Tag Archives: sustainability

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.

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.

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.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles Workshop

Alternative Fuel Vehicles Workshop for Local Governments and Citizens

By the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments’ (KTRCOG) Planning Department

Venue

The Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments’ (KTRCOG) Planning Department facilitated an Alternative Fuel Vehicles workshop on Thursday, December 5, 2019. The three and one-half hour workshop occurred at Council of Governments headquarter located at 1724 Graham Avenue, Henderson, NC.  The goal of KTRCG is to promote regionalism that provides opportunities for local governments to enhance and improve the quality of life for citizens through the effective delivery of services and programs.

Workshop Purpose

The workshop educated local governments and the public about clean energy alternative fuel solutions and technologies that help reduce transportation-related emissions and air pollutants. Participants received information that allowed them to make informed decisions about implementing alternative fuel use into their department fleet of vehicles and daily lives.

Speaker Lineup

The workshop featured four dynamic presentations from NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) Program Director Rick Sapienza, Alliance AutoGas Municipal and Law Enforcement Specialist Mike Phillips, Blue Arrow Telematics Major Account Consultant Melvin McNeill, and Tesla Advisors Gabriella Kuznik and Kristin Landrum.  The workshop culminated with a video from U.S. House of Representatives Congressmen G.K. Butterfield, D-NC 1st District.  

NC Clean Energy Technology Center

Rick Sapienza gave attendees an overview of the services that NCCETC provides.  Sapienza’s presentation discussed ways that attendees could procure funding opportunities for clean transportation vehicles and infrastructure. Sapienza also stated the importance of capitalizing on alternative fuel and advanced transportation technology incentives to cut costs and reduce emissions.

Alliance AutoGas

Mike Phillips discussed the seven components of a successful Autogas Program.  Phillips emphasized using a top-down buy-in approach to implement a turnkey operation in local government department fleets that cut fuel and maintenance costs, while reducing emissions. 

Blue Arrow Telematics

Melvin McNeill discussed vehicle safety and data solutions for law enforcement offered through using telematics.  Participants gleaned a better understanding of the role telematics plays in driver safety implementation and best practices. The examples McNeill provided as to why government entities should integrate telematics, technology and data solutions into their fleets resonated with workshop attendees.

Tesla

Gabriella Kuznik and Kristin Landrum of Tesla discussed their new product line and electric vehicle technologies coming down the pipeline. From their presentation, attendees realized the role that electric vehicles play in the reduction of emissions.  Also, they did an analysis breakdown, putting into perspective the affordability of a Tesla for the average consumer.

The CCC Approach (Combating Climate Change)

Congressman Butterfield stated the importance of using biofuels to produce crops in rural communities to combat climate change.  The House of Representatives has a goal of attaining zero net emissions, leaving the country carbon-free by 2050. This objective parallels Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 initiative to reduce global warming.

Conclusion

Overall, the Alternative Vehicles Workshop was a success.  Evaluation results suggest that participants gained a better understanding of how the transportation sector is the primary direct path to address climate change. Using alternative fuels ensures the reduction of negative emissions.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Duke Energy Electrifies Fleet with Viatec SmartPTO

A Viatec SmartPTO unit. Photo from www.viatec.us.

Duke Energy recently introduced Viatec SmartPTO electric power takeoff units for its bucket truck fleet. The new units allow crews to turn off the diesel engine and rely on electricity when operating the lift – saving on fuel and maintenance costs, extending the life of the trucks, and reducing emissions. The SmartPTO units were funded by NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s (NCCETC) Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project.

“A major objective of CFAT is to promote and accelerate the adoption of new clean transportation technologies,” said Rick Sapienza, Director of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC. “The Viatec SmartPTO is a perfect example of the CFAT mechanism working to its intent.”

The battery outlasts the normal bucket truck shift and charges overnight on a basic 110-volt receptacle, according to Duke Energy. When needed, crews are able to revert to operating the lift from the diesel engine in emergency situations, such as storms, that require 24-hour use. The engine being off also allows crew members to more easily communicate from the bucket to the ground.

“I’m especially pleased for the operators of these trucks and the line-workers who ride in the bucket, because air-quality on the job site is so dramatically improved when these trucks can stop idling,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC.

Duke Energy plans to soon expand SmartPTOs to 24 bucket trucks and is considering making them standard on all new bucket trucks.

“A company of the stature and magnitude of Duke Energy embracing this technology will aid in pushing others in the industry to consider and adopt the SmartPTO technology,” Sapienza said. “SmartPTO is robust from a system standpoint, which means reliability and durability. Also, if there is a system breakdown or failure, the system is a parallel design and the truck can revert to its normal mode of operation. Regardless, the truck can remain in service and complete its job.”

NCCETC estimates that bucket trucks burn nearly a gallon of diesel fuels per hour of idling. Based on an industry study conducted by Quanta Services (Green Truck Show March 2018), an electric PTO system is estimated to save about 1800 gallons of fuel annually, in standard operations. In addition, eliminating the idling on the truck engine also reduces carbon emissions to the tune of almost 38,000 pounds of CO2.  The noiseless operation of systems creates safer operating conditions for the crew and the reduced wear-and-tear on the truck engine extends the truck life.

“The units involve much less integration with the chassis or the aerial equipment relative to their competitors,” said Mike Allison, Duke Energy’s Director of Fleet Design and Technical services. ”There is no loss of performance vs. running off of the diesel engine and chassis PTO. Fuel reductions have been as expected and the units are extremely quiet.”

The CFAT program, which NCCETC has administered since 2006, aims to reduce transportation-related air pollution emissions by funding public and private organizations projects in 24 eligible North Carolina counties. CFAT is supported with federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds provided by the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT). In 2019, up to $2,350,000 in federal funding is being awarded. The next Request for Proposals for CFAT will be targeted for January 8, 2020, and applications will be due March 17.

In 2018, Town of Apex installed three SmartPTO units after being awarded the CFAT grant. Take a look at many more CFAT funded projects here.

“We are appreciative of the work that has been done by [NCCETC] in making the funds available to jump start our movement to the Viatec system,” Allison said.

“The financial assistance makes the difference between an organization doing a project or not,” Sapienza said. “Quite often once an organization gains experience and realizes the results and impact of the various technologies, they continue expanding their use without funding, because it makes sense due to efficiency, financial and ecological reasons – a win all around.”

Stay updated and learn more about the CFAT grant here.

Clean Transportation Demonstration Days Oct. 8 & 9

Join the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition and Triangle J Council of Governments for two Clean Transportation Demonstration Days this October 8 & 9!

Register for the Oct. 8 Concord event here, and register for the Oct. 9 Raleigh event here.

Ron Luttrell of Zero Motorcycles talks to a guest test driving a Zero Motorcycle at First Responder Clean Transportation Demonstration Day.
Photo by Mark Lienhard, EVOLVE GT LLC.

Executive Order 80 calls for the State of North Carolina to protect its environment while growing clean energy technologies. The order “affirms North Carolina’s commitment to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels, calls for a 40% reduction in energy consumption in state-owned buildings, and calls for an increase in registered, zero-emission vehicles (“ZEVs”) to at least 80,000 – all by year 2025.”

Clean Transportation Demonstration Days support Executive Order 80 and give government entities across North Carolina information and experience with clean transportation technologies. The day will consist of classroom instruction with real-world case study results, hands-on product static review, networking, and a closed-course ride and drive for those who wish to participate.

Classroom instruction will include alternative fuel options, telematics and other new technologies, safety and more. There will be a diverse display of vehicles including a Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica, police vehicle and fire truck, Zero Motorcycle and more. Lunch will be provided.

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

For any questions, contact Rick Sapienza at resapien@ncsu.edu or 919-515-2788 (office)/ 919-332-4510 (cell).

Register for the Oct. 8 Concord event here, and register for the Oct. 9 Raleigh event here.

Posted by Nicole Deck

2019 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference Expo A Success

The 2019 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo showcased the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas and propane arenas – including everything from a 2-seater 6-foot tall electric GEM to a 15-ton Ford F-750 Danville Public Works propane truck with an attached Petersen Lightning Loader.

More than 50 speakers in a variety of backgrounds presented their ideas and practices last week in Durham, NC – highlighting the leading edge of sustainable fleet practices and alternative fuel opportunities – including fleet managers, technicians, company presidents and CEOs, university professors, researchers, analysts, nonprofit managers and more. 

Rick Sapienza, Clean Transportation Program Manager at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, said the event met the main objective well – which was to guide and exchange ideas.

“The conference was strong on all levels – speakers, attendees, and technologies presented,” Sapienza said. 

“It was great to see professionals from different industries and backgrounds coming together to discuss strategies for improving the sustainability of transportation in our state,” said Heather Brutz, Clean Transportation Finance and Operations Manager.

Conference tracks included Trends in Advanced Fuels and Fueling, Integrated Fleet Technology Solutions, and Fleet Efficiency & Sustainability. Within those, the sessions were Electric Vehicles; Propane; Natural Gas; Biofuel Solutions; Telematics; Recruiting, Retention and Career Development; Infrastructure and Intelligent Solutions; Heavy Duty Vehicle Efficiency; Electrification and the Grid; Rural and Small Town Fleet Operations; Fleet Efficiency and Idle Reduction; and Procurement Solutions.

The expo hall was full of more than 40 diverse exhibitors and over a dozen vehicles inside and outside the convention center, including an ECO Vehicle systems propane bus, GoSolar Tesla, EV ARC (a solar-powered vehicle charging by Envision Solar), a plug-in hybrid Durham Police car, Altec JEMS electric bucket truck, a SMARTPTO Viatec bucket truck, Ingevity adsorbed natural gas truck, Dannar Mobile Power Station (MPS) electric work vehicle, Thomas Built Buses Jouley Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Zero Motorcycles and more.

“This year, the excitement and open two-way conversation stood out. People were engaged,” Sapienza said. 

Fleet managers are looking for ways to improve the performance, efficiency and sustainability of their fleets, and more technology and equipment is coming out to aid in that endeavor, said Allison Carr, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC.

“There is a genuine interest in development and integration of sustainable strategies into fleets,” Sapienza said. “The appetite is there, and there is creativity on the part of the technology providers, as well as the end-users.”

New this year, the pre-conference day included a workshop: Fleet Efficiency & Sustainability in a Campus Setting, where experienced fleet managers discussed the metrics needed to make smart decisions for alternative fuels and technologies in various campus settings. Speakers included William Evans, Princeton University; Chris Facente, UNC Charlotte; Kathy Wellik, Iowa State University; Charles Bey, UNC Asheville; Ronald Gitelman, Yale University; Michael Duffy, University of Virginia (Both Yale University and the University of Virginia are NAFA Sustainable Fleet Accredited, and Iowa State University is in process for accreditation). 

To close-out pre-conference day, the Mobile CARE and NC Smart Fleet Awards were awarded

The Fleets & Advanced Mobility Solutions plenary panel with Greg Treinen of Daimler/Freightliner; Bill Combs of Penske; Stuart Weidie of Alliance AutoGas/Blossman Gas; Michael McDonald of UPS; and moderator Mark Smith of the U.S. Department of Energy – Vehicle Technologies Office; covered what each speaker is doing in their fleet to continue to improve on efficiency, performance and sustainability.

McDonald with UPS said that as a fleet manager, he looks at vehicles and uses what works best in every application – whether is electric, propane, natural gas or biofuel. 

“Every technology that’s been mentioned or not been mentioned has a drawback. There’s no one fuel that solves the problem,” McDonald said. “Ask questions, get as much as you can from the questions you ask, and formulate your own opinion.”

The Planning for an Advanced Transportation Future plenary panel with Geoff Morrison of Cadmus; Diane Turchetta of Federal Highway Administration; Phil Bisesi of ElectriCities; Jibonananda Sanyal of Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Chris Werner of North Carolina Department of Transportation; and moderator Cassie Powers of National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO); covered what each speaker is doing to get ready for the inevitable changes and new advanced technologies coming to the world of transportation. Overall, they agreed that integration, communication, collaboration and partnership were the keywords to make it happen.

Keynote speakers included David Dunn, Fleet and Facilities Management Division Manager of the City of Orlando; and Mark Smith, Technology Integration Program Manager at US Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

Smith talked about the state of transportation and where it’s heading; integrating more technology within light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, alternative fuel infrastructure and energy efficient mobility systems and technologies; and the importance of Clean Cities coalitions. Smith said the Department of Energy ‘envisions more choices and more efficient and affordable technology, when and wherever it’s needed.’

Dunn pointed to the ways the City of Orlando continues to work to make its fleet more sustainable. He said that change doesn’t have to happen overnight – successful results can be slow and steady.

“Sustainability is not a destination; it is a never-ending journey,” Dunn said.

Presenter PowerPoint presentations will soon be available at www.SustainableFleetExpo.com. Stay tuned for next year’s conference dates!

Electric Vehicles With UNC Charlotte

Considering alternative fuels for your fleet? Learn more about electric vehicles!

We visited the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last year to talk to Chris Facente, Automotive and Motor Fleet Supervisor, about the university’s fleet of electric vehicles. Check out our video on it here.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has 115 electric vehicles on its campus, including Polaris GEMs and Nissan Leafs. Facente said they’d like their fleet to be 25 percent electric in about two years.

Electric vehicles are cheaper to run because they don’t require gas and require less maintenance – and they produce no harmful emissions.

Chris Facente
Rick Sapienza, NCCETC Clean Transportation Program Manager

Learn more about electric vehicles and if this option could be right for your fleet at www.cleantransportation.org.

Alternative Fuels for Fleets: Natural Gas With Waste Management

Considering alternative fuels for your fleet? Learn more about natural gas!

We visited a Waste Management site in North Carolina last year and talked to Project Manager Amanda Fairley about their fleet of natural gas vehicles. Check out our new video on it here!

Waste Management, a waste management, comprehensive waste, and environmental services company, has 21 million customers throughout North America, with 24,000 vehicles – 6,500 of which are compressed natural gas (CNG).

Whether produced via conventional or renewable methods, the advantages of natural gas as an alternative fuel include its domestic availability, established distribution network, relatively low cost, and emissions benefits, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Learn more about Waste Management and its fleet on the company’s website here. Learn more about natural gas and if this option could be right for your fleet at cleantransportation.org.

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