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.

A key part of reducing emissions is by cleaning up the transportation sector. In this webinar, learn about how you can reduce your current vehicle’s emissions–no matter where you live–while saving money at the tank. Our panel discusses the value of low- and mid-blend ethanol and its benefits for your vehicle, its emissions, and your fuel costs. Join Urban Air Initiative’s Kim Trinchet and Jump Start’s Phil Near as they educate our audience on low- and mid-blend ethanol grades like E10, E15, E20, and E30. Explore why ethanol is great for your car, the environment and your wallet. We know that we need to do our part by reducing fossil fuel use and improving air quality. We can start right now!

Join us on Wednesday, January 27th at 10 am CST to discuss the benefits of low- and mid-blend ethanol. If you aren’t able to join us, register below to receive the recording after the event.

Our Speakers

Phil Near, Three G Energy and Jump Start Stores Inc. – Near formed Three G in 2010, bringing more than 30 years of petroleum industry leadership, convenience store expertise, and executive management experience to the company. Near has both led and served a number of organizations to include: President of Crescent Oil, Kansas Petroleum Marketers Association President, Kansas Petroleum Markers Association Board of Directors, Kansas Highway Advisory Commission, Conoco National Jobber Advisory Board, Phillips National Jobber Advisory Board, Commerce Bank Board, Leadership Kansas Class, Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board of Directors.

Currently serving as president of both Three G Energy and of Jump Start Stores Inc., Near’s focus remains on utilizing cutting edge technology. Providing customers cost-efficient and quality fueling options across the marketplace.

Kim Trinchet is the Communications Manager at Urban Air Initiative (UAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving air quality and protecting public health by reducing vehicle emissions through increased use of biofuels. Kim spends much of her time educating industry stakeholders and the public about the emissions, cost and engine benefits of biofuels.  

Prior to joining UAI in 2014, Kim spent 11 years in local news as a reporter and digital content manager. She remains involved in the local community as a member of the Junior League of Wichita and a contributor for Wichita Mom. Kim has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Illinois State University.

 

Tami Alexander joined Metropolitan Energy Center in August 2017 to support the ethanol and biodiesel projects in Kansas. She is the Program Coordinator for the Central Kansas Clean Cities Coalition, managing event coordination, outreach, customer relationship management, program support, research writing, and content development.

In addition to her work at MEC, Tami has several years of facility and non-profit management experience where she introduced sustainability measures to organization practices. She has Bachelor‘s degrees in Mathematics-Statistics and Geology and a Master’s in Environmental Science all from Wichita State University.

 

This event has passed but you can access the slides at the link below.

Cleaner Driving with Cleaner Fuel-Ethanol Webinar Slides

A Pre-Proposal meeting to review the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Alternative Fuel Deployments in Kansas and Missouri will be held on January 19, 2021, at 10:00AM CST. During this meeting, MEC staff will conduct a walk-through of the RFP document. The meeting will be conducted online only; attendees should register for this meeting to receive join credentials or to receive a recording after the event:

 

For information on the RFP, please visit the RFP page on our website.

Batteries are ancient, by today’s tech standards.  Benjamin Franklin is the first person we know of to use the term, and the first published science on the topic dates to 1791.  The days of metal disks stacked in brine are long gone (except in middle school science class).  Lead-acid batteries in cars and golf carts are still common and will be for years, given their low cost.  But the focus here is on the next generation of large-scale systems.  And the question is how these batteries – bigger and more powerful than anything we’ve known  can redefine and remake the world’s electrical grid. 

You’ve likely heard the expression “lightning in a bottle”.  Storing electricity at industrial scale is very much like that.  Electricity moves fast.  In copper wire or other conductors, it’s traveling at somewhere between 50% and 99% of the speed of light.  And in grid operations, it has to be sold – that is, used – as soon as it’s produced.  If it isn’t, grid and utility engineers run the risk of power plants disconnecting, since they’re only designed to run in a very narrow range of conditions.  What this next generation of battery tech provides is a way to store that electricity and in doing so provide a whole basket of benefits – financial, technical and environmental.   

Arguably the biggest single benefit battery storage provides is the ability to capture electricity from renewable sources.  Obviously, the wind doesn’t always blow.  And even when it does, that’s an issue in itself.  In February 2017, the Danes powered their entire country for 24 hours on windpower.  But if a wind farm produces more power than needed, the system operator must start shutting down turbines or face overloading the grid.  And while the sun defines “predictable”, solar plants only provide power for so many hours per day.  Large-scale storage means that intermittent, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly electricity can be stored now and used later.    

Having large amounts of electricity in storage and ready to go at a moment’s notice is a financial boost for power companies.  It means that utilities can sell back low-cost power from renewables to meet peak demand; when power sells for far more than it cost to generate.  It also means that utilities can meet their own demand spikes without having to pay the often-bruising high prices electricity markets produce at peak demand. 

There’s more.  Energy storage can improve the system’s operating reserve.  Like energy, the grid is always moving – more demand here, less demand there, big storms and equipment failures now and again.  It’s a dance that never stops.  Engineers and analysts meet these constant changes with machines and data to keep the system balanced.  But they are never 100% correct in predicting what will happen on any given day.  Having stored reserve power that can be deployed in seconds boosts the operating reserve, and in doing so, boosts grid stability.  Improving stability can mean lower infrastructure investment costs.  It can also cut the costs of “black starts” when generators go down.  Typically, they have to be restarted with diesel generators, but battery systems for just this purpose have already been successfully tested. 

So, what do utility-scale batteries look like?  Imagine shipping containers lined up in an electrical substation, or row after row of gigantic desktop computer towers.  The Hornsdale Power Reserve, in South Australia, was designed and built by Tesla.  It uses lithium-ion batteries (like in your computer) and provides 129 MWh of power – enough to supply all the electricity for about 3,500 homes for an hour.  These projects sound large, though total deployments to date are tiny – globally about 6 GWh through 2018.  But there’s one simple fact that you need to remember.  In 2010, commercial battery packs cost about $1,100 per kilowatt-hour.  By December 2019, that price had fallen to $156 per kilowatt-hour, a drop of 87% – and nearly 50% of that total decline came in the preceding three years.  With costs set to break the $100 mark by as early as 2024, batteries are increasingly likely to be included in energy infrastructure and development for years to come. 

The Kansas Biodiesel Consortium will hold its annual workshop on Wednesday, January 6th, 9:00 am – 11:30 am. This year the event will be virtual. Join us from wherever you are to learn about the Sustainability of the Biodiesel Industry. We’ll look at how biodiesel is both financially and environmentally sustainable. Good for the planet and good for your wallet! All speaker sessions will be followed by an open Q&A with attendees. We’ll finish out the morning with a roundtable discussion about the biodiesel industry. Hear from producers, users and retailers about the benefits of biodiesel. The event is free, but you must register to receive the link. Click the registration button below to join us virtually on January 6th.

Workshop Topics

  • Jim & Andy Barta from Hutchinson Salt will speak about using biodiesel in their mining equipment
  • Jill Johnston with Cargill Biodiesel will discuss the co-products of biodiesel production which improve financial & environmental sustainability
  • Colin Huwyler from Optimus Technologies will share about the fleet experience from B100 biodiesel users
  • Ted Augustine from 24/7 Travel Stores will give his perspective as a fuel retailer offering a biodiesel blend
  • Roundtable Discussion: What does the biodiesel industry need to be environmentally & economically sustainable?

Miss this event?

Click to view the Event Recording.