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Kansas City International Airport is no stranger to cleaner fuels.  It began deploying compressed natural gas (CNG) buses back in 1997providing natural gas on site with its own high-speed fueling station.  This made the Aviation Department something of a pioneer in alt-fuel adoption.  The next step, though, was a big jump in fuel efficiency, and in October of 2017, KCI became the first US airport to deploy all-electric shuttle buses.  It’s currently running 7 BYD K7 battery-electric shuttles along with older CNG units. 

There’s no getting around the fact that up-front costs for electric vehicles are going to be higher than for equivalent conventional buses.  In fact, when the airport rolled out data on the comparative costs of different fuels, the contrast was stark.  A brand-new diesel shuttle buses cost about $385,000; for CNG, add an additional 14% for a sticker price of $440,000.  All-electric models come in at a fairly eye-popping $540,000, more than 40% more expensive than the price for a baseline diesel.   

But as anybody who’s bought a car knows, the sticker price isn’t the only price.  The sticker price, in fact, is only the beginning of years of recurring costs.  Kenny Williams is the Fleet Asset Manager for the Aviation Department and one of the main proponents of the EV deployment back in 2016-17 as the project began to take shape.  He broke it down as follows: 

Costs Per Mile (Including fuel and maintenance) 
  • Diesel – variable/volatile fuel prices; approximate costs $1.50/mile 
  • CNG – more stable fuel prices; approximate costs $1.00/mile, $0.45-.50 w. alt-fuel tax credit 
  • Electric – fixed fuel prices; approximate costs $0.50/mile 

Maintenance costs add up quickly for the shuttle bus duty cycle.  Oil changes for CNG units are about $170 and have to happen every other month.  Annual tune-ups add an additional $3,800 to CNG bus operating costs.  So, even with fuel at an economical $0.50/gallon thanks to the clean fuel tax credit, CNG bus maintenance per year comes in between $4,800 and $5,000 per unit.  It’s not like EV buses float on air.  Like CNG units, they need new tires, and fluid changes every 18 months add annual costs of about $165 per year.  But no internal combustion engine means no tune-ups, avoiding the lion’s share of regular maintenance overhead. 

And yet, even with maintenance savings of around $50,000 per bus over ten years, there’s still a big price gap between diesel, CNG and electric buses.  That’s where federal clean-fuel funding comes in.  Thanks to support from the US Department of Energy, KCI was eligible for reimbursements of $72,000 per bus, dropping their costs to just $2,000 more than comparable CNG shuttles.   

The same grant, “Accelerating Alternative Fuel Adoption in Mid-America” provided funding for charging infrastructure, covering about $100,000 of $225,000 in construction and equipment costs for the new systems.  KCI’s electric bus charging lot has eight pedestals installed, with space for an additional four slots if more EV units are purchased  Charging time is about three hours, and this “fueling” process hasn’t had any negative impact on operations.   

Kenny Williams talks EV bus duty cycles at the airport’s charging lot.

What has the driver response been like?  Per Kenny Williams, “For most drivers, once they drive them, they really like them.”  The only minor hitch has been how drivers operate the bus HVAC systems – since they are battery-driven, power loss from cranking up AC or heating at full throttle can take a bite out of driving range when a gentler touch would work better. And KCI is planning on investing in additional EV units.  The economic toll of the pandemic has postponed acquisition of a few of the 12 units originally planned.  However, the Aviation Department is planning on ordering three more units in addition to the seven already in service.  These new buses will be slightly different.  They’ll have inductive charging systems, which will let them power up without cords or plugs, as they pick up passengers at the new terminal starting in early 2023.   

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies Program under Award Number DE-EE0008262 . 

Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) announces the first placements of all-electric zero-emission Class-8 yard trucks into service under a new grant project. The project, “Electrifying Terminal Trucks in Unincentivized Markets,” is the result of partnerships from Kansas City to Chicago, whose goal is to electrify terminal trucks in our regional market. The first placements of four planned have taken place at funding recipient Firefly Transportation Services. Based in Glenview, IL, Firefly provides zero-emission transportation options to freight yard, port and cargo sites, along with training and site preparation for all-electric operations.

The vehicles funded under this grant are manufactured by Orange EV. Based in Riverside, MO, Orange EV designs and manufacturers all-electric yard trucks right here in the heartland. They are also the first American company to commercially build, deploy and service 100% electric Class-8 electric vehicles. Before this year, Orange EV had yet to deploy one of their vehicles in the Kansas City area. Jason Dake, Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Orange EV stated, “Not selling one of our trucks in our own backyard was a thorn in our side for a while,” he continued, “Seeing additional trucks deployed in the metro area through the project is a great feeling and most importantly, they are helping our community and improving the air quality for Kansas Citians.”

Additional funding recipients with all-electric truck placements planned in the near future are the Johnson County Wastewater Department in Leawood, KS and Hirschbach Motor Lines, a private long-haul carrier with emphasis on refrigerated and other specialized services. Hirschbach will deploy their truck at a client site in Wyandotte County, KS. Both Evergy and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas Board of Public Utilities will provide technical assistance, as needed, on electrical service and electric rate guidance.

Orange EV will also take possession of a demonstration truck to provide potential customers across the U.S. up to a 2- to 4-month trial period. During the period, they can use the tractor free of charge, viscerally demonstrating air quality, noise-reduction and cost-savings benefits in their unique work environments.

Yard trucks (also known as hostlers, terminal tractors, goats or mules) are designed to pull cargo containers and semi trailers in freight or intermodal yards, or at large manufacturing sites. The workload for these trucks is intense, pulling heavy loads almost continuously. The power required means that most yard trucks are diesel, which results in a great deal of diesel exhaust, one of the worst pollutants and a major source of poor air quality. Diesel exhaust is not only a health risk for workers on site, but it also threatens communities surrounding industrial zones, typically low-income neighborhoods. Even worse, low speed, high-power operations emit much more soot and other particulates than diesel operations at highway speeds. Systematically replacing diesel yard trucks with electric models could substantially boost air quality in and around America’s busiest freight hubs. At the same time, the cost savings both from eliminating diesel fuel and from operating a much more efficient electric powertrain is an attractive advantage.

However, the project is not only about improving air quality and saving money. Another key goal is to gather data on electric truck operations to validate broader deployments of battery-powered yard trucks. Telematics and data, supported by fleet interviews and operational evaluation, will be analyzed by another project partner and nearby neighbor, Missouri University of Science and Technology. Ultimately, MEC will create a deployment guide based on the real-world experiences of our project partners in Chicago and Kansas City so fleet operators across the country can make the move to cleaner, more efficient freight handling.

To learn more about this project or to request the demo truck for your work site, please contact Emily Wolfe.

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Award Number DE-EE0008887.

At MEC, our job is to keep tabs on energy use in the central Midwest, but why should that matter? Because the ways that people and businesses use energy can affect lives. Technology has yet to come up with a solution that moves people and goods without releasing some sort of air pollution, and air pollution affects human health.  The problem is that every power source that can power a vehicle will create emissions and will have a carbon footprinteven electric vehicles.  There are, however, many alternative fuel options that arefar cleaner than gasoline and diesel.  If you’re looking for a vehicle that produces less emissions, there are a lot of factors to consider when making your decision. 

Let’s compare the different ways that the energy we use affects our health. In 2017 the emissions from vehicles on the road passed up the amount of emissions released from power stations.  That switch has shown up as health problems, such as the increase of child asthma cases for families living near highways and railroads.That’s simply because vehicle emissions get concentrated in the air around the places that people and goods get transported. Transportation emissions are now the #1 source of greenhouse gases too, making it globally important to choose our transportation wisely.  For the sake of our local and global health, we must decide to make transportation cleaner. The question now is how. 

For some, their ideal chosen solution is to walk or bike more places, and to only shop for things in stores within walking distance of their house.  But what if you need transportation?  Remember that COVID shutdowns produced sudden, startling air quality improvements the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades.  As residents of Los Angeles and New York saw with their own eyes, less vehicles on the road immediately improved their air quality, even in heavily polluted cities.  But the shutdown of society isn’t a realistic model for fighting climate change in the long run.  Movement of people and goods still must happen.  Are there cleaner solutions than what’s commonly used to move people and goods right now? The simple answer is yes.  For a more complete answer, here are options that make sense for our health, the economy and the environment. 

Electric vehicles (EVs), which plug in to an electrical supply to “fuel up, are creating a lot of buzz right now, and rightly so. All-electric vehicles have zero emissions coming out of their tailpipesso they appear to be the magic bullet for clean air around our roadways.  Plug-in hybrids are also great, in that they make use of electricity as a primary fuel, but are equipped with a fuel tank as a backup for longer trips.  EVs are great as urban or suburban family cars, transit buses, or local delivery trucks that rack up limited daily miles before returning to base to recharge.  Plus, long-range batteries, fast charging stations, and new heavy truck technologies are under rapid development, so the list of compatible uses is getting longer by the day.  

You may not realize that you can help your electrical grid become more efficient with the electricity being generated just by owning an EV and charging it at night.  The electrical grid is set up to estimate how much power is needed, and then generate slightly more than that amount to provide for our electricity needs.  Whatever electricity is generated at power plants either gets used, or it dissipates with non-use.  If you charge an EV overnight, it utilizes that energy that would otherwise be wasted. 

Biofuels are another cleaner transportation option available now.  They come from farm-produced food commodity byproductsthey emit substantially less air pollution when burnedand they’re surprisingly less expensive than the worst emission producers, gasoline and diesel.  Ethanol and biodiesel have been around for a while, and just like your cell phone, their design and our use of them has greatly improved over the last 20 years. 

In the 1990s, car manufacturers started figuring out how to protect the insides of vehicle fuel lines from the extra corrosiveness of ethanol blends, which is basically ethyl alcohol (moonshine!) mixed with gasoline.  By 2012, ethanol had busted into the mainstream, and most vehicle manufacturers now support up to 15% ethanol (E15).  To save money and get a cleaner burn in your vehicle, look for the E15 label on pumps at gas stations.  The added ethanol increases the octane, which is actually better for modern, more fuel-efficient engines.  Plus, the more ethanol mixed into gasoline, the fewer harmful, carcinogenic gases get released into the air around it All of this is why today most gasoline at the pump already has 10% ethanol in it.  You can choose higher blends if your vehicle is rated to use them.  Then it’s a matter of finding a local gas station where that blend is available to support your choice.  When you’re buying a family vehicle and want the option of using high blends of ethanol (E20-E85)ask to look at flex-fuel” options at your dealership Typically, a flex-fuel vehicle will have a yellow gas cap, indicating that you can safely use blends up to 85% ethanol, wherever you should find them. 

Biodiesel is another clean fuel option. It can be used in most diesel-fueled vehicles, and also supports the regional economy as a value-added farm product. It is a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils, primarily soybean and sometimes corn oil, but also from recycled cooking oil and waste fat. No, you can’t just pour the grease from your deep-fried turkey into your pickup. Just like petroleum, it has to be refined first, and biodiesel at the pump has excellent quality controlsMost diesel engines can use blends of biodiesel and petroleum diesel up to 20% (called “B20), which can be found at some area fuel stations. It’s also an easy drop-in fuel option for farming equipment, heavy-duty freight engines, and industrial work trucks. Fortunately for companies with large industrial fleets, fuel distributors are ready today to bring biodiesel or ethanol blends directly to industrial sites. 

Natural gas, or methane, the same fuel that cooks your food and heats your home, can be used in specialized “Near-Zero” engines that are made to burn it Natural gas is a clean burning fuel with much lower emissions than plain petroleum diesel.  It comes in two possible transportation fuel products: compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG).  Both are available in renewable options.  More on that later. Natural gas is widely available through existing pipelines, and fuel costs are lower and more stable than diesel. It’s a great option for heavy vehicles such as freight trucks, transit buses, and refuse trucks. And, because the engines are quieter than diesel engines, that 6 am trash pickup won’t disturb your sleep.  CNG engines eliminate nearly all smog-forming pollutantshence the trade name “Near-Zero” engines While CNG is available to the general public at some area fueling stations and you can convert some cars and trucks to use CNGit usually only makes financial sense for high-mileage vehicles or fuel-hungry service providers to use it.  A number of our regional governments and service providers are already using CNG today. 

Making natural gas more climate-friendly is a priority for many people and government agencies.  The ultimate low-hanging fruit in reducing climate emissions is renewable natural gas (RNG) which involves collecting and then using methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane comes from sources other than just underground and a whopping 39% of natural gas vehicle fuel comes from renewable sources like landfill gas, which comes out of landfills whether it’s used or not.  Other sources of RNG include wastewater treatment plants, food waste and agricultural byproducts Available in both liquid and compressed forms, RNG is rapidly gaining market share because of its ecologically friendly procurement methods Done right, RNG can even have a negative carbon footprint! 

Which fuel heats your grill AND gets your kids to school?  Propane (also called autogas for transportation uses) It’s yet another cleaner burning, low-emission fuel with notably quieter operation than diesel fuel.  That makes for a much quieter ride, which drivers appreciate.  Because of that stealthy qualitypropane is a popular option for fleets of larger vehicles, especially school bus fleets.  Propane on aautogas transportation contract costs much less than diesel, so school districts can save substantially on fuel costs.  Switching to propane also means that students don’t have to breathe diesel exhaust while waiting for their busesPropane is widely available, with distribution networks already in place nationwide.  Like with CNG, you can convert some personal vehicles to run on propaneand though a bit harder to find than gasoline, it is available at some retail fuel stations. Not to be outdone by its gaseous counterpart RNG, renewable propane is an emerging product As icing on the cake, propane engine manufacturers are actively developing their own version of a “near-zero” engine, expected to be available in coming years. 

Though none of these options are ‘perfect’, they each offer substantial benefits compared to conventional fuelslower cost, longer engine life, quieter operationslower emissions, and economic benefits to the farm economy.  Though no single alternative fuel captures all these benefitsthere’s likely an option that’s almost perfect for your needs When more people, businesses and government fleets embrace alternative-fuel options, the owners/operators enjoy lower costs, softer road noise and less air pollution.  And with more investment in alternative fuels, research and development efforts continue to make every available option even better Big picture: petroleum diesel is far and away the worst culprit in making our air harder to breathe.  In order to cut down on the emissions released into the air by our transportation practices, it’s necessary for all of us to recognize and support any and all options. We can’t yet eliminate vehicle emissions, but moving in that direction ifar easier than you might think.  

For more information on alternative fuels and vehicles, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

To the casual observer, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) appear nestled comfortably on the upslope of a growth curve that would turn other industries green – with envy, in this case.  From a global grand total of about 20,000 EVs of all makes on the road in 2010, by 2019, the total number of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and full electric autos on the road worldwide rose to 7.2 million.  That’s an almost a 360-fold increase in less than a decade.

The biggest surprise to date has been the number of surprises to date.  Who imagined that an automotive startup – the first such large-scale attempt since Kaiser-Frazier back in 1947 – would flat-out pound legacy OEMs in the US in any market segment?  In 2019, Tesla’s three all-electric models outsold GM’s EV/PHEV Bolt and Volt combined by nearly nine to one.  Also in 2019, the California upstart commanded more than 78% of US BEV market share.

Who imagined that battery costs would continue to collapse at the rate we’ve seen through 2019?  In 2010, battery costs per kwh averaged about $1,100 – in 2019, they hit a new low of $156.  Who imagined that price parity between EVs and conventional ICE models could arrive in some market segments by as soon as 2022, 2023, or 2025?  What year, of course, depends on whether the crystal ball you’re consulting belongs to Deloitte, Roskill or Carnegie Mellon University.

It’s this last bit – predicting the crossover– that we want to take a look at today.  Not surprisingly, it’s complicated.  Total cost of ownership for an EV can be substantially lower than for an ICE car.  With simple drive trains, EVs have fewer points of failure, and electricity is cheaper than gasoline in most industrialized nations.  Tax incentives and rebates can substantially sweeten the pot.  But in the words of a recent Automotive News article, mass EV adoption is “inevitable, yet elusive.”

Multiple factors are in play.  Infrastructure buildout is slower than it could be.  Manufacturers may increase their margins once EVs hit a tipping point, given the substantial sunk costs they’ve already incurred.  Moving the needle on consumer acceptance is still difficult.  Though we’re expecting the arrival of multiple EV models by multiple OEMs by 2023, 14 different brands didn’t offer a single EV option as recently as the end of 2018.  And there’s still a rough $6,000 – $9,000 gap between EV models and their ICE counterparts in non-luxury categories.  In the end, it may be mandates that do the heavy lifting.  For all of the reasons above, and given Americans’ aversion to mandates, IHS Markit projects 40% of EU cars will be hybrid or pure EV by 2031, compared with 20% of the American passenger fleet.

Above and beyond the usual suspects, there’s one you might not have suspected – reliability.  At least in the US, drivers are holding onto their cars longer than ever, thanks in part to better quality.  By this July, the average age of an American car was a record 11.9 years, and per IHS, one in four cars on the road in the United States are more than 16 years old.  This is something of a tribute to improved automotive quality:  as noted in the article linked above, “Back in the ’90s, one-quarter of cars parked at the grocery store were not Ford Mavericks and Chevy Vegas. Nowadays, that beige 2002 Corolla is still ubiquitous.”

With COVID driving economic worries for consumers, auto purchases may be viewed as more discretionary than ever, particularly when it comes to buying a new car.   At the same time, until the pandemic is under control, road trips (vs. flying) and commuting by car (not public transit) may keep long-term auto demand simmering, even as our wheels continue to gray.  How all of the preceding will drive EV acceptance in the next few years is hard to forecast, but we’ll be watching closely.

District: Grain Valley School District
Industry: Education
Location: Grain Valley, Missouri
Vehicles: (14) 2018 IC Bus CE Series propane autogas-fueled buses
Fueling: On-site propane autogas station

Challenge
With aging diesel buses to replace, a Missouri school district looked to alternative fuel options that would save money on fuel and maintenance.

Result
The Grain Valley School District purchased 14 propane school buses. The new buses joined a 49-bus fleet that transports 2,800 students to school from suburban and exurban neighborhoods.

Focus on Cost-Cutting
Over the years Missouri state reimbursements for school transportation have dropped from 75 percent to 16 to 20 percent. School districts in the state have had to tap their own general school funds to make up the shortfall.

To help save money, the Grain Valley district considered alternative fuels for its new school buses and comparing compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane autogas. District representatives attended an alternative fuels workshop hosted by Kansas City Regional Clean Cities, a Metropolitan Energy Center program. The district considered various fuels but “the vehicle costs and fueling station costs for CNG were much higher versus propane,” said Shawn Brady, director of transportation.

The district decided to purchase 14 propane buses in 2018 to replace diesel buses of 2001 and 2002 model years. Brady researched and applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through Kansas City Regional Clean Cities to assist with the purchase costs of the buses.

Preparing for Propane Autogas
To fuel the new buses, the district entered into a contract with their local propane provider, Ferrellgas. A fueling station with two 1,000-gallon tanks was built in the school district’s bus parking lot in April 2018. “It saves time not to have to travel to refuel,” Brady noted.

Infrastructure costs for propane are the lowest of any fuel; alternative or conventional. For Grain Valley schools, the start-up cost for the fueling station totaled $16,500. “We received a 45 percent grant from Metropolitan Energy Center for the installation of our propane fueling station,” Brady said. The center’s grant amounted to $7,425. “The fueling station cost us only $9,075 after the grant.”

Before putting the new buses on the district’s routes, drivers received training in propane bus operation. “Our bus vendor provided training on how to properly operate the buses and maximize fuel efficiency,” Brady said. The district’s technicians traveled to the bus manufacturer’s factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a complimentary week-long training course on maintenance. The district didn’t need to make changes to its bus repair facility. Requirements for a propane vehicle service facility are generally the same as those for conventionally fueled vehicles.

Financial Benefits
After tapping grants for purchase assistance, each new bus cost about $250 more than a comparable diesel bus. District officials say that the higher initial cost can be quickly recouped in fuel savings.

In fact, by adding propane buses to its fleet, Grain Valley School District has noted savings on both fuel and maintenance. On average, propane autogas costs up to 50 percent less than diesel. As part of its Grain Valley Schools propane bus and fueling setupnegotiated contract, Grain Valley paid a locked-in rate of $1.20 per gallon of propane in 2018-1019. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district pays $1.15 per gallon. For comparison, the district pays $2.31 per gallon on average for diesel.

Each bus in the district runs about 9,000 miles per year. For the 2018-2019 school year, fuel savings amounted to about $14,500. “The district’s increased savings year after year will allow the transportation department to serve as a better steward of taxpayer money,” said Brady.

Additional savings come from the reduced maintenance. With propane autogas, no exhaust after-treatment or diesel emissions fluids are required like with diesel to meet today’s strict emissions regulations. Propane vehicles don’t need particulate trap systems, turbochargers and intercoolers. Plus, propane uses less engine oil. All these factors contribute to the overall savings of time and money. The district’s technicians like the propane buses, Brady reports. “There are fewer parts and systems to have to maintain.”

However, Brady explained that “warranty work is challenging with no established shop in Kansas City.” He noted that IC does provide a traveling technician who assists his staff when they encounter maintenance issues. Kansas City Regional Clean Cities recommends fleet managers ensure that there is a local service shop to do warranty and continuing work on buses before purchasing.

Even more saving shows up for the district in the winter. Due to the chemical properties of propane autogas, the propane buses warm up faster and have no cold start issues. Unlike diesel vehicles, these buses can start up in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. School districts report lower electric costs because the propane buses don’t rely on block heaters. “Our propane buses warmed up faster this past winter than the diesel buses,” Brady said.

Beyond the Bottom Line 

Grain Valley’s propane buses are helping the community’s air quality. Unlike diesel buses, propane vehicles emit virtually no particulate matter and, with substantially less nitrogen oxides (NOx). Buses fueled by propane also emit fewer greenhouse gases and total hydrocarbon emissions when compared to diesel buses. Propane’s quiet operation makes riding the bus more pleasant for passengers and safer for drivers, who are less distracted by engine noise. “We’ve benefitted from much cleaner air and much quieter buses running through neighborhoods,” said Brady.

Drivers also report that the propane dispenser pumps are just as fast or faster than the diesel fuel pump when it’s time to fill the tank. The district notes that it will be sure to order buses with 100-gallon fuel tanks going forward. “These were not available from IC when we placed our first order,” Brady said.

The district’s leadership in adopting an alternative fuel earned it a 2018 Agent of Change Award from the Metropolitan Energy Center, a Kansas City nonprofit catalyst for energy efficiency, economic development and environmental vitality.

The district’s plan to purchase seven more propane buses this year, and eventually move to an all-propane fleet, speaks to the administration’s belief in the benefits of this alternative fuel for their students, drivers and overall community.

“Our district made the decision on propane buses to save money. The environmental impact is an added benefit. There’s no reason to not make the move into propane now,” Brady said.

 

About MOPERC: The Missouri Propane Education & Research Council is a not-for-profit organization authorized by the Missouri Legislature. Dedicated to propane education and public awareness, MOPERC provides industry training, consumer safety, appliance rebates and market development programs. The council is composed of 15 volunteer directors and adm inistered by an executive staff. Visit PropaneMissouri.com.

For fiscal year 2019 (July 2018 through June 2019), the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will fund $2.75 million in government truck repower and replacement projects.

Implementation Guidelines

Deadline:  Monday Dec. 31, 2018 at 5 p.m. CST.

Eligibility:  Qualifying applicants include government agencies that own eligible trucks:  “Government” shall mean a State or local government agency.  This category includes a school district, municipality, city, county, special district, transit district, joint powers authority, or port authority, owning fleets purchased with government funds.  It also includes a tribal government or native village. The term “State” means the several States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Key Program Requirements:

  • Eligible engine model years 1992-2009.
  • Eligible vehicles are Class 4-8 with GVWR greater than 14,000 pounds.
  • Older engine or vehicle must be permanently disabled.
  • New diesel, biodiesel, CNG, propane and all-electric engines are all eligible for funding.
  • The program provides up to 75% of the cost of an engine repower.
  • The program provides up to 50% of the cost of a new vehicle.
  • For this round, maximum request from a single applicant is $1 million.
  • Applications submitted through modnr.force.com.

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.

Considering converting your fleet to compressed natural gas?  Join this complimentary webinar, sponsored by Quantum Fuel Systems, to learn more about the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas trucks.

When:  April 4th at 12:00 P.M. CST

What:  Webinar for fleet operators who are considering converting their fleets to natural gas.  This complimentary webinar will allow our fleet managers to explore the many environmental and economic benefits of low-emission natural gas engines.

 

Click here for Webinar details.

Join us at the last of our four events in Kansas on October 3rd 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.

MEC and Kansas City Clean Cities encourage all stakeholders in Kansas to let their views be known on this important settlement.  This includes private-sector fleet operators, school district transportation directors, public works and public transportation professionals, along with transportation contractors, alternative energy providers and elected officials.  We’re hosting this event to let you know about what’s at stake – and we need you to let the agencies in charge of the settlement what direction you think the state should take.

Join us at Wichita State University Old Town, 238 North Mead in Wichita Kansas, 672025

Click here for parking information.  To register for this event, just click here to sign up through EventBrite.

 

 

As part of a Department of Energy award for Mid-America Collaborative for Alternative Fuels Implementation, Metropolitan Energy Center requests proposals from qualified consulting companies or agencies to create a program designed to provide technical assistance to fleet operators and their host businesses regarding incorporating alternative fuel vehicles. Interested?  Read more

Events

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.

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.

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

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.

 

 

Learn how you can partner with KC and Central KS Clean Cities for transportation grants to upgrade fleets, use cleaner fuels and save money.

You asked. We listened. This session will provide details on how to apply for grants through MEC. Partnering with us lets you leverage funding from federal and state programs into more cost-effective operations and cleaner vehicles. We’ll discuss how to prepare a project proposal, and cover what technologies typically are – and aren’t – eligible.

This event will consist of a presentation followed by audience Q&A. We will use screen sharing to show our application forms and how to fill them out.

We’ll also touch on additional state and federal funding opportunities, and welcome your questions. Transportation stakeholders of all stripes are welcome, whether public or private, off-road or on – we hope you’ll join us on December 17th. Click here to register for this free event.

Thinking about EV options for your current medium- or heavy-duty fleet? Not sure where to start? Want to learn more? Join us on Tuesday, December 8th from 1:00-2:30 pm CST as we learn from industry leaders in production, manufacturing, integration, and adoption of medium and heavy-duty fleets. Learn about medium and heavy-duty electric vehicle options, how current companies have converted their fleets to electric, the benefits of switching, and any roadblocks our presenters have encountered along the way.

Andy Fry from Topeka Metro reveals their approach to bus electrification, while Larry Brasfield from Lion Electric, Kurt Neutgens from Orange EV, Julie Dietrich from Evergy discuss technology and actions to take before pursuing medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification. To hear how your fleet can evolve to meet the demand of future transportation, register here.

Larry Brasfield, Regional Sales Manager, Lion Electric Co. – Larry’s role with Lion Electric Co leverages his customer-focused approach and 30 years of experience in the trucking industry. For Lion Electric, the emerging leader in pure electric medium and heavy-duty trucks, Larry specs and sells fleet specific, right sized solutions that meet customers’ needs with zero-emission battery electric solutions. Larry grew up with trucking in the family as the third generation in the business and has worked in many different roles in the industry including full-service leasing, vocational truck sales and natural gas prior to the last 3½ years in EV trucks. The Brasfield legacy is now 4 generations strong as two of his three children are in the industry and he has been blessed with 5 grandchildren.

Julie Dietrich, Evergy – As a Program Manager on the new Electrification team at Evergy, Julie is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic vision for transit and fleet across Evergy’s Kansas and Missouri jurisdictions. This includes building partnerships with fleet managers and their affiliates and offering solutions and support related to fleet electrification.

 

 

Andy Fry, Topeka Metro – Andy is the Special Projects Engineer for the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority. He is the primary staff member in researching and understanding the implications of electrification of Topeka Metro’s electric bus pilot scheduled to go live in 2023. Andy has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Kansas State University and has worked in the area of utility regulation with Kansas utility providers and consumers in the Kansas Corporation Commission’s Utilities Division. Electric vehicle implementation continues to be a favorite focus of Andy’s career, across the various sectors of his work.

Kurt Neutgens, President & CTO, Orange EV – Kurt is the co-founder of Orange EV and leads engineering, production, sales, service, and technical support for the company. He has 30+ years of OEM product development and manufacturing experience. Kurt was VP of Engineering & Assembly for Harlan Global’s line of airport tractors and launched their all-electric line-up. He launched Electric Vehicle International’s first electric truck model. Kurt co-led Ford’s $2B Eco-Boost program strategy and definition and served as Engineering Manager of the Ford F-150.