Tag Archives: clean transportation

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

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.

Electric Vehicle Drivers Share Their Experience Driving Electric for National Drive Electric Week

This September 25th through October 3rd, 2021, the United States will celebrate National Drive Electric Week, sponsored by Plug in America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association. The celebration, which started in 2011, helps spread awareness about the benefits of driving electric, including decreased emissions, fuel savings and enhanced performance of electric vehicles (EVs). This year, National Drive Electric Week consists of hundreds of free events across the United States, both in-person and online.

The Clean Transportation program at NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has participated in the campaign for many years now and, in 2020, sponsored five virtual webinars on electric vehicles topics including best practices and lessons learned of charging infrastructure deployment, idle reduction and EV options for fleets.

NCCETC is kicking off National Drive Electric Week at NC State in Raleigh, NC with a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle car show on September 25, 2021. The following Monday, September 27 NCCETC is hosting another EV owner meet-up and test drive at Venture Plaza on NC State’s Centennial Campus. 

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 sat down with seven EV drivers to hear about the benefits of going electric.

Lisa Etnyre Boneham

Helen DiPietro

Take a video tour of Helen DiPietro’s 2019 Nissan LEAF EV:

Dave Erb

Take a video tour of Dave Erb’s 2015 Chevy Spark EV:

Wendy Gilliatt

Take a video tour and ride-a-long in Wendy Gilliatt’s 2017 Chevy Bolt EV:

Chris Maxwell

Dianna Tarallo

Jarred White

Links and event dates are provided below to learn more and register for upcoming National Drive Electric week events and webinars.

DSIRE Adds electric Vehicle and Charging Station Incentive Programs to Database

DSIRE Adds Electric Vehicle and Charging Station Incentive Programs to Database

Raleigh, NC – (August 24, 2021) The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) announced the addition of incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

DSIRE now includes state and utility incentives for the following technology types:

  • Passenger Electric Vehicles
  • Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
  • Zero-Emission Vehicles
  • Electric School Buses and Electric Transit Buses
  • Medium- and Heavy-Duty Electric Vehicles
  • Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
  • Off-Road Electric Vehicles
  • Level 2 Electric Vehicle Service Equipment
  • Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging Equipment
  • Make-Ready Charging Equipment

 

“Adding electric vehicles and charging equipment to DSIRE is the largest expansion of its scope since we added energy efficiency technologies in 2006,” said Brian Lips, DSIRE Project Manager at NCCETC. “The 250+ additional incentives will maintain DSIRE’s status as the one-stop-shop for reliable information about policies and incentives for clean energy technologies.”

State and Utility Incentives for Electric Vehicles

DSIRE now includes over 250 incentive programs for the purchase of electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure. There are currently state or utility incentives available in 38 states plus DC for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and electric buses. Incentives for electric vehicle charging infrastructure are currently available in 43 states plus DC.

State and Utility Incentives for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

“With the rapid growth in the electric vehicle market and the increased attention from the federal and state governments on accelerating deployment of EV infrastructure and vehicles, we believe that this was a critical expansion of the DSIRE portfolio. Furthermore, we believe the EV market is likely to increasingly converge with the rest of the clean energy space as ‘smart’ buildings, energy storage, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies are folded together under the banner of grid modernization. Policymakers are exploring new regulatory approaches and incentives to get these technologies past early adoption and into mainstream use. We at NCCETC plan to make sure DSIRE is ready to help homeowners, businesses, policymakers, and others that need to navigate this rapidly changing policy landscape, says Steve Kalland, Executive Director of the NCCETC.

Summary maps showing the availability of electric vehicle and charging incentives are now available here. NCCETC plans to continue adding policy content related electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to DSIRE, including electric vehicle sales or adoption goals, state procurement targets, and charging-enabled parking requirements.

 

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

DEQ Invites Public for Comments on Draft Phase 2 Volkswagen Mitigation Plan Until September 7

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s Division of Air Quality is currently accepting public comment on the state’s Draft Phase 2 Mitigation Plan to invest $67 million in Volkswagen Settlement funds. The Draft Phase 2 plan focuses on efforts to reduce pollution impacts while incentivizing zero emission vehicles and outreach to under-resourced communities.

The funds represent North Carolina’s share of the $2.9 billion federal settlement with Volkswagen (VW) due to its misrepresentation of diesel emission standards in certain vehicles. The Division of Air Quality was designated as the lead agency to manage the project in 2017 by Governor Roy Cooper, and Wilmington Trust officially named North Carolina as a State Beneficiary in January 2018.

Phase 1 Awards were announced in 2020 and the competitive application process resulted in 116 proposals for two grant programs: the Diesel Bus and Vehicle Program and the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Infrastructure Program. The awards included $12.2 million for school bus replacements, $6.1 million for transit bus replacements, $4.2 million for on-road heavy duty equipment such as refuse haulers, dump trucks and debris trucks, and $3.4 million for zero-emission vehicles DC Fast Charge stations.

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) partnered with the Division of Air Quality to host a series of public information sessions in July to explain the draft plan to those interested in receiving funds for eligible projects. The recordings and presentations from the public information meetings can be found online here

A series of in-person public information sessions will also be held for counties eligible in the Historically Under-Resourced Counties Outreach Program. Additional meeting dates, locations and times will be posted on the DEQ Volkswagen Program webpage.

The Historically Under-Resourced County Outreach Program is being developed by the DEQ to help counties that historically lack resources needed to effectively identify eligible vehicles for grant programs and submit quality applications. The DEQ’s Draft Phase 2 Mitigation Plan identifies 31 Historically Under-Resourced Counties eligible for maximum funding amounts allowed by the VW Mitigation Consent Decree.

Public agencies as well as public/private partnerships will be eligible for Phase 2 funding. The Draft Phase 2 VW Mitigation Plan currently allocates 80 percent of funding to the Diesel Bus & Vehicle Replacement Program and 15 percent for the ZEV Infrastructure program. Through the Diesel Bus & Vehicle Replacement Program, 40 percent of Phase 2 funding will go towards replacing school buses, 20 percent of funding will be eligible for transit bus replacements and another 20 percent will be eligible for clean heavy-duty equipment and vehicle replacements.

The DEQ’s ZEV Infrastructure program was designed to expand the state’s ZEV charging infrastructure network along priority designated corridors. Phase 2 proposes a dedicated allocation for light-duty charging projects and the DEQ plans to coordinate with the NC Department of Transportation to determine optimal locations for these EV charging stations for state fleet vehicles and attractions on state owned property.

“These funds from the VW Settlement represent an opportunity to advance clean and sustainable transportation in North Carolina,” said Heather Brutz, Finance & Operations Manager for NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program. “We encourage interested parties to read over the plan and submit comments on how this round of funding will be allocated.”

Comments on the Draft Phase 2 Mitigation Plan may be submitted online via Microsoft Forms or emailed to daq_NCVWGrants@ncdenr.gov. Voicemail comments will also be accepted at 919-707-8429.

All comments will be accepted until September 7, 2021 at 5 p.m.

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.

Electric Vehicles Are Paving the Way for Emission-Free Transportation

Electric vehicles are gaining popularity as the cost of batteries continues to decrease, and many are beginning to gravitate towards them to not only help save the environment but also to help them save money. Electric vehicles (EVs) are transforming the automotive industry worldwide, with global sales increasing by 43 percent in 2020.

Dave Erb

Today, EVs offer many more advantages than just helping drivers decrease their carbon emissions. ”There are numerous purely automotive reasons to electrify, including noise, vibration and harshness, driver feel, packaging flexibility and acceleration performance,” Dave Erb, a retired automotive engineer who has been driving an EV since 2016, noted.

A study by the University of California Berkeley (UCB) found that electric heavy-duty trucks are already cheaper to own and operate than an internal combustion engine (ICE) truck, and light-duty EVs will hold a total cost of ownership advantage within the next five years.

UCB is not the only observer predicting lower prices, Bloomberg New Energy Finance published their prediction last year that EVs will reach up-front price parity, without subsidies, directly competing with prices for internal combustion vehicles by the mid-2020s.

EVs require less expensive and less frequent maintenance and offer high quality performance, known for operating smoothly and quietly while also providing more torque and agility while driving. “By most measures, EVs are just better vehicles, so the decision to drive them kind of makes itself,” Erb said.

Chris Maxwell

Although some believe recharging EVs is more troublesome than refueling at a gas station, many EV drivers actually find it to be more convenient. Chris Maxwell purchased his first EV in 2016 and drives up to 30,000 miles every year. “The great thing about an EV is you can unplug a soda machine at any old gas station to charge – electricity is everywhere,” Maxwell explained. He doesn’t worry about the range, because he can easily find electricity to recharge.

Range can also be a concern for drivers to switch to electric vehicles, but average electric vehicle range continues to increase while the price of all models continues to decrease. The UCB study states, “In the near future, when the average EV range increases, nearly 98 percent of all daily trips can be taken on a single charge.” By 2025, a number of EV models will be able to provide a range of 350 miles on a single charge, the same average range of light-duty ICE vehicles.

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

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), maintained by NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s Energy Policy & Markets team, reported that 50 states plus the District of Columbia took a total of 598 policy and deployment actions related to EVs and charging infrastructure in 2020. Their 50 States of Electric Vehicles 2020 Annual Review identified the top ten EV trends which included state policymakers adopting bold EV targets, encouraging charging infrastructure development at multi-family buildings and states & utilities offering additional incentives for low-income customers.

NCCETC Clean Transportation Specialist John Bonitz noted, “With EV’s already lower operational costs, and price-parity predicted with gas vehicles in the next couple years, electrification is an increasingly compelling consideration for many fleet owners.”

The future of EVs is bright as more and more automakers continue electrifying their vehicles. Electric pick-up trucks are on the horizon, too, with Tesla, Ford, Rivian, General Motors, GMC-Hummer, Lordstown Motors and more expected to release models in the next few years.

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.

Submit Your Artwork for the 2021 “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!

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has officially launched the 4th 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.

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)

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.

Art submissions will be accepted through Sunday, May 2. Please submit here or by emailing Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu. Public voting will begin Monday, May 3 and last through Sunday, May 9 – stay tuned for a link to vote once all submissions have been submitted!

Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children can submit artwork by directly emailing Amira Ferjani at aferjan@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 May. Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

For more information, questions or if you submitted artwork in last year’s contest, please email Heather Brutz at hmbrutz@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.

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