Rural towns and smaller municipalities have specific challenges when it comes to using electric vehicles in their transit systems and installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure. From power delivery and lack of community support to local availability of electric vehicles and overall lack of awareness, rural townships may face multiple roadblocks.

In this webinar, Clean Cities coordinators from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and Kansas will share case studies and best practices to help avoid the pitfalls that can impede plans to deploy EVs and develop an equitable charging infrastructure that fits the needs of a smaller transit system.

Guest speakers Eric Austin of Francis Energy and Chris Nielsen of eCab North America will share their experiences working with rural areas on electric vehicle projects. Francis Energy, headquartered in Oklahoma, works across the US with utilities and Coops of all sizes to bring EV chargers everywhere. eCab North America uses Low-Speed Electric Vehicles (LSEVs) for their fleet of eCabs as part of a grant providing eCabs and drivers to rural transit systems for first/last mile trips, a cost-effective way to extend the reach of the transit. As part of the Q&A section, Chris will discuss his experiences with LSEVs and F/L mile applications and provide tips to enhance your LSEV experience. Eric will share best practices and lessons learned for working with EV charging providers and how you can partner to bring this technology to your customers.

On KKFI Radio’s show for 7/12/21, listeners had the opportunity to hear from Mary English, Energy Program Manager, Building Performance, and Miriam Bouallegue, Project Manager, Sustainable Transportation, both with Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC).

Eco Radio host Brent Ragsdale talked with Mary and Miriam and discussed two initiatives MEC is working on with Kansas City MO – the building benchmark ordinance and streetlight EV charging stations.

https://www.kcmo.gov/programs-initiatives/energy-and-water-benchmarking

https://metroenergy.org/programs/current-projects/streetlight-ev-charging/

Tune in here for a recording of the discussion.

“We at EcoRadio KC are glad to encourage awareness and protection of our world. We can create a sustainable present for a sustainable future!”

It is understandable to freak out over climate change, but the challenge is … to work hard on this crisis while still enjoying life on what is still a beautiful planet.

https://kkfi.org/listen/

Like many technologies, the windmill is nothing new.  People have been using the wind to grind grain and pump water for over a thousand years.  If not for the windmill, there’d be no Netherlands as we know it.  Settling America’s plains states during the 19th Century would have been nearly impossible.  But the use of wind to generate electricity at scale is new, going back only about 30 years.  In that short time, this evolving technology has produced the biggest single leap in renewable electricity output since the Age of Dams in the early-to-mid 20th Century.

In theory, generating electricity from wind is simple.  Air moves over the turbine blades, generating lift and setting the system in motion.  The shaft on which the blades are mounted rotates.  In doing so, it spins a magnet inside the generator’s windings, producing electricity.  Turbines can be direct-drive systems, but most use gearboxes to speed up their blades, since higher RPMs generate more efficiently.  The electricity produced by the turbines hits the grid and powers everything from toasters to cities.  Simple, no?

The Where Of American Windpower

Well, not quite.  There are more than a few complications.  Wind is generated by the sun’s heating of Earth’s surface, which is uneven.  Geography, climate and terrain add more variability.  Result – the wind blows reliably only in certain regions.  In America that means the Midwest , especially the Great Plains.  That’s why Texas leads the country in wind energy capacity, with Iowa, Oklahoma, California (outlier!) and Kansas in spots two through five.  And that’s why eight contiguous states in the southeast to date have zero installed capacity.

Onshore, the strongest winds blow in thinly populated states far from power-hungry big cities.  Transmission lines can cost millions of dollars per mile, and they’re not always popular, locally or politically.  And as the seasons change, so does the wind.  On the High Plains, America’s wind power sweet spot, output falls during the hottest months, when electrical demand for cooling spikes, rising again during winter.

Upsides – Income & Jobs

However, there are multiple benefits to wind.  Unlike coal or uranium, the wind is free.  Building turbines means leasing land.  Those leases bring in between $5,000 and $8,000 per unit per year to farmers or ranchers, though they can also limit construction and access by landowners. Turbine maintenance means turbine techs.  More than 7,000 Americans are already working in this fast-growing sector, with median pay of nearly $53,000 per year.

Efficiency keeps improving.  In much of America, the higher off the ground, the stronger the wind.  Taller turbines are taking advantage of that fact.  Between 2000 and 2018, average turbine height jumped nearly 100 feet, with bigger units providing more power.  And the environmental benefits of wind energy are substantial.  Beyond the carbon embedded in building and installing the systems, electricity from wind is carbon-free.  As markets for clean energy credits grow, and clean energy demand grows, so does the financial case for wind.

Rapid Growth And What’s Next

For all these reasons and more, wind’s growth has been simply explosive.  In 1990, wind provided 3 billion kWh, or about 0.1% of all electricity.  10 years later, it had doubled, and was still stuck at about 0.1% of the market.  Total share in following years:  2005 – 0.4%; 2010 – 2.3%; 2015 – 4.7%; 2019 – 7.3% – the same year that wind overtook hydropower.

But this intermittent (though clean) energy source has limits.  Surpassing those limits means going to sea.  That’s because offshore wind potential in the United States is about twice the nation’s current electricity demand.  But offshore wind power is almost non-existent here, with exactly one site currently up and operating.   Beyond that, grid upgrades and the addition of large-scale energy storage are going to be necessary for wind energy to make its next big jump.

Join us for a FREE workshop to learn more about biodiesel and how it works in today’s diesel engines.

Changes in vehicles and fuels require changes in service

Vehicles, equipment and fuels have changed significantly in recent years. Alternative fuels are becoming increasingly more available in the marketplace. National, state and organizational goals to reduce vehicle emissions and increase use of domestic and renewable fuels have resulted in new pollution control equipment, reduced sulfur levels in fuel, and increased use of biodiesel. Mechanics and technicians in the vehicle and equipment industries need the most current information on fuel and vehicle changes and to better understand how biodiesel operates in today’s vehicles and equipment.

The goal of this workshop is to educate diesel mechanics, automotive technicians and other automotive industry professionals with the most up-to-date knowledge on biodiesel, allowing them to accurately diagnose fuel-related issues, answer customer questions about fuel, and provide recommendations about proper fuel handling and use best practices.

This workshop is targeted at fleet mechanics, diesel technicians, diesel technology students and others who work on diesel engines. Participants should have basic diesel engine experience.

After completing a workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Describe and compare the characteristics of petroleum diesel and biodiesel
    • Explain how the fuels work together to power vehicles and equipment
    • Match biodiesel blends with compatible vehicles and equipment
    • Accurately identify fuel-related issues
    • Provide recommendations for preventing fuel-related issues through best management practices

MEG Corp is an ASE-accredited Continuing Automotive Service Education (CASE) provider. ASE Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be offered for those that meet the requirements for this training. Please indicate when registering if you are interested in ASE CEU credits. Requirements for CEUs are as follows:

    • Take a pretest before the workshop
    • Take a posttest after the workshop
    • Complete a workshop evaluation
    • Complete a survey provided 30 days after the workshop

Participants receiving 80% or higher on the posttest receive a certificate of completion with corresponding CEUs. Participants receiving lower than 80% receive a certificate of attendance.

The workshop will be presented by Hoon Ge of MEG Corp.

In order to provide adequate opportunity for attendees to ask questions, workshop size will be limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

 

 

Hoon Ge, president and founder of MEG Corp, is a chemical engineer with more than 35 years experience in the fuel industry including refining, additive formulation and alternative fuels. MEG Corp conducts educational seminars for students, farmers, mechanics, fleets and the fuel industry throughout the Midwest to provide the latest information on renewable and petroleum fuels.

 

MEG Corp is an industry leader in fuel consulting and testing services, providing technical support to fuel industries and end users. MEG Corp staff have more than 90 years combined experience in traditional and alternative fuels. MEG Corp has been providing diesel/biodiesel and gasoline/ethanol training throughout the Midwest since 2008 and conducts more than 100 events per year to educate current and future transportation industry professionals.

 

This workshop is being offered for free thanks in part to funding from the Kansas Soybean Commission.

 24Travel Stores and Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) are proud to announce the installation of two retail DC fast chargers at a ribbon cutting scheduled for May 6 at the McPherson, Kansas, Travel StoreWhen it comes to alternative fuels in Kansas, 247 Travel Stores is making its mark as a leader in the state. As electric vehicle usage steadily climbs in Kansas, strides must be made to incorporate robust DC fast charging infrastructure that will properly support the growing wave of drivers.  

“It is time to welcome EV drivers to our facilities.” 

Mark Augustine, President of Triplett, Inc., which owns 24-7 Travel Stores, has been studying the evolution of the electric vehicle. “Through grant funding made possible by Metro Energy, it was time to take this research to the marketplace,” he says. “Just like many other changes we experience in our business, we update our facilities as the transportation market evolves; it is time to welcome EV drivers to our facilities. 

The McPherson location features two 100kW DC fast chargers, with both CHAdeMO and CCS connectors. It is the first EV fast charging owned and operated by an independent fuel retailer in Kansas.  

“The McPherson charging stations fill a key fueling gap for EVs along the I-135 corridor, connecting Wichita to I-70,” says Tami Alexander, Senior Program Coordinator with MEC’s Central Kansas Clean Cities Coalition, who worked with 24-7 Travel Stores on the project. 

The public is encouraged to join 24-7 Travel Stores and MEC at a ribbon cutting event Thursday, May 6 at 1PM for the new charging stations, at 2203 East Kansas Ave, McPherson, Kansas. We will be joined by Kansas Department of Transportation and others to commemorate this important charging stop in central Kansas 

Through a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, MEC reduced Triplett’s cost to purchase and install the EV chargers. 24/7 Travel Stores boasts new biodiesel offerings since July 2020, also supported by these grant funds. 

About 24/7 Travel Stores 

In 1963, when the interstate system made its way across the State, 24-7 Travel Stores opened. Our business model has evolved in those 58 years from two-bay service stations to convenience stores with auto service to travel centers with amenities to attract the traveling public. Whave experienced many changes in our business to keep our facilities relevant as the transportation market evolves. Now is the time to welcome EV drivers to our facilities. Triplett, Inc., owns 24-7 Travel Stores (24-7Stores.com). 

Come and join us to learn about Electric Vehicles and enjoy some delicious wine at a one-of-a-kind earth-friendly winery in our area. There will be live music and free wine tastings for those who show an EV key. Jowler Creek is the first certified sustainable vineyard and winery in the state. The winery has a Tesla destination charger and a Level 2 charger.

Learn about Electric Vehicles and see how you can save the Earth and your wallet! Numerous EVs will be on display by their owners and info will be available along with some cool freebies and a possible raffle.

Social distancing and masks are required.

Visit the Drive Electric Earth Day event page to register to attend, share your experience and/or show your EV, or find out more on this event and other Drive Electric Earth Day events around the country.

Come and join us to learn about Electric Vehicles from current owners and see how you can save the Earth and your wallet! Numerous Evs will be on display and info will be available along with some cool freebies and a raffle to win a diecast Tesla Model 3.

Look for us near the Electrify America charging stations in the Target parking area.

Social distancing and masks are required.

Visit the Drive Electric Earth Day event page to register to attend, share your experience, show your EV or to find out more about this event and other Drive Electric Earth Day events around the country.

There’s a chewy chunk of truth in the perception that all-electric cars are expensive, because many of them are.  In June, 2019, the average cost for a new car stood at $36,600, compared to a $55,600 average for a battery-electric.  But averages conceal as well as reveal, so let’s keep on chewing.  For EVs, that average gets a substantial push skyward by plenty of high-end all-electric models.  Cases in point:  2021 BMW i3s:  $47,650; 2021 Mustang Mach-E Premium:  $52,000; 2021 Audi E-Tron:  $65,900; Tesla Model S Long Range:  $79,990; 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo:  $150,900.  And so on.  Even the $7,500 federal tax credit, available for all these models except Tesla, isn’t going to make a big difference up there in the financial stratosphere – and most of us don’t live there anyway.

Back on earth, what about affordable new electric car options?  They’re out there.  Kelly Blue Book, reporting in September 2018, noted an average new car price of $35,742, and a total of 10 all-electric and 13 plug-in hybrid models with MSRP below that.  Less than three years later, choices have boomed.  As of April 2021 14 different makers offer 41 different all-electric models and trim levels; 21 OEMs have brought 45 different models and trims of plug-in hybrids to market.

Whatever the price, a new car is always a substantial expenditure.  At this point, Wentworth J. Stumblewhistle III – your inner CPA – should chime in with a reminder that an automobile is, in fact, a depreciating asset, not an investment.  With that in mind, what’s the best way to avoid some of the financial burden of a new car – the depreciation hit when you drive off the lot, sales and personal property tax, insurance? What about a used car?  Specifically, what about a used electric car?

When it comes to EVs, there are advantages to buying used that add up in an even bigger way than for a conventional model, and we’re happy to walk you through some of them.   For starters, depreciation has tended to be steeper with many all-electric models than it has been for conventional cars.  This isn’t true for some brands.  Used Teslas tend to hold their value longer than most EV brands – but that’s not really the market we’re looking at here anyway.

Some handy examples from CarGurus:  A 2020 Hyundai Ioniq SE EV, with 1,058 miles for $18,999.  MSRP for a new version of the same year, make and model – $34,295.  Even with the $7,500 federal tax credit that’s still nearly $8,000 cheaper with barely 1,000 miles on the odometer and an estimated range of 170 miles per charge.  A 2020 Chevy Bolt, with a starting new  MSRP of $36,620 and an estimated range per charge of 259 miles:  with just 3,030 miles, $22,519.  Older models are even more affordable:  A 2017 Nissan LEAF with 18,974 miles on the odometer and an estimated 107-mile range – $12,575.  (Disclaimer – These specific listings are only illustrations, and we’re not endorsing any specific brand, model or dealership.  And by the time this is published, these links may not work anyway, as the cars listed may have sold.)

So, what’s the catch?  After all, if it sounds too good to be true . . . Let’s just say it’s complicated.  For starters, all electric vehicles lose battery capacity over time.  This doesn’t mean they’re bad cars – that’s just the nature of batteries as they charge and discharge thousands of times.  A fairly extensive study of 6,300 electric cars, covering 64 different makes and model years came out in July 2020.  It found an average annual capacity loss of about 2.3% from time of purchase.  In other words, a new EV purchased today with a range of 150 miles should have a range of about 133 miles in 2026.  So, does the 2017 Nissan LEAF listed above still have a range of 107 miles 6 years after it was sold?  Probably not.

There are other variables in play when considering a used EV.  Beyond age and mileage, where was the car driven?  High temperatures can mean faster loss of EV battery capacity, so buying a used EV in Portland might be better than buying one in Phoenix.  How was it charged?  Some studies indicate that frequent use of high-speed charging can substantially cut into battery capacity, in some cases after a few dozen high-speed charging sessions.  Scientists are already working to find ways to work around this issue, through improved battery design and improved charging cycles.  But how much high-speed charging a pre-owned EV used isn’t the kind of information you’ll find in a Carfax.

Another issue is geographic, not technical.  Many manufacturers sell EVs only in certain areas of the country, particularly in California and the Northeast.  Accordingly, those are the areas where you’re most likely to find a used EV that fits your needs.  This means that you may have to travel to an out-of-state dealership and drive back or pay to have the car trucked to where you live.  Car shipping costs in April 2021 averaged between $800 and $1000 – not insurmountable, but still a substantial expense.

Yet even with all these considerations in the mix, there are substantial long-term advantages to electric autos compared with conventional models.  Service costs are nominal.  Without gasoline, oil, coolant or transmission fluid, routine maintenance is reduced to software updates and tire rotation, plus the occasional brake check.  Beyond the complexities of software and battery control systems, EVs are remarkably simple machines, with fewer possible points of failure and lower total costs of ownership.

Data to date support this.  Consumer Reports published a study in fall of 2020 that tracked long-term costs of nine different models of electric cars.  “For all EVs analyzed, the lifetime ownership costs were many thousands of dollars lower than all comparable ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles’ costs, with most EVs offering savings of between $6,000 and $10,000.  While new EVs were found to offer significant cost savings over comparable ICE vehicles, the cost savings of 5-to-7 year old used EVs was found to be two to three times larger on a percentage basis.”

Electric cars won’t work for everyone.  But for those interested in making the switch, yet leery of new car prices, an affordable used model may be a viable option.  And remember, whatever you’re looking to drive home, the sticker price isn’t the cost of a car – it’s only the first installment.  Total cost of ownership is, in the end, the best way to measure how long and how much you’ll be paying for personal transportation.

By the way, if you’re looking for a chance to investigate electric car options, MEC is participating in Drive Electric Earth Day 2021, with two events coming up fast.  It’s not just about the cars – there will also be giveaways and a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.  To find out more, you’ll want to click on the buttons for the Kansas City area events or visit the Drive Electric Earth Day homepage for events all around the country.

Starting early April 2021, university and high school students across the planet, along with civil society, faith organizations and businesses, will tune into 100 events in fifty countries to discuss regional climate solutions, energy justice, and a Green Recovery. This global event is organized by Bard College and its many partners.

On Wednesday, April 7 at 6 pm CT, join professionals from Kansas State University, MEC, Climate + Energy Project, and other individuals and organizations for the Kansas event. MEC staff members Kelly Gilbert and Justice Horn are scheduled to participate as panelists. During the online program we’ll discuss how together, we can solve climate change by 2030.

Climate change may have contributed to the cold spell last February when the supply of electric power was not sufficient to meet demand. This occurrence prompted many to call for Kansas to develop a climate and energy plan that includes resilience and proper preparation for cold weather. The online event, Solve Climate by 2030 by Developing a Kansas Climate and Energy Plan, will feature presentations followed by a panel discussion addressing this issue.

The event is free and open to the public.