Vehicles – Hybrid

Oconomowoc students to ride on plug-in hybrid school buses

Posted on August 25, 2010. Filed under: Solar, Vehicles - Hybrid |

From a article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Town of Oconomowoc — Sandy Syburg has driven school buses for years – but none like these.

When they start rolling on their routes next week, these hybrid electric school buses won’t lurch forward the way conventional school buses do.

A diesel engine is least efficient when it’s trying to get a 27,000-pound vehicle moving from a full stop, Syburg said. Thanks to the hybrid technology, the electric motor kicks in first, with lithium-ion batteries powering the bus forward from a stop.

“It’s very smooth. It’s like a gust of wind when you’re sailing,” said Syburg, chief executive of Oconomowoc Transport Co.

In the bus terminal, Syburg can plug an electrical cord into the side of the bus so that solar panels can charge the batteries that run the vehicle’s electric motor.

To date, more than 100 hybrid school and commercial buses have rolled off of the IC Bus LLC assembly line since 2007. Eleven of them are plug-in hybrid electric school buses in Oconomowoc, ready to start the school year next week.

The investment, aided by a state grant through the federal stimulus package, aims to reduce diesel fuel use by 7,500 gallons a year. That would provide savings of $26,000 in fuel costs for the Oconomowoc Area School District at today’s diesel prices.

When they’re done with their morning school run, the buses will return to the bus company on Brown St. and their batteries will be recharged with the help of 224 solar panels that were erected by Renewable Energy Solutions of Waukesha.

It’s the first solar-electric charging station in the state, and it’s ready to power the biggest fleet of plug-in hybrid school buses in the country.

The buses are projected to result in saving because of a 50% gain in fuel economy. A typical bus gets 7 miles per gallon, but the hybrid technology will boost that to 12.

“It’s a little glimpse of the future; it’s very impressive,” said Mike Barry, assistant superintendent of the district. The district will seek to incorporate the solar-powered hybrids into its curriculum.

“We’re trying to make some links between the curriculum that the students learn about in school and the real world,” he said. “When the connection is as immediate as the very bus that takes you to and from school, that’s a powerful connection.”

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Wisconsin utilities would consider buying electric cars

Posted on November 21, 2008. Filed under: Vehicles - Electric, Vehicles - Hybrid |

From an article by Rebecca Smith in the Wall Street Journal:

The auto industry’s quest to launch a new generation of electric cars may get a big boost from a sector with much to gain from getting advanced vehicles on the road: U.S. electric utilities.

Top executives at several utilities are mulling the possibility of ordering thousands of the vehicles — known as plug-in electric cars — as an expression of support for the technology they fear could be derailed by the auto industry’s financial traumas. The cars would run primarily on electricity, with gasoline to extend their range, and would recharge by plugging into standard electrical outlets.

Utilities stand to gain by selling the electricity needed to power the cars. Because power companies own tens of thousands of cars for their own company fleets, the idea under discussion involves putting in a substantial order to put weight behind development and, perhaps, persuade Congress to give the auto industry the assistance it needs.

“Our industry is interested in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, and it seems like a good idea for auto makers and us to pull together,” says Bill Johnson, chief executive of Progress Energy Inc., Raleigh, N.C.

Another reason the sector is keenly interested is that it has excess generating capacity at night when power plants mostly go to sleep because demand drops. A study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a federal energy lab, found that 73% of the nation’s light vehicles could be recharged with the existing utility infrastructure if the vehicles were plugged in overnight. Such a shift from gasoline to electricity as a primary transportation fuel could displace an estimated 6.2 million barrels of oil a day, about 52% of current oil imports.

Another report, by the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility-funded research group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, concluded that if 60% of U.S. light vehicles were electrified by 2050, it would increase national electricity consumption by less than 8%. But it would cut total U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions by 450 million metric tons annually, equivalent to taking 82 million cars off the road. . . .

Utilities would take possession of vehicles when they debut, likely in 2010 or 2011 if development efforts stay on track for cars such as the Chevy Volt, Saturn Vue or Ford Escape.

“If we get enough of us together, we could put in a very large order and maybe a big down payment,” says Dick Kelly, chief executive of Xcel Energy in Minneapolis.

“I would do it,” says Gale Klappa, CEO of Wisconsin Energy, adding that his utility has about 3,000 vehicles in its fleet and replaces 20% each year.

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Some cities, utilities work to conserve electricity

Posted on November 6, 2008. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Vehicles - Electric, Vehicles - Hybrid |

From an article by Gena Kittner in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Communities and the utility companies that distribute electricity are taking steps to conserve energy, in part by changing the way they get around.

In Dane County, a Toyota Prius used by Stoughton Utilities has been converted to a plug-in hybrid and is the first municipal utility in the state to do the transformation.

The same conversion is anticipated in Columbus where the parking lot at City Hall has been equipped with electrical outlets to encourage residents to use electric cars.

Columbus, about 30 miles northeast of Madison, also could become the first city in Wisconsin to convert its street lighting to energy-saving LED lighting.

These energy-saving steps, including upcoming hybrid conversions in Sturgeon Bay, Plymouth and Waupun made possible through grants from Wisconsin Public Power Inc., are examples of utilities trying to conserve the power they’re putting out.

“It’s our goal to get 25 percent of our electrical energy and fuel by green renewable resources by 2025,” said Steven Sobiek, director of economic development and energy sustainability for Columbus.

The proposal in Columbus is to convert a quarter of the 500 conventional street lights to light-emitting diode fixtures, or LEDs. It’s a feasible project because Columbus is a smaller city, Sobiek said.

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Wind-Powered Cars

Posted on September 2, 2008. Filed under: Vehicles, Vehicles - Hybrid, Wind |

From an article by Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association and RENEW board member:

. . . While wind energy is becoming a mainstream source of electricity in the U.S., with a realistic potential of powering 20% of our electric needs by 2030, its ability to play a key role in powering PHEVs [plug-in hybrid electric vehicle] makes for an even brighter future for the clean, renewable energy source. . . .

With widespread deployment, the impact of PHEVs on the transportation sector and the nation would be massive. A study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that replacing 73% of the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet with PHEVs would result in a reduction in oil consumption of 6.2 million barrels a day, cutting the need for imported oil by about 50%.

But what would such a heavy reliance on electricity generation for transportation purposes do to aggregate power plant emissions? A joint study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that if 60% of light vehicles in the U.S. were replaced by plug-in vehicles by 2050, electricity consumption would rise only about 8%. The net gain from significantly reducing oil use for transportation—while only marginally increasing the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity—would translate into net carbon dioxide reductions of 450 million metric tons annually—equivalent to taking 82 million cars off the road. And when you bring wind power into the equation, the news gets even better: if the renewable energy resource contributes a greater share to the electricity supply mix that ultimately would recharge the PHEV fleet, any increase in emissions from greater electricity usage can be cut dramatically, making the net emissions reduction even lower.

The primary reason PHEVs result in significant net emissions reductions is that electric motors are several times more efficient than gasoline internal combustion engines. EPRI estimates that while charging, PHEVs will draw only 1.4 kW-2 kW—about the same as a dishwasher. Moreover, in a transportation world that includes many PHEVs, electric rates are likely to be designed to ensure that vehicle charging occurs almost exclusively at night, guaranteeing that PHEVs will use low-cost electricity—while not imposing additional strain on the electric grid during daytime hours of peak electricity usage. And wind energy fits ideally into that part of the equation for another reason as well: wind power output is typically highest at night in many parts of the country. . . .

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Clean Energy Car Show, June 20-22, Custer, WI

Posted on June 6, 2008. Filed under: Vehicles, Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Hybrid, Vehicles - Vegetable oil |

From the just-released program for The Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin (just outside of Stevens Point), June 20-22:

Clean Energy Car Show
A popular part of the Energy Fair, the Clean Energy Car Show will be back for its fourth year. The Car Show, sponsored by Toyota, will feature sustainable transportation options though exhibits, workshops and demonstration vehicles. Example workshops include Sustainable Transportation Technologies, Biofuels 101, and Reacquaint Yourself with Your Bike.

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Office issues biofuels construction guide

Posted on May 3, 2007. Filed under: Biomass, Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Hybrid, Vehicles - Vegetable oil, Wood |

From the new Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence:

APRIL 24, 2007 – MADISON – Judy Ziewacz, Director of the Office of Energy Independence, announced the publication of the state’s first biofuels production guide. The Wisconsin Guide to Building Biofuels Facilities outlines the regulations, permits, and contacts necessary to produce biofuels in Wisconsin.

“If we want renewable fuels in the marketplace, we have to produce the fuel here in Wisconsin. If an oilfield in Mideast is competing against a farm field from the Midwest, that’s a very good thing for the environment, for our economy, and for the state,” Governor Jim Doyle said.

The Office of Energy Independence was created to advance Governor Doyle’s vision on energy policy and to promote the state’s bioindustry.

Governor Doyle’s Declaration of Energy Independence challenges the state to utilize 25 percent electricity and 25 percent transportation fuel from renewable sources by 2025. The Office of Energy Independence is leading Wisconsin toward the goal: Achieving 25 x 25.

The Wisconsin Guide to Building Biofuels Facilities is a tool for prospective producers and is available on line at: It provides information on permits, regulations, and agency contacts that are critical for construction and operation of a biofuels facility.


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Bill counterproductive on tax credits for flex-fuel vehicles

Posted on April 26, 2007. Filed under: Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Hybrid |

Chris Deisinger, a consultant on clean energy policy and am president of Syntropy Energy Solutions, delivered the following testimony to a state Assembly committee after writing the testimony in consultation with the Union of Concerned Scientists and a coalition of environmental and renewable energy groups that have been meeting to discuss Wisconsin energy policy:

I am here to address assembly Bill 85 which would provide a tax credit, up to $1,000, for the purchase of flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on up to 85% ethanol, or E85. While the intentions of this bill are laudable – promotion of biofuels, energy independence and support for Wisconsin industry – unfortunately the bill as written does not help achieve these intentions and is in fact counterproductive.

I will outline why this is so and why I oppose this bill. However I do this in the spirit of offering cooperation to the sponsors in the hope of developing better biofuel and transportation policy for Wisconsin.

Why is this bill counterproductive?

• A tax incentive of $1,000 is excessive and unnecessary. The incremental cost of producing a flex-fuel vehicle is $100 at the most. All gasoline-powered vehicles should be capable of being flex-fueled and it shouldn’t take a tax credit to either produce or market them.

• The bill does nothing to promote the actual use of ethanol. Only 1% of the fuel used in flex-fuel vehicles is ethanol, according to a recent federal study.

• The dual-fuel loophole allows manufacturers to earn credits towards meeting federal fuel economy standards by producing flex-fuel vehicles, even if they never actually use alternative fuel. The result is that automakers can sell fleets of vehicles that fall short of federal fuel economy targets. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated, back in 2004, that this loophole resulted in the consumption of an additional 80,000 barrels of petroleum per day. In other words, increasing the sale of flex-fuels vehicles would result in more dependence on petroleum and foreign oil, rather than less.

• Besides being counterproductive, this bill is very expensive. The fiscal bureau estimates its impact at $18 million a year or $108 million over the six-year life of the tax credit.


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Energy in the State of the State

Posted on January 24, 2007. Filed under: Biomass, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Solar, Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Hybrid, Vehicles - Vegetable oil, Wind |

From Bush’s State of the State speech:

It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power — by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington and the strong response of the market. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 — this is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to eight and a half billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

The White House also posted substantially more details on Bush’s plans.

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WPPI joins Plug-in Partners on hybrid vehicles

Posted on March 28, 2006. Filed under: Vehicles - Hybrid |

In a press release posted on the company’s site, Wisconsin Public Power, Inc. (WPPI) announced its membership in Plug-in Partners:

WPPI joined the other founding members of Plug-in Partners this week to kick off a nationwide campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“WPPI and its member utilities are committed to being leaders in promoting energy efficiency,” said WPPI Vice President of Marketing Tom Paque. “We believe that the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is an important emerging technology with great benefits.”

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Telephone Seminar on Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

Posted on November 9, 2005. Filed under: Vehicles - Hybrid |

Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Radical Change for Electric Utilities?
Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:00 to 3:30 PM Eastern time
Sponsored by the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP)

Seminar Overview:
What has the potential to completely change the way we think about load management, pricing, energy storage, electric growth, efficiency, and gas stations? The answer is plug in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV). Our expert speakers will tell us how the technology is evolving, with a special emphasis on what electric utilities could do to promote and advance the high potential for the new “fusion” of the transportation and electric industries. They will address current pilot programs, technology tests, utility initiatives, and a national plug-in campaign.


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