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NC Cooperative Demonstration of Vehicle-to-Grid Smart Charger Concludes with Positive Results

As electric vehicles (EVs) build market share across the United States, it will be increasingly important to balance the rising demand for charging services at times when the grid has excess capacity, reducing the total costs for grid services instead of increasing them. Bidirectional charging through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology has the capability to deploy demand-response actions to ease concerns, however, and add resilience benefits while decarbonizing emergency generation.

Findings from a two-year demonstration of a V2G technology in North Carolina 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. The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) along with Advanced Energy, Enpira, Clean Energy Works, and the Environmental Defense Fund observed this powerful demonstration of a bidirectional charger and software platform from Fermata Energy.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s (REC) headquarters in the rural town of Ahoskie, North Carolina, served as the test site for Fermata Energy’s FE-15 bidirectional charger along with the cooperative’s two Nissan LEAF Plus cars. The Nissan LEAF has led the way in the fully electric passenger vehicle market that is capable of vehicle-to-grid technologies in the United States. The market has since grown with the vehicle-to-building capable F-150 Lightning, the Hyundai IONIQ, and the Kia EV6 expanding the development of V2X technologies.

NCCETC Clean Transportation Specialist, John Bonitz said, “We’re honored to be involved in pilot programs like this demonstration at Roanoke Electric Cooperative that can help make fleet electrification more economically viable by proving the value of integrating V2B and V2G technology to shave peaks, improve grid optimization and increase resilience — all while helping the cooperative and its members save money.”

Quantifying the potential value streams from bidirectional charging allows utilities to begin considering incentive payments and other EV program options for customers and members. By demonstrating significant positive value, this study encourages utilities in similar market conditions to help customers overcome the financial barriers to purchasing an EV, particularly in low- and moderate-income areas where these costs may restrict EV adoption. Roanoke is also considering a demand response program to incentivize EV growth and use the storage capacity to reduce peak demand and other charges while at the same time helping to make the transition to EVs more affordable for customers.

A bidirectional EV can receive energy (charge) from electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) such as the FE-15 and provide energy to an external load (discharge) when it is paired with a similarly capable EVSE. “Bidirectional chargers, simply put, can unlock new value streams by enabling energy to go into the car’s batteries or, when needed, can discharge energy back into the grid, a building, a house, or any electrical load,” explained John Bonitz. EV owners can use bidirectional charging to save money with their local electric utility, thus reducing the total cost of ownership of the vehicle.

With only vehicle-to-building use cases, REC demonstrated monthly gross savings that exceed the monthly lease cost for its EVs. Use of the bidirectional EVs as mobile battery storage reduced behind-the-meter electricity costs through three use cases: peak load reduction and load following, backup generator support while the building was islanded from the grid, and coincident peak demand reduction.

Peak load reduction shrinks the cooperative’s building’s monthly demand from the electrical grid, which can generally decrease the facility’s electric bill; load following adjusts the power output from an EV’s batteries as the building’s load increases and decreases; and coincident peak demand is when the cooperative’s peak coincides with the overall grid-system’s peak, thus helping both the electric cooperative, the local region and its customers by minimizing pollution generating sources while reducing electric service costs for all member-owners.

Smart charging and discharging solutions with V2X can be programmed to meet the fleet operator’s needs. V2G systems can schedule responses to system-wide peak demand events in advance, so a fleet manager can choose to reserve the vehicle for the grid (or building) at that time while leaving the vehicle plugged in. After the bidirectional event, the V2G system allows scheduled recharging to be programmed to meet fleet needs while providing transparency on the monetary value the vehicle can provide at different times for grid operations. Alternatively, the fleet manager or vehicle operator can choose a program to prioritize the readiness of the vehicle for transportation first, and grid-support services second.

Fermata Energy’s FE-15 can provide 15 kilowatts (kW) of power to the car and back to the site served by the grid. REC schedules dispatch of the onboard battery in response to predicted peaks, which usually last two to three hours. Using only one of REC’s Nissan LEAFs, the bidirectional charging system has been able to reduce the cooperative’s load and lower system-wide peak demand charges in 11 out of 22 months – every time the peak window was successfully predicted and communicated by the energy suppliers.

In addition to system-wide peak demand response, bidirectional charging can be used for demand charge management for building peak load reduction and load following. Despite having relatively modest demand charges of $9.50/kW, Fermata Energy’s software and charger strategically dispatched the Nissan LEAF battery to reduce REC’s headquarters’ building demand charges, resulting in savings in 16 out of 24 months.

“The combined value streams produced gross savings for REC of more than $3,200 per year, per charger – that’s greater than the lease cost of the EV,” Bonitz said. “The value of this single unit hints at the broader potential for much greater savings when multiplied by many units, serving multiple EVs or even integrated across an entire fleet of EVs.” He further clarified these savings would be in addition to the lower operating costs and fuel savings that have long been demonstrated by electric fleet vehicles.

Both public and private fleets in the United States are looking into viable strategies to transition away from internal-combustion engine vehicles and replace them with EVs. V2G technology can ensure that EVs are charged and ready for driving, secure on-time departure, and reduce total costs of ownership by generating additional revenue for owners.

Vehicle-to-building (V2B) technology could also keep the power on for critical services, such as hospitals and shelters, during extreme weather conditions and other emergency outages, reducing or even eliminating the cumulative number of hours these essential systems have to use backup diesel generators.

The Electrification Coalition’s new guide, “V2X Implementation Guide and Mutual Aid Agreement Template for Using Vehicle-to-Everything-Enabled Electric School Buses as Mobile Power Units to Enhance Resilience During Emergencies” describes the potential to use V2X-enabled electric school buses (ESBs) as alternative emergency backup power sources during outages. The adoption of ESBs is rising as school districts and fleet operators become aware of the significant benefits: clear air for student passengers, savings on bus fuel and maintenance costs, and reduced carbon emissions. ESBs are also gaining attention for their potential to enhance critical electric infrastructure resilience and reliability. Click here to learn more about this resource and how utilizing ESBs to power critical facilities in emergencies can enhance infrastructure resilience, save lives, and strengthen our energy and national security.

On a residential scale, EV owners could use vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology to power their homes during lengthy blackouts. With a bidirectional charging system, homeowners could pull power from their vehicle’s batteries to keep fridges, lights, and heating and cooling systems on in their homes.

Bonitz said, “We’re honored to be involved in pilot programs like this demonstration at Roanoke Electric Cooperative that can help make fleet electrification more economically viable by proving the value of integrating V2G technology to shave peaks, improve grid optimization and increase resilience – all while helping the cooperative and its members save money.”

Quantifying the potential value streams from bidirectional charging allows utilities to begin considering incentive payments and other EV program options for customers and members. By demonstrating significant positive value, this study encourages utilities in similar market conditions to help customers overcome the financial barriers to purchasing an EV, particularly in low- and moderate-income areas where higher EV costs slow their adoption. As the pilot program continues at Roanoke Electric, management is considering a demand response program to expand numbers of EVs by using these bidirectional value streams to help make the transition to EVs more affordable for their member-owners.

NCCETC and Advanced Energy are now sharing these lessons learned with interested parties across NC and beyond.  Other cooperative utilities are intrigued to learn of ways that these EV charging infrastructure investments can help pay for themselves while reducing overall costs for their member-owners.

Coming Soon: 2023 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Launches in March

North Carolina students from kindergarten through high school are invited to submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state!

This Earth Day, you can show how you help keep the air clean!

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) is excited to announce the 6th Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest this March, where students residing in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork focused on the theme of actions that individual families can take to reduce the amount of air pollution from vehicles. 

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!

Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles. Examples include walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using biofuels, electric vehicles, and more. You can learn about the alternatives at cleantransportation.org or fuelwhatmatters.org. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted.

Artwork in a more horizontal rectangular shape (about the shape of a billboard) is recommended.

Recommended dimensions:

● 400h x 840w pixels at 72 ppi
● 400h x 1400w pixels at 72 ppi
● Save as JPG, PNG or BMP at maximum quality in RGB mode

Note: Text may be added on final billboards with the “Keep Our Air Clean” tagline.

The winner will be chosen based on:

• Relevance and appropriateness of the message, judged by NCCETC and our panel of judges
• Visual design, judged by NCCETC and our panel of judges
• Public votes on our Facebook account

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Heather Brutz at hmbrutz@ncsu.edu

The official link and email to submit photos will be posted on Monday, March 20 when the contest launches. Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center Hosting Two Clean Transportation Demonstration Days April 11 & 12, 2023

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, 919-423-8340, shannon_helm@ncsu.edu

Clean Transportation Demonstration Days

WHAT:  Join the NC Clean Energy Technology Center for a Clean Transportation Demonstration Day this April! Clean Transportation Demonstration Days support Executive Order 80, 246, & 271 and give government entities across North Carolina information and experience with clean transportation technologies. The day will consist of classroom instruction with real-world case study results, hands-on static review, networking, and a closed-course ride and drive for those who wish to participate. View the event flyer here.

WHEN & WHERE: This year, two demonstration days will be hosted, free of charge. 

  1. Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at NC Highway Patrol Training & Driving Facility 308 E Tryon Rd | Garner, NC 27529

    • Morning Shift 10 a.m.-1 p.m. OR Afternoon Shift 1-4p.m.
  2. Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at Coastal Plains Raceway Park | 10 a.m.-1 p.m. or 1-4 p.m. | 4744 Richlands Hwy | Jacksonville, NC 28540

    • Morning Shift 10 a.m.-1 p.m. OR Afternoon Shift 1-4p.m.

WHO: Key speakers and presentations include

    • Heather Brutz, Director, Clean Transportation Program, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

    • Triangle Clean Cities

    • Sam Spofforth, Clean Cities Project Leader, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    • North Carolina Department of Transportation

    • Presentations will feature topics such as vehicle electrification, idle reduction technologies and other strategies that improve fleet sustainability. 

Registration for the event is required.*  Register online now at go.ncsu.edu/ctdemoday.

*Note: Registration is only open to government entities and utilities.

WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND?

Executive Order 80 calls for the State of North Carolina to protect its environment while growing clean energy technologies. Executive Order 246 updates North Carolina’s economy-wide carbon reduction emissions goals to align with climate science, reduce pollution, create good jobs and protect communities. EO 246 strengthens North Carolina’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the statewide goal to a 50% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, no later than 2050.

Classroom instruction will include alternative fuel options, telematics and other new technologies, safety, and more. There will be a diverse display of vehicles such as electric and alt-fuel vehicles, buses, police vehicles, and more. View the graphic below for a preview of the lineup.

To help minimize wait times during ride & drives, we are offering two shifts to allow more people to participate in the Demonstration Days. You may choose to attend in the morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or the afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each shift will begin with 1 hour of classroom instruction and then transition into the hands-on technology static review and ride & drive.

Last year, the Clean Transportation program welcomed more than 190 attendees at a Clean Transportation Demonstration Day in late March 2022 at the NC Highway Patrol & Driving Facility. The event featured a wide range of trucks, cars and other clean transportation technologies on display. Attendees were able to test drive some of the vehicles themselves by taking a lap around the track.

“Demonstration days are always a lot of fun,” stated Heather Brutz, Director of the Clean Transportation Program at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC). “They are a great opportunity for government employees to gain hands-on experience and learn more about the benefits of alternative fuel vehicles.”

One of the most popular vehicles at the 2022 event was a large, all-electric Mack truck designed to collect trash and manufactured right here in North Carolina. Electric vehicles (EV) such as the Mack truck not only significantly reduce a fleet’s carbon footprint with reduced emissions, but also enables quiet operation with a near-silent powertrain.

Other alternative-fuel vehicles on display included the Cary Police Department’s Tesla Model 3, Zero Motorcycles, Thomas Built Buses Jouley Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, the City of Durham’s bucket truck with a plug-in electric power take-off (PTO) solution by Viatec and Battery Idle Reduction Firetruck, a Jeep Wrangler Hybrid, Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid EV, a ZeroRPM Idle Reduction Ambulance, Ingevity Adsorbed Natural Gas Vehicle, a Volvo XC40 and C40 EV, Lightning Motors Paratransit Shuttle, ebikes, XL Fleet’s XLHybrid truck, GFL Environmental Inc.’s compressed natural gas (CNG) Refuse Hauler & Service Truck, and more. 

The Matthews Police Department showed off several EV motorcycles. In an interview with WRAL News, Captain Stason Terrell said, “It’s an opportunity for us not only to be more in the community, be more visible, but also have that conversation about the environmental side of things and how it’s a cleaner fuel vehicle.”

In addition to the vehicles on display, clean transportation technologies such as a 100% electric street vacuum cleaner from Glutton® Collect® and Progress Solar’s Mobile Solar Light Tower solution displayed the versatility of clean energy applications for all. 

PARTNER WITH THE NC CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CENTER

Register to exhibit at a 2023 Clean Transportation Demonstration Day and get the opportunity to show off your vehicle/equipment to hundreds of North Carolina state and local government personnel and NC Utilities involved in vehicle procurement. Maximize exposure by exhibiting at both events on April 11 & 12.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available! Sponsorship includes the opportunity to display vehicle/equipment as a static display and/or as part of the Ride & Drive. Additionally, you have the opportunity to present product information and testimonials/case studies to attendees during the classroom/conference portion of the event (5-10 minute presentation). Then spend the rest of the day at displays and on the track! Learn more about 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference sponsor and exhibitor opportunities here.

NCCETC Project & Program Highlights from 2022: End of Year Review

2022 was another busy year at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) as our staff worked with partners in government, industry, academia and other community members to promote and advance the development and use of clean energy in ways that stimulate a sustainable economy while reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy, and mitigating the environmental impacts of fossil fuel use.

Read our synopsis of program and project highlights from NCCETC’s 2022 to catch up.

In January 2022, six students completed a 40-hour Fundamentals of Solar Photovoltaic Design and Installation (FSPV) training course customized by the NCCETC for the Centre for Homeownership and Economic Development. The in-person course covered the fundamentals of the design and installation of a solar photovoltaic system and included a hands-on day where participants installed a grid-tied photovoltaic system. NCCETC also hosted a custom Solar & Clean Energy Fundamentals Workshop for the South Carolina Energy Office Online Program in May 2022. The course was based on the Center’s Certificate for Renewable Energy Management program and, in total, 62 attendees completed the custom course. Learn more about customized training offered by the NCCETC here.

NCCETC staff are working with the NC Department of Commerce and other organizations to find ways to advance offshore wind energy projects in the state, with a focus on economic development and job creation. NCCETC is currently serving as a member for the new North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies, or NC TOWERS, which was established by Executive Order 218 to affirm North Carolina’s commitment to offshore wind power as the state transitions to a clean energy economy. The Taskforce will provide expert advice to Governor Cooper and state policymakers for developing the state’s offshore wind supply chain, workforce, and infrastructure. NC TOWERS met for its inaugural session on February 3, 2022.

As part of the Energy & Sustainability Services Webinar Series, NCCETC hosted two webinars in 2022. NCCETC’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) is a suite of services from the Center aimed at optimizing sustainability and energy-related objectives for business, industry, government and utilities. The first webinar, Renewable Natural Gas – A Primer on North Carolina’s Biogas Resources, was hosted in March and featured an overview of animal waste anaerobic digestion, the decarbonization of the natural gas supply, and state and federal policies that incentivize development of renewable natural gas projects. View the full webinar recording online for free.

The second ESS webinar brought together NCCETC staff and stakeholders to highlight innovations in managed charging and recent electric vehicle policy trends in the United States in a session titled 50 States of Electric Vehicles and Innovations in Managed Charging. NCCETC’s Senior Clean Transportation Specialist Lisa Poger moderated the panel discussion with Brian Lips of NCCETC, Elaine Jordan of Duke Energy and Jacqueline Piero of The Mobility House. 

Staff from NCCETC’s Clean Power & Industrial Efficiency program conducted a technical and financial feasibility analysis to evaluate the feasibility of an innovative solar plus energy storage installation at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The proposed design concept has a unique feature: the solar installation will float on top of a pond located behind the Fort Fisher Aquarium, taking advantage of underutilized land while allowing for cooling of the solar panels which improves efficiency.

On April 26 and 27 of last year, over 700 clean energy professionals joined the NCCETC for the 2022 State Energy Conference of North Carolina, which returned in-person in Raleigh, NC for the first time since 2019. Attendees were able to be a part of the clean energy discussion over two days of live sessions where they listened to and connected with industry leaders while sharing their own ideas about North Carolina energy’s present and future.

During the second day of the conference, attendees came together to recognize new and existing SolSmart Communities across North and South Carolina who have worked to make it faster, easier and more affordable to go solar in their jurisdictions. The NCCETC served as SolSmart advisors to provide technical assistance to communities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida to help them receive a national SolSmart designation of Gold, Silver or Bronze based on actions across permitting and inspection, planning and zoning, government operations, community management and market development. There are now 19 communities across South Carolina and North Carolina that have achieved SolSmart designation.

NCCETC staff began working with the researchers and analysts behind the Public Utility Data Liberation (PUDL) project in mid-2022 to process and integrate data from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) into the project’s dataset for “Machine Readable Clean Energy Standards.” The goal is to compile a programmatically usable database of Renewable Portfolio Standards and Clean Energy Standards policies for quick and easy reference by researchers.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) are leading the way with 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.

In August 2022, NCCETC joined a collaborative effort among state government, utility companies, industry and universities to design an advanced microgrid control architecture to ultimately improve the resilience and reliability of the regional grid. The NCCETC staff are supporting the team from UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), which won a Research Grant entitled “Resilient Community Microgrids with Dynamic Reconfiguration to Serve Critical Loads in the Aftermath of Severe Events” from the U.S. Department of Energy.

At the end of August, the NCCETC welcomed more than 350 registered attendees in Durham, NC for the 2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo. The conference showcased the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas and propane arenas – including everything from Progress Solar’s latest mobile solar electric vehicle (EV) charging model to the diverse display of alternative fuel vehicles and other clean transportation technologies.

Stakeholders and end-users came together on a webinar in September 2022 to discuss the role that combined heat and power (CHP) has in advancing sustainable and resilient wastewater treatment plants in Florida and across the region. The webinar – Operating Sustainable and Resilient Wastewater Treatment Plants with Combined Heat and Power – was hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy Southeast Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership (CHP TAP) based at the NCCETC at NC State University. The full recording is available here.

The NCCETC concluded two projects in October focused on community solar access and achieving resilience benefits for low and moderate-income communities. The projects – Community Solar Access for Low and Moderate-Income Utility Customers, and Achieving Resilience Benefits Through Utility Solar + Storage Deployment in Low-Income Communities – were funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

Near the end of 2022, the NCCETC announced that it was selected to receive a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to enable communities to use solar and solar-plus-storage to enhance resilience and prevent disruptions in power caused by extreme weather and other events. This project, titled Resilient Renewable Energy to Diminish Disaster Impacts on Communities (Resilient REDDI Communities), will develop a novel set of resiliency metrics and create a playbook to guide emergency managers and their communities to assess and implement enhanced energy resilience strategies to mitigate the effects of energy loss during a disaster.

To conclude the year, we took a look back on 35 highlights from over the years to kick-off the celebration of NCCETC’s 35th anniversary. For the last 35 years, the Center has worked closely with partners in government, industry, academia, and the non-profit community while evolving to include a greater geographic scope and array of clean energy technologies. As a result of this evolution, the Center has grown into a state agency respected for its assistance to the burgeoning “clean tech” sector in North Carolina, as well as one of the premier clean energy centers of knowledge in the United States.

Thank you for helping us make 2022 a great year!

For a look at our most recent fiscal year accomplishments, review our 2021-2022 Annual Report, which covers NCCETC’s major projects from the last fiscal year along with operating budget statistics and highlights.

To keep in touch monthly with the latest news from the Center and our programs, consider signing up for our newsletters!  Sign up online. 

This end of year review summarizes a few of the project and program highlights that made 2022 a successful year at NCCETC!  We are looking forward to continuing even more important and exciting work in 2023.

50 States of Electric Vehicles and Innovations in Managed Charging

The burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market is leading the way towards an emissions-free future, but the growing electrical demand on the nationa’s grid needed to fuel EVs risks further complicating utilities’ careful balancing act to integrate an expanding supply of variable renewables.

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University recently hosted a webinar session to highlight innovations in managed charging and recent EV policy trends in the United States. With legislation and technology advancements accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States, utilities and fleet technology companies are learning how to respond to the increasing charging demand on the nation’s electrical grid.

The webinar titled 50 States of Electric Vehicles and Innovations in Managed Charging was part of the NCCETC’s Energy & Sustainability Services Webinar Series. NCCETC’s Senior Clean Transportation Specialist Lisa Poger moderated the panel discussion with Brian Lips of NCCETC, Elaine Jordan of Duke Energy and Jacqueline Piero of The Mobility House.

POLICY PAVING THE WAY FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The session began with an overview of EV policies in the 50 States from Lips featuring information from the Q1 2022 and Q2 2022 editions of The 50 States of Electric Vehicles. “In the first half of the year, every single state took some sort of policy action related to EVs,” Lips said. “It’s a very popular topic among policymakers.”

Lips serves as manager of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) project, a publicly available resource on federal, state and utility policies and incentives for renewable energy, efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles operated by the Energy Policy Team at NCCETC. Additionally, DSIRE Insight expands upon DSIRE with the 50 States quarterly reports and subscription services focused on distributed solar, grid modernization and energy storage, and electric vehicles, as well as customized energy policy research.

“In both quarters, we saw the most activity in the financial incentives category,” said Lips. Financial incentives include bills related to tax credits or other incentive programs.

For the first half of 2022, the DSIRE Insight team has observed six trends in EV-related policy actions taken: (1) states encouraging zero-emissions school bus deployment, (2) utilities proposing charging-as-a-service programs, (3) states and utilities continue examining demand charge alternatives for commercial charging, (4) states planning for federal EV infrastructure funding,  (5) state lawmakers addressing charging infrastructure siting issues, and (6) utilities developing active managed charging pilot programs.

“We’re seeing a lot of states encouraging or requiring the deployment of zero emission school buses,” stated Lips. Legislation enacted in New York during the second quarter of 2022 requires that all school buses in the state be zero-emission by July 2035, as noted by The 50 States of Electric Vehicles: Q2 2022 Quarterly Report Executive Summary.

INNOVATIONS IN MANAGED CHARGING & PILOT PROGRAMS

With no other market interventions, EV owners who commute to work could be inclined to charge their vehicles when they return in the late afternoon and exacerbate these growing demand curves. However, with proper incentives or more direct utility involvement to shift the EV demand curve, EV charging could provide a myriad of benefits to consumers and the electric system as a whole.

While the EV industry and its effects on the grid are still very new and vary from state to state, utilities have started exploring different approaches to influence customer charging behavior, commonly referred to as managed charging. DSIRE Insight’s blog Recent Developments in Managed Charging explains the distinction between active and passive managed charging: Passive managed charging uses price signals like time-varying rates or peak time rebates to encourage customer behavior, while active managed charging gives utilities direct control over the load similar to a demand response program

A growing number of utilities are filing applications to offer charging-as-a-service programs or developing managed charging pilot programs to minimize grid impacts and provide system-wide benefits. “Entergy requested approval for new offerings like this in Arkansas and Mississippi,” Lips said. “While DTE Electric in Michigan proposed residential and commercial charging-as-a-service programs this year and Indiana regulators approved another program proposed by Duke Energy.”

Elaine Jordan, Senior Rates and Regulatory Analyst, provided a brief overview of the two managed charging pilot programs under development by Duke Energy in their North Carolina jurisdiction.

“We’re really excited because we’ve had the opportunity to partner with BMW, Ford and General Motors,” Jordan said. One of the pilot programs will test the new Open Vehicle Grid Integration Platform, a telematics based platform that enables Duke Energy to receive charging data from customers with exact kilowatts consumed for each charging session.

The second pilot program is a Demand Response Pilot utilizing vehicle-to-grid technology which allows Duke Energy to discharge EV batteries to support the grid. Duke Energy’s proposal for this pilot is still under consideration by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

SMART CHARGING FOR SMART SAVINGS

Organizations like The Mobility House are working with fleets and customers to create smart charging solutions and strategies that not only lower costs and deliver savings, but also use EV batteries as a beneficial part of the power grid. Jacqueline Piero is the Head of Policy and Regulation in the United States for The Mobility House.

“If you have demand charges, we’ll also make sure that we’re minimizing the impact charging EVs will actually have on that demand- which can be the biggest part of an electric bill,” said Piero. “The last thing we want to do is have electric vehicles be more expensive than having diesel or gas vehicles.”

While utilities are beginning to adapt to manage EV charging, private companies such as The Mobility House are able to offer charging solutions to enable fleets to electrify at the least cost possible in the current environment. With The Mobility House’s load control technology, King County Metro in Washington state has been able to put more EVs and charging stations behind the meter than the grid connection should be able to allow.

“We have 4.63 megawatts of transit bus charging happening behind a 2.5 megawatt connection, and we’re doing that by having on-site control,” Piero said. In total, King County Metro saved around $1 million by using the existing grid connection and saves an additional $100,000 a year in operating expenses.

Piero hopes flexible approaches like the King County pilot program can be a model to further propel the transition to electric buses throughout the country. With collaboration from utilities, automotive manufacturers and third parties like The Mobility House, customers can feel more at ease with making the switch to an EV and the grid will stay up and running when they do.


ABOUT THE DATABASE OF STATE INCENTIVES FOR RENEWABLES AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY:

DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the NC Clean Energy Technology center at NC State University. If you’re interested in learning more about incentives and policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency in your state, visit DSIREusa.org.

ABOUT NCCETC’S ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY SERVICES:

The NCCETC is now offering Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) to all types of private and public organizations. Our staff are subject experts in clean energy, transportation, policy and workforce development and they bring this entire portfolio of knowledge toward a holistic approach to client work. They also provide unbiased, data-driven, and technical fee-for-service energy solutions based upon the client’s specific needs.

Register for our newsletter to stay tuned for the next free webinar highlighting timely topics and services!

2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference a Success for the Clean Transportation Community

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) welcomed more than 350 registered attendees in Durham, NC for the 2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo. The conference showcased the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas and propane arenas – including everything from Progress Solar’s latest mobile solar electric vehicle (EV) charging model to the diverse display of alternative fuel vehicles and other clean transportation technologies.

Over 80 speakers from a variety of backgrounds presented their ideas and best practices during the conference – highlighting the leading edge of sustainable fleet practices and clean transportation opportunities – including fleet managers, technicians, company presidents and CEOs, university professors, researchers, analysts, nonprofit managers, motivational speakers and more. “It was inspiring to see professionals from different industries and backgrounds coming together to exchange ideas for improving the sustainability of transportation in our state and beyond,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the NCCETC Clean Transportation Program.

The sixth annual Sustainable Fleet Technology (SFT) Conference was able to return in-person in 2022 for the first time since 2019, bringing together fleet professionals and decision-makers to share and discuss evolving clean transportation strategies and technologies. Brutz marked SFT 2022 as a success in meeting this objective. “We’re fostering a community where members support each other during this transition to integrate sustainable operations and technologies into their fleets,” said Brutz.

During expo hall hours, attendees were able to network with more than 60 exhibitors while exploring over a dozen vehicles inside and outside of the convention center, with displays including a Chevy Bolt, Ford E-Transit, the City of Charlotte’s Ford F-150 Lightning and Ford Mustang Mach-E, the City of Durham’s bucket truck with a plug-in electric power take-off (PTO) solution by Viatec, Lightning eMotors, Thomas Built Buses Jouley Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Zero Motorcycles, an Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast Charger from Siemens, Progress Solar’s Mobile Solar Light Tower solution, XL Flee’s Hybrid Electric Upfit, Cenntro’s all-electric Logistar 400 and off-road utility task vehicle ORV, a long-range electric low-speed vehicle from Carolina Industrial Equipment, and more.

“This year the expo hall was full of a lot of electrifying conversations,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “There’s a lot of opportunities coming from recent federal and state actions encouraging creativity from both the manufacturers and the end-users.”

During the pre-conference day, NAFA Fleet Management Association hosted a Sustainable Fleet Management Program Boot Camp before announcing the 2022 winners of the 100 Best Fleets and Green Fleet Awards. Triangle Clean Cities also hosted the Triangle Electric Vehicle Summit, and Cenntro vehicles were available for the ride & drive outside of the convention center.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS & BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Keynote speakers John Konkel, Director of GM Fleet in the Southeast Region, and Robert Gordon, Fleet Management Deputy Director in Dekalb County kicked off day one of SFT 2022.

SFT Conference tracks included Vehicle Applications, Fueling Infrastructure, and Planning & Technology. Attendees were able to choose from 12 breakout sessions across the tracks:

  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle Emissions Reductions & Case Studies
  • Best Practices for Managing Fleet Charging Equipment
  • Telematics: Realtime Information for Optimizing Fleet Performance & Safety
  • Hydrogen as a Transportation Solution
  • Charging Equipment Service & Maintenance for Reliability
  • Considerations & Opportunities for Rural Communities
  • Alternative Fuel Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Case Studies
  • Alternative Fuel Resilience Considerations
  • Funding & Financing Your Sustainable Fleet
  • Understanding Batteries
  • Considerations in EVSE Networking, Communications & Specifications
  • Idle Reduction an Easy Win

The plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Getting the Win in Sustainable Fleet was moderated by John Davis, Emmy® Award-winning producer, host and creator of MotorWeek. The panel featured Ted Koupparis of General Motors Fleet, Patrick Campbell of Cummins, Dawn Fenton of Volvo Group North America, Stuart Weidie of Alliance AutoGas, and Patrick Scully of Ballard Fuel Systems.

Stuart Weidie spoke of the long future of the internal combustion engine and the viable role for propane and other alternative fuels, a view shared by others on the panel. They examined the current state of sustainable transportation and identified opportunities for overcoming barriers to meeting goals for today and the future.

Dawn Fenton outlined two of the barriers many heavy-duty fleets face when building toward a sustainable fleet: the lack of established infrastructure for refueling alternative fuel vehicles and the need for incentives on local and nationwide scales.

Fenton said recent federal programs like those outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act have the potential to help public fleets overcome these obstacles. The Act includes expansions and extensions of utility-scale tax credits and rebates to incentivize the purchase of electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks as well as its associated refueling infrastructure.

“Many utilities have also established make-ready programs to help lower the cost of infrastructure for heavy-duty fleet vehicles and equipment,” Fenton added.

Day two began with plenary panel Leadership Triple Play featuring Motivational Speaker & Scottsdale-based Leadership Development Coach Ramsey Bergeron of Bergeron Wellbeing, Lonnie Mayne of Red Shoes Living, Inc. and City of Orlando’s Facilities Management Division Manager David Dunn. The panel highlighted principles for fleet managers to employ to help their organizations successfully embrace change and improve results.

Later that day, Robbie Astrop, Sr. Business Development Manager at ABM moderated the plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Delivering Electrons for Transportation Electrification. Speakers on the panel were Todd Ritter, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of EvStructure; James Tillman, Sr. Vice President Business Development, Brytemove Energy; Sean Ackley, EV & Mobility Segment Lead of Hitachi Energy; and Anne Blair, Electrification Coalition’s Director of Policy.

Sean Ackley, an engineering graduate of NC State University, has had a career focus on electrical infrastructure technologies and execution projects. As Hitachi America’s resident expert on EV technologies, Ackley leverages his background in cloud managed services, product development, testing interoperability, and construction project management in facilitating critical thinking around the transition of large fleets to electric powertrain.

Ackley knows the transition to alternative fuel of large fleets is no small feat and he expressed that during the panel. “It’s a whole ecosystem,” said Ackley. “We’re changing the world.”

Ackley stressed the importance of future-proofing technology to support the expansion of infrastructure and equipment as it evolves. “Start early, think ahead, and get creative,” Ackley advised when asked about specific strategies for load management and deployment.

Overall, the panelists agreed that transitioning fleets to electric vehicles is a multi-aspect process that involves planning, coordination, maintenance, strategies for managing electrical load, and more. The roundtable discussion focused on charging options, use cases, policies and strategies to meet today’s needs, as well as what is needed to further transportation electrification.

Industry Roundtable: Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Electric Vehicle Portfolio Planning was the conference’s final plenary panel and joined together several major OEMs to share their plans and investments related to bringing a light-duty EV line-up to market from what is available to what is coming.

”A lot of OEMs have been announcing major developments in regards to electric vehicle offerings within their portfolio,” said Brutz, who moderated the panel’s speakers: Bryan Chapman, Southeast Government Sales Account Manager, Stellantis NA; Ted Koupparis, Sales Enablement Manager, General Motors Fleet; James Morgan, Government Sales Manager, Ford Motor Company; Mark Namuth, Manager, Fleet Commercial Sales, Nissan; and Scott Bargatze, Southeast Commercial Sales Manager, Nissan.

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 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference – sign up for the clean transportation newsletter now!

Kick Off National Drive Electric Week With the NC Clean Energy Technology Center

National Drive Electric Week starts this month, September 23 through October 2, 2022! National Drive Electric Week, or NDEW, is an annual event in the United States celebrating 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 nation. 

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) is kicking off this year’s National Drive Electric Week at the Wake Forest versus Clemson University football game Saturday, September 24. Before the game begins, fans are invited to join the NCCETC for a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle (EV) car show at Truist Field on Wake Forest University’s campus. The following Thursday, September 29, NCCETC is hosting another EV car show and demonstration with test drives at Venture Plaza on NC State’s Centennial Campus. 

National Drive Electric Week began in 2011 to provide free, helpful and in-depth information for those beginning their electric vehicle journey. Today, more than two million EVs have been sold in the United States, and 90 percent of EV drivers report they will purchase another EV for their next vehicle, according to a recent survey conducted by Plug In America

NDEW events help spread awareness about the benefits of driving electric, including decreased emissions, fuel savings and enhanced performance of electric vehicles. Thousands of North Carolinians attend National Drive Electric week events each year, and there are currently ten individual events currently scheduled for this year across the state. 

The Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC has participated in the national campaign for several years now and, in 2021, sponsored two in-person EV ride and drive events in addition to two virtual webinars on electric vehicle topics including innovative charging solutions and idle reduction

“Every year during National Drive Electric Week events, we give people the opportunity to get their hands on an EV and ask EV owners all of their questions,” explained Heather Brutz, Clean Transportation Program Director for NCCETC. “When they leave, they are confident in making their next vehicle purchase electric and even come back to showcase their new EVs to get others to make the switch at future events!”

Learn more about upcoming events and register to attend by visiting the links listed below. 

Those interested in going electric can also explore a variety of EVs and their drivers’ experiences driving electric through our Electric Driver Profile series. NCCETC previously sat down with seven EV drivers to hear about the benefits of going electric.

Our newest EV Driver Profile features Kelly Witter, a recent EV owner who shared, “EVs are quiet, have fewer moving parts and reduce air pollution and fossil fuel use. Plus, charging at public stations is more enjoyable than gas stations and I can be productive while I charge.”

The 50 States of Electric Vehicles: Zero-Emission Buses, Charging-As-A-Service Programs, and Demand Charge Alternatives Addressed During Q2 2022

Raleigh, NC – (August 5, 2022) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its Q2 2022 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 47 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q2 2022 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to rebate and  grant programs, rate design for vehicle charging, and state procurement of electric vehicles.

A total of 569 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q2 2022, with the most active states being Massachusetts, California, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Michigan, and New Jersey. So far in 2022, at least 82 bills related to transportation electrification have been enacted across 35 states.

Q2 2022 State and Utility Action on Electric Vehicles

The report discusses three trends in electric vehicle actions taken in Q2 2022: (1) states encouraging zero-emission school bus deployment, (2) utilities proposing charging-as-a-service programs, and (3) states and utilities continuing to examine demand charge alternatives for commercial charging.

“There was a flurry of legislative activity across the second quarter. Along with expanding some existing financing programs to include EV infrastructure, legislators ordered the creation of new incentive programs, implemented new or more stringent procurement targets, and even weighed in on permitting issues,” observed Rebekah de la Mora, Policy Analyst at NCCETC.

The report notes five of the top policy developments of the quarter:

  • Indiana and New Jersey regulators approving new utility incentive programs;
  • Maine lawmakers adopting zero-emission vehicle targets;
  • The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approving new electric vehicle charging rates;
  • Arizona utilities filing transportation electrification plans; and
  • California regulators filing proposed regulations establishing targets for zero-emission vehicle sales.

“We have seen utilities developing creative programs for EVs,” noted Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “From subscription rates coupled with managed charging, to EV service equipment tariffs, utilities are exploring new services to offer their customers.”

View the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q2 2022 Executive Summary
View and Purchase the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q2 2022 update FULL Report
View other 50 States Reports – Solar, Grid Modernization and Electric Vehicles

ABOUT THE N.C. CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CENTER

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, sustainable energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the  Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCCleanTech

 

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, NCCETC, shannon_helm@ncsu.edu

2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Winners Share Their Story

In the fifth year of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school submitted their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state. 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 Morrisville, Weddington and Raleigh, N.C. 

The art contest originated from Heather Brutz, Interim Director of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, who thought of the Student Art Contest while recalling her previous experience as a middle school teacher. “I hoped the contest could engage young people’s creativity to help spread awareness about the ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles,” Brutz said. 

Air pollution is one of the ways climate change impacts our health today, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reporting almost 9 out of 10 people who live in urban areas worldwide are affected by air pollution. The NIEHS explains air pollution can affect lung development and increase the amount and seriousness of lung disease and asthma. Children, the elderly, and people living in areas with high levels of air pollution are especially susceptible. 

“Clean air is vital for health,” Brutz said. “This is true for people of all ages, but there is research that shows that exposure to air pollution for kids increases their chances of getting asthma, which affects their health for the rest of their lives.”

As a teacher, Brutz would try a variety of different teaching methods to capture students’ attention. “I applied that same thinking when I first came up with the idea for the art contest- I wanted to engage a different audience than we sometimes interact with in our other educational activities at the Center and engage that audience in a different way than what we were already doing,” explained Brutz. “Artwork is a powerful tool and I was excited to find a way to work together with young artists to help spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean.” 

NCCETC received submissions from students in elementary, middle and high schools across the state. “It’s always rewarding to see how creative students are with their work,” said Brutz. “Although we are only able to choose three winners whose artwork will be displayed on billboards, every single young artist who submitted should feel proud of their contribution.”

To learn what clean air means to them, we asked the winners some questions about their artwork:

Elementary School Winner – Sudeep Asam | Morrisville Elementary School | Morrisville, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I want to express my feelings in the “keep our air clean” contest.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork expresses how pollution spoils our environment and ways to stop the pollution and be a solution.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

If our air is clean, people and nature stay healthy.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

Yes, I do walking and biking.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I feel very happy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I am hoping my artwork inspires some of the people and will start working on stopping pollution.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Everyone should take a pledge to stop the pollution and be a solution.

Middle School Winner – Evie Frain | Weddington Middle School | Weddington, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I entered this contest with the purpose to show the progression of pollution, because it is commonly seen as something intangible. People often think that climate change, pollution, and global warming are far off in the future, when in reality they aren’t.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork is meant to express that the current rate of fossil fuel burning is dangerous to both the lives of humans and the environment.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

To me, “keep our air clean” stresses the importance of conscientious efforts today. Clean air is needed for all living organisms, so the viability of the future depends on us acting now. 

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

I try to carpool and limit the amount of places I have to go.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was surprised, I had never expected to win. I only put my artwork into the contest because I am passionate about switching to clean energy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I hope people will rethink some of their own personal uses of fossil fuels and find a way to limit them.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Besides limiting fossil fuels, it’s also environmentally beneficial to recycle and reuse items.

High School Winner – Emilyn Haddock | Broughton High School | Raleigh, NC 

Why did you want to enter the contest?

​The reason why I wanted to enter the contest was to get the chance to express my artwork. There are rare times in my life I was able to have a chance to submit my artwork into a contest. Usually when I enter my creations, I do it for the sole purpose of expressing my work and have a chance for someone to review. It is nice to see my artwork being appreciated and to be seen by people.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

​My meaning behind my artwork is to have a conscious decision between riding your bike to work or to your local grocery store then potentially spending more money on gas and burn more carbon fuel.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

​The phrase “keep our air clean” means that keeping toxic fumes in our air we breathe. We take clean air for granted and if we don’t appreciate and take measures of keeping it clean, masks will be more ingrained to our daily routine then the pandemic. It is important to keep our air clean because having unclean air can cause health problems, terrible living conditions and people with breathing conditions will have a much harder time going outside. Keeping our air clean also means some caring about other peoples health by going to measures of reducing carbon fuel and debris in the air.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

​Yes! I have bought my own bicycle so that I can easily travel to my local stores. Recently, I have the responsibility of buying grocery items for my parents to make dinner so having a bike makes it 10 times more faster to get to my destination and 10 times more fun.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

​I hope that the next time they drive by my billboard, they would’ve use their bikes or scooters instead for the next time they wanna go out. Riding your bike is a totally different experience than just driving your car.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

Thank you to all you participated in the 2022 Student Art Contest!

Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) Project Accelerates Fleet Electrification with Plug-and-Play Electric Power Take-Off by Viatec

In June 2022, the industry’s first and only production all-electric bucket truck was unveiled at the 68th Electric Utilities Fleet Managers’ Conference. The electric bucket truck’s debut was realized two years earlier than the most optimistic industry projections thanks to a unique collaboration between ViatecTerex and Navistar/International Trucks.

Viatec shared that a project of this magnitude required a seamless collaboration between the three critical components of the all-electric bucket truck – an electric chassis, an aerial upfit and the electric power take-off system to power a full day of work. The Terex Optima 55 foot aerial device is powered by a plug-in electric power take-off (PTO) solution by Viatec and mounted on an International® Electric MV™ series chassis from Navistar’s International Trucks.

Viatec’s flagship electric PTO (ePTO) product, SmartPTO, is part of their series of zero-emissions worksite solutions for hydraulic powered applications. The SmartPTO’s 2018 pilot program first brought the electric PTO system to North Carolina municipalities after being awarded grant funding from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s (NCCETC) Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (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. “With CFAT funds, SmartPTO deployed 24 SmartPTO units in NC municipalities with significant air pollution, including Apex, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and Cary.” Learn more about 2018 air quality improvement grant projects here.

Anjali Deodhar, VP of Sales at Viatec, discussed how the universal plug-and-play solution is helping the entire industry, regardless of which vehicle manufacturer they use, to adopt SmartPTO. “We believe that, for the foreseeable future, utility fleets will be an optimal combination of internal combustion chassis as well as full electric vehicle chassis,” Ms. Deodhar explained, “And the good news is- SmartPTO works as the go-to ePTO solution on both!”

Whether it’s installed on an all-electric chassis or a legacy bucket truck, SmartPTO has the benefits of enhanced safety, reduced maintenance, lower cost of ownership, and social responsibility for electric utility providers. This ePTO is built around an EPA Certified production hardened electric power train and is “Buy America” compliant. The unit is fit for utilities, tree service, sign and light companies and other aerial device applications.

On an electric vehicle (EV) chassis, exhausting a vehicle’s mileage range for the sake of powering worksite equipment is not ideal. Viatec’s SmartPTO can provide all of the power needed for worksite operation so the chassis battery power is reserved for travel and its maximum range is protected. EV’s cut down on fuel usage and reduce both environmental emissions and noise pollution.

When retrofitted on a diesel bucket truck, the electric PTO allows bucket truck crews to turn off their engine and perform work in a safe, clean and quiet environment, benefiting the owners, operators and the communities in which they work. “Hybrid trucks use their engines about 60 percent less than conventional trucks,” said Ms. Deodhar. “Truck engine maintenance and downtime can be reduced by half annually while extending the life of the vehicle by over 20 percent.”

Viatec was able to demonstrate the benefits of SmartPTO to Duke Energy in 2019 thanks to funding from the CFAT project. “By partnering with Duke’s fleet services team and with the support of their senior leadership, we were able to develop, test and deploy systems ready for real-world use,” Ms. Deodhar stated. During Viatec’s collaboration with Duke, they were able to gather feedback, rapidly implement improvements and ultimately produced a superior, production ready ePTO that Duke determined to adopt across their fleet of roughly 600 units over a 5-year period.

Investing in any sort of new technology is financially risky for fleets, Ms. Deodhar noted. “CFAT funding greatly reduced the financial risk of both Duke Energy and many NC municipalities, like the Town of Apex, that would have had to shoulder for the initial pilots of these sustainable new products,” she said. The first 24 units deployed through CFAT were funded 80 percent through grant funds and, according to Ms. Deodhar, all of these units are still being used in the field today.

Ms. Deodhar contributed the success of Viatec’s SmartPTO to the active support of their partners Duke Energy, Terex utilities, International Trucks/Navistar, Ultimaster, the South Carolina Research Authority, NCCETC and Zero Motorcycles along with other key individuals who mentored and guided Viatec on this journey. “Collaborations like these are important because every company has a unique strength and our impact is that much greater when we team up to build a more sustainable future together,” Ms. Deodhar said.

Mark Ferri, Viatec’s President and CEO, is grateful for the support CFAT funding provided in the early stages of developing SmartPTO. “The NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s support made this possible- from presenting at the Clean Cities Coalition meeting where they introduced the CFAT program, assisting with the application process, confirming our Buy America status and managing the funds during the life of the project,” Mr. Ferri stated. “The support, communication, coordination and follow up helped to guarantee our success.”

The CFAT program, which NCCETC has administered since 2006, aims to reduce transportation-related air pollution emissions by funding public and private organizations projects in 24 eligible North Carolina counties. CFAT is supported with federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds provided by the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT). In 2022, $1.5 million in federal funding is being awarded. The 2022 CFAT Request for Proposals was released in May 2022 and applications are due Monday, August 1, 2022.

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