Tag Archives: electric vehicles

National Drive Electric Week: The Economic & Environmental Benefits of Driving Electric

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

This year, National Drive Electric Week events will be held from September 25 through October 3, 2021, both in-person and online. Thousands of North Carolinians attend National Drive Electric week events each year, and there are ten individual events currently scheduled for this year across the state. 

National Drive Electric Week began in 2011 to provide free, helpful and in-depth information for those beginning their electric vehicle (EV) journey. Today, more than two million EVs have been sold in the United States, and 96 percent of EV drivers report they will purchase another EV for their next vehicle, according to a recent survey conducted by Plug In America. 

As with any new technology, people often have questions before they make the switch to driving electric, and National Drive Electric Week gives people the chance to interact with electric vehicles and ask EV drivers any questions they may have. 

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. This year, attendees will also get a chance to experience electric vehicles in-person at two EV ride and drive events at NC State University.

“After participating in National Drive Electric Week for several years now, I’ve seen the impact of giving people the opportunity to ask questions and get their hands on an electric vehicle,” said Richard Sapienza, Director of NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program, “When they leave, they’re confident in making the switch to going electric and several have purchased an electric vehicle following one of these events.”

Experience Driving Electric

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. 

NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program is also currently hosting free webinars showcasing the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technologies and operations, including electric, as part of the 2021 Sustainable Fleet technology Virtual Conference. The conference began September 9 with “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Planning Best Practices and Considerations for Today & the Future” (which is available to watch in full online) and includes two more upcoming webinars focused on EVs.

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

September 23rd – Idle Reduction Simple & Impactful

September 25th – Tailgate & Plug-In Electric Vehicle Car Show at NC State University

September 27th – Electric Vehicle Owner Meet-up & Test Drive at NC State University’s Centennial Campus

September 30th – Innovative Charging Solutions

Can’t make it? Watch a Video Tour from an EV Driver Online Through Our EV Driver Profile Series

Those interested in going electric can also explore a variety of EVs and their drivers’ experiences driving electric in our Electric Driver profile series. Jarred White’s EV of choice is a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi hybrid, and he said, “One of the most significant advantages of driving a plug-in hybrid are the fuel savings on the ‘first and last mile’; short trips to the store where it’s nice to know that I’m only using electric.”

There are many benefits to driving electric, including high-quality performance and the notable quietness of an electric engine — something White has also expressed can be a con of owning an EV. “Because the engine is so quiet, I’ve accidentally left my car on overnight multiple times!” White explained. 

Dave Erb has been involved in projects focused on and promoting EVs for two decades. Erb worked as an automotive engineer and spent the majority of his career in academia as faculty for UNCA Mechatronics Engineering. He also served on the Asheville Transit Committee until he reached term limit.

After purchasing his first electric vehicle in 2016, Dave and his wife were hooked and traded their last gas car in for another all-electric vehicle in 2019. The couple resides in Asheville, NC with their 2015 Chevy Spark EV and a 2019 Tesla Model 3. “We haven’t bought gas in over a year and a half,” Erb said. 

If you can’t make it to an in-person event, the NCCETC has you covered! Watch the video below for a tour of Erb’s 2015 Chevy Spark EV and hear why it’s his EV of choice.

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

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.

The 50 States of Electric Vehicles: Fleet Electrification, Fast Charging Networks, and Utility-Owned Residential Charging Programs in Focus During Q2 2021

Raleigh, NC – (August 4, 2021) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its Q2 2021 edition of The 50 States of Electric Vehicles. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The report finds that 46 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q2 2021 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to rebate programs, rate design for vehicle charging, and additional fees for electric vehicles. A total of 537 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q2 2021, with the most active states being Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon.

Q2 2021 State and Utility Action on Electric Vehicles

The report discusses three trends in electric vehicle actions taken in Q2 2021: (1) utilities piloting utility-owned residential charging station programs, (2) policymakers and utilities taking steps to encourage fleet electrification, and (3) utilities working to grow fast charging networks.

“As regulators continue to consider the appropriate role for utilities in the deployment of transportation electrification infrastructure, many utilities are filing proposals to pilot programs involving utility-owned charging stations in homes and at businesses,” observed Autumn Proudlove, Senior Policy Program Director at NCCETC. “Other states, however, have more firmly committed to a make-ready approach, where utilities own only make-ready infrastructure and not charging stations themselves.”

2021 Proposed Legislation on Electric Vehicles (as of Mid-July 2021)

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

  • Duke Energy filing its Make-Ready and Phase II Electrification of Transportation program proposals in North Carolina;
  • Arizona, Oregon, and South Carolina initiating transportation electrification investigations;
  • Colorado lawmakers enacting expansive transportation legislation;
  • Connecticut and Hawaii legislators adopting zero-emission vehicle procurement targets for state fleets; and
  • California regulators approving San Diego Gas & Electric’s Power Your Drive program extension.

“Following the actions taken this quarter, only nine states have not exempted EV charging station owners from regulation as public utilities in at least some configurations,” observed David Sarkisian, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “Many states have moved on to other regulatory issues, such as determining the types of investments that electric utilities can make in charging infrastructure, and operating requirements and efficiency standards for charging equipment.”

View the 50 States of Electric Vehicles 2021 Q2 Update Executive Summary

View and Purchase the 50 States of Electric Vehicles 2021 Q2 Update FULL Report

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

 

ABOUT THE N.C. CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CENTER

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

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.

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.

Sustainable Fleet Series: Best Practices, Fleet Electrification, The 100 Best Fleets in The Americas & more Available to Stream Now

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s (NCCETC)  2020 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference featured the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technology, operations and implementation. All 17 sessions focused on best practices to make fleets run more efficiently, with award-winner and expert speakers. 

These webinars are available to stream online now with over 30 hours of knowledge and expertise from fleet managers across the country. 

Also available on-demand, The 100 Best Fleets announced their 2020 Winners of The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas. In a later webinar, the top three fleets were featured in “100 Best Fleets: Top 3 Fleets Best Practices” to discuss their approach and best practices to distinguish themselves among the 38,000 public fleets in North America.  

The top fleet, San Luis Obispo County, California, explained how they used their “intent based leadership” program to transform their fleet and achieve 99 percent customer satisfaction. As the Fleet Manager in San Luis Obispo, Rocky Buoy led the multi-year campaign to improve inspections and ensure repairs were completed correctly the first time. 

Buoy stressed the importance of creating a culture “where people want to come to work” and investing in the fleet employees. “It’s paramount that we commit to training and developing our employees; investing in them is investing in the organization’s and their future,” Buoy said.

Governor Roy Cooper made a statement at NCCETC’s “Electrification of Transportation and Climate Change Impact” webinar on September 30, 2020. Governor Cooper discussed Executive Order 80, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent statewide and adopt 80,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2025 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

“Carbon neutrality must happen globally by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Governor Cooper stressed. “That will require transformation in all sectors of our economy, including transportation.” 

Governor Cooper also joined 14 other governors and D.C. last summer to strive for all medium and heavy duty vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2050. “North Carolina’s VW settlement funds will be invested to speed up school bus and transit electrification and put more chargers within reach of North Carolina drivers,” the governor added.

The “Idle Reduction an Easy Win” webinar featured a panelist of experts who dispelled idling myths and explained why idling wastes fuel, puts excess wear and tear on engines and systems and produces harmful emissions. 

One of the experts on the panel, Patricia Weikersheimer, is a coordinating writer for the Argonne National Laboratory which supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. “At the national scale, idling in the United States consumes more than six billion gallons, adding up to more than $15 billion each year,” said Weikersheimer. Idle reduction can become a gateway for other initiatives that can reduce carbon emissions and support fleet sustainability. 

Other topics covered in these webinars include “Best Practices & Lessons Learned in Charging Infrastructure Deployment”, “Renewable Fuels, Lubricants & Other Biobased Products” and a roundtable with the Sierra Club to share the results of a survey of local fleet managers and create a form to assist each other through fleet electrification.

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.

Stay tuned for future updates about the 5th annual 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference online at sustainablefleetexpo.com.

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