Facing an Uncertain Future in Washington, D.C.

 By: Jeff Allen, Executive Director

(March 24, 2017) At the end of February, I made my first trip back to Washington, D.C. since the November elections, and the first trip with our new Director of Government Relations, Jeanette Shaw.

We traveled to the nation’s capital primarily to attend the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s (EDTA) Annual Membership Meeting and Electric Drive Congress. We have been members of EDTA for several years and we always appreciate their insights and hard work in support of good electric vehicle policy. Clearly, all participants were concerned about the potential loss of federal tax credits for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, as well as broader policy changes that may come from the new administration.

In fact, shortly after our return to Oregon, the Trump administration announced that it would review the recently finalized federal fuel economy standards for 2022-2025. The administration has not yet attempted to revoke California’s authority to set stricter rules, which is what has allowed it and other opt-in states to mandate sales of electric vehicles; however, this remains a great concern. 

After the meeting, participants fanned out to meet with their local Senators and Representatives, and we were able to meet with nearly all of the Oregon delegation or their key staff. The common refrain on the Hill was that “nobody knows” what to expect exactly, or when changes may come… but everyone expects that big changes are, indeed, coming.

Congressman Kurt Schrader meets with Drive Oregon’s Jeff Allen (Executive Director) & Jeanette Shaw (Director of Government Relations)

We were also able to connect with key interest groups and federal agency staff. In particular, we traveled to Herndon, Virginia to meet with Electrify America and discuss its plans for spending $500 million in Volkswagen settlement funds to promote electrification over the coming 30 months. This initiative has ambitious goals and a daunting timeline, but is staffing up quickly, with some 35 positions currently posted. We look forward to welcoming the Electrify America team back to Oregon in June for EV Roadmap 10, by which time they should be able to share a public plan, approved by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board.

Other meetings with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation reinforced the message that “nobody knows” exactly what changes are coming, or when. Meanwhile, however, we take heart from the many good people in both agencies who are continuing to do great work. For example, the USDOE Vehicle Technologies Office is looking beyond specific vehicles at strategies to improve the energy efficiency of entire mobility systems, while the Federal Highway Administration continues to roll out a national network of alternative fuel corridors. Both agencies confirmed that they will be joining us at EV Roadmap 10.

While uncertainty was a theme of many of our discussions while in D.C., Drive Oregon will continue to work with our federal and state representatives to advance electric, smart mobility.

Drive Oregon’s March Networking Event: EV Tourism – Oregon’s Electric Byways

(March 17, 2017) Drive Oregon invited Andrew Grossmann, Destination Development Coordinator at Travel Oregon, to speak at this month’s networking event about the growing field of electric vehicle tourism. In his opening remarks, Drive Oregon’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen, noted that not only does Oregon have an abundance of unique natural features and cultural landmarks, it also has a history of encouraging people to travel in the state with minimal environmental impacts – the perfect combination for successful electric vehicle tourism.

Tourism, Andrew explained, is a growing industry in Oregon. As of 2015, over 105,000 people were directly employed by hotels, restaurants, tourism operators, visitor centers, and other attractions. Travel Oregon’s mission is to inspire travel that drives economic development and preserves Oregon’s way of life and natural places. Andrew noted that as the tourism industry has grown over the years, Travel Oregon has worked to promote low- and emission-free travel within the state. The Oregon Electric Byways are one of their innovative strategies.

The Electric Byways were established in 2013 and are the first of their kind in the nation. Inspired by the success of the Scenic Byway and Scenic Bikeway programs, the Electric Byways are itineraries that feature locations with access to charging, allowing drivers to travel outside metro areas without the concern of where to charge their vehicle. Also known as “range anxiety”, this concern is one of the greatest barriers to wide-scale electric vehicle adoption. The six byways are located in southern Oregon, the coast, Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood, and the Willamette Valley. Andrew explained that Oregon is the perfect location for the Electric Byways because of the state’s low cost of electricity, established charging infrastructure including the West Coast Electric Highway, and a growing number of electric vehicle drivers. 

Andrew announced that Travel Oregon recently updated the Electric Byways website, which now includes in-depth descriptions of the itineraries, nearby activities and charging station locations. Travel Oregon is also finalizing a promotional brochure, which will be available online at the end of March, and a printed state map of the Electric Byways, which includes charging stations identified by connector type. The purpose of the map, Andrew explained, is to show people that Oregon is very accessible by electric vehicle. Andrew noted that PlugShare is the source of Travel Oregon’s charging station data and will encourage users to verify station availability on the PlugShare app.

Andrew closed his presentation with the exciting news that Travel Oregon is partnering with Drive Oregon to launch a charging station rebate program in 2017, the first of it’s kind in the U.S. The purpose of the program is to support businesses within the tourism industry that want to attract electric vehicle drivers. Up to $5,000 rebates will be available for hotels and restaurants in Oregon for costs related to purchasing and installing Level 2 or fast charging stations. The program will begin accepting applications later this year.

Electric vehicle tourism encourages electric vehicle adoption because it illustrates that these vehicles can go anywhere – with a little planning. Travel Oregon’s development of the Electric Byways and unique promotional marketing materials will continue to encourage more drivers to go electric. Road trip, anyone?

To view a short video interview with Andrew, visit our Facebook page.

Andrew Grossman’s presentation can be viewed here: 

 

Funding Opportunity: 2017 Charge! Program

(February 28, 2017) The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) is accepting applications for the 2017 Charge! Program, an incentive program that offers grant funding to help offset a portion of the cost of purchasing, installing, and operating new publicly available charging stations at qualifying facilities within the Air District’s jurisdiction.

The goal of the Charge! Program is to rapidly expand access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in order to accelerate the Bay Area’s adoption of EVs and ultimately achieve the region’s EV deployment goals of 110,000 EVs by 2020, and 247,000 by 2025. As of December 2016, there are 83,000 EVs registered to Bay Area drivers.

Both public and private entities are eligible to apply. For 2017, $5 million is allocated to this program, and awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pre-application Workshops and How to Apply
Applicants must attend at least one mandatory pre-application workshop before submitting an application. Each workshop will cover Charge! Program Requirements, the application process and evaluation criteria, and grantee/project sponsor’s administrative requirements. The following workshops have been scheduled:

  • Monday, February 27, 2017 3 – 4 PM (Register)
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 2 – 3 PM (Register)
  • Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 11AM – noon (Register)

Each workshop will be held online via webinar and is limited to 100 attendees. Registration is required. Based on demand, additional workshops may be scheduled in the future. Notices about additional pre-application workshops will be sent via email to parties that have signed up to receive free TFCA email alerts.

Application deadline is May, 22, 2017.

To Learn More About This Opportunity
Visit the Charge! website at www.baaqmd.gov/charge to obtain a full set of program requirements.

Contact
For additional information about this program, contact Ken Mak, Acting Supervising Staff Specialist at kmak@baaqmd.gov or (415) 749-8660.

Drive Oregon’s February Event: Equity & Electric Car Sharing

(February 24, 2017) – Last week Drive Oregon had the pleasure of hosting Joel Espino, Environmental Equity Legal Counsel at the Greenling Institute. Not all communities have equal access to clean transportation, and Drive Oregon is committed to reducing that disparity. To explore this topic and the potential solutions, we invited Joel to discuss how the Greenlining Institute is working to support and promote electric car sharing in traditionally underserved communities.

The mission of the Greenlining Institute is to advance economic opportunity and empowerment for people of color through advocacy, coalition and community building, research and leadership development. As part of the Environmental Equity team, Joel Espino’s work is centered around advocating for clean transportation and implementing California’s Senate Bill 1725, the Charge Ahead Initiative. The Initiative calls for one million electric vehicles on the road by 2023 and includes a provision for low-income communities to have increased access to clean transportation.

One route to increasing access is through electric car sharing programs, which enable community members to rent electric vehicles by the minute, hour, or day. This type of program has great potential but, as Joel noted, is challenging to establish for a variety of reasons.

In his remarks, Joel identified a number of barriers to the successful implementation of car sharing services in low-income communities. Unless the program is designed correctly, potential users who could benefit may not be able to afford the service, easily sign up to be a user, or access the service from their home or work. Additionally, there may be cultural and informational barriers. How can these barriers be overcome? Joel stressed the need to take a community-driven approach, as opposed to a “one solution fits all” approach. He highlighted the importance of partnering with community organizations, conducting targeted outreach in multiple languages, addressing specific mobility needs and siting charging infrastructure in safe, frequently used areas.

There are also barriers from a service operator’s point of view: profitability and need. Is there actual demand for a car sharing service? Will the cost of liability reduce the potential profits? Joel stressed that to bring operators to the table, several methods should be employed: finding robust funding sources, offering operator subsidies, pooling risk funds, and demonstrating the demand for a car sharing service.

For a more in-depth look at these barriers and solutions, download the Greenlining Institute’s full report on this topic, Electric Carsharing in Underserved Communities: Considerations for Program Success. Joel worked with the Institute’s Environmental Equity Director, Vien Truong, to create this report that continues to be a guiding resource in the development and implementation of new programs.

Joel concluded his presentation with the news that California has set aside an additional $8 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year for developing car sharing pilot programs in underserved communities. To date, programs are under development in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Huron. Joel and his colleagues at the Greenling Institute will continue to be actively involved, providing support to ensure the success of these programs.

Thank You to Our Sponsor

This event was sponsored by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). The Bureau’s 2017 Electric Vehicle Strategy is centered around equity and many of the action goals target increasing the access to charging infrastructure and affordable clean transportation options. Drive Oregon looks forward to providing support to BPS to help it meet the Strategy’s 2020 goals.

There is a pronounced difference between equality and equity and it’s important to be mindful of this difference, Joel noted. Equality refers to the everyone’s right to have access to clean transportation and equity refers to the availability of clean transportation to the communities who need it most, emphasizing inclusion and fairness. 

Joel’s presentation can be viewed here: 

Drive Oregon’s January Networking Event – Oregon Utilities & Transportation Electrification

(January 27, 2017) – Last week, Drive Oregon kicked off our 2017 monthly networking event series. Representatives were invited from Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power, Oregon’s two largest utilities, to speak about their plans to accelerate transportation electrification in the state.

Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Drive Oregon, provided a brief background of the motivation behind PGE & Pacific Power’s transportation electrification plans – Senate Bill 1547, also known as the “Clean Energy Bill.” The findings of S.B. 1547 state that transportation electrification is necessary for Oregon to meet air quality standards, achieve optimum levels of energy efficiency and meet Oregon’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The key mandate states that “The Public Utility Commission shall direct each electric company to file applications, in a form and manner prescribed by the commission, for programs to accelerate transportation electrification.” Governor Brown signed S.B. 1547 into law in March 2016, and PGE and Pacific Power had nine months to develop their respective plans before submitting them to the Public Utility Commission in December. 

Aaron Milano, Project Manager of Customer Energy Solutions, shared PGE’s proposed programs, designed with the goals of supporting and promoting customer acquisition of electric vehicles, and ensuring a reliable, accessible charging network. Transportation electrification, Aaron explained, will benefit all PGE customers by improving air quality, reducing operating costs, integrating renewable energy into the grid and mitigating the pressure on electricity rates. PGE’s plan consists of four pilot programs:

  • Outreach & Technical Assistance – PGE will engage in a variety of outreach strategies to address the lack of awareness around electric vehicles, which PGE has identified as the greatest barrier to electric vehicle adoption.
  • Mass Transit 2.0 – PGE proposes to own the charging stations for TriMet’s four electric buses, purchased with federal grant funding. PGE’s contribution to the project would enable TriMet to purchase a fifth electric bus.
  • Community Charging Infrastructure – PGE will build upon the success of the Electric Avenue site in downtown Portland and establish an Electric Avenue network of six new charging sites across the city, with four offering DC Fast charging. PGE has inherited chargers from Blink and Powin and plans on incorporating them into the network as well.
  • Research & Development –The expansion of PGE’s Research and Development program will include evaluating vehicle to grid technology and applications with the goal of integrating renewable energy and meeting their customers’ needs. In addition, two pilot programs are proposed: a workplace charging pilot project and a pilot program working with organizations to provide underserved communities with greater access to electric transportation.

Aaron reminded the audience that we are all partners in transportation electrification – the utilities, local and state governments and nonprofit organizations – and that advancing transportation electrification will be a joint effort.

Aaron Milano’s presentation can be viewed here:

 

Pacific Power is committed to transportation electrification, Eli Morris, Customer Solutions Manager, explained. To date, they are a Workplace Charging Challenge partner, have committed to investing 5% of their annual fleet replacement budget in plug-in technologies and are working with Drive Oregon to test used electric vehicles as an affordable option to low- and moderate-income drivers, among other initiatives. Pacific Power’s transportation electrification plan is comprised of three pilot programs and a new rate schedule for DC fast charging, which will give the utility information about how to best serve its customers and design future programs. Pacific Power and PGE have very different service territories, thus they will have different strategies and implementation plans. Pacific Power’s territory covers a small area of north and northeast Portland and large parts of southern and eastern Oregon, while PGE’s territory is concentrated in the greater Portland-metro area.

  • Outreach and Education – Pacific Power will focus on building awareness, providing technical assistance and building community partnerships.
  • Demonstration and Development –  Pacific Power will engage with non-residential customers through an application process in which applicants propose electric transportation infrastructure projects, which will be funded and completed by Pacific Power.
  • Public Charging – Pacific Power will install DC Fast Chargers following an extensive siting process to identify convenient locations for Pacific Power customers.
  • Public DC Fast Charging Transitional Rate – Pacific Power also proposed a new optional transitional rate for electric vehicle DC fast chargers that replaces demand charges with on-peak energy charges. This is designed to address challenges with the utility’s current rate schedule, which can make owning and operating a DC fast charger prohibitively expensive in some areas.

Eli also announced that Pacific Power was recently awarded a $3.9 million Department of Energy grant to accelerate electric vehicle adoption. The majority of this funding is earmarked for developing electric highway corridors in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, which will allow these corridors to be connected with highway corridors in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon, thus expanding the DC Fast charging network in the western states. Funding will also be reserved for investing in smart mobility options, fleet conversion, and home and workplace charging incentives. In addition, the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition and Drive Oregon are to receive funding for outreach and education in Pacific Power territory.

Eli Morris’ presentation can be viewed here: 

The next steps for both Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are to receive approval from the Public Utility Commission. A hearing to determine the procedural schedules for reviewing proposals is scheduled for February 3, 2017. Drive Oregon will be participating in the proposal review process and encourages Drive Oregon members and partners who would like to get involved to contact Jeanette Shaw, Director of Government Relations.

Request for Proposals for the Northwest Electric Vehicle Showcase: Design/Build Services and Marketing & Communications

Drive Oregon is establishing a Northwest Electric Vehicle Showcase space in downtown Portland. The space is a permanent storefront to showcase electric vehicles and charging equipment geared to a consumer audience. This will be adjacent to the city’s Electric Avenue, a hub of charging stations installed and operated by Portland General Electric. Staffed by knowledgeable brand-neutral experts, this showcase will offer ride and drives, long-term electric vehicle rentals, and an active schedule of public events where visitors can experience a variety of vehicles and charging stations in “real-world” conditions.

Drive Oregon is accepting RFPs for Design/Build and Marketing and Communications. Both RFPs are due on January 18, 2017.

Design/Build Services

This RFP seeks proposals for Design/Build services for the interior of approximately 852 square feet of vacant retail space for Drive Oregon’s Northwest EV Showcase space at the World Trade Center (WTC)- 121 SW Salmon Street, Portland. This space will serve as a centrally located destination for public outreach regarding electric vehicles- providing interactive exhibit space, limited workspace and storage for Drive Oregon, partner auto dealers and affiliated volunteers. The proposer will work closely with Drive Oregon’s primary marketing and branding consultant to be selected in a separate RFP. Drive Oregon is seeking a proposal that includes a low/medium/high proposal for outfitting the space- in other words least cost, mid-range cost and high-cost options. Drive Oregon seeks to open the space by May 1, 2017. Selected proposals should include any required permitting costs with the City of Portland.

The Design/build firm will provide the following services:

  • Design tenant improvements to space that are consistent with NW EV Showcase branding and themes working closely with Drive Oregon and its other consultants
  • Obtain any permits required by the city of Portland
  • Construct/install/fabricate improvements and displays for the space
  • Regular site observations of the contractor and subcontractors during the construction phase, and sign off on construction drawings to assure that scheduled payments are made, with appropriate holdbacks, when predetermined work has been completed
  • Final sign-off on the project, assuring that the final project represents what was originally conceptualized and captured in the working drawings.
  • Some work on the space will be completed by the landlord- including HVAC upgrades, ceiling upgrades and additional walls to divide the space. These items are excluded from the RFP

For more information, view the Design/Build RFP.

Marketing & Communications

This RFP seeks proposals for Marketing and Communications services for the interior of approximately 852 square feet of vacant retail space for Drive Oregon’s Northwest EV Showcase space at the World Trade Center. This space will serve as a centrally located destination for public outreach regarding electric vehicles- providing interactive exhibit space, limited workspace and storage for Drive Oregon, partner auto dealers and affiliated volunteers. The proposer will work closely with Drive Oregon’s construction and fabrication contractor selected in a separate RFP. Drive Oregon is seeking a proposal that includes a low/medium/high proposal for the development of a Marketing strategy- in other words least cost, mid-range cost and high-cost options. Drive Oregon seeks to open the space by May 1, 2017. Selected proposals should include any required permitting costs with the City of Portland.

The Marketing and Communications firm will provide the following services:

  • Recommend and direct marketing and communications strategies
  • Design and develop narrative/story lines for exhibits in retail space
  • Ensure proper installation of exhibits and interactive marketing components
  • Provide a range of low-, medium- and high-cost installations

For more information, view the Marketing & Communications RFP.

Questions? Contact Zach Henkin, Program Director, at 503.724.8670 and zach@driveoregon.org.

Drive Oregon’s November Event – Election Recap: What’s Next for EV Policy?

(December 12, 2016) – What effects might the 2016 elections have on the electric vehicle industry? To explore this topic, we invited Genevieve Cullen, President of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, and Dan Bates, Partner at Thorn Run Partners, to discuss the election results and how they may impact clean car policy at the federal and state levels. 

Genevieve Cullen leads the Electric Drive Transportation Association‘s efforts to promote battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure. She provided an overview of the general trends in the electric vehicle market, the market’s key federal policy drivers and discussed how the incoming Trump administration may affect clean car policy.

Electric vehicle sales are increasing and are predicted to comprise 35% of global car sales by 2040. Currently, infrastructure availability continues to increase, with growing numbers of public charging stations. The continuing deployment of infrastructure will rely on public and private partnerships.

Genevieve explained that there are three primary drivers which direct electric vehicle policy: tax incentives, research, development and deployment (RD&D), and regulations. All of these policy drivers may be significantly impacted by the new administration, although there is a huge amount of uncertainty – no one is sure what the new administration will do. The president-elect has said nothing about electric vehicles or alternative transportation. 

According to Genevieve, the three policy drivers will be worth watching. Currently, there is a federal tax credit up to $7,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle and a federal credit for alternative fuel infrastructure, which expires at the end of 2016. The EDTA is working hard to extend this infrastructure credit, but it seems unlikely to happen. Establishing additional incentives and extending existing incentives for alternative fuel infrastructure and vehicle purchases will likely be an uphill climb due to the new makeup of Congress.

On the bright side, there is some promise around electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment. The incoming administration wants to invest $1 trillion in improving America’s transportation infrastructure, although it has not actually defined what it considers infrastructure. If electric vehicle charging stations are included in the administration’s program, that could have a positive outcome. Despite the enthusiasm from Congress and incoming administration about infrastructure investments, there is uncertainty in how to pay for it.  

The regulatory drivers that direct clean car policy center around the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and federal and state clean air regulations. However, Genevieve noted the incoming administration may seek to make changes. It may try to overturn the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) ruling of carbon as an endangerment under the Clean Air Act, which in turn would undermine the Zero Emission Vehicle program established by California and voluntarily followed by other states. Unfortunately, it is not out of the question for the ruling to be reviewed and potentially revoked by the EPA, whose newly appointed transition leader is a climate change denier. 
 
Genevieve concluded her discussion with the reminder that while the federal political landscape is both uncertain and rocky, there are not many policies or programs that can be erased by the stroke of a pen, thanks to America’s system of checks and balances. Smart and urban mobility will continue to move forward thanks to broader economic and cultural forces, and local and state policies do matter. 
 

You can view Genevieve’s presentation here:

 

Dan Bates of Thorn Run Partners, a long-time lobbyist, works with Drive Oregon to advocate for smart, supportive electric vehicle policy in the Oregon State Legislature. He summarized what occurred in the Oregon state elections, highlighting the outcomes of key races and ballot measures, and concluded with his outlook on how the electric vehicle industry may be impacted by the elections.

Post-election, the Oregon Legislature remains predominantly democratic, but neither Democrats or Republicans will be able to easily garner the two-thirds majority needed to pass bills that raise revenue. Tobias Read, a former Oregon Legislator and long-time champion of electric vehicles, was elected State Treasurer.

The greatest challenge to the Oregon Legislature in the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session will be the large budget deficit, which has increased as a result of several 2016 ballot measures. Measure 97, which would have introduced a higher tax on companies that earn over $25 million annually, promised to raise over $3 billion per year in state revenue. This highly debated measure did not pass. While the opportunity at new revenue failed, Oregonians voted for three other measures (96, 98, 99), all of which raised the amount of expenditures required by the Legislature on veterans’ support, school drop-out prevention, and Outdoor School education, respectively. The new measures require an additional $300 million per year to be spent on the programs. Already in a $1.4 billion deficit prior to the November elections, Oregon will now face a $1.7 billion deficit. 

What does this mean for the electric vehicle industry and efforts to boost deployment of clean transportation solutions? It means that securing funding for electric vehicles – either in the form of a vehicle purchase incentive or other funding for deployment activities – will be challenging. The Legislature will be weighing the benefits of putting funds toward clean transportation with other key issues such as education, healthcare and senior services when deciding what to fund and what to trim.

Despite the challenges, Dan believes the likelihood of the Legislature approving a transportation package is higher this year than in previous years. There is a good deal of momentum behind the effort to craft a package. This package is a potential avenue for securing an electric vehicle tax incentive, and Drive Oregon and Thorn Run Partners have been advocating for this outcome. 

Dan shared one other key observation. He noted that after considerable work on the part of Drive Oregon and partner advocacy organizations, there is a greater awareness among state legislators that electric vehicles are affordable cars that families can benefit from, not just extravagant toys of the wealthy.

Dan concluded that while he believes there has been a definite shift in the attitudes towards electric vehicles in Oregon’s political landscape and the transportation package is an exciting opportunity, these developments do not mean that garnering funding for electric vehicle initiatives will be easy. To secure funding for electric vehicles initiatives, industry advocates will need to be creative and willing to make trade-offs.

Drive Oregon’s Executive Director Jeff Allen Travels to Kuwait for Heading Global 2016

(December 1, 2016) – Our Executive Director, Jeff Allen, attended the Heading Global conference in Kuwait City, Kuwait last month. For the full article featured in Sustainable Business Oregon, click here.

Excerpt from Jeff Allen’s blog:

I was recently invited to travel 7,224 miles to speak about electric and advanced mobility at the Heading Global Conference in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Sponsored by the nation’s largest academic institution, the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, the conference was attended by 1,700 people and had a large focus on “smart city” innovations.

You might well ask: why would Kuwait, one of the top 10 oil producing nations in the world, be interested in electric vehicle technology?

Well, first of all, there is naturally a great deal of interest in electric vehicle sales trends and how they might impact oil sales. However, this was much less of a focus than I expected. A much greater motivation is that Kuwaitis want to invest in technologies and industries that will carry them into a prosperous post-oil future.

Third, and most interesting: as we sat stuck in gridlock during a bus tour of the city, and as I walked around watching people dash across busy roads without sidewalks, it became clear that Kuwaitis face mobility challenges much like those in other industrialized nations. They are just as fascinated by the rise of electric, shared, and autonomous vehicle technologies as American drivers. 

 -Jeff Allen

 

Funding Opportunity Announcement for the U.S. Department of Energy’s SBIR/STTR Programs

The Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs are accepting proposals that support scientific excellence and technological innovation to build a strong national economy.

Funding Opportunity Announcement Webinar

A webinar to discuss the Funding Opportunity Announcement and application process will be held on Friday, December 2, 2016. Important changes to the SBIR and STTR programs for the coming year will also be addressed.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is one of seven U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program offices participating in this solicitation. EERE leads the DOE’s efforts to develop and deliver market-driven solutions for energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturing; sustainable transportation; and renewable electricity generation. Two of the EERE topics included in this solicitation are listed below: fuel cells and vehicles.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) works in partnership with industry (including small businesses), academia, and DOE’s national laboratories to establish fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies as economically competitive contributors to U.S. transportation needs. A roadmap for the development of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies that guides FCTO investments aimed at lowering the related risks and costs can be found here

Applications may be submitted to any one of the subtopics listed below:

  • Innovative Materials and/or Technologies for Bipolar Plates for PEM Fuel Cell
  • Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC)
  • Emergency Hydrogen Refuelers

Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,000,000

For more information about this opportunity, including eligibility requirements, please see Section 11: Fuel Cells (pg. 43) in the Phase I Release 2 document.

EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) focuses on reducing the cost and improving the performance of vehicle technologies that can reduce petroleum dependency, including advanced batteries, electric traction drive systems, lightweight materials, advanced combustion engines, and advanced fuels and lubricants. VTO supports the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies, including advances in electric vehicles, engine efficiency, and lightweight materials. Since 2008, the Department of Energy has reduced the costs of producing electric vehicle batteries by more than 50%. DOE has also pioneered improved combustion engines that have saved billions of gallons of petroleum fuel, while making diesel vehicles as clean as gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Applications that duplicate research already in progress will not be funded; all submissions
therefore should clearly explain how the proposed work differs from other work in the field.

Applications may be submitted to any one of the subtopics listed below: 

  • Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries
  • SiC Device Qualification for Electric Drive Vehicle Power Electronics
  • Fuel Efficiency Improvement Technologies for Conventional Stoichiometric Gasoline Direct Injection Multi-Cylinder Internal Combustion Engine
  • Wide-Range High-Boost Turbocharging System

Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,000,000

For more information about this opportunity, including eligibility requirements, please see Section 14: Vehicles (pg. 51) in the Phase I Release 2 document.

All applications must:

  • Propose a tightly structured program which includes technical milestones that
    demonstrate clear progress, are aggressive but achievable, and are quantitative;
  • Include projections for price and/or performance improvements that are tied to a
    baseline (i.e. Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) or Roadmap targets and/or state of the art products or practices);
  • Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions;
  • Include a preliminary cost analysis;
  • Justify all performance claims with theoretical predictions and/or relevant experimental data

Important Upcoming Dates:

Topics Released: Monday, October 31, 2016
Funding Opportunity Announcement Issued: Monday, November 28, 2016
Letter of Intent Due Date: Monday, December 19, 2016
Application Due Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2016
Award Notification Date: Monday, May 1, 2017*
Start of Grant Budget Period: Monday, June 21, 2017*
*Dates Subject to Change

 

Drive Oregon’s October Event: Opportunities & Challenges in Electric Vehicle Car Sharing

(October 25) – Drive Oregon’s October monthly event, held last week, explored electric vehicles in car sharing services. If the energetic Q & A session was any indication, it was a great success! We hosted two speakers, Dave Brook, Senior Carsharing Consultant at team red U.S. and Alan Bates, BMW ReachNow’s Portland Market Manager.

Dave Brook has an extensive background in car sharing— in fact, he founded the first car sharing service in North America in 1997! Dave provided an in-depth look into the evolution of car sharing, which started as a round-trip service where users paid by the hour. Today, a variety of models exist. In some services, the vehicles are “free floating” and do not need to be returned to their pick-up location, some continue to use the round-trip model and other services offer both options. Some models charge users by the minute, while others require reservations in a larger block of time. In general, the majority of car sharing services use conventional gasoline vehicles in their fleets, but and increasing number are adding electric vehicles or going all electric!

Dave gave a convincing argument that electric vehicles are a natural fit for car sharing because the average trip distance is short and the responsibility of charging falls on the operator. As an added bonus, incorporating electric vehicles into car sharing also provides users a risk-free introduction to driving electric. In many ways it’s like an extended test drive! Dave outlined several car sharing companies in Europe and Asia that use electric vehicles in part or all of their fleets. However, the integration of electric vehicles is not without challenges. In particular, Dave noted, the higher cost of the vehicle, the low density of charging stations and potential lost revenue during charge time put up barriers car sharing services must creatively overcome. Dave concluded that we can measure the successful integration of electric vehicles into car sharing fleets by the presence of subsidies and government partnerships, two elements necessary for building electric vehicle support.

View Dave’s presentation below:

 

Alan Bates introduced ReachNow, Portland’s newest car sharing service. Bookings are made with the ReachNow app and users can drop the car off anywhere within the service area; in Portland this area is 35 square miles and growing. Alan described how the April launch of its Seattle fleet, which included 70 of BMW’s electric i3, was a success. The City of Seattle is supportive of clean transportation initiatives and in general, Alan explained, people are excited about electric vehicles. Some of the initial challenges, Alan noted, were the limited charging station availability, user range anxiety and the fleet operating costs. There are 6 SAE Combo DC Fast Chargers within the Portland city limits and 6 more are planned, which will allow greater charging flexibility. Alan announced that the i3 will be introduced to the Portland fleet by the end of 2016 and hopes that eventually most of the vehicles in the fleet will be electric.

View Alan’s presentation here:

 

We hope you can join us for our next event, Election Recap: What’s Next for Electric Vehicle Policy, on Thursday, December 1,  at the Jaguar Land Rover Open Software Technology Center. For more registration and more information, click here.

A big thank you to ReachNow for sponsoring the event. We’re excited for the introduction of the i3 into your Portland fleet!