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News (Archive)

11.04.16

FHWA Designates Alternative Fuel Corridors

I-85 and I-40 in North Carolina Make the List!


With the designation of the first alternative fuel corridors, FHWA is establishing a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along national highway system corridors.  FHWA intends to support the expansion of this national network through a process that:

  • provides the initial opportunity for a formal corridor designation now and in the future on a rolling basis, without a cap on the number of corridors;
  • ensures that corridor designations are selected based on criteria that promote the "build out" of a national network;
  • develops national signage and branding to help catalyze applicant and public interest;
  • encourages multi-State and regional cooperation and collaboration; and,
  • brings together a consortium of stakeholders including state agencies, utilities, alternative fuel providers, and car manufacturers to promote and advance alternative fuel corridor designations in conjunction with the Department of Energy.

Blurry Cars

As one of several partners that supported NCDOT’s August 2016 proposal to FHWA, the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition has a direct interest in ensuring that a variety of transportation fueling and vehicle options are available to fleets and individuals in our region and beyond along our major corridors.  This announcement from FHWA is the first step in what we perceive to be a longer term “work in progress” to support the growth of fuel diversification for our stakeholders and the state overall.  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to jwager [at] centralina [dot] org (Jason Wager) of the CCFC staff if you would like more background on this initiative or wish to discuss ongoing integration of this and related topics into your project and planning efforts.   

For quick reference, below are maps pulled from the FHWA website announcing these corridors (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/alternative_fuel_corridors/), by fuel types (Electric and Compressed Natural Gas), for portions of I-85 and I-40.  

 

EV Charging

CNG

10.04.16

 

The NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will provide approximately $231,500 for funding grant projects that reduce diesel emissions through the 2016 Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant (DERG). 

Applications must be received by e-mail, fax or postmarked by Friday, October 28, 2016 to be considered. Please refer to the information below on the five acceptable project types: 

Project Type

Grant Amount Paid

Replacement of diesel vehicle chassis and engine 25%
Idle reduction technology on unregulated or Tier 0 locomotives 40%
Repower of old chassis with new cleaner diesel engine 40%
Clean alternative fuel conversions, where the old chassis is retained but the engine is replaced or converted to an alternative fuel 40%
Retrofits (exhaust type, e.g. diesel particulate filter)  100%

Click here for more information and links to the on-road and non-road applications.

08.01.16

The era of practical electric vehicles has arrived! More and more visionary fleets are adding the Nissan LEAF to their fleet. Nissan understands that selecting the right Alt Fuel vehicle for your fleet is a critical decision. That’s why Nissan offers No Cost assistance in developing an EV adoption strategy to meet your goals. From infrastructure deployment to staff education, Nissan has the experience, resources and research data to simplify the process. Here is a list of the reasons public and private fleets nationwide have recently made LEAF “America’s Best Selling EV”.

  • Spirited Performance and Outstanding Reliability
  • No Oil Changes Ever, with Little or No Maintenance
  • Less than Half the operating cost of Gas, per Mile
  • Zero Emissions, with No GHG or CO2 Emissions
  • Only affordable EV, with over 100 Miles of Range*
  • DC Fast Charging, 80% Charge in 30 Minutes
  • Room for 5 passengers and Cargo
  • Reliable, with Lower Operating Costs 

Federal EV Tax Incentive: $7,500
2016 Nissan Fleetail 2.0 Incentive: $8,000

To get assistance on your EV fleet strategy or to learn more about this incentive, please contact Jason Wager at jwager [at] centralina [dot] org.

* Comparison based on MY16 LEAF SV and SL vs. 2015 and 2016 non-luxury 100% electric vehicle competitors (Source: fueleconomy.gov). MY16 EPA range of 107 miles. Actual range may vary based on driving conditions. Use for comparison only.

07.27.16

LPO Support for Electric Vehicle Charging

Last week the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Program Office released a supplement announcement clarifying that the deployment and installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and associated hardware and software may be financed under the Title XVII Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects (REEE) solicitation.  Specifically, the supplement provides that EV charging facilities may be deemed efficient electrical transmission and distribution technologies under the REEE solicitation.  The REEE solicitation currently provides up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees (for a variety of projects not just EV charging) to support innovative renewable energy and efficient energy projects in the United States. 

Electric vehicles can play an important role in reducing green house gases and meeting the United States dynamic climate goals; however, insufficient charging infrastructure remains an obstacle to growing this industry.

The Loan Program Office Loan guarantees can be an important tool to commercialize innovative technologies because these projects may be unable to obtain full commercial financing due to the perceived risks associated with technology that has never been deployed at commercial scale in the United States. The Department of Energy's Loan Program Office supports a large, diverse portfolio of more than $40 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments to approximately 30 closed and committed projects nationwide, including leading edge renewable energy projects, advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities, and other projects.

The front page http://energy.gov/lpo/loan-programs-office includes supplement deadline dates that are listed on the front webpage for the site that range from August 17th to November 30th.

An additional resource of dedicated electric vehicle related content by the Loan Program office can be found on this webpage. The page lists the new supplement and the White House factsheet issued last week summarizing the supplement, among other EV-related announcements. 

07.25.16

All information related to the FAST Act Section 1413 (Designation of Alternative Fuel Corridors), also known as the “Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act”, was released in a PDF format on Friday 7/22 and can be found here.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is now requesting nominations from states and local officials to designate national plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging and hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling corridors along major highways. The FHWA published a Federal Register Notice  to invite nominations to assist in making such designations.  Nominations for corridor designations are due to FHWA by August 22, 2016.  See the Federal Register Notice for more information. 

It all started on December 4, 2015, when President Obama signed the (FAST) Act into law—the first federal law in over a decade to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment. The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs. To find additional information on the 1413 Designation process here.

 

06.29.16

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University and The 100 Best Fleets hosted a webinar on Tuesday 6/28 featuring fleet managers from a few of the top fleets that were judged best out of 38,000 Public Fleets in the 2016 Edition of The 100 Best Fleets. If you were unable to attend, we have documented the highlights to share their practices that you can apply to your own operations moving forward. Continue reading to learn more need-to-know information and practical solutions to the biggest of fleet challenges. 

Ranked #3 Fleet Manager Thomas Kuryla- Wake County Raleigh, NC

Tip 1) Get an outside source. This is necessary to see what areas your fleet can best improve on. Wake County hired a 3rd party consultant to conduct a Market Study to evaluate their fleet and compare their own systems to the larger market and industry entities. Kuryla claimed this was crucial in justifying what needed improvement and finding support from management moving forward. 

Tip 2) Stricter anti-idling policies. Implementing these policies will help ensure accountability of fleet assets. Wake County employees are trained on why it is important to not eat lunch in an idling car or the harm of waiting for the heat/air conditioning to fix the internal environment of a vehicle for large periods of time. Not only did Kuryla help reduce his fleets emissions, he improved employee safety and reduced wasted fuel.  

Tip 3) Update your fleet information system. Kuryla believed having a transparent fleet information system that went from being at a fleet only scale to a county system dramatically improved Wake County’s accountability. Additionally, the creation of a Fleet Advisory Committee opened the door for customer involvement in the fleet and helped employees better evaluate and prioritize requests. 

Ranked #2 Fleet Manager Robert Gordon- DeKalb County, GA

Tip 1) Divide your fleet. Gordon believes that by dividing his fleet into a total of six divisions rather than one huge clump in which a diverse array of vehicles travel in and out the door he has allowed room for people to become much more specialized. The direct byproduct of this change has increased fleet efficiency. Examples of divisions include heavy truck, fire shop and body shop.  

Tip 2) Quality control. Quality control. Quality control. Throughout his presentation, Gordon strongly expressed the importance of implementing an aggressive training program to ensure employees are equally adequate in their skills. Understanding what one’s employees’ strengths and weaknesses are in order capitalize on those weaknesses to train towards evolving them into strengths is essential. Additionally, whenever the DeKalb County fleet is preparing to purchase new vehicles they request that the vendor send a company employee to come out and host a training workshop to educate his people on the vehicle. This prevents the risk of employee knowledge disparities moving forward. 

Tip 3) Build a recruiting committee. This allows a group to focus on employing skilled individuals and filling in labor gaps. For example, Gordon discussed the strategy of reaching out to local secondary technical schools and attending career days to seek out potential candidates for future hiring waves. This helps Gordon’s fleet communicate with these centers of education as to what they are looking students to know for the job. Secondly, Gordon’s fleet has begun to recruit from the military to employ well trained truck technicians that are often hard to come by in the industry. 

Ranked #1 Fleet Manager Peter Bendar- County of Ventura, CA

Tip 1) Have a diverse fleet. Bendar’s fleet is composed of everything from EV’s and PHEV vehicles to hybrids. 

Tip 2) Leaders be a captain. Fleet leaders need to be take the role as captain of their fleet. Do not be afraid to engage the team. Increasing employee engagement is critical to succeeding. Additionally, every year Bendar gives the updated version of 100 Best Fleets Book to his employees as a reference guide to view practices that are being used around the nation. This booklet also serves as a tool to compare measurable outcomes with neighboring fleets.

Tip 3) Do NOT be afraid of change. It is wise to discuss challenges with your team. Inviting a problem solving environment to grow not only increases employee engagement but generates fresh perspectives on how to solve existing problems. Bendar stressed the importance of thinking of your fleet as a business and what steps one needs to take to remain competitive. Embrace change, new ideas and help nurture future leaders by supporting a think tank like culture. 

06.01.16

This website and program (http://altfueltoolkit.org/), supported in part by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, is a pooled fund initiative led by the Oregon Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration to assist state and local transportation agencies interested in promoting the use of alternative fuel vehicle technologies. 

Through this initiative, an AFV Planning Guide has been developed that helps transportation agencies create a plan for deploying AFVs. AFV Toolkits can also be accessed at the site, and are based on workshops held in 2015-2016 with AFV stakeholders on topics that include EV Corridor Development and Innovative Financing methods.

03.03.16

When school districts adopt propane autogas buses, everyone -students, parents, and educators- benefits. More than 500 school districts across North America have deployed school buses fueled by clean, cost-effective autogas in recent years.

Now transit agencies are adding this alternative fuel into their existing fleets. To date, almost 700 propane autogas shuttles transport passengers in 12 states, with the highest concentration in Michigan. This map provides an overview of additional deployments aroud the nation.

The Altoona-approved ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450 cutaway chassis affords transit agencies the ability to take advantage of Federal Transit Administration funding, which covers 85 percent of the entire alternative fuel vehicle cost, with a 15 percent local match.

Florida's Broward County Transit tops the charts with the largest autogas transit fleet in the U.S., followed by Michigan's Flint Mass Transportation Authority. The Flint agency's autogas shuttles have chalked up over 9 million miles in the past few years. The agency reports $2 million in fuel and maintenance cost savings compared with diesel vehicles.

01.27.16

The Southeast Alternative Fuel Demonstration Initiative (SADI) grant is a US Department of Energy project focused on the increased adoption of alternative fuels in the Southeast region of the United States. Project partners for this grant include Alliance Autogas, Enterprise, ICOM, Palmetto Gas, Penske and others.

Clean Cities Coalitions throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee will work with technology partners to provide opportunities for fleets to demonstrate a wide range of alternative fuel vehicles. More information can be found on the SADI website. If you're interested in testing out any of the following alternative fuel vehicles, please contact Jessica Hill at jhill [at] centralina [dot] org or 704.348.2731

Vehicles available for demos

01.27.16

Winter is the season of snow. cold, and oddly enough, auto shows. Reporters and consumers alike flock to these showcases of the latest and greatest in vehicles to find out what will be on the road this year and in the future. While low gas prices are driving many people to larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, there are still a number of alternative fuel and advanced technology ones on display. The hottest vehicles are a mix of those that are available at dealerships now and not for a few more months.

For plug-in electric vehicles, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt nabbed the Green Car of the Year honor at the L.A. Auto Show, with its expanded all-electric range, five passenger capacity, lower price and new ability to use non-premium gasoline. While the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle was versatile before, these new features make more affordable and convenient for a wider range of people. It even sports technology developed as a result of Energy Department investments, with an inverter and battery improved through Energy Department-sponsored research. Similarly, the 2016 all-electric Nissan Leaf offers the option to upgrade to a larger battery pack with a 107 mile range. Another recently announced plug-in electric vehicle is the Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid, which has a 27 mile all-electric range and is available in "select markets." Later this year, the Cehvrolet Bolt could be a major game changer with its 200 mile all-electric range, crossover style, and relatively low price. In addition, Audi, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and BMW have announced new plug-in electric models in the coming years.

On the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle side, the 2016 Toyotta Mirai and Hyundai Tucson are available at select dealers in California, with the Mirai for sale and the Tucson for lease. The Tucson is one of the few advanced technology SUVs on the market and was featured in a video taken at the Department of Energy. In addition to these, Honda is debuting the Clarity Fuel Cell in the U.S. later this year.

Although generally not highlighted at the consumer auto shows, there are also increasing options available in propane and natural gas. Chevrolet now has a bi-fuel CNG Impala that can have more flexibility for fleets than a dedicated vehicle may. In addition, an increasing number of original engine manufacturers are making propane and natural gas prep packages available.

Centralina Council of Governments
9815 David Taylor Drive
Charlotte, NC 28262

Part of the U.S.
DOE Clean Cities
National Network