April 2015 Minutes

Lots of E-Vents, including a big one coming up: the 2015 EV Grand Prix on May 16, at RFK Stadium. But plenty of other news this month. We started immediately with mingling, pizza, and drinks. As usual, the Rockville Library will validate your parking in the garage across the street. President Ron called the meeting, and we introduced new faces all around. Attendees represented makes of all types, e-bikes, conversions, and even a biodiesel driver. Three people are now shopping for EVs, and our regular Carsten has quit his job and is starting a solar company. Pedro from the University of Maryland is doing an EV study, and did a survey of our charging habits, preferences, and desires.UMD logo

Bill spoke for Nabih, the¬†organizer from Global EEE for the EV Grand Prix, who had a prior appointment. The third running of the metro area high school engineering, racing, and teamwork competition will be 1:30 Saturday, May 16. It will take place in the parking lots north of RFK Stadium; this had been the site of a fossil-fueled race a decade ago. See the event’s Facebook page at facebook.com/DCEVGP. Emil and Charles were on hand from the DC government, to brief us on activities (such as making RFK happen) and thank us for our help. Their goal is to operate the E-Vent on only solar or biodiesel generators; meanwhile, they are supporting DC high school teams.¬†DC EV GP logo

The number of high schools keeps increasing; we are now over twenty, and some schools will have multiple entries. Mentors for school teams are still welcome by all means. For the purposes of the club, we are explicitly soliciting race volunteers. There is a particular need for tech inspectors, checking off competitors’ vehicles per the rules. However, there’s no shortage of other roles: media, concessions, staffing information or display tables, or just crowd control if nothing else. See our signupgeniuswebsite and help us out however you can. Before the race, there will be an EV parade at 1:00 (which means show vehicles must be lined up well before). Please sign up to be in the parade, especially if you have a vehicle that isn’t already represented. Or just volunteer to wrangle the other parade entrants.

The first annual Montgomery County Green Fest in Takoma Park was a success. There were ten cars, many from our club, a panel discussion on EVs, and members as event volunteers. Similarly but smaller in scale, Raymond Chu held an EV presentation in the Calvert County Library. We ran a booth at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Alexandria; this was primarily college projects, but we got enthusiastic questions too. The DC Environmental Film Festival featured the world premier of The Burden: Fossil Fuel, the Military, and National Security; a few of us attended the documentary, and a Q&A afterwards with the director and several bigwigs.

More E-Vents were occurring, or are upcoming; besides the Earth Day concert on the Mall (too crowded for cars), meet-and-greets/car shows were held by Geico, TSA/EPA, Takoma Park itself, Fort Meade, the USPTO, NIH, and Rockville Science Day at Montgomery College. After the EVGP will be the annual Junior Solar Sprints at Friendship School on Benning Road May 19. There will be a fundraiser/car show for wounded veterans in Herndon the morning of May 9, see Michael at operationvetshaven.org. The Fathers’ Day car show in Crystal City needs some clean action again, see Rob.

In legislative news, Maryland passed a direct-sales bill (*cough* Tesla). Four company-owned stores are now allowed. The EV Infrastructure Council’s sponsored bill on allowing home charging passed one more step in the chain. A bill for community solar (arrays owned by shareholders, on a joint-venture rooftop or ground mount) is set for a 3-year pilot program. The power generated by a joint array will then pay off your own electric bill, however, profits (surplus power payments) are capped at 200% of your bill.

Speaking of solar, the myth still isn’t dead- that EVs simply move pollution from vehicles to smokestacks (the “long tailpipe” claim). Member Bob put a straw poll to the club floor: how many either installed solar panels, or buy renewable energy credits? A lot, apparently, in agreement with California findings. About two thirds of the floor raised their hands.

In product news, Tesla surprised shoppers with the all wheel drive Model S 70D, replacing the Model S 60 (rear wheel drive only) as the base offering. Meanwhile a firmware update, available over the air, makes acceleration even faster than it was. A Kickstarter project is actually shipping; the MyEV dashboard plug was received by Jeff, and Ron’s is in shipping. The MyEV reads out your vehicle stats, for later analysis, or competing with other EVers. Don loves his Smart ED vehicle, but was less than impressed by the dealership, a story we’ve heard before. In general, batteries are falling in price even faster than predicted, and there is every reason to believe this will continue. Members are looking for cells for their own projects. Some also asked about cheap J1772 adapters or installations, which are also looking better every year.

Jill gave us a BEVI (Baltimore Electric Vehicle Institute) update. Ten students in multiple disciplines will receive an internship in 3D printing, electric bicycles, and transit hubs. Companies have contributed matching funds. The project will explore intermodal transportation, such as Penn Station. Can it be a hub for charging and transportation as a service (rentals, Uber, bikesharing), besides the current offerings? Can additional revenue be generated by, say, cellular or WiFi stations, vehicle-to-grid power, or some new idea? One possibility is using transit hub parking lots as charging for condo and apartment dwellers. The ELF cargo e-bike will be scanned, modified, and 3D printed with Aberdeen.NPID_logo

Further out on the calendar, it’s never too late to plan for Drive Electric Week with Plugin America. We polled around the floor for alternate show locations; there was reason to recommend Baltimore, Annandale, Annapolis, Frederick, etc. and a big showing at the Mall. We floated other ideas, including Royal Farms locations, which may be more likely to have people not already convinced. By September, multiple Royal Farms locations may have Level 3 charging.

And speaking of other locations, we discussed other meeting sites besides Rockville Memorial Library before we adjourned. Everything has its pluses and minuses as regulars know.

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