Tag Archives: clean energy

Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging

Electrification of transportation is exciting and challenging. Market forces are already pushing us in the direction of electric vehicles (EV), but our electric “refueling” infrastructure is lagging. Public and private investments are being made and more are coming in the form of grants, incentives, and substantial federal investments. In North Carolina alone, VW Settlement funds will bring ~$10 million this year.  And the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) National EV infrastructure program (NEVI) will invest more than $109 million each year over the next five years in North Carolina.  

Now, our challenge here in North Carolina is to prepare for this influx of funding, to ensure we are ready for it, and that we use it effectively and efficiently. This guidance document helps the reader understand how to get ready and where to find detailed guides for different aspects of building the new EV charging infrastructure.  

There are many many “guides” already published, so we sorted through them to find the best and give pointers to them all. Now, you can easily find the best resources for you in our guide to the guides: Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging. We encourage local government planners, managers, fleet officers, and finance & purchasing administrators to be aware of this “guide to the guides.”

Let’s get ready!

What You’ll Find in The Guide

Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging covers:

  • Charging for homeowners
  • Charging for renters (apartment, townhome and condo dwellers)
  • Charging at work
  • The state of EV charger deployment in North Carolina
  • Locally-sourced North Carolina EV charging guides
  • Links to several valuable guides from organizations like:

    • The U.S. Department of Transportation
    • The Cadmus Group (in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation)
    • Advanced Energy
    • Plug-In NC 
    • The City of Raleigh
    • Sourcewell
    • NC Department of Administration
    • North Carolina Sheriff’s Association 

>> Click here to view the full guidance document.

DEADLINE EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 13: Submit Your Artwork for the 2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

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

Show how you can help keep the air clean for Earth Day this year! Submissions will now be accepted through Friday, May 13 at 11:59pm.

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has officially launched the 5th Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, where students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state!

Students’ artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples include walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted. You can learn about the alternatives at cleantransportation.org or fuelwhatmatters.org or see examples from past winners and best practices for art submissions here.

Students now have until Friday, May 13 at 11:59 to submit their artwork. Please read the rules below to find out how to submit your artwork. Public voting will begin on Monday, May 16 and last through Monday, May 23 – stay tuned for a link to vote once submissions have closed!

For more information or questions please email Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu

Winners will be announced in June. Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

GUIDELINES & SPECIFICATIONS

The winner will be chosen based on:

  • Relevance and appropriateness of the message, as determined by the contest judges
  • Visual design, as determined by the contest judges
  • Public votes on our Facebook account

ARTWORK SPECIFICATIONS

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: Make sure to leave space in the submission to include the “Keep Our Air Clean” tagline on the final billboards if it is not incorporated into your artwork.

RULES

  1. Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles.
  2. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted.
  3. Only one entry per student is allowed and all submissions must be made via the submission form or by emailing Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu.
  4. Teachers may submit artwork on behalf of their students through email or the submission form; all artwork submitted must return a signed permission form with each submission.
  5. Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children can submit artwork in one of two ways:
    1. You may email artwork directly to Amira Ferjani at  aferjan@ncsu.edu, please include a signed permission form with each submission.
    2. You may submit artwork via the Facebook submission poll. By submitting this work, you will be agreeing to the legal terms listed below. 
Legal Terms
By submitting this photograph, image, graphic, or video (collectively the “work”) you hereby agree to the following:
  • You certify and warrant that you are the legal guardian of the minor who is submitting the artwork or are the artist and are legally an adult.
  • You certify and warrant that the work is your work or your child’s own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the copyright or other proprietary or intellectual property rights of others.
  • You retain all copyright and equivalent rights but grant permission for NC State to use, reproduce, distribute, and/or release the work to the public in any manner and in any medium without payment of any fee, and in perpetuity.  
  • North Carolina State University reserves the right to use contestants’ names and works for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. You understand that the works will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself. You hereby give North Carolina State University nonexclusive rights to use yours or your child’s name, likenesses, quotes and submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials and exhibits.
  • You hereby agree to indemnify NC State, its trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from any and all claims, demands, and liabilities (including attorneys’ fees) incurred as a result of a final judgment or settlement or any claim or legal proceeding arising out of or resulting from a breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Best Practices for Submitting Artwork for the 2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

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 us how you help keep the air clean! 

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) recently announced the 5th Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest will begin accepting submissions on Monday, March 14, 2022. 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. Before the contest launches next week, NCCETC wanted to share best practices for students to use so their artwork can shine through in their submissions.

ABOUT THE “KEEP OUR AIR CLEAN” STUDENT ART CONTEST

Heather Brutz, Finance & Operations Manager of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, and leader of the Student Art Contest, said her goals were to educate the public about steps we can take to improve air quality, as well as engage young people’s creative talents to help get the word out.

Students are asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. 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

See some examples from students whose artwork has won in the past:

Ashleigh Smith’s artwork was selected as the winning high school submission in the 2021 Student Art Contest for her creative combination of personal storytelling and visual skill to portray how she keeps our air clean. 

Smith featured a greenway near her house that she often visits with her family in her submission. “I was inspired by that greenway and my brother’s love for mountain biking to create a piece that incorporated both and displayed a love for the beauty of nature and the outdoors, which will hopefully help convince people to help keep their air clean,” Smith said. 

In 2019, Adriana Ryder’s artwork was the middle school winner for the Student Art Contest. Ryder focused on reducing pollution from driving in her submission. She explained, “Car-based pollution is one of the most common ways we are poisoning our air. Instead of driving, we could walk or bike- not only will it be keeping our air clean, but it is good exercise!”

Both Smith and Ryder’s artwork convey the “keep our air clean” theme with engaging subjects that show how someone can support it themselves. 

Since the winning artwork is displayed on a billboard, students should try to keep their artwork clear and uncluttered to make it easily comprehensible from a distance. A clear and captivating subject can also aid a student in receiving more votes during the public voting period NCCETC hosts after submissions close. Last year, Smith’s artwork (pictured to the left; photo originally from Cary Academy) was the most popular for high school submissions and gained over 300 votes from the public. 

It is also recommended that students use bright or high-contrast colors to make their artwork clear. Drivers passing by billboards on the highway only have a few seconds to grasp the message, so keeping the focus simple will make the artwork more effective.

GUIDELINES & SPECIFICATIONS

The winner will be chosen based on:

  • Relevance and appropriateness of the message, as determined by the contest judges
  • Visual design, as determined by the contest judges
  • Public votes on our Facebook account

ARTWORK SPECIFICATIONS

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: Make sure to leave space in the submission to include the “Keep Our Air Clean” tagline on the final billboards if it is not incorporated into your artwork.

RULES

  1. Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles.
  2. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted.
  3. Only one entry per student is allowed and all submissions must be made via the submission form or by email.
  4. Teachers may submit artwork on behalf of their students through email or the submission form; all artwork submitted must return a signed permission form. 
  5. Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children via email must include a signed permission form for each submission. 

The official link and email to submit photos will be posted on March 14! Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

Strategies & Success Stories for Sustainable Fleet Management On-Demand Now

Eleven FREE Sessions from the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference Available to Stream Online

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center recently concluded the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference featuring the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technology, operations and implementation. The conference consisted of 11 free webinars on best practices to make fleets run more efficiently, with valuable presentations and conversations from award-winning speakers from the industry.

All webinar recordings and resources are available to stream online now so you can access on-demand knowledge and expertise from fleet managers across the country. In total, there were 900 registered attendees for the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology (SFT 2021) Virtual Conference webinar sessions.

The SFT Conference is an annual event hosted by the Clean Transportation program at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) to share strategies for achieving fleet sustainability from experts in the private and public sector. Fleet managers and clean technology innovators gather to discuss lessons learned across the industry for implementing and integrating innovative clean transportation technologies and alternative fuel operations, including the implementation in the biofuels, electric, natural gas, hydrogen and propane arenas.

Director of NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program, Richard Sapienza, surveyed fleet managers to find relevant session topics to highlight the current technologies, topics and issues impacting today’s fleet industry. “We want to build a community where ideas can be exchanged and we can provide support and strategies for dealing with new technologies to drive efficiency in fleets,” Sapienza said in the first session of SFT 2021.

The Future of Fleet Electrification

SFT 2021 kicked off on September 9 with “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Planning Best Practices and Considerations for Today and the Future” showcasing effective planning and modeling along with real-world use cases to support an electrified future for different use cases .  Currently, public and private fleets across the country are preparing for the electric vehicle (EV) revolution and, while significant consumer adoption is forecasted, transitioning entire fleets away from conventional fuel vehicles is a much more complex process than individuals going electric.

Attendees of the webinar heard from a panel of experts including David Dunn, Division Manager of the Fleet & Facilities management Division for the City of Orlando, Florida. Dunn emphasized the critical roles public fleets have in leading the EV revolution and being the agent of change, from installation and maintenance of infrastructure to creating solutions for grid vulnerability.

Part of being a leader means embracing change, and Dunn was proud to share his fleet’s latest change- the addition of a DANNAR Mobile Power Station® (MPS). The MPS is a heavy-duty EV designed for infrastructure maintenance and disaster response, equipped with a two-way charger and inverter to provide clean energy for single-day or multiple-day work requirements.

“This [MPS] is a charger, this is a generator, this is a work platform, this is a power station,” Dunn explained. “This is one way to attack the grid vulnerability issue, because you can charge several vehicles off of this one if you need to.”

Electrification was the focus of several SFT 2021 sessions, and those interested in learning more about charging solutions can benefit from the in-depth “Innovative Charging Solutions” webinar which covered power requirements, associated costs and time hurdles involved in meeting the charging needs of diverse use cases.

The last session of SFT 2021, “Future Proofing Electric Charging Infrastructure”, discussed steps to fleet electrification and considerations for fleets to be ready for the future, as infrastructure deployment continues to be a moving target with needs and technology rapidly changing.

Hot Topic – Alternative Fuel Sessions Popular Amongst Attendees

Alternative fuels such as hydrogen and natural gas have proven to be viable ways for fleets to reduce emissions, and two of the most widely attended SFT 2021 sessions included topics in this arena. Attendees learned from the top fleets in the United States, including recent winners of both The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas and The Green Fleet Awards.

“Quite often, when deploying alternative fuel vehicles and sustainable technologies, there’s an increased cost in acquisition, but there are a number of different ways for fleets to mitigate these costs,” said Sapienza.

Typically, alternative fuel vehicles have greater up-front costs than conventional fuel vehicles. However, there can be cost benefits with regard to maintenance and operations costs, as well as vehicle useful life. The webinar “Total Cost of Ownership Comparisons of Alternative Fuel Vehicles versus Conventional Fuel Vehicles” addresses these concerns with a life cycle cost analysis and features examples from top fleets across the country using alternative fuels in their operations.

One of the speakers from this webinar was Andrew Burnham from the Argonne National Laboratory which supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. Argonne has developed the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) tool. The AFLEET spreadsheet was designed to examine light and heavy duty vehicles for metrics like petroleum use, greenhouse gas emissions and more to find the total cost of ownership.

There are many opportunities for fleet’s to mitigate the higher acquisition costs associated with alternative fuel vehicles, including state and federal level funding and incentives. The “Funding Sources and Creative Financing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles” session shared resources and tips on how to take advantage of creative financing options for fleets to achieve their sustainability goals.

Other session topics included “Working with your Utility and Understanding Fleet Charging Costs”, “Idle Reduction: Simple & Impactful” and success stories for specific transportation applications of natural gashydrogen and propane.

To view all of the past webinars and sessions from NCCETC Clean Transportation, Sustainable Fleet Webinar Series from NCCETC and The 100 Best Fleets, as well as the Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference series and others, click here.

Currently, the clean transportation team is hosting weekly 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.  Register for an upcoming SFT Webinar online now.

Stay tuned for future updates about the 6th annual 2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference online at sustainablefleetexpo.com.

NC Cooperative Demonstration of Vehicle-to-Grid Smart Charger Shows Economic Value

Electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to be more than just a means of transportation now that more automakers are selling vehicles compatible with vehicle-to-grid technology, like Nissan LEAF, Ford F150 Lightning, and the Thomas Built C2 Jouley school bus. Bidirectional capable charging stations can transform electric cars, buses, garbage trucks, fleet vehicles and more into mobile energy storage banks.

Preliminary findings from a demonstration of two-way, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in North Carolina show the 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) is coordinating with Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) to demonstrate and evaluate the economic case for the use of a two-way charger made by Fermata Energy, maker of the first EV charger certified for the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The project also benefits from support from partners including Advanced Energy, Clean Energy Works, and Environmental Defense Fund.

REC’s headquarters in the rural town of Ahoskie, NC, is the demonstration site for the project, where technicians for the utility’s growing broadband business use the utility’s two Nissan LEAF electric vehicles. The cooperative provides electricity and broadband services to a wide variety of industrial, recreational, educational, community and other interests in addition to farms in northeast North Carolina.

The two-way “smart” charger provides power to Roanoke Electric’s two EV cars, and it is one of the first chargers delivered from Fermata’s manufacturing site in Danville, Virginia. This charger not only curtails a vehicle’s charging in response to peak system demand, but also, it can discharge the energy stored in a connected EV to meet some of the demand at the site when demand on the grid is high. 

The V2G charging technology was thoroughly tested by Underwriters Laboratory to meet the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The purpose of this current demonstration has been to illuminate the value potential of V2G for fleet managers, energy professionals and utility companies— and the project is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

Initial Results

A common question from fleet managers is, “how can I be sure the vehicle will be fully charged when I need it?”  In summary, the intelligence of the bidirectional system’s software enables it to be programmed to meet the fleet owners’ needs.

When the V2G system is responding to system-wide peak demand events, they are scheduled in advance, so a fleet manager can choose to reserve the vehicle for the grid (or the building) at that time as if it were reserved for another driver, while simply leaving the vehicle plugged in.  The impetus for this decision is knowing how much it would be worth to leave the vehicle plugged-in for grid operations at that time.  After the bidirectional event, the system allows scheduled recharging to be programmed in a way that meets the fleet operator’s needs while providing transparency about the monetary value the vehicle can provide at different times for grid operations.

Fermata Energy’s FE-15 is capable of providing 15 kilowatts of power both to the car and back to the site served by the grid. REC schedules dispatch of the on-board battery in response to predicted peaks, which usually lasts two to three hours. Using only one of REC’s Nissan LEAFs, the V2G system has been able to reduce the utility’s load, on average, by 14.14 kW during the entirety of the 85 event hours to date, across a variety of operating conditions. 

As an example, during a window of recent events, the two-way EV charger discharged the EV battery at 14 kW on average, and it saved the cooperative nearly $440.

The results from this small window suggest savings of over $2,660 a year per two-way charger. The value of this single unit hints at the potential for much bigger savings when multiplied by many units, serving multiple EVs or integrated with entire fleets of EVs. While some chargers may not have an EV connected during every peak period, utilities will develop experience over time with a minimum fraction of availability across thousands of EVs and two-way charging stations, accessing hundreds of MWh of energy storage on-board local EVs.

In addition to system-wide savings, V2G chargers can also create savings for non-residential customers that pay demand charges. Despite having relatively modest demand charges of $9.50/kW, Fermata’s software and charger strategically dispatched the Nissan LEAF battery to reduce REC’s headquarters building demand charges by $234 over a two month period. At larger facilities, Fermata has demonstrated the FE-15 is capable of capturing the full 15 kW in savings possible, and in parts of the country where demand charges can surpass $20/kW, customers could realize savings of over $300 a month.

For REC and its members, and any utility with demand charge and demand response programs in which V2X technology can participate, the benefits of system-wide savings as well as customer savings can be realized simultaneously. Using REC’s local and system demand charges, each FE-15 operating at maximum capacity could result in $3,500 to $4,000 of savings each year.

Roanoke Electric has also been able to demonstrate another application that V2X technology makes possible for improving energy assurance and reliability. REC’s facility has an on-site generator that allows it to isolate itself from the grid, and Fermata’s V2X charger can discharge the Nissan LEAF battery to partially power the facility either by dispatching stored energy when the site’s usage is highest, or by reacting to scheduled discharges for a set duration. The ability for smart charging to respond to an islanded load powered by the generator increases the resilience of sites that use generators as back-up power systems.

These results have important implications for the affordability of electricity, both for grid operators and for the member owners of the electric cooperative. REC’s CEO Curtis Wynn has underscored the improvements to grid utilization that the utility can attain when distributed storage is available to member-owners on the Roanoke Electric grid.

The Potential of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology

As public and private fleets in the United States replace internal-combustion engine vehicles with EVs, integration of V2G technology could enable EVs to serve as energy reservoirs to help keep the grid running smoothly during demand peaks and during system outages. 

In this demonstration at REC, the dollar savings appear to nearly offset the cost of the EVs. The cooperative’s two new Nissan LEAFs with 62kWh battery capacities are leased at less than $250 per month, and the demonstration has documented a generated value of as high as $230 a month. The implications for dropping the net cost of electric mobility to Roanoke Electric member-owners is tremendous.

On a residential scale, electric vehicle drivers could use vehicle-to-building technology to power their homes during lengthy blackouts. With a bidirectional charging system, homeowners could pull power from their electric vehicle batteries to keep fridges, lights, the internet and heating and cooling systems on in their homes, especially when jeopardized by heat waves or hypothermia as seen this year in Texas.

Vehicle-to-building 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 numbers of hours these essential systems have to use backup diesel generators. 

As the demonstration continues, REC staff are exploring a pilot application of the technology with commercial customers, focusing first on locations having higher voltage service — in line with the design of the FE-15 device.

John Bonitz, a specialist for NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program, said, “Preparing for a future where fleets of electric buses and cars will be electrified, this demonstration at Roanoke Electric Cooperative is helping prove the benefits and economic value of integrating V2G technology to shave peaks, improve grid utilization and increase resilience – all while helping the cooperative and its members save money. And we’re honored to be involved.” 


ABOUT THE TEAM

This demonstration is possible only due to a unique partnership between six organizations:  Roanoke Electric Cooperative serves about 14,000 accounts in Northeastern North Carolina out of their headquarters in Ahoskie, NC.  Fermata Energy is a company created for the dual purposes of accelerating the adoption of EVs and accelerating the transition to a renewable energy future, and it is their bi-directional EV charger and proprietary software system that allow electric vehicles to earn money while they are parked.  Clean Energy Works provides advisory services for accelerating investment in grid-edge solutions.  Advanced Energy is a nonprofit energy consulting firm that assists utilities with program design and electric transportation initiatives. Environmental Defense Fund, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems, including supporting policies that accelerate transportation electrification to create a zero-emission future.  The NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program is supporting the demonstration with analysis, technical assistance and facilitation. NCCETC also hosts the largest outreach and engagement events in the region on sustainable fleets, the Sustainable Fleet Technology virtual conference series.

Success Stories for Sustainable Fleet Management at the 2021 Virtual Conference

The agenda for the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference has officially been announced! Attendees will be able to tune in for valuable presentations and conversations every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 to 3:30 PM ET starting on September 9 and ending on October 19, 2021.

Sessions at the Fifth annual 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference (SFT) will showcase the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technologies and alternative fuel operations, as well as implementation in the biofuels, electric, natural gas, hydrogen and propane arenas. Session topics and speakers were carefully selected to highlight the current technologies, topics and issues happening in today’s fleet industry as we navigate the rapidly evolving transportation industry.

Richard Sapienza, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NC Clean Energy Technology Center, surveys fleet managers year-round to find relevant session topics suited for their needs. There are a myriad of strategies to achieve fleet sustainability and new clean transportation technologies are always on the horizon, and topics discussed at the SFT are meant to share best practices and lessons learned across the industry.

Currently, both public and private fleets in the United States are gearing up for an electric vehicle revolution as the transition towards vehicle electrification expands. Transitioning entire fleets away from conventional fuel vehicles, however, is a much more complex process than individuals deciding to go electric.

“This transition affects every fleet from light to medium to heavy-duty vehicles, which all have different use cases and needs regarding power levels, charging and range,” Sapienza explained. “You can’t just flip a switch and instantly see the change, but we’re hoping to make that change more accessible for these fleet managers.”

Attendees of SFT can expect to learn and share more about electric vehicle infrastructure planning, alternative and renewable fuels applications and decarbonization uses, idle reduction, sustainable fleet management and more. Session topics include a strong focus on data-driven decisions, tools and technologies from real-world applications of leading edge technologies.

Alternative fuels such as hydrogen and natural gas have proven to be viable ways for fleets to reduce emissions and help conserve fuel. Not only are alternative fuels featured in a session on fleet decarbonization, but attendees can also learn from success stories about propane autogas and natural gas applications in addition to a session focused on hydrogen as a transportation solution.

SFT 2021 features award-winning and expert speakers who will share the best practices to help fleets run more efficiently. From simple strategies like idle-reduction programs to more complex strategies including fleet charging costs and deployment, the conference agenda covers it all. Each session spotlights different opportunities for fleets to find the best solutions for managing a sustainable fleet.

Building towards a sustainable fleet is a multi-aspect process that involves planning, understanding, learning, tracking, analyzing, training and changing organizational culture, which can be challenging for individual fleets to navigate. SFT serves as a resource for public and private fleets by leveraging the knowledge of top performing fleets and industry experts sharing their best practices and operations for increasing vehicle fleet efficiency and sustainability.

“We’re trying to build a community to exchange and share ideas from lessons learned so that we can all avoid the potholes in the road,” Sapienza said. Early-adopters exist for every trend and technology, and fleet managers can learn from them to increase their own fleet’s efficiency both environmentally and economically.

The sustainable fleet practices presented at SFT 2021 provide a process of continuous improvement, fleet modernization and impact and risk reduction, while also working towards decarbonization and cost savings.

Who should attend?

  • Public & Private Fleet Managers
  • Purchasing Officials
  • State Government Leaders
  • Municipal Government Officials
  • Non-Profit Stakeholders
  • Clean Cities Coalitions & Stakeholders
  • Alternative Fuel Trade Organizations
  • Sustainability Managers
  • Academic Leaders & Researchers

Learn more & register for individual SFT 2021 virtual sessions below:

Don’t miss out on future updates for the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference- sign up for the clean transportation newsletter or stay tuned online at www.sustainablefleetexpo.com.


The NC Clean Energy Technology Center hosts the 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.

2021 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Winners Share Their Story

In the fourth 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 Black Mountain, Hampstead and Cary, N.C.

Heather Brutz, Finance & Operations Manager of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, and leader of the art contest, said her goals were to educate the public about what steps we can take to improve air quality, as well as engage young people’s creative talents to help get the word out. Brutz said she originally came up with the Student Art Contest while recalling a previous job as a middle school teacher and hoped that the contest would engage young people’s creativity to help spread the message about ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles. 

“When I was a teacher, I would often try to engage students in a variety of different ways to teach a lesson. I applied that same thinking when I came up with the idea of the art contest. I wanted to engage a different audience than we sometimes engage in our other educational activities and I wanted to engage them in a different sort of activity than what we were already doing,” Brutz explained. “Artwork is so powerful and I wanted to work together with young artists to spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean.”

This year’s artwork was judged by a panel of four judges: Carla Davis, communications coordinator for NC State University’s Sustainability Office; Erin Champion, academic coordinator for the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University; Traci Rider, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Design at NC State University; and Vincent Fazzio from Lamar Advertising. All of the winners selected by the judges were also voted in the top three artwork in their categories on NCCETC’s Facebook page.

The Center received a great number of submissions from students across the state. Brutz said, “I am very pleased at the number of submissions we received this year. We received 70 art submissions from all across North Carolina. It was a very competitive contest, and while we were only able to choose three winners to have their artwork displayed on billboards, every single young artist who submitted should feel proud of their artwork.”

We talked to winners of the contest about their artwork and what clean air means to them:

Ella Millwood – Elementary School Winner | Black Mountain Elementary School, Black Mountain, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I wanted to enter because I wanted everyone to see what the world could become. 

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

That people should help keep our air clean.

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

I think it is important because if the air is really polluted, we wouldn’t be able to breathe and there would be very little life on earth.

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

We walk and carpool whenever possible. 

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

I was surprised! I didn’t think I would actually win.

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

People to stop polluting our air and realize what the world could be.

Anything else you’d like to share.

I think that’s all!

Vivienne Butanis – Middle School Winner | Surf City Middle School, Hampstead, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I wanted to enter the Student Art Contest because I wanted to express my disdain for the way we are treating our environment. It was an art class assignment to connect our art class to science. It was a way for me to see how I could interpret the current conditions of our environment into an art piece. 

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

My artwork is trying to express how badly we are currently treating the environment. My artwork depicts our earth from two points of view: the first point of view shows where the air is polluted, and another point of view of how our environment might look if taken better care of.

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

Keeping our air clean is important to me because at the rate we are burning fossil fuels and destroying the ozone layer, the earth won’t be inhabitable much longer which is a big part of why taking care of the environment is vital. We are not protecting the environment for just ourselves but for generations to come.

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

I like to ride my bike and skateboard so I can get to places without having to increase my carbon footprint. It’s easier to get around in a coastal community only using a skateboard and a bike.

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

I was very surprised and happy because I saw this contest as a good opportunity to put myself out there. My teacher says that art is not meant to be hidden in a drawer. We should put our work out there to cause a change. Sometimes that change is as simple as a thought.

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

I hope that people can see the current state of our environment and strive to make it better. Hopefully it will spark a change in everyone. We can not do everything but we can all do something.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Thank you for the opportunity of this contest that allows us to connect and reach people outside of our communities. 

Ashleigh Smith – High School Winner | Cary Academy, Cary, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I entered the contest because I thought that it provided a unique opportunity to spread an important message, and as an artist I really love to use my artwork to help out in my community if I can. It was also just really fun to make!

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

There is a really nice greenway near my house and my family and I love to use it to get some exercise or a breath of fresh air by walking, running, skateboarding, or riding our bikes. I was inspired by that greenway and my brother’s love for mountain biking to create a piece that incorporated both and displayed a love for the beauty of nature and the outdoors, which will hopefully help convince people to help keep their air clean.

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

The state of our environment is more important to how we live our lives than I think a lot of people realize. If we care for our environment, it will care for us too and that can be as simple as carpooling with a friend or riding your bike to the store instead of driving. 

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

Yes! I take regular walks with my mom around our neighborhood, and I always try to organize a carpool when going someplace with friends because it’s both environmentally-friendly and fun.

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

I was so surprised, I couldn’t believe it! Everyone who submitted artwork is really talented and I’m glad that my work could be among theirs as well. 

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

I hope that it will inspire people to see the beauty and opportunities that nature holds, and further strive to understand how and why we need to take care of the air. 

Anything else you’d like to share.

Special thanks to my brother for modeling for me, as he is actually the person on the bike silhouetted in my art piece. He let me take pictures of him riding and then I used them to create my work.

Vote Now: “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Polls Open

The polls are open for the “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest – vote now for your favorites!

Vote for your favorite art in each age category (kindergarten through high school). Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples: walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more.

Winners in each category will be featured on billboards across the state!

The contest poll closes at midnight this Sunday, May 9.

Winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned on nccleantech.ncsu.edu and FuelWhatMatters.org. For more information or any questions, email Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu.

Roanoke Electric Leading the Way in Savings with Proven EV Technology

This article is based on reporting from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, by Cathy Cash.

Early results from the first electric cooperative demonstration of a new electric-vehicle-to-grid charger show promise that such systems can help reduce peak demand and save members money.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Ahoskie, North Carolina, is demonstrating a special electric vehicle (EV) charger that can do double duty: It can both energize an EV and use the car’s batteries to feed power back to the electric grid.  This bidirectional, or V2G, capability could help utilities avoid peak power costs by tapping into the lower-priced energy stored by an EV during nighttime or off-peak hours.  “The overall goal is to stabilize our rates, become more efficient as a utility and prove new ways to save our members money,” said Curtis Wynn, president and CEO of Roanoke Electric, which serves about 14,000 members.

The Fermata FE-15 bidirectional charger at Roanoke Electric’s headquarters, with two Nissan LEAFs. Left to right, Wallace Ridgeway (Fermata Energy), Anita Knight (Roanoke Manager of Engineering), Ricky Robinson (Roanoke Warehouse Coordinator), and Dr Holmes Hummel (CleanEnergyWorks).

“The overall goal is to stabilize our rates, become more efficient as a utility and prove new ways to save our members money,” said Curtis Wynn, president and CEO of Roanoke Electric, which serves about 14,000 members.

This new charger is the first of its kind in the US to receive the certification of UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories), which reassures end users that the device has undergone rigorous safety testing and engineering.  The maker of the new charger, Fermata Energy, asked Roanoke Electric last year to help test its FE-15 charger using the co-op’s two leased Nissan LEAF EVs. The device can draw up to 111.6 kilowatt-hours in V2G capacity from the vehicles’ 62-kWh lithium ion batteries.

Already, the system shaved 11 kW off its January peak, saving $105, said Anita Knight, Roanoke Electric’s manager of engineering.

“It’s a very small percentage based on average demand on a monthly basis, but it is proving the concept,” Knight said.

Wynn said the co-op will use the test results to inform an upcoming commercial EV rate design study that will enhance its current pilot residential EV rate. The ultimate goal is to determine how to pass on savings and create EV incentives for members.

The Fermata FE-15 bidirectional charger at Roanoke Electric’s headquarters. Left to right, Dr Holmes Hummel (CleanEnergyWorks), Wallace Ridgeway (Fermata Energy), George Stamper (Roanoke VP of Engineering), Ricky Robinson (Roanoke Warehouse Coordinator), Anita Knight (Roanoke Manager of Engineering), and John Bonitz (NCCETC).

NCCETC is supporting this demonstration with analysis, technical assistance, and facilitation. Richard Sapienza, Director of NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program, said, “This V2G demonstration project is helping prove the benefits and economics of the technology, which is an important component of technology application and commercialization.  There have been many cool and interesting technologies that did not achieve commercial success because they did not solve a problem, meet a need and/or make economic sense.  We have a technology that works. This project is identifying the use cases where it can be applied in a beneficial manner.”

  NCCETC clean transportation specialist John Bonitz added, “the really exciting thing about Roanoke Electric’s leadership is seeing their confidence in a future where electric school buses and cars will help support the grid and shave peaks, etc., all of it helping the whole cooperative save money.”  

Watch this blog for further updates as this demonstration progresses and accumulates more data on V2G value streams.

Submit Your Artwork for the 2020 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

Due to interruptions caused by COVID-19, we have extended the submission deadline to around the end of the 2020 school year, Friday, June 12, to give students more time to submit their art.

Unfortunately, as of right now due to recent funding changes, Student Art Contest winners’ art will no longer be able to be featured on billboards this year. Winners in each category will still be featured in a blog post and receive a special certificate for their achievement. We apologize for the changes and any inconvenience this may have caused. 

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has officially launched the 3rd Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, where students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork to show how to keep the air clean.  Winners will be featured in a blog post and receive special certificates.

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

The winner will be chosen based on:
• Relevance and appropriateness of the message
• Visual design
• Public votes on our Facebook account (link to vote to come once all submissions are received)

See last year’s winners here.

Art submissions will be accepted through Friday, June 12. Please submit here or by emailing Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu. Public voting will begin on Monday, June 15 and last through Sunday, June 21 – stay tuned for a link to vote once all submissions are received!

Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children can submit artwork by directly emailing Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu. You are agreeing to the legal terms below. Teachers submitting artwork on behalf of their students must return a signed permission form.

Winners will be announced in July. Stay tuned on nccleantech.ncsu.edu and FuelWhatMatters.org!

For more information or any questions, email Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu.

Legal Terms
By submitting this photograph, image, graphic, or video (collectively the “work”) you hereby agree to the following:
• You certify and warrant that you are the legal guardian of the minor who is submitting the artwork or are the artist and are legally an adult.
• 
You certify and warrant that the work is your work or your child’s own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the copyright or other proprietary or intellectual property rights of others.
• 
You retain all copyright and equivalent rights but grant permission for NC State to use, reproduce, distribute, and/or release the work to the public in any manner and in any medium without payment of any fee, and in perpetuity.
• 
North Carolina State University reserves the right to use contestants’ names and works for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. You understand that the works will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself. You hereby give North Carolina State University nonexclusive rights to use yours or your child’s name, likenesses, quotes and submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials and exhibits.
• 
You hereby agree to indemnify NC State, its trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from any and all claims, demands, and liabilities (including attorneys’ fees) incurred as a result of a final judgment or settlement or any claim or legal proceeding arising out of or resulting from a breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

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