By Tami Alexander, Central Kansas Clean Cities Coordinator
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s January 2018 Monthly Energy Review, CO2 emissions for the transportation sector have now surpassed emissions for electricity generation. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation make up 27% of all emissions (EPA, 2018). So, what can we as consumers do to help? There are the obvious solutions such as driving less, carpooling, and using public transportation. But what about those times when a personal vehicle is needed? The answer: Biofuels!
So, what are biofuels? You have likely heard them referred to as ethanol or biodiesel. Ethanol is a plant-based replacement for petroleum gasoline and biodiesel is a mostly plant-based alternative for petroleum diesel. These fuels can be used in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in place of their petroleum counterparts with little to no alterations needed.
Contrary to the popular belief that petroleum is made from ancient dinosaurs, it is actually the product of ancient plant material which decayed over millions of years in an oxygen-free environment, forming the fossil fuels of coal, oil and natural gas. Biofuels are also made from plant material which is processed into the fuels quickly instead of taking millions of years. The difference is biofuels are renewable, non-toxic, and emit much less CO2 and other pollutants than petroleum fuels.
So, what goes into biofuels? Biofuels can be made from many different products called feedstocks. Ethanol is grain alcohol and can be made from multiple sources including corn, sorghum, sugar cane and even grasses. Biodiesel can be made from vegetable oil, used cooking oil, and poultry or beef fat. Feedstocks can vary the amount of emissions produced by the fuels, but all are cleaner than petroleum fuels and renewable. And, they can produce the same quality of fuel.
Many studies have touted the importance of biofuels in the move to lowering emissions and becoming carbon neutral (IRENA, 2018). One major advantage is that biofuels use the same infrastructure as petroleum fuels and can be fairly easily used in most vehicles with little to no modification necessary. In fact, 97% of gasoline in the US contains 10% ethanol and can be used in any gasoline engine. The ethanol boosts the octane of petroleum gasoline which is necessary in today’s higher performing engines. All gasoline vehicles model year 2001 or newer can burn E15 (a blend of 15% ethanol gasoline and 85% petroleum gasoline). Flex-fuel vehicles can use blends up to E85 (85% ethanol). And most manufacturers of diesel vehicles warranty their engines to use blends up to B20 (20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel).
Biofuels are more difficult to find than petroleum gasoline, but their availability is increasing. Check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center on the Department of Energy’s website to find out where you can buy biofuels in your area. (www.afdc.energy.gov/stations) The website can also help you find vehicles that use biofuels and give you other important information about biofuels and other alternative fuels.
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). (2018, February). Renewable energy prospects for the European Union. Retrieved from: https://irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/Feb/IRENA_REmap-EU_2018_ summary.pdf?la=en&hash=818E3BDBFC16B90E1D0317C5AA5B07C8ED27F9EF
U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2018, January). Monthly energy review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Statistics.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2018, February 6). Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990–2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Missouri EV Collaborative held its second spring meeting on April 17th at City Hall in Columbia, MO. There was plenty of discussion among municipal fleet and Clean Cities representatives from Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. The VW Settlement, clean fuel corridors and the nuts and bolts of EV charging were all hot topics.
Above – Transit Manager Drew Brooks Lays Out The Layout Of An EV Bus
The really fun part, though, came at the end of the day, when attendees headed out for a test ride on one of nine all-electric transit buses run by the city’s transit authority. GoCOMO now operates nine battery-powered buses, with four more ordered. The bus, California-built but designed by China’s BYD, provided a remarkably quiet ride around town as Parking & Transit Manager Drew Brooks talked about tech, testing and transitioning to EV bus service.
The City runs the buses under a lease-to-own agreement as part of GoCOMO’s budget. Along with local funding, a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration is helping to cover the cost of electrical upgrades, consulting and three of the four EV buses still on order. The cost difference between all-electric buses and conventional models is still substantial, though EV prices are falling. This means that ROI in through fuel savings is very much a long-term proposition. However, there’s one area where the electric buses paid for themselves immediately – maintenance. Normal quarterly maintenance for a diesel bus runs in the neighborhood of $1,300. But an EV bus, without fuel or oil; in fact, lacking nearly all of the moving, greasy parts found in a diesel bus – runs about $300 per maintenance check.
According to Brooks, BYD’s support team engaged well before a single wheel turned in mid-Missouri. Along with background information on local weather and passenger counts, route mapping was vital to the rollout. This included special attention to the maximum grades on each route. This information was then programmed into the computer on each bus before delivery to cut the odds of running out of juice. Although different drivers can and do make a difference with how many miles a given bus can run between charges, range hasn’t really been a serious issue.
Above – Drew takes questions on the road; on right, KCMO Sustainability Coordinator Gerry Shechter.
One notable physical difference during our drive around town – the lack of noise, something that’s made the EV buses popular among riders. Drew stood up front, taking questions in a voice just slightly louder than normal conversational tone, something that would be impossible in a diesel bus. There may have been 75 horses tied to each rear axle, but you couldn’t really tell from the passenger seat.
Join the Mid-America NAFA chapter on May 16, 2018 for a very informative session that you won’t want to miss. As seen at the 2018 NTEA Work Truck Show Fleet Technical Congress, the guest speaker is Mr. Jeff Burns, Attorney at Dollar Burns & Becker, LC. Mr. Burns is arguably one of the most respected truck crash litigators in the nation. When he is not litigating cases, he is actively educating the public and working for rule changes, stronger laws and stricter enforcement.
Mr. Burns, a strong advocate for safety, strives to help companies see the light, and help them realize that there can actually be a remarkable return on investment when companies institute and strengthen safety programs. Burns says there is less litigation and drivers actually stay with companies longer when they see stronger safety rules as a genuine commitment that helps protect them.
Since today’s commercial vehicles generate a significant amount of data that fleet managers are increasingly using to help manage and improve productivity, Mr. Burns will explain how active and passive data collected on your vehicles can impact you and may be discoverable in the case of an accident or inquiry.
Please mark your calendars for this “must attend” Mid- America chapter NAFA event and click here to RSVP today!
WHEN: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
LOCATION: Joe’s BBQ, 180 Room, 11944 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062
AGENDA: 10:30 am — Registration; 11:00 am — Presentation followed by Lunch
COST: $30 (cash or check payable to NAFA) Credit cards accepted at the door—just bring your card to the meeting.
Please R.S.V.P. by Friday, May 11, 2018. You can register online by clicking here. Due to attendance guarantees, those registrants who are unable to attend or cancel by May 11, 2018 will be billed.
Each year, KC Regional Clean Cities collects data from stakeholders and produces a coalition report for the U.S. Department of Energy. This report reflects all of the great sustainable transportation efforts of our members. It also provides opportunities for funding sustainable transportation projects, helps promote our coalition and showcases all your fleet has done to reduce your carbon footprint. Whether your organization operates a fleet of alternative fuel vehicles or organized a carpool, we want to hear about it!
Emails requesting information on your efforts to displace petroleum use in transportation have been sent. Contact us if you didn’t receive yours.
We’ve created a spreadsheet to make it easier for you to send us your information. There are eight tabs on the spreadsheet, but you will only need to fill out those that apply to your organization or business. In most situations, 2-3 tabs with just a few lines of information will be sufficient. We are requesting that surveys be returned via email by Friday, March 2 to one of the addresses below.
As always, any information you share with us will be kept confidential. Your individual responses are not shared with anyone outside the DOE or Clean Cities staff. Any reports that are released publicly will contain only aggregated data on petroleum displacement by all respondents.
If you have any questions about the survey, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 816-531-7283 or by emailing your Program Coordinator.
KC Regional Clean Cities Stakeholders contact David Albrecht at email@example.com
Central Kansas Clean Cities Stakeholders contact Tami Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 16, 2017 from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM (CST)
MARC Boardroom | 600 Broadway Blvd #200 | Kansas City, MO 64105
Energy Efficiency and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) provide increased support for strong local economic development. This event will provide economic developers and municipal leaders information on Kansas City Power & Light’s energy efficiency offerings, specifically who can take advantage of them and what the expected local impact of these offerings can mean for your community. Additionally, hear about PACE’s impacts on your community and how you can use it to increase economic development locally. Join us for this free event!
PACE for commercial properties
- Show Me PACE – Commercial PACE (Josh Campbell)
- Missouri Clean Energy District – Residential PACE (John Harris)
Energy Efficiency for commercial properties
- Kansas City Power and Light (Kevin Brannan)
PACE Case Studies
- Municipal Speakers (Dennis Murphey, City of Kansas City; and City of Independence invited)
- Residential PACE (John Maslowski, Renovate America)
- Commercial PACE (Rob Shear, PACE Sage, and property owner)
Join us at one of four events in Kansas this September and October to learn about the Volkswagen Settlement and what it means to fleets in the state of Kansas. At each event, we’ll provide the latest information, a forum for discussion, and give you tools to participate in decision-making for the state’s plan for its $15 million share of the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust.
hosted by Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and 24/7 Travel Stores
Sept 6, 2017, 10:30a. – 12:30p. Lunch will be served
120 W. Ash, Salina, KS 67402-0586
hosted by Finney County Economic Development Corporation and Clean Energy Business Council
Sept 7, 2017, 1:00p – 3:00p
City Administration Center, 301 N. 8th St, Garden City, KS
hosted by Clean Energy Business Council
Sept 13, 2017, 1:00p – 2:30 p
hosted by Wichita State University
Oct 3, 2017, 1:30p – 3:00p
WSU Old Town, 238 N. Mead Wichita, KS 67202 (Directions & Parking Info: http://communityengagementinstitute.org/Documents/WSUOldTownMapandParkingDirections.pdf)
If you can’t make it in person, send us feedback on how your fleet might use settlement funds.
Partial Consent Decree for 2.0 Liter Subject Vehicles
$2.7 billion was allocated to states, tribes, and certain territories based on impacted VW vehicles in their jurisdictions
- The funds support projects that reduce NOx emissions
- Similar to EPA’s Clean Diesel program
- Kansas 2.0L allocation: $14,791,372
Second Partial Consent Decree for 3.0 Liter Subject Vehicles
- $225 million adds to each state’s Environmental Mitigation Trust.
- Kansas 3.0L allocation: $870,860
For more information about the settlement in Missouri, Kansas or nationwide, visit our Volkswagen Settlement page.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Air Pollution Control Program is expecting to receive a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant funding comes from a federal program called the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). The funding for this program is not part of the Volkswagen Settlement. Details about the process for awarding Volkswagen funds are still forthcoming.
The department has run numerous DERA grant programs in the past nine years. This year, like the last two years, the department plans to use the grant to fund a clean diesel early school bus replacement program in Missouri.
Owners of diesel school buses stationed and operating in Missouri are eligible to apply for funding. If selected, awardees will receive up to 25% of the cost of the new school bus(es) with a maximum award of $18,000 per bus, and applicants may apply for two school buses. The newly purchased bus(es) must replace a bus(es) that is currently in use and has an engine model year within the range of 1995 – 2006. The new buses must be “early” replacements, meaning they are not already planned for replacement and would not be replaced if not for this funding opportunity.
A Request for Applications (RFA) is posted on the Departments Webpage: http://dnr.mo.gov/env/apcp/cleandieselprogram.htm, along with a fill-in-the-blank application form. This RFA is open to both public and private school bus owners/operators in Missouri.
The deadline to submit applications is August 31, 2017.
The Department will review all applications received for eligibility, and will select awardees through a random drawing ensuring that all eligible applicants have an equal chance to receive funding through this opportunity.
Please visit the webpage listed above and download the RFA and the Application Form.
If you have any questions about this funding opportunity for early school bus replacements in Missouri, please feel free to contact Mark Leath at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; (573) 526-5503.
Some images courtesy of all-free-download.com