ve been able to help many varied fleets look at those options and make the decisions that lead them to sustainability.”

In 2011 and 2013, the City of Columbus was named the #1 Government Green Fleet in North America, and continues to be a role model for fleets considering transitioning to alternative fuels.

Utilities Promote EV Use, Charging

According to a new benchmark study by Northeast Group, electric utilities are beginning to do their part to enable EV growth by offering new tariff and rate structures tailored specifically for EV owners. For the past three year, EV sales have nearly doubled every year in the U.S. There are currently 25 utilities across 14 states offering EV tariffs, including eight of the largest 15 utilities. Regulators are also taking action and Minnesota recently became the first state to mandate that electric utilities offer EV tariffs.

“In the currently shifting landscape, utilities are finding it increasingly important to better engage with their customers. A key part of this is new customer offerings such as electric vehicle tariffs,” said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. “EVScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.35.38 AM owners tend to be more engaged customers and it is critical that utilities are providing them with new rate options for their EVs.”

According to the report, EV rates typically give steeper discounts at night and during other off-peak hours. Across the 14 states with EV tariffs, the average equivalent “price per gallon” was $0.75. Without EV-specific tariffs, the US Department of Energy calculated that the cost of an “eGallon” was $1.42. The average cost of gasoline in these states was $3.70.

“EV owners are an increasingly important focus for utilities,” added Gardner. “On average, they consume more electricity — not even counting electricity consumed by the EV — and are more likely to have solar panels installed at their home. EV tariffs that offer overall lower prices while encouraging off-peak charging are a great way to engage these customers.” Northeast Group found that 95 of the 100 largest utilities in the US had EV-specific information on their websites for customer engagement purposes.

Utilities that still do not offer special EV rates can make new rate offerings part of broader customer engagement efforts. These broader customer engagement efforts may include social media, mobile apps and new customer offerings.

Northeast Group’s benchmark found that in total, over 21 million utility customers across 25 electric utilities in 14 states had access to EV tariffs in the US. This number is set to grow over the coming years as EV sales grow and regulators begin encouraging EV tariffs.

Battery Bat Houses for Hydroelectric Projects

Bat Houses from scrap volt battery casesEagle Scout Matthew Netherland has developed a creative way to help bats who live near hydroelectric projects. Using discarded scrap Volt battery covers donated by GM, Netherland built 22 bat houses for Consumers Energy to install in their energy properties.

“This project connects a lot of environmental dots,” said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy’s natural resource manager for hydro generation. “Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation. The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy.”

About 100 or more bats can live in each bat box, which includes five chambers. Netherland, a friend and two adult mentors helped build the bat boxes in about two months that will be installed by Consumers Energy.

“I’m thankful that GM had the perfect shell for the bat box plans, and that Consumers Energy has great locations to place the boxes,” said Netherland from Boy Scout Troop 185 from Clarkston, Michigan. “Both companies have been great to work with, very encouraging and generous.”

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM who coordinated with Netherland on his project, added, “I’m so impressed by Matthew’s energy and dedication to this project. We’ve worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact. The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time.”