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Your Guide to Electric Vehicle Resilience Funding In North Carolina

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has unveiled a vital new resource titled, “Electric Vehicle Resilience Funding in North Carolina: Grants, Rebates, and Tax Credits,” offering a lifeline to both commercial and public sector entities delving into electric vehicle (EV) adoption and infrastructure development. 

This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the array of incentives available for EV purchases and charging station installations statewide. From federal grants to utility-funded initiatives, the document outlines numerous financial avenues for those eager to embrace sustainable transportation solutions.

Empowering Electric Vehicle Resilience

In the dynamic landscape of sustainable transportation, the rise of EVs represents a shift towards cleaner, more efficient modes of travel. As the United States pursues steps to decarbonize the transportation sector, the importance of bolstering the resilience and reliability of support infrastructure has become increasingly apparent. 

In an era marked by the escalating impact of natural disasters, the vulnerability of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure stands out as a pressing concern. With hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other calamities increasing in frequency and intensity, safeguarding the resilience of our transportation systems becomes paramount. No longer is it solely about embracing cleaner modes of travel; it’s about ensuring the viability of these alternatives even in the face of calamity.

Fortunately, legislators on federal, state, and local levels have recognized the critical importance of incentivizing EV adoption and infrastructure development. Through the enactment of various direct financial incentives, they aim to provide market certainty and facilitate the accelerated deployment of clean transportation technologies. These initiatives not only drive innovation but also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and forging a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Strategic utilization of available funding holds the key to establishing a robust and accessible EV charging network throughout North Carolina. By strategically locating charging stations, we can ensure convenience and reliability, encouraging individuals to embrace sustainable transportation options in their daily lives. This not only enhances accessibility but also promotes inclusivity, making EVs a viable choice for all members of the community.

NCCETC recently partnered with the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments to spearhead initiatives aimed at enhancing the resiliency of EV infrastructure in the Upper Coastal Plains region of North Carolina. A key component of this initiative was the introduction of a webinar series designed to disseminate crucial information on electric vehicle infrastructure resilience, particularly in the face of natural disasters. Tailored specifically to the dynamics of Eastern North Carolina, these webinars served as an invaluable resource for the region, equipping stakeholders with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the challenges posed by adverse weather conditions.

By harnessing the power of financial incentives and funding, we can accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable and resilient transportation ecosystem in North Carolina and beyond.

A-B Tech’s EV Charging Hub: Surging Usage Signals a Shift in Asheville’s Eco-Transport Trends

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) has successfully transformed its electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities, turning a once underutilized resource into a bustling hub for clean transportation. Thanks to a CFAT grant, A-B Tech’s upgraded charging stations, including the rapid DC Fast Charger, have seen a significant surge in usage, reflecting the community’s growing commitment to sustainable practices and the college’s role in fostering this shift. This initiative was made possible through a grant awarded by the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project, administered by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC), showcasing A-B Tech’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

The CFAT project channels federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding annually from the NC Department of Transportation (DOT). NCCETC has been at the forefront of managing CFAT funding since 2006, distributing $11.9 million in federal funds to facilitate the adoption of clean transportation technologies across North Carolina. This effort aims to enhance air quality and reduce emissions associated with transportation throughout the state.

In 2019, A-B Tech sought CFAT funding to address the need for replacement of three EV charging ports originally installed in 2015 through a collaborative partnership with Nissan, Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, Duke Energy, and EATON. While these initial chargers served the EV charging needs of the Western NC community for several years, they became inoperable and were no longer serviceable by the manufacturing company.

With the CFAT grant, A-B Tech successfully upgraded and replaced the nonfunctional chargers. The new infrastructure includes two BTCPower Dual Port Level 2 chargers and one Direct Current (DC) Fast Charger. The DC Fast Charger is particularly noteworthy as it allows drivers to rapidly charge their vehicles in minutes, a crucial feature that supports the growing adoption of EVs.

Furthermore, A-B Tech’s commitment to sustainability extends to the general public, as the charging stations are open for use and incur minimal costs. Initially popular due to their accessibility from downtown Asheville, the Biltmore estate, and Mission Hospital, A-B Tech’s charging stations faced a decline in usage in 2017, 2018, and 2019 due to the unreliability of the Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE).

The replacement of all three chargers not only addressed this issue but also served to expand access and usage of the college’s EVSE. The charging stations were integrated into an NC Community Colleges EVSE continuous monitoring system which will record operation and usage data for all networked stations. This development enabled A-B Tech to establish a new technology tracking system and pricing structure, marking a significant step forward in the College’s broader plans to reduce emissions campus-wide.

“The fast charger at AB tech isn’t just a power source; it’s a catalyst for the future of electric vehicle evolution. It’s the spark that ignites convenience, accessibility, and paves the way for exponential EV growth,” said Ian Baillie, a Regional Planner for the Land of Sky Regional Council. 

Baillie added, “Our region is increasing it’s EV adoption at a faster pace than fast charging infrastructure is being implemented.” EV registration in Buncombe County has more than doubled from August 2021 to August 2023, according to Baillie.

“AB-Tech has a convenient location for residents and visitors that helps close gaps across the region,” Baillie stated. Following the installation of the charging stations in 2021, a successful public awareness and education campaign helped drive an increase in the utilization of the chargers. Over 400 charging sessions of both the DC Fast Charger and Level 2 chargers were recorded over the year.

The utilization of these charging stations has continuously increased, with more than 760 charging sessions recorded in 2023. The fourth quarter of 2023 saw a notable jump in demand, with a 47% increase in Kilowatt Hours (kWh) and a 22% increase in sessions.

When asked to comment on this significant growth, Dirk Wilmoth (A-B Tech’s Vice President for Business and Finance) said, “I think awareness of our location is increasing, along with the demand from more e-vehicles on the road locally.”

A-B Tech’s strategic collaboration with the CFAT project has not only revitalized its EV charging infrastructure but has also positioned the College as a leader in sustainable transportation solutions. With reliable and advanced charging options, A-B Tech is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a cleaner and more sustainable future for the Asheville community and beyond.

Stay updated and learn more about CFAT funding and selected projects here

Accelerating the Transition: Electric School Buses Transforming Transportation for a Sustainable Future

Electric school buses are rolling out across the country due to historic federal and state investments made to support the replacement of existing diesel school buses with low and zero-emission alternatives. The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC), through its Clean Transportation program, stands at the forefront, assisting fleets eager to leverage grant or rebate funds for cleaner, more sustainable transportation options and infrastructure.

In a recent webinar titled “Seasoned Fleet Managers’ Straight Talk on Electric School Buses,” experienced fleet managers from the Southeast region, including Donnie Owle of Cherokee Boys Club Inc., Paul D’Andrade of Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools, Hope Watts of Lynchburg Virginia Public Schools, and Wendy Anderson of Randolph County Public Schools, shared insights into their experiences with acquiring and deploying electric school buses. The full webinar, hosted by NCCETC’s John Bonitz and Rick Sapienza, is available to stream for free on GoToWebinar

Donnie Owle, Service Manager and Vice President of the Cherokee Boys Club, discussed the successful integration of electric school buses into their fleet. With support from NCCETC, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) secured funds through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program, making them the first tribe east of the Mississippi to receive such grant funding. 

Owle initially had reservations when considering the possibility of adding electric school buses to his fleet. “First two things I thought about were power and how they were going to do here in the mountains – and how long is the battery going to last?” said Owle. 

Being able to experience the power of an ESB on a ride-along persuaded Owle to change his mind. Owle and other CBC staff members traveled to High Point, NC where the school bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is headquartered. “They really impressed me on how long the battery will last,” Owle recalled. 

NCCETC staff played a central role in this initiative, collaborating closely with the CBC to assist in the grant-writing process and conduct emissions quantifications. These services were helpful in assessing the potential reduction in air pollution from the retirement of older, polluting buses and the subsequent deployment of new, zero-emission electric school buses. 

The success of this collaboration underscores the commitment of both the EBCI and NCCETC in spearheading innovative solutions for cleaner, more sustainable transportation in the region. The EBCI and CBC are the first school bus fleet in North Carolina, and among the first in the Southeast, to commit to a pathway towards 100% electrification. 

As part of NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program, Bonitz has been providing ongoing technical support to EBCI and the CBC transportation division, which operates the bus system for Cherokee Central Schools on the Qualla Boundary. He guided CBC staff through the meticulous documentation process of disabling and scrapping old diesel buses, ensuring compliance with the EPA’s DERA program.

“We just completed the process of permanently retiring EBCI’s old diesel school buses as part of the EPA’s funding requirements,” said Bonitz. “The EPA has a detailed process for scrapping the old buses which had to be completed within 90 days of receiving the new electric school buses to ensure the funds are being used to replace and remove polluting vehicles from the road, for good.” Pictured is Katie Tiger, an Environmental Specialist with the EBCI, posing as the engine of a retired diesel bus is destroyed.

Diesel school buses emit harmful pollutants into the air, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Diesel exhaust from these buses can cause poor air quality in addition to a myriad of health problems such as asthma and heart disease. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution both inside and near diesel school buses due to their underdeveloped lungs and faster breathing rate when compared to adults. 

Bus drivers, school staff, students and community members can all benefit from the implementation of low- and zero-emission vehicles. The use of electric school buses results in cleaner air on the bus, along the bus route and in loading areas, as well as in the communities in which they operate. 

Paul D’Andrade, Assistant Director of Transportation for Fairfax County Public Schools, emphasized the operational benefits of electric school buses. “We’re seeing significant savings when it comes down to fueling, between charging versus diesel and also for maintenance,” he reported. 

D’Andrade elaborated on the cost savings from electric school buses: With reduced fuel expenses, eliminated fluid changes, and fewer mechanical parts in need of maintenance, electric school buses have proven lower operational costs than their diesel counterparts. The positive impact extends to reduced brake wear, thanks to regenerative braking technology.

Funding Opportunity Available Now: 2023 Clean School Bus Program Rebates

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2021 provides $5 billion over 5 years (2022-2026) to support the replacement of existing school buses with clean or zero-emission school buses under Title XI: Clean School Buses and Ferries. Under this law, the EPA was authorized to administer rebates, grants, and contracts, aiming to replace a significant portion of the country’s fleet of approximately 500,00 school buses with environmentally friendly and zero-emission models to mitigate the adverse emissions from older, more polluting buses. 

Under the Clean School Bus (CSB) Program, fifty percent of the allocated funds are specifically earmarked for the adoption of zero-emission school buses, while the remaining fifty percent is designated for the acquisition of clean school buses. A zero-emission school bus is defined as a vehicle that generates no exhaust emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gasses while a clean school bus is characterized as a bus that diminishes emissions and operates either wholly or partially on alternative fuel.

The EPA is currently accepting applications for the 2023 CSB Rebate Program through January 31, 2024. This is the third round of funding offered through the CSB program and $500 million has been made available to public school districts, tribal applicants, and third parties such as nonprofit school transportation associations and eligible contractors. 

As stipulated in law, prioritization is given to certain CSB applicants, including high-need and rural school districts, school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and school districts that support children who reside on Indian land. Applicants requesting funding that meet the prioritization criteria are eligible for increased funding per bus and benefit from preferential consideration in the selection process. 

The 2023 CSB Rebate Program will provide up to $345,000 per ESB to cover the purchase of the bus and related electric vehicle charging infrastructure. More information regarding the selection process and prioritization can be found on the EPA’s website here

Another important fund source is NC’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI), which covers a minimum of $100,000 per electric bus that replaces an old diesel bus already scheduled for replacement.  In some cases, depending on bus specifications, the DPI contribution may be as high as $125,000.

Duke Energy is also helping contribute to the costs of electric bus charging infrastructure.  Their EV Charger Prep Credit is worth many thousands of dollars, based on specifics of the charger and usage, as determined by an online calculator. 

“For prioritized applicants, it looks very good: Between EPA’s $345k, DPI’s $100k, charger prep credit from Duke Energy, and the IRS tax credit elective payments on bus and charger, prioritized applicants can be confident their costs will be covered,” said Bonitz.

The Inflation Reduction Act also offers tax credits which may be applicable to help cover the cost of bus and infrastructure purchases, even for tax-exempt entities like local governments and school districts. The Commercial Clean Vehicle Credit provides up to $40,000 for qualified clean vehicles and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit provides up to $100,000 for qualified charging and refueling infrastructure.

In North Carolina, the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) program provides annual funding for clean transportation technologies in eligible counties across the state. CFAT funding, administered by NCCETC, helps private and public fleets purchase clean transportation technologies to improve North Carolina’s air quality.

In North Carolina, newly available funding sources are more than enough to cover all costs of ESB projects for certain applicants.  Because EPA prioritizes a list of high-need local education agencies, rural areas, disadvantaged communities, etc., such as North Carolina’s Tier 1 counties and Historically Under-Resourced Counties, they offer a more generous rebate for projects by these prioritized applicants. In many cases, available incentive funds will cover 100% of the project costs, especially for underfunded, disadvantaged, and rural school districts.  As John Bonitz describes,  “For prioritized applicants, it looks very good: Between EPA’s $345k, DPI’s $100k, charger prep credit from Duke Energy, and the IRS tax credit elective payments on bus and charger, prioritized applicants can be confident their costs will be covered.” 

With such an abundance of funding sources available for purchasing electric school buses, these funds can be “braided” together to cover 100% of the project costs, especially for underfunded, disadvantaged and rural school districts. NCCETC has published a fact sheet with information about these funding sources and includes a spreadsheet that can be downloaded to create a draft budget to estimate project costs.

The transition to electrify school buses in the United States represents a commitment to the well-being of our communities and the environment. The continuous collaboration between NCCETC and pioneering fleets exemplifies the collective effort required to build a sustainable future, one electric school bus at a time. As we deploy these cleaner and more efficient modes of transportation, we create a future where our children can breathe easier, learn safer, and travel sustainably.

Empowering Tomorrow: Considerations for Resilient Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Amidst Natural Disasters

In the pursuit of sustainable transportation, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a transformative force, providing a cleaner alternative to traditional combustion-engine vehicles. As the global transition towards widespread EV adoption gains momentum, local governments must consider a critical aspect often overlooked in the electrification revolution – the resilience and reliability of the infrastructure needed to support the use of these vehicles during and after natural disasters.

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) partnered with the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments to promote the development of plans that enhance the resilience of electric vehicle infrastructure in the Upper Coastal Plains region of North Carolina. Part of the initiative was a webinar series designed to disseminate essential information pertaining to electric vehicle infrastructure and its resilience in the face of natural disasters. Tailored to the specifics of Eastern North Carolina, these webinars served as a valuable resource for the region and can help set the stage for similar efforts outside the region.

Reliability, Resilience and Redundancy

The webinar “Electric Vehicles and Resilience During Natural Disasters”, was held on October 31, 2023 and the full webinar recording can be viewed on NCCETC’s Youtube Channel here. The webinar was hosted by Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NCCETC, and featured presentations from Alexander Yoshizumi from the Applied Data Research Institute, Isaac Panzarella from NCCETC, and Ron Townley from the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments.

In the wake of increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, the vulnerability of EV charging infrastructure poses a significant challenge. It is essential for stakeholders across industries to collaboratively design and implement solutions that guarantee the continued functionality of EV infrastructure during adverse weather conditions.

Heather Brutz emphasized key vulnerabilities, such as electrical outages and flooding, during the discussion on planning for resiliency. She underscored the importance of reliability and redundancy, stating, “Resilience implies many different things…it can come from having reliable chargers that operate under adverse conditions and it can also come from having redundancy in chargers.” This strategic approach involves deploying backup power, positioning chargers on higher ground to prevent flooding damage, and designing chargers to withstand minor flooding without compromising essential electrical components.

Alexander Yoshizumi, Executive Director of Applied Data Research Institute, introduced the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Resilience Model (AFIRM), an agent-based network model of traffic flow. This model serves as a crucial tool for regional and transportation planners, as well as electric utilities, offering a comprehensive framework for simulating various scenarios of EV infrastructure under different evacuation conditions.

Recognizing the prolonged refueling times of EVs compared to conventional fuel vehicles, especially in emergency scenarios, Yoshizumi reiterated the need for proactive planning. AFIRM is strategically crafted to anticipate and address the challenges associated with the growing adoption of electric vehicles and the future of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

Illustrating some of the parameters the model takes into account, Yoshizumi said, “We break parameters into vehicle agents, the nodes which include interchanges and EVSE, the lines which are the roads themselves, and then the traffic flow itself gets parameterized.” By considering these chosen parameters, the model provides a comprehensive framework for simulating various scenarios of EV infrastructure under different evacuation conditions.

This intricate modeling allows for a nuanced exploration of potential outcomes and facilitates the identification of best practices and improvement opportunities in the design and siting of electric vehicle charging equipment, particularly in emergency scenarios. Through simulations that encompass diverse possibilities of EV infrastructure performance during evacuations, the AFIRM model aims to offer valuable insights in shaping the future of electric mobility in the face of evolving challenges and worsening natural disasters.

Yoshizumi concluded with a look forward to the next steps for AFIRM. “We are currently building out the network model for US-64 and parameterizing rules for the network and then we’re going to use that to identify under what adoption levels and evacuation conditions capacity becomes an issue as well as identify the locations where adding plugs maximizes resilience,” said Yoshizumi.

Isaac Panzarella discussed three main areas of focus in making charging infrastructure more resilient: utility grid resilience measures, charging equipment, and microgrids. At the grid level, measures such as hardening distribution by undergrounding, vegetation management and elevating substations above flooding are handled at the utility level.

At the local level, the government and the private sector can implement measures to make infrastructure more resilient regardless of a distribution grid outage. “There are a number of resilient EV charging equipment technologies that have come out in the last 10 years or so, and more are coming out or under development as people innovate,” Panzarella said.

The integration of technologies such as energy storage systems, solar energy and alternate fuel sources can extend the function of charging stations during natural disasters when connection to the electrical grid may be disrupted. Mobile charging station solutions can take the form of large battery storage systems as well as engine generators or fuel cells that can be moved and connected to critical infrastructure nodes to provide capacity while the grid is inoperable.

Microgrids are a more robust solution that can be applied in larger EV charging applications, such as the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot in Montgomery County, Maryland. Here, 4.3 megawatts (MW) of battery storage is coupled with 2 MW of solar photovoltaics and 2 MW of backup generators to help ensure that the public bus system that many people rely on keeps running during extended grid outages.  During normal, blue sky conditions, much of the electric bus charging comes from renewable solar energy, resulting in a 62% reduction of carbon emissions.

Federal Funding Sources for EVSE Resilience

The second session in the webinar series, hosted on November 13, 2023, featured “Federal Funding Sources for EVSE Resilience” and is also available to stream on the NCCETC’s Youtube Channel here. This insightful session, featuring Heather Brutz, Ron Townley, and Isaac Panzarella, delved into crucial federal funding opportunities that underpin the development of resilient EV infrastructure.

Legislators on federal, state and local levels have enacted a variety of direct financial incentives for EVs and EV infrastructure to provide market certainty and facilitate the accelerated deployment of clean transportation technologies.

Heather Brutz highlighted key provisions under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, emphasizing the plethora of tax credits it introduced. Brutz said, “There are tax credits for vehicles, fueling infrastructure, and alternative fuels – and it also expanded the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit.”

For government fleets, Brutz highlighted the Commercial Clean Vehicle tax credit since business and tax-exempt organizations can qualify for the credit. “You can get up to $7,500 for vehicles that weigh less than 14,000 pounds and up to $40,000 for vehicles that weigh more than 14,000 pounds with this tax credit,” Brutz explained. The tax credit can be used for the purchase of qualified plug-in EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that meet the manufacturing requirements outlined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) extended and modified the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit, which can be used to cover up to 30% of the cost of qualified vehicle refueling and recharging property installed in a home or business, not to exceed $100,000. Beginning in 2023, however, qualifying property has been limited to installments placed in service within low-income communities or non-urban census tracts.

Furthermore, Brutz detailed amendments to the federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), introducing prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for larger systems to qualify for the full tax credit. Projects under 1 megawatt (MW) can receive the full 30% tax credit if construction begins before January 1, 2025. Projects over 1 MW, commencing construction before the same date, can secure a base tax credit of 6%, extendable to 30% contingent upon compliance with new labor standards.

Project eligibility extends to additional credit amounts through various bonus credits under the ITC. Projects meeting specific criteria, such as Domestic Content Bonus and Energy Community Bonus, unlock additional financial incentives.

The Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program offers an increased tax credit of 10% for solar and wind projects under 5 MW built in qualifying communities, as defined by the New Markets Tax Credit or on Indian Land. Projects in low-income residential buildings or low-income economic benefit projects can receive an increased tax credit of 20%.

As part of the IRA, the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program allocates funds to states, local governments, territories and tribes for developing and implementing climate impact mitigation plans. Notably, the program awards $1 million to the 67 most populous areas in the U.S., including the Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte area in North Carolina. The NC Department of Environmental Quality is administering CPRG funds for the state and anticipates receiving a $3 million award for planning activities.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2021, with its $108 billion authorization for federal public transportation programs, introduces an array of extended and new grant programs. BIL authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to administer $5 billion over 5 years in rebates, grants and contracts, aiming to replace a significant portion of the country’s school buses with environmentally friendly and zero emission models to mitigate the adverse emissions from older buses through the Clean School Bus program.

One program established by BIL was the National Electric Vehicle infrastructure Program (NEVI), which provides nearly $5 billion from July 2022-June 2027 to help states create a network of 500,000 publicly accessible EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors. Additionally, the Carbon Reduction Program was created to provide funds for projects designed to reduce transportation-related emissions defined as carbon dioxide emissions from on-road highway sources.

Complementary to state managed programs under NEVI, the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program seeks to strategically deploy publicly accessible EV charging stations and other alternative fuel infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors.

BIL continued the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program which provides a flexible funding source to state and local government transportation projects and programs to help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. State CMAQ funds are further allocated to the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) program, administered by NCCETC, to provide annual funding for clean transportation technologies in eligible countries across North Carolina.

On both federal and state levels, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act is another annual funding opportunity allocated to projects for the establishment of diesel emissions reduction programs for diesel vehicles, engines and equipment including school buses, transit buses, medium- or heavy-duty trucks, marine engines, locomotives and non-road engines, equipment, or vehicles.

To help customers navigate the variety of direct financial incentives available for EVs and EV fueling infrastructure, NCCETC previously published the guidance document Electric Vehicles & Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Incentives in North Carolina. This comprehensive document outlines incentives available through federal, state, regional and electric utility funded programs.

Initiatives and strategic planning such as AFIRM coupled with funding sources to support the implementation of clean transportation technologies are paving the way for a resilient and reliable future for electric vehicle infrastructure. By addressing vulnerabilities, embracing innovative models like AFIRM, and capitalizing on federal funding opportunities, stakeholders can contribute to the safety of drivers in emergencies and inspire confidence and investment in the robust deployment of EV infrastructure and ensure EVs remain a sustainable and resilient mode of transportation.

Walker Auto Parts Drives into the Future: A Success Story of Electrifying a Fleet

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) partnered with Walker Auto and Truck to embark on a transformative journey to electrify their fleet. North Carolina-based Walker Auto and Truck, a family-run auto parts company with a rich 50-year history, has not only embraced its legacy but is also steering into the future with an innovative and eco-friendly approach.

In 2021, NCCETC provided information to Walker Auto and Truck to help them navigate funding opportunities. Walker and Auto Truck then submitted a grant application to secure funding to incorporate its first fully-electric vehicle – a Chevy Volt into the company fleet. The company installed Level 2 chargers for overnight charging, with public charging stations added to one of their stores in Wilmington, NC. 

The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) has been a financial boon, with owner Nat Walker noting, “The offset in fuel costs we experienced is astounding. Our goal is to migrate over to an electric and hybrid fleet.”

The positive outcomes of this shift are evident: a two-year pilot with the Chevy Bolt demonstrated remarkable performance, covering an average of 280 miles per week and offsetting gasoline costs significantly. Now, Walker Auto and Truck is not only changing the face of fleet replacements by considering plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, but they are also actively engaging and encouraging others who are considering the transition to EVs. The company has participated in several events organized by NCCETC, showcasing their EV success story and contributing to the broader discourse on sustainable business practices and clean transportation.

Walker offered this advice to other businesses considering a shift to EVs in their fleet, “Don’t be afraid or panic.” Walker emphasized the importance of thorough investigation, testing and strategic planning. 

Constantly seeking incentive funding at various levels of government has enabled Walker Auto and Truck to offset costs and expand their business strategies. Using a proactive approach to secure funding demonstrates the potential for other organizations to align sustainability with their economic growth.

Additionally, Walker Auto and Truck found that ensuring anyone operating the EVs receives training is a key practice to help employees familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s features. Monitoring battery charge in an EV to prevent it from dropping below 20% is imperative to keep the vehicle running smoothly and avoid any charging issues. 

Riding the success of the new addition to their fleet, Walker Auto and Truck have expanded the scope of their business by venturing into consulting services. Under the new venture, EV Walker Charging Solutions, the company provides consulting services for the installation of charging stations in single and multi-family residential areas. 

When looking to the future, Walker anticipates growing demand from the public and service departments at Walker Auto and Truck for EV maintenance and parts as vehicles exceed the life of their warranties and as incentives for EVs extend to include previously-owned vehicles. 

The success story of Walker Auto and Truck’s journey towards electrifying their fleets serves as a testament to the possibilities for traditional business to embrace sustainable practices and technologies. Learn more about electric vehicles and if this option could be right for your fleet at www.cleantransportation.org.

Renewable Propane: A Clean Choice to Power Your Vehicle

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) works with government, non-profit organizations and businesses to help diversify fuel supplies and support cleaner, more vibrant local and state economies. The Clean Transportation program at NCCETC propels the development, awareness and use of alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies. 

One alternative fuel, propane, is a popular choice across the United States for a variety of fleet vehicle applications including school buses, shuttle buses, vans, taxis and law enforcement vehicles. According to a report by the Gas Technology Institute prepared for the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), there are over 147,000 vehicles on the road in the U.S. fueled by propane.

“NCCETC’s Clean Transportation team is ready to support fleets interested in exploring the financial and environmental benefits of different fuel choices, including propane,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NCCETC. “Diversifying our nation’s fuel supply with domestic fuels like propane – strengthens U.S. energy security while also reducing harmful emissions.” 

Introduction to Propane for Transportation

Propane, also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), is a simple hydrocarbon byproduct of natural gas processing or crude oil refining. Currently the third most common engine fuel source in the world, propane is a clean-burning alternative fuel that has been used for decades to power light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. 

The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) reports that propane has a high octane rating and excellent properties for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It is stored as a liquid in a pressurized tank onboard the vehicle to maximize energy storage. As the pressure is released, the liquid propane vaporizes and turns into gas that is used in a combustion engine. 

The commercial grade of propane sold for use in motor vehicles in North America is also called HD-5 or Autogas and is a mixture of propane with smaller amounts of other gases. The U.S. Energy Information Association reported that, as of 2020, more than 93% of the U.S. propane supply was produced in North America. More information about propane can be found on the AFDC website here

The Benefits of Choosing Propane

Fleets stand to gain numerous benefits from adopting propane vehicles, including potential emissions reductions without compromising on performance. Propane-powered vehicles offer comparable horsepower, torque, and payload capacity to conventionally fueled vehicles. 

As Brutz noted, diversifying the U.S. fuel supply helps reduce overall dependence on imported petroleum. The continued use of alternative fuels and other clean transportation technologies to reduce petroleum consumption increases national energy security while decreasing transportation energy costs for businesses and consumers.

Propane is produced domestically and has high energy density with relatively low cost compared to gasoline and diesel. As one of the most accessible alternative fuels to the general public, propane is a popular choice for high-mileage vehicles. 

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and select dealerships offer a number of medium- and heavy-duty propane vehicle models. In addition to OEM models, fleets and consumers have the ability to convert existing gasoline vehicles using qualified system retrofitters for propane operation. 

In vehicle applications, propane-fueled vehicles have lower carbon dioxide (NOx) emissions in comparison to equivalent gasoline or diesel vehicles. When replacing conventional fuels such as gasoline, propane vehicles also reduce full-fuel-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and source energy consumption. 

Renewable Propane

Renewable propane, which is chemically identical to conventional propane, is produced from biomass-based feedstocks, including used cooking oil, animal fats or 20% dimethyl ether. With all the same great features as conventional propane – reliability, portability, power and reduced carbon emissions – renewable propane has a low (CI) value, depending on its feedstock.

Renewable propane is made from a variety of different feedstocks and sustainable materials. The image below, originally from PERC, shows how renewable propane is made.

The CI value of a fuel is able to measure the environmental impact of its consumption. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) set annual CI standards in 2009 through the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Conventional propane already has a relatively low CI of 79 when compared to diesel, but renewable propane’s CI can be as low as 20.5 depending on the variations in feedstock type which the fuel is produced from. This makes renewable propane one of the cleanest alternative fuels on the market with a carbon intensity value five times lower than diesel.

Last month, the City of Raleigh announced it will be moving a portion of its fleet to run on renewable propane. Rick Longobart, Fleet Operations Manager for the City of Raleigh, shared, “I’m proud to say today that 85% of our fleet runs off of some type of alternative energy.” The City of Raleigh is the first city in the state of North Carolina to use renewable propane to fuel its fleet.

Longobart noted that Raleigh’s renewable propane will primarily be produced from plant based vegetable oil which possesses an ultra-low CI as determined by CARB, ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s fleet vehicles. “As we move towards a more sustainable climate and trying to reach our climate action goals of 80% renewable energy or zero emissions by 2050, this is one effort that is going to get us there,” Longobart added.

PERC’s President and CEO Tucker Perkins spoke at the ribbon cutting for a new renewable propane fueling station for the City of Raleigh on September 28, 2023. Perkins identified propane as a pathway with tremendous promise to change the economics of the community and lives of the citizens living in it. 

“As we think about renewable propane, if I had one message to give to you, it’s that, yes it is real,” Perkins said. “The carbon savings are real, the particulate matter is zero, the NOx emissions are virtually zero, and this is a fuel of the future.” 

To learn more about renewable propane and its potential for sustainable transportation, visit PERC’s webpage on the topic. 

Electric Vehicles 101

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) held two events this week as part of National Drive Electric Week and NC State University’s Energy Week on campus. 

The Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC hosts Ride & Drive and Vehicle Displays for a variety of audiences, providing an opportunity for attendees to learn more about clean transportation technologies including all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Dealers and local EV owners will be present to answer questions about their experience driving behind the wheel of an EV. These events support the program’s mission to propel the development, awareness and use of alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies. 

National Drive Electric Week is an annual event held every October to celebrate all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The national campaign is presented by Plug In America, Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association and consists of hundreds of free events across the United States. 

NC State University is hosting its fourth annual Energy Week September 25-29, 2023. Energy Week is a week of events to increase visibility of the university’s energy use, research and opportunity to share a clean energy future. 

Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation Program, emphasizes, “Hosting in-person events provides a great opportunity for those interested in switching to an EV to ask questions and get hands-on experience with an electric vehicle. We want to give people information about these vehicles so that they are well-informed in the choices they make.”

Types of Electric Vehicles & Charging Options

On the automotive market today, consumers can choose from three different types of EVs: all-electric, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). 

All-electric vehicles are also known as “battery electric vehicles” since they use rechargeable batteries to power the electric motor. While electricity production may contribute to air pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency categorizes all-electric vehicles as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions

PHEVs use both batteries and traditional fuel sources such as gasoline or diesel which fuels an internal combustion engine. PHEVs and HEVs are similar in that they have both an electric motor and a gas-powered engine. HEVs, however, use an electric motor to supplement gas-powered engines while PHEVs tend to have a larger battery-pack and electric motor.

Those who drive EVs have several options when it comes to choosing the electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) to recharge their batteries. EVSE charging is classified by the power output of the charger, which affects the rate at which the batteries are charged. 

Level 1 charging equipment is able to provide power through a common residential 120-volt (120 V) AC outlet. This type of charging equipment is most commonly used while charging at home or when there is only a 120 V outlet available for use. Although it is the slowest charging option available, if drivers are able to recharge strategically, Level 1 charging may be able to fit their needs.

Level 2 charging speeds up charging time by providing power through 240 V (in residential applications) or 208 V (commonly used in commercial applications) electrical service. Level 2 equipment is widely used for residential, workplace, and public charging stations. Where a Level 1 charger typically supplies about 4 miles of driving range per hour of charge, a Level 2 charger supplies approximately 25 miles of range per one hour of charging.

Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging equipment enables drivers to rapidly charge their vehicles. These DC Fast Charging stations are located along heavy-traffic corridors since they allow for charging to be achieved in minutes instead of in hours. In just 30 minutes of fast charging, 100 to 200 miles of range can be supplied to the vehicle. 

The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), a resource from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office, provides extensive information about electricity basics, benefits and considerations of using electricity to power vehicles, information on charging stations, vehicles, and more. AFDC also hosts an Alternative Fueling Station Locator which is accessible on their website here.

The Economic & Environmental Benefits of Driving Electric

Fuel What Matters, an initiative of NCCETC and sponsored by the NC Department of Transportation, is an excellent starting point for learning about the benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles. Find out more about the basics here.

Consumers who purchase an EV could benefit from tax credits and incentives for making the green choice. Certain all-electric and PHEVs are eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 when purchased new. Drivers also get to coast by traffic in North Carolina and many other states where qualified EVs are permitted to use HOV or carpool lanes, regardless of the number of occupants. This often allows EV drivers to bypass high congestion traffic areas and reduce their commute time.

NCCETC has published a resource for both commercial and public sector customers interested in purchasing an EV or installing a charging station. This guidance document – Electric Vehicles & Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Incentives in North Carolina – was designed to help customers navigate the variety of direct financial incentives available for EVs and EV infrastructure and planning offered in North Carolina. These incentives are available through federal, state, regional and electric utility funded programs. 

As automotive manufacturers continue to expand the amount of EV models available on the market, the type of EV owner is also expanding. If you’re interested in hearing directly from EV drivers themselves, check out this blog post

Jarred White’s EV of choice is a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi hybrid. White shared, “One of the most significant advantages of driving a plug-in hybrid are the fuel savings on the ‘first and last mile’; short trips to the store where it’s nice to know that I’m only using electric.”

There are many benefits to driving electric, including high-quality performance and the notable quietness of an electric engine, but White also shared this quietness could be a con of owning an EV. “Because the engine is so quiet, I’ve accidentally left my car on overnight multiple times!” White explained. Explore the entire Electric Driver Profile series with profiles on seven different EV drivers here

If you’re ready to explore your options for purchasing an EV, you can check out Plug-In America’s 2023 Electric Vehicle Guide which includes EV’s currently available in the United States.

Driving the Future: Captivating Moments from the 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference and Expo

Last month, more than 400 attendees joined the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) in Raleigh, NC for the 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo (SFT). Conference guests were able to discover the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technology, operations and implementation over the course of three days while networking with other fleet professionals and technology providers. 

“The SFT Conference this year gave fleet and transportation experts a valuable platform to explore cutting-edge vehicle technologies, as well as tools and resources tailored to enhance efficiency and emissions reduction,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NCCETC.

In its seventh year, the annual SFT Conference returned to the Raleigh Convention Center where the inaugural conference was held in 2017. The Raleigh Convention Center’s large exhibit halls were the perfect space to display all of the heavy, medium, and light-duty vehicles in addition to transportation and charging technologies for attendees to explore during expo hall hours. 

The exhibit hall was brimming with exhibitors for the 2023 conference including AssetWorks; Alliance Autogas; Kempower; Southeast Propane Alliance; Propane Education & Research Council; Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition; Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition; Triangle Clean Cities Coalition; Lightning eMotors; Advanced Energy; DC-America; Daimler Truck NA/Thomas Built Buses/Freightliner Custom Chassis; North Carolina Department of Transportation; Piedmont Natural Gas; Verizon Connect; Pakistan Smart Energy; ZEVX Inc.; Guardian Fueling Technologies; bp pulse; Revels Turf & Tractor Co.; Forward Thinking Systems, LLC; Atom Power; Sourcewell; NAFA Fleet Management Association; Pioneer Power e-Mobility Solutions; Viatec; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; ROUSH CleanTech; Faster Asset Solutions; Webasto Charging Systems, Inc.; and PortFi.

Pictured: Attendees gathered around a display of Viatec’s flagship electric power take-off (ePTO) product, SmartPTO, which can be retrofitted to fleet vehicles and provides the benefits of enhanced safety, reduced maintenance, lower cost of ownership, and social responsibility for electric utility providers.

Pictured: The industry’s first and only production all-electric bucket truck which debuted last year thanks to a unique collaboration between Viatec, Terex and Navistar/International Trucks.

Pictured: Pioneer Power Mobility’s e-Boost mobile electric vehicle (EV) fast charging solution plugged into a Volvo’s first all electric crossover C40 Recharge.

Pictured: The City of Durham’s Mach-E and City of Charlotte’s Ford F150 and Mach-E fleet vehicles. 

On August 14, 2023 the winners of the 16th annual Green Fleet Awards were announced by NAFA Fleet Management Association (NAFA) during the pre-conference day at the 2023 SFT Conference.

Pictured: Ryan Krogh, Manager of Production System Solutions at John Deere, delivered the opening keynote, From Products to Solutions: The Next Phase of Technology.

Pictured: The keynote plenary, From Good Ideas to Success Stories, featured a panel moderated by Leigh Shamblin, Director of Leadership and Professor of Practice for NC State University Poole College of Management and also included Jamie Cooke, Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Generals Services in Montgomery County, Maryland; Al Curtis, Fleet Services Director for Cobb County, Georgia; and Rick Longobart, Fleet Operations Manager for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pictured: Ameya Joshi from Corning, Inc. was on the panel for the Advancements in Medium/Heavy Duty Vehicles and Infrastructure keynote plenary along with Rick Sapienza from NCCETC, Mark Childers from Thomas Built Buses, Stuart Weidie from Alliance AutoGas, Jennifer Weaver from Clean Fuels Alliance America, and Marcus Suvanto from Kempower.

Pictured: The final keynote plenary, Advancements in Light Duty Vehicles and Infrastructure, was moderated by Heather Brutz of NCCETC. She was joined by Brian Bradford, Chief Commercial Officer of Jule Power; Bob Glaser, President of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association; Ryan Kennedy, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Atom Power; and Chris Thomas, Government Sales Manager at Stellantis.

The 2023 SFT Conference offered 12 breakout sessions across three tracks related to Funding and Planning, Vehicle Technologies, and Fueling and Charging Infrastructure. Pictures from several breakout sessions can be seen below.

The NCCETC hosts the annual Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference as part of its mission to advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies.

PowerPoint presentations will be available in the coming weeks at www.SustainableFleetExpo.com. Stay tuned for next year’s conference dates. Don’t miss out on future updates for the 2024 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference – sign up for the clean transportation newsletter now! 

Everything You Need to Know About Electric Vehicles & Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Incentives in North Carolina

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University has released a new resource for both commercial and public sector customers interested in purchasing an electric vehicle or installing a charging station.

The new guidance document – Electric Vehicles & Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Incentives in North Carolina – will help customers navigate the variety of direct financial incentives for electric vehicles (EVs) and supporting EV infrastructure and planning offered throughout North Carolina. Incentives are available through federal, state, regional and electric utility funded programs. 

Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NCCETC, is seeing a frenzy to electrify in both the commercial and public sectors of the transportation industry. “We are seeing light-duty electric vehicle ownership skyrocket and medium duty and heavy duty vehicles are following close behind,” Brutz said. 

With a burgeoning EV market, transportation electrification has gained significant momentum and is leading the way towards an emissions-free future. North Carolina, along with the rest of the United States, is poised to make substantial advancements in the development and adoption of clean transportation technologies in order to affirm the state’s commitment to reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and drive the adoption of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). 

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) released a statewide GHG inventory in 2018 which found that North Carolina’s transportation sector contributed almost 36% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. NCDOT states reducing GHG emissions in the transportation sector is a critical component of the state’s strategy, and the department has been working with stakeholders to develop plans and strategies to reduce transportation emissions. 

On Oct. 29, 2018, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law Executive Order No. 80 (EO 80), “North Carolina’s Commitment to Address Climate Change and Transition to a Clean Energy Economy.” EO 80 calls to reduce greenhouse gas emission to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. 

In January 2022, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order 246 (EO 246), “North Carolina’s Transformation to a Clean, Equitable Economy.” EO 246 builds upon EO 80 and calls for a 50 percent reduction in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It also sets a transportation-specific goal to increase the total number of registered zero-emission vehicles to at least 1,250,000 by 2030 and increase the sale of zero-emission vehicles so that 50 percent of all in-state vehicle sales are zero-emission by 2030.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 is the most significant action Congress has taken on clean energy and climate change in the nation’s history. The bill includes $370 billion in investments committed to building a new clean energy economy through a combination of grants, loans, rebates, incentives and other investments. 

The IRA makes several changes to the tax credit provided for qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles, including adding fuel cell vehicles to the tax credit. The IRA also added a new credit for previously owned clean vehicles. 

Legal and regulatory barriers can affect the pace of EV technology adoption and deployment, but clear policy goals can both provide market certainty and help accelerate deployment. Incentive programs are driving demand higher across the nation, resulting in an increase in EV adoption as electric and hybrid vehicles move past early adoption and into mainstream use.

Drivers who purchase EVs are eligible for tax credits and incentives for making the green choice. Some all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles purchased new are eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. In North Carolina and many other states, qualified EVs may use HOV or carpool lanes, regardless of the number of occupants, allowing them to bypass high congestion traffic areas. 

If you place in service a new plug-in electric vehicle (EV) or fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in 2023 or after, you may qualify for a clean vehicle tax credit. Find information on credits from the IRS for used clean vehicles, qualified commercial clean vehicles, and new plug-in EVs purchased before 2023. The IRS has also released a fact sheet with frequently asked questions related to new, previously owned and qualified commercial clean vehicle credits. 

Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) to learn more about federal, state and utility policies and incentives to assist with upfront costs of electric vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment. Maintained and operated by the NCCETC, DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on clean energy related policies and incentives in the United States with summaries of more than 2,600 incentives and policies.

If you are considering making other energy improvements to your home, NCCETC recently published a new Word to the Wise resource to help you become a better educated consumer and navigate the financial incentives offered to you by electric utilities, localities, states, or the federal government. This edition of the Word to the Wise features “Your Guide to Home Energy Upgrades with the Inflation Reduction Act” and includes information about the many incentives expanded or made available via the IRA. To help as many interested individuals as possible, NCCETC has also produced a version en español: Unas Palabras para el Sabio – “Su Guía para Mejorar su Energía en la Casa con la Ley de Reducción de la Inflación.”

35 Years of NCCETC: Clean Transportation Program Propels Technologies & Public Education

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2023. The NCCETC has dedicated more than three decades to advancing a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. 

Founded in December 1987 as the North Carolina Solar Center, NCCETC was first established through a partnership among the state government of North Carolina, NC State University, and the solar industry with sponsorship from the Energy Division of the NC Department of Commerce (now known as the State Energy Office). The North Carolina Solar Center was created to meet the need for a central clearinghouse that could assist the state’s citizens, businesses, and institutions in using solar energy.

Over the years, NCCETC’s focus expanded into a broader array of renewable energy resources, alternative transportation technologies, clean power technologies and industrial energy efficiency. In 2003, environmental leaders from across North Carolina gathered to dedicate an Alternative Fuels Vehicle (AFV) Demonstration Facility while celebrating the 15th anniversary of NCCETC. The AFV Facility served as a research and education facility for a variety of alternative fuels, adding clean transportation to NCCETC’s outreach, education and research activities. 

Clean transportation is one of the primary programmatic areas of focus for NCCETC today. Working with government, non-profit organizations and businesses, NCCETC is helping diversify fuel supplies and support clean, more vibrant local and state economies with the ultimate goal of cleaner air and greater energy diversity. 

Anne Tazewell joined NCCETC in July 2004 and shortly thereafter established the Clean Transportation program before successfully obtaining funding for the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project. Tazewell remained at NCCETC for 17 years before she retired in 2021. “I quickly fell in love with the idea of public service and working with others to serve the greater good,” said Tazewell.

To move forward this mission, Tazewell secured regional Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funding to open the state’s first publicly accessible biodiesel service station in Garner, NC. In 2006 and 2009, NCCETC was awarded a total of $2.6 million in CMAQ funding from the NC Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to reduce transportation related emissions in North Carolina counties that do not meet national air quality standards. 

The NC Division of Air Quality and State Energy Office also contributed $200,000 each to support the CFAT project. The three million dollar project encompasses three broad areas: education and outreach, recognition of exemplary activities, and direct project funding. From 2006 through 2019, NCCETC has provided $11.9 million in federal funds to help private and public fleets in North Carolina purchase clean transportation technologies to improve the state’s air quality. 

In 2020, Tazewell efforts were recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the NC Sustainable Energy Association for being a tireless champion of clean air and clean energy. Tazewell explained she first entered into clean energy to express her passion for reducing  oil dependence. Before joining NCCETC, she worked at the Triangle J Council of Governments where she saw the power of public and private partnerships for advancing affordable domestic transportation fuels, energy efficient mobility systems, and other fuel-saving technologies.

One key project completed during Tazewell’s tenure was the tracking and compliance on behalf of the state of the Petroleum Displacement Plan (PDP) Provision, mandated by the NC General Assembly. Implementation of the PDP requirement in fiscal year 2010-2011 has resulted in a 16% reduction in petroleum use by state fleet vehicles as compared to the baseline of fuel use established in fiscal year 2004-2005, through the use of alternative fuels, efficient vehicles and other policies and practices that conserve fuel.

Providing Technical Assistance & Fleet Education

NCCETC engages with government entities and employees through a variety of ways including holding Clean Transportation Demonstration Days where attendees come from across North Carolina to gain education and experience with clean transportation technologies. The Clean Transportation team hosted two Clean Transportation Demonstration Days this year in April – one in Garner and one in Jacksonville, North Carolina – where hundreds of attendees were able to hear about real-world case study results, experience hands-on static review of technologies, network and participate in a closed-course ride and drive. 

Clean Transportation Demonstration Days start with classroom instruction before the ride and drive begins. This year, speakers from Alliance Autogas, Potter EV, Cenntro, Cary Cartco, Pioneer eMobility and Electrify EVSE presented on topics such as telematics, safety, idle reduction technologies, vehicle electrification, and other strategies that improve fleet sustainability. Following classroom instruction, attendees explored a diverse display of vehicles and alternative fuel technologies such as electric and alt-fuel vehicles, buses, police vehicles, utility vehicles, charging equipment and more.

Currently, the clean transportation team is hosting webinars through the Sustainable Fleet Technology Webinar Series, a collaborative partnership with NAFA Fleet Management Association and The 100 Best Fleets, to share the best practices and information on the latest fleet technologies. 

2023 SUSTAINABLE FLEET TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE & EXPO

In 2014, the Center held the Southeast Alternative Fuels Conference. In 2017 the conference was renamed the Sustainable Fleet Technology (SFT) Conference & Expo was held to expand education, training, and networking on advanced clean transportation technologies. The event has been hosted every year since (even going virtual for two years during the pandemic).

Registration for the 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo is open now! Join us on August 14-16, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Come and learn from your peers and experts. Or, join us and share your expertise – opportunities to sponsor, exhibit, and display vehicles are still available. 

The 2023 SFT Conference will feature keynote presentations, 50+ panelists, breakout sessions in 3 conference tracks, indoor vehicle/equipment display and plenty of networking opportunities to engage with more than 350 other registered attendees. Attendees will be able to attend 4 breakout sessions where they can choose the session that best fits their needs or interests across 3 conference tracks:

A. Funding & Planning

  1. Federal Funding Sources
  2. Data for Sustainability and Success
  3. Innovative Funding
  4. Training for Success

B. Vehicle Technologies

  1. New Horizons: AI and Autonomous Vehicles
  2. Sustainable Trucking Solutions
  3. Advancements in Engines, Powertrains, and Batteries
  4. Off-Road Equipment

C. Fueling & Charging Infrastructure

  1. Longer-Term Planning for Infrastructure Deployment
  2. Managing Demand Charges
  3. New Models for Fueling and Charging
  4. Integrating Facility and Fleet Energy Planning

Learn more and register now at www.sustainablefleetexpo.com.

GRANT FUNDING TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY & ACCELERATE FLEET SUSTAINABILITY

The Transportation sector represents the largest contributor to North Carolina’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions according to a statewide inventory of GHG emissions produced by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ). The Transportation sector represents about 36% of all GHG emissions with onroad light-duty gasoline vehicles representing 72% of Transportation sector GHG emissions in 2018, while on road medium/heavy-duty diesel vehicles are the next largest contributor at 16%. 

Emissions from the Transportation sector decreased by an estimated 3% from 2005 to 2018 in North Carolina according to the DAQ. The fact that on road vehicle GHG emissions decreased while vehicle-miles traveled increased over this period demonstrates the effectiveness of vehicle fuel efficiency improvements. The Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) supported a diverse set of projects that included truck stop electrification and supporting the use of electric motorcycles for a municipal police patrol as well as propane powered delivery vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations. 

Other types of projects funded by CFAT has included infrastructure projects such as fueling stations and electric vehicle charging stations, purchasing alternative fuel and electric vehicles, diesel and propane retrofits, idle reduction systems, and more.  See link HERE for a list of projects supported by the CFAT project.

“The CFAT project aims to promote and accelerate the adoption of new clean transportation technologies,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NCCETC. 

Propelling Public Education on Clean Transportation Technologies

The initial CFAT project started by Tazewell also included education and outreach activities that included billboards, workshops and conferences that continue today with Ride & Drive and Vehicle Displays for a variety of audiences to provide an opportunity for attendees to learn more about clean transportation technologies including electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), along with dealers and local EV drivers onsite to answer questions about the driving experience behind the wheel of an EV. 

The Student Art Contest is another annual event hosted by the NCCETC. Students from kindergarten, middle and high schools across North Carolina are invited to submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state. Earlier this month, NCCETC announced the 2023 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest winners

Heather Brutz created the Student Art Contest while drawing on her previous experience as a middle school teacher. “The art contest is an engaging way to get young people involved in spreading awareness about the ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles,” Brutz said. Students were asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. NCCETC congratulated three artists located in Kernersville, Hampstead, and Cary, NC.

SPECIAL PROJECT SUPPORT

At the end of 2020, NCCETC partnered with Roanoke Electric Cooperative to demonstrate cutting edge vehicle-to-grid technology. For two years the Cooperative worked with Fermata Energy to pilot the first electric vehicle charging system that meets the North American standard for two-way current as verified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Findings from the demonstration show the positive economic potential for using bidirectional charging technologies to feed energy stored in electric vehicle batteries back to charging sites, especially when the grid is experiencing high demand.

As the market share of EVs continues to grow, there is a nationwide call to establish robust charging infrastructure and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to fuel transportation electrification in the U.S. To assist planners and developers in selecting the perfect site to fit their charging needs, NCCETC recently developed a customizable tool for prioritizing the placement of EV chargers. The EVSE Suitability GIS product is not only able to consider several variables relevant to determining charging infrastructure siting benefits, but also has a custom weighting function so developers can tailor the weight of each variable being considered to their unique situation. 

NCCETC’s Alexander Yoshizumi coordinated with Roanoke Electric Cooperative while creating the EVSE Suitability GIS tool, identifying factors to include in the suitability tool in addition to the approximate weight that each factor should be given. The GIS product was created using data for the five counties covered by Roanoke Electric Cooperative: Bertie, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton.

Last year, NCCETC staff provided assistance to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) as they applied for grant funding to support cleaner student transportation in North Carolina.  Following their groundbreaking award of VW Settlement funds for a new electric school bus in 2021, the EBCI received notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an award for four additional electric school buses in 2022. EBCI will be replacing five diesel school buses with four new electric buses in collaboration with the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) and the NCCETC. This award marked The Eastern Band as the first tribe east of the Mississippi to be awarded grant funding through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program administered by the EPA.

The staff at NCCETC provides technical assistance to fleets interested in building toward a sustainable fleet. The Clean Transportation team has previously assisted municipalities such as the Town of Apex and Morrisville to assess their fleet utilization and ultimately transition to  zero-emission vehicles and electrify their fleet. 


This article is part of a series highlighting the work done by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center throughout its history in celebration of its 35th Anniversary. View the previous article to learn how the Training program at NCCETC provides educational opportunities for individuals to get the training and credentials they need to launch their clean energy careers and supports professionals seeking to integrate clean energy into their day-to-day work.