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    Louisiana Clean Fuels Annual Meeting Gets Rave Reviews from Attendees

    The Future of Transportation is Now

    On Wednesday, February 10th, Louisiana Clean Fuels invited all stakeholders to gather virtually for our 2021 Annual Stakeholder Meeting. Even without the typical networking lunch and king cake break, this year’s meeting was as interesting as ever, covering topics such as upcoming funding opportunities, LCF’s 2021 programs and projects, how our state is working towards its goal of Net Zero by 2050, and the carbon intensity of renewable fuels. Attendees from the meeting shared their immediate impression of the day's presentations with enthusiastic requests for a link to the recording and copies of presentations. One attendee raved, "The webinar yesterday was one of the best yet. I have been quoting Dr Brown and RMI all day.” Another attendee told us, "That was one of most interesting 2+ hour meetings I have ever attended”.

    LCF was joined by Britta Gross (Managing Director at Rocky Mountain Institute), Dr. Terrence Chambers (Director of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Center at University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Dr. Chuck Carr Brown (Secretary of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality), Sam Lehr (Manager of Sustainability and Markets Policy at Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas), and Troy Shoen (Senior Marketing Manager for Renewable Energy Group). If you missed out on the live webinar, you can watch the recording on our YouTube channel

    Meeting Summary

    Louisiana Clean Fuels Executive Director, Ann Vail, kicked off the meeting on February 12, 2021, by giving a summary of LCF’s plans for 2021. Some of these include new and ongoing educational projects such as: the expansion of our Green Fleets program, Ann’s participation in the Transportation Committee for the Climate Initiative Task Force, the official launch of our Drive Electric Louisiana program (funded through a Department of Energy grant), our 2nd Annual Clean Fuels Classic golf tournament to be held in October 2021, a 2-day Virtual Clean Fuels Summit scheduled for June 15-15, 2021, and finally, the continuation of our focus on providing safety training for Louisiana first responders. Ann emphasized that, much like 2020, this year holds uncertainty as to when we can hold in-person networking events again. The valuable experience LCF staff have gained by hosting virtual events and webinars has put the coalition in a strong position to maintain their high standards of supporting its partners and stakeholders.

    Following our LCF update, Britta Gross kicked off the guest speaker presentations with a discussion on carbon emissions and EV implementation. As
    she explained, the United States is the top emitter of carbon from transportation, and “... for the U.S., what this means is that we can’t address carbon emissions unless we address transportation.” This seems like a daunting task, but it is exactly what Louisiana Clean Fuels, and other Clean Cities Coalitions, are working on every day. To contain global warming to 1.5 degrees, we must reduce 45% of transportation emissions by 2030, Britta explained during her presentation. For Louisiana, this means a total of 625,000 EVs operating in the next 10 years, a considerable increase from the 3,000 EVs registered in the state as of last year. As Britta discussed, many sectors are pushing for EVs, including government, banking, and car industries, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

    Dr. Terrence Chambers and Dr. Chuck Carr Brown also joined LCF for the Stakeholder Meeting to talk about the Louisiana Governor’s Climate Task Force. Both Mr. Chambers and Dr. Brown sit on the task force, working to identify ways to achieve the climate goals of Net Zero by 2050 set by Governor Edwards. Dr. Chambers provided a detailed overview of how the task force is set up, gave a timeline for the group’s activities, and shared information on how the public can participate by sharing detailed project ideas on how our state can attain Net Zero through an online survey portal that opened on February 24th and closes on April 30, 2021. 

    While the goals are ambitious, the state of Louisiana is prepared to achieve them. As Dr. Brown pointed out, Louisiana is in a very unique position to address emissions while remaining successful. The road to renewable energy is a long one, and in the meantime, we will need a cleaner energy source to bridge the gap from fossil fuels to renewable energy. “Natural gas will be that gap, and it gives all the oil and gas producers in the state of Louisiana an opportunity to remain economically viable until they can bring their pieces of the puzzle to the plate,” said Dr. Brown. Other factors that can contribute to reducing Louisiana’s emissions include carbon capture and storage, cap and trade policies, and transitioning away from coal use. To read more about the Climate Initiatives Task Force, see our recent blog here

    Finally, Troy Shoen and Sam Lehr wrapped up our speaker presentations with discussions on renewable energy. Renewable fuels are a great way to reduce carbon emissions with little additional cost to a fleet. Many renewable fuels are used as ‘drop-in fuels,’ or fuels that can be used with existing petroleum infrastructure. These fuels can help diesel fleets reduce their emissions without having to replace all their vehicles. Shoen is a Senior Marketing Manager for Renewable Energy Group (REG), which owns and operates a biodiesel facility in Geismar, Louisiana. As Shoen explained during his presentation, biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from biological fats and oils such as used cooking oil. Louisiana is a large producer of renewable biodiesel and also a top 10 consumer. The state legislature’s support is a major part of this, with a Louisiana mandate requiring 2% of all diesel sold in the state to contain biodiesel. As Shoen mentioned, this likely all led to REG’s recent announcement to expand the Geismar facility production capacity by 250 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Our second speaker on renewable fuel was Sam Lehr, a Manager of Sustainability and Markets Policy at the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. Renewable natural gas is a gas derived from renewable resources such as food waste, wastewater, agricultural waste, and landfill gas. Lehr’s discussion on feedstock availability in the US and West South Central region informed us that  RNG from within the region can supply 10% of current natural gas demand in Louisiana. This is a significant amount that can help Louisiana achieve some of the emission reduction goals set by the Governor’s Climate Initiative Task Force.

    Louisiana Clean Fuels would like to thank all of our stakeholders for attending and our guest speakers for participating in our 2021 Annual Stakeholder Meeting. This year, we are looking forward to the new technologies and programs that will shape the future of transportation. If you missed the meeting, a recording is available on LCF’s YouTube channel. After you watch the recording (or if you attended the meeting live), please let us know what you think of the presentations by participating in a short survey.

    If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Louisiana Clean Fuels, please check out our website: www.louisianacleanfuels.org

    Thank you to REG and RNG Coalition for participating in this year’s meeting as well as for their continued support to Louisiana Clean Fuels as members.


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    Fleet Electrification: First Steps for Fleets Transitioning to Electric Vehicles

    By Juliane Ding & Samantha Breaux, LCF Interns

    There are many reasons why a business or government agency may be interested in adding EVs to their fleets, such as reaching sustainability goals, lowering maintenance costs, or reducing fueling costs. Fleet electrification, however, takes a lot of thought, and details of the planning process are often overlooked when fleets look to transition. From planning and constructing the charging infrastructure to operating impacts and vehicle replacements, this article will share advice from experts on how to take your first steps towards fleet electrification. 

    For more tips on planning, check out Louisiana Clean Fuels’ online webinar First Steps for Fleets Interested in EVs (Fleet Electrification Pt. 2) featuring guest speakers Mary Till, Director of Business Development at Sawatch Labs, and Robert Mowat, Transportation Mobility Electrified Lead at HDR. Some of their advice will be shared throughout this article.

    The Basics

    With rising greenhouse gas emissions becoming a local, national, and global issue, electrification of fleets is one of the most direct methods that a fleet can adopt to help lower their company emissions, reach sustainability goals, and lower costs. Apart from these benefits, less maintenance and quiet operation can also improve driver quality of life. 

    However, adding one or two light duty vehicles to your fleet is a lot easier than adding a dozen medium or heavy-duty EVs or transitioning the entire fleet. According to Mowat, challenges may include operation feasibility, construction requirements, power demand, charging strategy, and capital costs. Fleets should consider these and other potential obstacles as they begin to research and plan for fleet electrification. 

    Planning Ahead

    As a Clean Cities Coalition, Louisiana Clean Fuels is here to help you get started as you look to tackle your own sustainability and clean transportation goals. Learning what questions to ask, how to engage with utility partners, and how telematics data can help your fleet are just the first steps in planning for fleet electrification. Our webinar series on fleet electrification is a great place to get even more information after reading this article. 

    There are various ways to begin electrifying your fleet, with various possible approaches to development, testing, and research. Mowat suggests taking a phased approach in which more advanced technologies and opportunities over time allow your fleet to gradually become more electric. Trying to jump right into electrification can lead to common industry problems such as lack of space for charging infrastructure, purchasing the wrong equipment, or vehicles being unable to meet route requirements. Thus, he recommends three guiding principles: ‘Idea to Implementation’, ‘First Things First’, and ‘Data-Driven Decisions’. 

    • Idea to Implementation: Emphasizes finding partnerships and experts to help guide your electrification project from start to finish. Lay out your scope and stay focused on the overall solution with each step you take. 
    • First Things First: Part of the planning process. Laying out a solid foundation and clear roadmap is vital to successful electrification projects. “The key for us is to do the first things first: really look at what’s going on and where you need to be,” Robert says. 
    • Data-Driven Decisions: Can help you understand your operational fleet data and make the most sustainable decisions for your company. One way to do this is using telematics data.



    Using Telematics to Plan

    An important planning tool for the project to be executed properly is telematics data. A fleet can use telematics data from their existing fleet to help them decide which vehicles and routes will be best for electrification. Some of the data available from telematics includes vehicle location, fuel consumption, and much more (see Table 1). “We can do sensitivity analysis for fleets,” says Till. “For example, if we’re talking about an eight-year life span on vehicles, there are many other variables that can change. Total cost of ownership can be impacted by vehicle purchase price and gas prices.” The chart below contains more detailed information on what data telematics and Sawatch Analytics can provide for your fleet.

    Table 1 includes examples of the type of vehicle information from telematics that can be used to help you plan your EV fleet project. Sawatch Labs takes telematics to the next level; providing a deeper analysis of your fleet.

    There are many other considerations when planning to add EVs to your fleet. Average charge time and power requirements of your vehicles must be considered along with the importance of identifying charging and infrastructure needs. Addressing these needs may include multiple things, including the consideration of the energy requirements for various types of vehicles within the fleet. However, analyses from telematics data provide a great starting point for companies looking to go electric or optimize current operations.

    Partnerships

    Types of partners to consider in your process should include third-party specialty groups, internal resources, technology suppliers, advocacy groups, peer groups, utility groups, government entities, and your local Clean Cities Coalition. “Again, these are pieces of the puzzle: getting those eight or nine essential partner groups,” Mowat explains. “An example of a partner group’s service is...where someone looks at your whole operation and does an analysis of what your fleet will need including power demand, utilities, facilities, and what can be done to improve your EVSE.”

    To get the most out of your partnerships, you’ll need to define clear goals, whether they are financial or sustainability goals. Each partner will be able to assist your process in different ways. For instance, external and internal funding can be looked at from governmental, municipal, and third-party sources. Peer organizations are a great place to start for lessons learned or personal recommendations. Louisiana Clean Fuels or your local Clean Cities coalition will be there every step of the way to assist in planning, finding funds, educating employees, and ensuring your transition will help you reach your company goals. 

    As you start thinking about your electrification goals, be sure to reach out and continue learning about the process. Adding EVs to your fleet can be a daunting task, but it can easily be tackled by addressing the challenges, planning ahead, and reaching out for information. As Till says, “There are people who have started to clear the forest and start[ed] looking for what needs to be done as we go forward. Start the conversation, engage partners, and start building your network.”

    Hear more from Mary Till and Robert Mowat about fleet electrification in our recorded webinar, First Steps for Fleets Interested in EVs. This webinar covers the things to consider when making the decision to try EVs, fleet analysis and EV Suitability of your fleet, utilizing data and telematics to inform your EV procurement decisions, along with understanding the new networks and types of partnerships you will need.

    Learn more about EV implementation here: https://afdc.energy.gov/files/pdfs/pev_handbook.pdf


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