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Update from NC: Nascar and Sprint Join Workplace Charging Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Workplace Charging Challenge is a collaborative effort with the workplace to increase the prevalence of employers that offer workplace charging for electric vehicles. 

“As the market for electric vehicles continues to grow, partners in the Workplace Charging Challenge are giving drivers more transportation options that save money and benefit the environment,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Dr. David Danielson.

Weeks ago, major corporations in North Carolina, Sprint and NASCAR, announced their participation in DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge.  

According to members of the Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, Triangle Clean Cities Coalition, and Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition in North Carolina, the electric vehicle infrastructure in the state has seen immense improvements to support the growth of the electric vehicle market. 

Hopefully, North Carolina can provide an example for other states and employers to jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon. Improvements in infrastructure are needed to support the electric vehicle market, and the workplace is a good place to start. 

For the full article via Fuels Fix, click here.

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Fuel cell electric vehicles are here!

According to the December EERE newsletter, the first commercially available fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have hit the street. Offering zero emissions, these passenger vehicles have the driving range, ease of refueling, and performance of today's gasoline vehicle.

As explained in Sunita Satyapal's article on energy.gov, fuel cells were originally built for space applications. The cells work like batteries that produce electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied, without any combustion or carbon emissions. Fuel cells operate on fuels like hydrogen, natural gas, and propane and they do not run down or need recharging.

Hyundai recently started leasing their FCEV, and last month Toyota announced FCEVs are available for sale. This is on track with the Energy Department’s original plans for R&D resulting in commercial decisions being made in the 2015 timeframe. The Energy Department also plans a $5.5 million project to collect real-world data from the operation of next generation FCEVs from several carmakers including Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Daimler, Honda and GM.

Research funded by the Energy Department has cut the cost of automotive fuel cells in half since 2006, and has significantly reduced the amount of costly platinum catalyst. Innovative fuel cell catalysts developed by Brookhaven National Lab are now being licensed by commercial catalyst suppliers and could be used by automakers in the future for their FCEVs.  Energy Department-funded efforts have resulted in 500 patents, 45 commercial technologies in the market, and 65 technologies that are projected to be commercialized within three to five years.

The 2013 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report indicates that more than 35,000 fuel cell units have been shipped worldwide. This is a 30% increase in global shipments and a 60% increase in North American shipments just in the last year.

To learn more about fuel cell technology, view EERE’s info page: http://energy.gov/eere/videos/energy-101-fuel-cell-technology

For more information on how fuel cell technologies are being used and the progress of the technology, take a look at these reports:
The States of the States, Fuel Cells in America 2014
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report

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President Obama Signs the Tax Prevention Act of 2014 into Law

On Dec. 19, President Obama signed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 into law, which among its provisions, offers an extension of the federal $0.50/gallon alternative fuels excise tax credits and a return of the 30% alternative refueling infrastructure tax credits. 

On Dec. 3, the House approved Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code that would extend certain expiring tax provisions relating to the energy sector in H.R. 5771, Subtitle C: Energy Tax Extenders. The excise tax credits cover compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), propane autogas and other alternative transportation fuels. The incentive last expired at the end of 2013, and it has been extended into this year. 

H.R.5771 reinstates the $1,000 home refueling tax credit for 2014, and the 30% alternative refueling infrastructure tax credit.  The credit, that is capped at $30,000, is an incentive designed to promote building CNG and other refueling stations. 

President Obama signed the legislation to extend the credits for 2014, making all alt-fuel purchases made this calendar year eligible for the credit. However, Congress did not opt to extend the credits into 2015 and beyond. Taking that into consideration, the Senate Finance Committee will have to start negotiations again when they return in January, but Orrin Hatch, the incoming Chairman of the Committee, stated that he hopes to achieve permanency for these tax credits.

President Obama also signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal-year 2015. This legislation, which passed the House in November and the Senate earlier this month, contains a provision modifying the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. In the past, original equipment manufacturers could earn credits for compliance with the CAFE program by producing bi-fuel vehicles, subject to a cap in the number of credits. However, The new NDAA provision removes the credit cap for bi-fuel natural gas vehicles.

To stay up-to-date on alt fuel laws and incentives, bookmark this page: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/NG/US

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Question of the Month: Fueling information for plug-in electric vehicle drivers

Question of the Month: What are the major electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) networks, and how can plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers access their stations? What are the costs associated with each network?

Answer:  Most PEV charging occurs at home, but for those who have a need to charge at a public location, it’s important to understand available charging networks. While EVSE networks and charging infrastructure are frequently evolving, the major networks currently include AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, GE WattStation Connect, Greenlots SKY, NRG eVgo, SemaConnect, and Tesla. Each network has a unique model, with the most common approaches being monthly subscriptions, pay-as-you-go (i.e., pay per charge), and free (free to charge and no subscription fee required). 

To determine which charging networks have EVSE along your regular routes and close to your frequent destinations, use the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) and the Plan a Route function (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/route/). Select a station, click “more details,” and refer to the “electric charging network” field. Please note that many public EVSE are not networked and do not require specific access cards.

EVSE Networks

For detailed information on each charging network, see below.

AeroVironment (http://evsolutions.avinc.com/services/subscriber_network/)

  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. Unlimited monthly access is provided for a monthly rate, or you may pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, call the company or fill out a form online. You will receive a key fob in the mail, which is needed to initiate a charging session. A one-time activation fee of $15 is required for new subscribers.
  • Contact: 888-332-2148evscs@avinc.com

 

Blink (Car Charging Group) (www.blinknetwork.com)

  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. Start by registering a credit card with a Blink account. There are no required annual or monthly membership fees, and no minimum credit card balance. Once registered, you will receive an “InCard” and can initiate a charge using the card. Guests can also initiate a charge with Blink’s mobile application.
  • Contact: 888-998-2546support@blinknetwork.com

 

ChargePoint (www.chargepoint.com)

  • Access: Pay-as-you-go, free. Sign up for free by submitting your credit card information via the website. You will receive an access card in the mail. If you initiate a session at a networked station that requires a fee, ChargePoint will assess an initial deposit of $25. Stations can be activated by using the ChargePoint card or your registered credit card. Users who do not have a ChargePoint card can use the EVSE by calling the number provided below, which is also listed on the EVSE.
  • Contact: 888-758-4389support@chargepoint.com

 

GE WattStation Connect (www.gewattstation.com/connect/)

  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. To start charging with WattSation Connect, register and log in through the website. You will then be asked to link your account to PayPal for payment, and download the WattStation Connect mobile application.
  • Contact: 855-443-3873wattstation.support@ge.com

 

Greenlots SKY (www.greenlots.com)

  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. To start charging with the Greenlots SKY network, download the Greenlots mobile application, which will allow you to search for stations, view real-time status and pricing, and choose between a prepaid monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go.
  • Contact: 888-751-8650support@greenlots.com

 

NRG eVgo (www.nrgevgo.com/)

  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. NRG eVgo provides multiple charging network plan options, including a monthly subscription and an option to pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, visit the website and sign up for a charging plan in your area.
  • Contact: 855-509-5581support@evgonetwork.com

 

SemaConnect (www.semaconnect.com/

  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. To sign up, log on to the SemaConnect website and open a new account with a $20 balance charged to a major credit card. You will receive a “SemaCharge Pass” radio-frequency identification (RFID) card that can be used to initiate charging at any SemaConnect location. SemaConnect also offers mobile payments via its smartphone application, toll-free number, or via a QR code scan.
  • Contact: 800-663-5633

 

Tesla (www.teslamotors.com/supercharger)

  • Access: Free.Tesla Superchargers do not require an access card; Tesla Model S owners can drive up and plug in. The chargers are compatible with Model S vehicles equipped with the 85 or 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that have been configured to use Superchargers. Note that other PEV models cannot access Tesla Superchargers.
  • Contact: 877-79-TESLA

 

The table below provides an overview of the access type and costs associated with each network.

 

Network Access

Cost

AeroVironment

Monthly subscription;

Pay-as-you-go

$19.99 per month

$4.00-$7.50 per charge

Blink

Pay-as-you-go

$0.39-$0.79 per kWh OR

$6.99-$9.99 per charge

ChargePoint

Pay-as-you-go;

Free

$25 initial fee

Cost per charge varies

GE WattStation Connect

Pay-as-you-go

Cost per charge varies

Greenlots SKY

Monthly subscription;

Pay-as-you-go

Subscription costs and cost per charge vary

NRG eVgo

Monthly subscription;

Pay-as-you-go

Cost per charge varies by region

SemaConnect

Pay-as-you-go

$20 initial fee

Cost per charge varies

Tesla

Free

N/A

 

Multi-Network Access

Some companies have teamed up to facilitate access to multiple charging networks with one access/payment card. Nissan LEAF drivers, for example, can enroll in the EZ-Charge program (www.ez-charge.com) and use EVSE on the AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, Greenlots, and NRG eVgo networks in certain markets. 

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

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2014 Federal excise tax credit extension passed by House and Senate

Tax Credits Retroactively Reinstated for 2014 but not for 2015

On Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which among its provisions, offers an extension of the federal $0.50/gallon alternative fuels excise tax credits and a return of the 30% alternative refueling infrastructure tax credits. 

The House passed the bill, H.R.5771, on Dec. 3. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

On Dec. 3, the House approved Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code that would extend certain expiring tax provisions relating to the energy sector in H.R. 5771, Subtitle C: Energy Tax Extenders. The excise tax credits cover compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), propane autogas and other alternative transportation fuels. The incentive last expired at the end of 2013, and it has not been extended into this year.

H.R.5771 reinstates the $1,000 home refueling tax credit for 2014, and the 30% alternative refueling infrastructure tax credit.  The credit, that is capped at $30,000, is an incentive designed to promote building CNG and other refueling stations.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation to extend the credits for 2014, making all alt-fuel purchases made this calendar year eligible for the credit. However, Congress did not opt to extend the credits into 2015 and beyond. Taking that into consideration, the Senate Finance Committee will have to start negotiations again when they return in January, but Hatch, the incoming Chairman of the Committee, stated that he hopes to achieve permanency for these tax credits.

To stay up-to-date on alt fuel laws and incentives, bookmark this page: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/NG/US

To view the bill, click here: https://www.congress.gov/113/bills/hr5771/BILLS-113hr5771ih.pdf

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Louisiana Clean Fuels hosts NGVi Technical Training: More to Come!

Training Critical to Successful Alt Fuel Projects

Safety is a top priority when dealing with natural gas powered vehicles, and specialized training is needed for fleet technicians. This week, LCF and NVGi offered Codes & Standards and CNG Fuel System Inspection Classes at LSU's Fire and Emergency Training Institute. The information presented can be useful for managers, operators, supervisors, and of course natural gas technicians.  The course covers the property of natural gas, the various technical equipment components on natural gas powered vehicles, safety concerns for fueling stations, and much more! LCF will continue to bring more classes to Louisiana that are similar to this course offered by NGVi. 

Pictured above are participating students at the NGVi training class in Baton Rouge, LA.

For updates on future training opportunities, make sure to check out our calendar.  

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