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100 Best Fleets series: City of Concord

Members of the City of Concord Fleet Services Department hold their 100 Best Fleets award for 2018. Photo contributed by City of Concord Fleet Services Department.

Seven fleets from North Carolina made it on the 100 Best Fleets in the Americas’ list of winners for 2018 — and in the next several weeks, Fuel What Matters will be featuring each fleet and what it has done to achieve success.

This week,  Daniel Nuckolls, Director of Fleet Services since 2002, talks about the City of Concord Fleet Services Department. This was the fifth year Concord has placed in the 100 Best Fleets.

Nuckolls said Concord’s fleet has become more efficient through the years by implementing a career development program, rightsizing vehicles, and using alternative fuels and technologies.

Concord began implementing more fuel-efficient strategies and equipment in 2003. Electric cars and EV chargers are used throughout the city, and today, about 5 percent of Concord’s light-duty fleet is comprised of hybrid electric vehicles.

In the police fleet, Concord moved from 9-cylinder cars to 6-cylinders, which Nuckolls estimates saves about 34K gallons of fuel per year. Concord also uses B20 blend biodiesel for all diesel vehicles, which he estimated displaces 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.

“Fuel usage over the last 10 years has not increased very much at all — it remains flat,” Nuckolls said.

The City Of Concord is an active participant in the Clean Cities coalition and is a core stakeholder in the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, according to their website. Fleet Services also developed and administers the Concord Air Awareness Program, which educates and informs City employees about air quality issues.

“From the very get-go, we wanted to implement alternative fuels,” Nuckolls said. “Mainly for air quality, but also, certain things are helping cost.”

One of the most successful improvements of the City of Concord Fleet Services Department, Nuckolls said, is the Career Development Program, which is designed to reward and advance the careers of technicians, parts personnel, and supervisors by converting their training and experience into ASE Certifications (Automotive Service Excellence).

The Career Development Program was implemented in 2003 when the fleet had a total of 3 ASE certifications among 8 technicians, 2 supervisors, and 2 parts personnel. Now, the fleet has 84 ASE certifications with 6 Master Mechanic certifications.

Nuckolls said the program has led the fleet to become the lowest cost fleet in North Carolina for five consecutive years.

“As fleet director, I feel it is important to encourage individuals to distinguish themselves and to provide incentives for continuous improvement,” Nuckolls said. “As our technicians become more proficient, so does our fleet maintenance program, which drives our fleet availability and productivity. “

National Bike to Work Day 2018

A bicyclist chats at a pit stop at last year’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC. Photo contributed by BikeRaleigh.

All month long, communities around the US have been celebrating National Bike Month 2018. May is halfway through, but there are dozens of bicycling events happening around North Carolina that are still to come — including this Friday’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC.

If you’ve never tried out a bike route to work, National Bike to Work Day is a great day to explore your options and meet other bicycling enthusiasts. Commuting with a bike can help you save money on gas, avoid traffic, get exercise, and be more environmentally friendly by not contributing to air pollution.

Fontaine Burruss, Bikeshare Coordinator for City of Raleigh Department of Transportation, said Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day event is for anyone from longtime bicycle commuters to those who are trying it for the first time.

Sign for a pit stop during last year’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC. Photo contributed by Bike Raleigh

“It’s a great way to both celebrate those who bike to work already, and also encourage people who are in interested in biking to work but maybe haven’t taken that leap,” Burruss said.

The City of Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day event will be throughout the morning and evening this Friday, May 18, with pit stops located around the city packed with refreshments and giveaways. Most pit stops will be around in the morning, ranging from 6 to 11 a.m., with one pit stop after work from 4 to 6 p.m.

To find the map of pit stops in Raleigh, view below (pit stops are indicated by the orange bicycle symbols) and click here for the interactive version complete with hosts and times they will be there. You can also map out your route and view bike lanes by using Raleigh’s online bike map or downloading BikeRaleigh’s free mobile app.

Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day is a one-day event, but Burress said she hopes it makes a lasting change in people’s lives.

“Often what we find is people who try it once realize it’s not as hard as they think it is to bike to work, and they’re open to trying more often,” Burress said.

If you can’t make it out Friday, Durham County will also have a Bike to Work Day event next Thursday, May 24, with several pit stops located throughout the city from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.  Stop on your way to work for food and prizes; and for each location you stop, you also get entered into a raffle.

If you’re new to commuting, Durham County has a Bike Buddy program, where a partner can help show the way. View the Durham event map here and visit www.bikedurham.org for more information.

There are plenty of more National Bike Month events happening around North Carolina in May. For more in Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Knightdale and Wake Forest, visit gotriangle.org. For events in Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville and Black Mountain, visit strivenottodrive.org.

Before you go, be sure to check NC Department of Transportation Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation’s safety and education page to be aware of laws and safety measures when it comes to bicycling in the city.

NCCETC releases 50 States of Electric Vehicles Report

42 States and DC Took Action on Electric Vehicles During Q1 2018

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center released its Q1 2018 edition of The 50 States of Electric Vehicles. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The report finds that 42 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q1 2018 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to electric vehicle fees, fast charging deployment, and electric vehicle studies.

The report notes four trends in electric vehicle activity apparent or emerging in Q1 2018: (1) states considering multi-faceted electric vehicle plans, (2) contention around utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, (3) examining the role of demand charges in vehicle charging rates, and (4) piloting the co-location of energy storage systems with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

A total of 275 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q1 2018 – more than were taken in the entirety of 2017 (227 actions). New York, New Jersey and Hawaii took the greatest number of actions during the quarter, followed by Massachusetts, Washington and Minnesota.

Q1 2018 Legislative and Regulatory Action on Electric Vehicles

“So far in 2018, we see a number of states taking actions that incorporate multiple strategies or involve existing statewide goals,” noted Allison Carr, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “Several states and utilities are starting to connect electric vehicle planning with other statewide electric grid modernization, transportation and environmental goals.”

The report notes the top electric vehicle actions taken during the quarter were:

• Hawaii utilities publishing their Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap;

• California regulators approving utilities’ first wave of proposed electric vehicle programs and investments;

• A Maryland working group proposing a statewide electric vehicle portfolio;

• Missouri utilities proposing new electric vehicle programs; and

• Pennsylvania regulators issuing a policy statement on third-party electric vehicle charging.

“It is exciting to watch states live up to their reputation as laboratories of democracy,” said Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “States are testing out a variety of strategies to build strong electric vehicle markets and charging networks, with many states taking multi-pronged approaches themselves.”

View the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q1 2018 Executive Summary

View and Purchase the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q1 2018 FULL Report

View the 50 States Reports – Solar, Grid Modernization and Electric Vehicles

Driving on Solar Miles

Driving on Solar Miles: Integrating Residential Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging panel at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina

Heather Brutz of NCCETC introduces the panelists of Driving on Solar Miles: Integrating Residential Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina. Photo by Nicole Deck.

Industry experts discussed options available today for integrating residential solar with electric vehicle charging at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina last month. Panelists addressed some of the most commonly used technologies as well as the future of residential solar, electric vehicle charging and the grid.

The three panelists were Bharat Balagopal, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University; Stew Miller, President of Yes Solar Solutions; and Stan Cross, CEO of Brightfield Transportation Solutions. Heather Brutz, Transportation Finance and Operations Manager at NCCETC, was moderator.

Stan Cross (Brightfield Transportation Solutions) shared a map of electric vehicles and charging stations in North Carolina, and discussed the statistics of annual community benefits per 10,000 EVs:

• Approx. EV miles driven annually = 120M miles

• Barrels of Oil Avoided by EVs = 221K barrels

• GHG reduced from gasoline to grid power = 44M lbs.

• GHG reduced when Solar Driven = 84M lbs.

• EV-related fuel savings = $8.2M

• EV-related maintenance savings = $3.6M

• EV-related $$ Retained in the Community = $7.6M

Stew Miller (Yes Solar Solutions) said that the average gas-powered vehicle emits the equivalent of 11,435 lbs. of CO2 annually.  And on average, using the NC electric grid to charge an EV releases 4,185 lbs. of CO2 each year.

Daily Cycle of Solar & Storage graphic by Yes Solar Solutions.

Miller said that by using solar and storage like Tesla Powerwall to generate and store the electricity needed to power their vehicles, EV drivers can reduce their transportation-related emissions to zero. Powering EVs with a home solar system is typically cheaper than charging your car with electricity from the grid as well, Miller said.

Bharat Balagopal discussed electric vehicle charging and integration with the smart grid.

According to Balagopal, benefits of community charging are:
• EVs are flexible loads that can improve the stability of the grid
• Sooth the adverse effect of renewable fluctuations by quickly changing the charge rates
• Improve the power quality by peak shaving (reducing the load) and valley filling (increasing the load)

However, risks include:
• Uncontrolled charging of multiple EVs can destabilize the grid
• Simultaneous charging of EVs can introduce huge load to the grid

To alleviate those risks, Balagopal said, researchers at Advanced Diagnosis, Automation, and Control Lab (ADAC) devised a method for smart charging of EVs to maximize benefits and minimize the risks of EV integration. Their technology, he said, can intelligently schedule the charging of the EVs based on energy needs, working schedule, renewable energy generation and load pattern.

There are two main enabling technologies that allow them to intelligently control the charging of the EVs — the Collaborative Distributed Energy Management System and the Smart Battery Gauge. To learn more, click here.

Continue reading

Posted by Nicole Deck

CFAT awards & new funding

NCCETC Awards $1.2 million in Air Quality Improvement Grants
New round of funding released

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) announced the results of a call for projects through the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) Project. The 2017-2018 $5.6 million initiative, focused on reducing transportation-related emissions, is supported with federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT). More than $1,245,300 is being awarded for eight projects to a variety of public and private entities. A new round of funding has also been released, and the applications are due June 8, 2018. Apply here!

The awards include: 

    Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) leasing by BuildSense, Inc.

    AFV conversions and idle reduction technology by City of Charlotte

    Idle reduction technology by Convoy Solutions and Viatec Incorporated

    AFV conversions by Gaston County North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA), and City of Winston Salem

    Diesel retrofit by North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Division

The CFAT project operates in counties that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards. More than half of North Carolinians live in counties that have unhealthy air. In total, the awarded equipment displaces 353,265.16 gallons of diesel/gas a year, reducing 97.02 kg of daily emissions.

Round 2 of funding request for proposal period has opened and awards will be announced by September 2018. Up to $1,455,000 in federal funding is being awarded for projects to a variety of public and private entities. The deadline to apply for this final CFAT round of funding for 2018 is June 8, 2018. For the application and more information, click here.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Particle Falls art exhibit in Winston-Salem

Particle Falls projected on the Stevens Center building in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. Photos provided by Clean Air Carolina
The orange fireball represents the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.

Winston-Salem’s 10-story tall Stevens Center was illuminated last month, displaying a giant animated light art projection of a blue waterfall turning into a fireball.
But the art wasn’t just for show — the spectacle represented the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of air pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.
The animation, Particle Falls: Air Made Visible, was designed by artist Andrea Polli, Art and Ecology professor at the University of New Mexico, by using specialized computer software. It is generated by translating real-time particulate matter data from the surrounding air, using a nephelometer — an instrument that takes in air samples and gathers data about the concentration of particle pollution. A computer program then transforms the data into visual bursts of color over the background of blue light.
“With this particular exhibit, it’s so beautiful … yet it stands for something that can be so ugly,” said Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes, Associate Professor of Cellular & Molecular Biology at Winston-Salem State University.
Particulate matter, which occurs year-round, is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets, the smallest measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter – just 1/30th the width of a human hair, according to Clean Air Carolina. While larger particles known as soot affect your health, it is the fine particulate matter that is more dangerous because it can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier.
There is no safe level of particulate matter.
“Most air pollution in North Carolina is invisible, so it’s not on most people’s radar at all,” said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina. “So this particular public art installation gets people’s attention, and gets them to start asking questions.”
Winston-Salem has been ranked as the 142nd most polluted cities in 2016 and traditionally ranks above the national average of US cities for average annual particle pollution, according to Clean Air Carolina.
Sources of particle pollution in Winston-Salem include cars, trucks, diesel buses and construction equipment, landscaping tools, agriculture, industrial facilities, power plants, biomass, and residential wood burning.
“For climate deniers, for climate believers — it’s something that you can come down and say, ‘You know what? I may not believe about the climate changing, but I know that I’m breathing that in, and what that means for me,'” said Wendell Hardin, Sustainability Manager of City of Winston-Salem.
For more information about Particle Falls, check out this video.

Posted by Nicole Deck

First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day

Ron Luttrell of Zero Motorcycles talks to a guest test driving a Zero Motorcycle at First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day. Photo by Mark Lienhard, EVOLVE GT LLC
First responders of all types got a chance to trade their typical mode of transport for a day and test drive several different alternative fuel vehicles, including LPG, CNG, PHEV and electric motorcycles, on a closed track.
About 60 first responders attended First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day at the NC Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR), where they got a chance to learn about alternative fuel vehicles and clean transportation technology applications for law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services.
The day started out with testimonials, real-world case study presentations and learning sessions, and was followed by vehicle test drives on NCCAR’s closed 2-mile, 40-foot wide serpentine road course in Garysburg, NC.
First responders and guests take a look at an ICOM Alternative Fuel Systems vehicle. Photo by Mark Lienhard
The NCCAR Road Course from above. Provided by North Carolina Center for Automotive Research
Most attendees took a lap around the track, said Richard Sapienza, Clean Transportation Program Director at North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center – many reaching more than 100 MPH.
“It was a lot of driving and a lot of fun,” Sapienza said. “I wanted to be able to push the vehicles and see their performance in a safe environment, and that was achieved.”
The vehicles at the event were two Ford Explorer Interceptors, a Ford F350 PU, Chevy Tahoe, Ford F150 PU, Police Plug-In Focus and two Zero Motorcycles. The idle reduction technologies on display included a Smeal SG-09 APU Fire Truck, ZeroRPM REV Group Ambulance, Stealth Power Chevy Police Tahoe, and LGS Group Vehicle Technologies.
An up-close shot of a Zero Motorcycle. Photo by Mark Lienhard
First responders and guests check out the Charlotte Fire Department firetruck. Photo by Mark Lienhard
The two Zero Motorcycles featured the Z-force motor — a single moving part with no fluid, clutch or transmission, according to www.zeromotorcycles.com. Several attendees commented on both the motorcycles’ ability to pick up speed quickly while also remaining strikingly quiet, especially when comparing to most gas-powered motorcycles’ recognizable rumble.
The ambulances and fire trucks used idling technology, which minimizes the amount of time vehicles need to idle and allows them to use less of their engine or generator.
Attendees learned that all of the alternative fuel technologies could be used to save money, improve efficiency and extend vehicle service life.
Because of the event’s success, NC Clean Energy Technology Center hopes to repeat a demonstration day in the future.

“Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University is sponsoring a student art contest on the topic of ways that we can take action to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks. Students from kindergarten through college can submit artwork for the contest. Winners will have their artwork featured on billboards across the state to help spread the word about ways that we all can help keep the air clean. All billboards will direct people to learn more at www.fuelwhatmatters.org. Winners will also receive 4 hockey tickets to the Canes vs. Capital game, January 12, 2018, at the PNC Arena, courtesy of WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company.

Artwork can be submitted through November 26 at midnight. November 27 through December 10 will be the voting period. You can submit your artwork online here or you can email it, together with the Art Contest Permission form to hmbrutz@ncsu.edu. You can read the full contest rules on the WRAL website.

Only North Carolina residents’ artwork will be considered. Prizes will be given out by grade levels: elementary school (grades 5 and below), middle school (grades 6-8), high School (grades 9-12), college (students must be currently enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college or university).

Please focus your artwork on on the theme of actions that individuals and families can take to reduce the amount of air pollution from vehicles. Examples of actions that people can take to help reduce pollution from cars and trucks includes: walking, biking, using public transportation, car-pooling, using alternative fuels (such as electric vehicles, biofuels, and more), and not idling your car unnecessarily. Please make your artwork family-friendly and non-partisan.

After you submit your artwork, your friends and family will have the opportunity to vote on it through social media. The popularity of submissions will be one of the major considerations in choosing winners. Winners will ultimately be chosen based on the following: relevance and appropriateness of the message, visual design,  and votes on social media.

Thank you for helping us persuade people to Keep Our Air Clean!

Posted by NC Clean Energy Technology Center

Everyone can take steps to reduce vehicle pollution

Pollution from vehicles is a major cause of health problems such as asthma. We all benefit from clean air. No matter who you are, there are actions you can take to help reduce the amount of pollution that comes from cars. Everyone, from kids to adults, can help make a difference. Here are some things that you can do.

    1. 1. Ride a bike or walk.

If you are only going a short distance, consider riding a bike or walking instead of driving. You can get exercise and enjoy the fresh air while getting where you need to go!

2. Take public transit.
If you need to go somewhere that is along a bus or light rail line, consider taking public transit instead of going in a car.

3. Carpool.
When going to school or work, try to carpool together with other people who are headed in the same direction. You can save money and reduce the amount of fuel burned at the same time.

4. Avoid idling.
When idling, you waste fuel by burning it when you aren’t moving. If you will be in the same spot for more than a minute or two, consider turning off your vehicle’s engine (as long as it is safe to do so).

5. Use alternative fuels.
Alternative fuels are cleaner than regular gasoline or diesel. Alternative fuel vehicles include electric vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles that can use ethanol blends. Most new electric vehicles now have a range of over 100 miles, which meets most people’s daily commuting needs. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and extended range electric vehicles use gasoline as well and therefore do not have a range limit. Flex-fuel vehicles can use ethanol blends that are up to 85% ethanol and regular cars that are newer than 2001 can use ethanol blends that have up to 15% ethanol. Ethanol is made from crops such as corn and helps support American farmers.

None of these options work for everyone all the time. But all of us can take steps to reduce pollution from cars and trucks.

Posted by Growth Energy

E15 ethanol blend available for the Fall

As summer comes to a close, American drivers now have access to E15 – a 21st century fueling option that contains five percent more ethanol than what most drivers have been using for years. That’s good news for drivers and for our environment.

Virtually all gasoline used in the United States contains ten percent ethanol, something that has been true for years. This biofuel replaces toxic fuel additives that are linked to cancer and smog. And today, 29 states offer fuel with higher blends of ethanol, including E15.

By using more ethanol in our fuel supply, we have the ability to more fully realize the benefits of this American-made fuel source.

What are these benefits? Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that ethanol can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 43 percent or more when compared to petroleum. Not only that, it is more affordable, renewable and it’s home-grown – keeping prices low at the pump while simultaneously supporting jobs right here in the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves E15 for use in any vehicle manufactured since 2001, which equates to 9 out of 10 cars on the road today.

E15 is currently sold at more than 950 retail outlets across 29 states – and that number grows every day. So, next time you fill up, choose E15 as a cleaner, modern fuel option. In our book, it’s definitely a fuel that matters.

To find an E15 retailer near you and learn more about this 21st century fuel choice, visit GetEthanol.com on your computer or mobile device.