May 2015 Minutes

The weather was nice and turnout started out weak. Still, the room filled up slowly and we had a productive meeting. After the customary snacks and introductions (including some new EVs this month), Treasurer Scott mentioned our growing member rolls.

This time, our e-vents recap included the annual Spring crush. Jeff led a Vienna showing, with a spread of domestic, Japanese, and European EVs. Poolesville’s e-vent also had a BMW i3 this year; members chatted up some municipal leaders interested in efficient motor pools. Rockville Science Day featured a Volt, Leaf, and Smart ED, plus a conversion, and lots of turnout. Our booth had been strategically placed near food. The EPA, TSA, and USPTO shows generally had a Volt, Leaf, and Tesla- a bit smaller but still good outreach to key EV buying demographics.

DC EV GP logoOf course, the one big show was the EV Grand Prix at RFK Stadium. We were in force for the Global EEE production- we had a booth, team mentors for the kids, multiple car owners in the EV parade before the races, and of course volunteers in different tasks. Volunteers got a shirt, hat, and badge, and most likely a tan- the rain held off until the end. Organizer Nabih Bedewi was unable to join us at the meeting but sent his thanks to all involved. Results are posted; Perry Hall School was both the Rookie winner and overall winner, with 42 laps. Second and third were Phelps and Sidwell Friends, both with a significantly lower distance, but Phelps ran their 38 laps faster. The club discussed attracting more high schools, and keeping momentum up for the teams over the Summer.

E-bike, Volt, Tesla, Leaf in just this pic- pretty representative parade

E-bike, Volt, Tesla, Leaf in just this pic- pretty representative parade

Lease deals continue. The Chevy Spark EV is available for $139 a month, and Nissan and others have competing offers. Combined with the drastically lower operating costs, some of these small cars are becoming a no-brainer, fiscally. Just before the meeting, Zero announced an across-the-board cut of $1,350 on all motorcycles. That’s almost 14% off the cheapest models.  Continue reading

UMD Solar Charging

UMD logoSpeaking of the University of Maryland… The College Park Campus, already well-represented in the area’s charging count, just won’t stop.  Three parking structures will not only install more EVSEs, but solar canopies to power those charging spaces.  The campus as a whole already runs a solar “farm” nearby, as well as buying solar and wind credits.  Then in late 2016, the Terrapin Trail, Regents Drive, and Mowatt Lane Garages will be powered by solar roofs.  The coverage won’t just shade vehicles and provide EV power; the three canopies will send surplus power to other campus buildings.

This is all in addition to American University and GWU producing or buying a majority of their electricity from new solar ventures, and Catholic University’s onsite arrays.  UMD has more charging, but theirs is a suburban campus of course.  American and GWU have their own Metro stops and bikeshare racks, and each still has a token EVSE.

“Center for Research in Extreme Batteries”

UMD logoarmbrndSpeaking of the military- the University of Maryland and the Army Research Lab have formed the Center for Research in Extreme Batteries (CREB), and it just held its first colloquium.111144dThey’re working on lithium-sulfur cells, and solid state anodes, of course- everyone’s working on them.  But as the name implies, the Center is also studying beyond-state-of-the-art tech that’s applicable to us, and some not- niches like thermal batteries, that run a missile for a few seconds to a minute, to batteries that have to last thirty years or even longer.  And there’s the stuff the average person doesn’t see: tools and diagnostics, like battery x-rays, neutron beam scanning, and ion beam scanning.  So the next biggest presence was probably NIST. Continue reading

Pictures, We Got Pictures

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Whew… On Friday, March 27, several club members attended the world premiere of The Burden, a documentary about how fossil fuel dependency bogs down our international relations. and the forces we send to police those foreign relations.  In fact, our armed forces get it coming and going.  They are dispatched due to our oil dependency, and are themselves bound by their own high consumption.  The premiere was held at the visitor’s center and theater under the Navy Memorial.  There was a reception beforehand; afterward, we had a Q&A panel with the director and other figures in security and energy (i. e., the same thing).

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Didn’t know there was a mini-museum and theater under the Navy Memorial, didja? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

EV Air Quality and Human Health

Time to throw another shovel of dirt on the “EVs are just coal burners” myth.   Professor Volker Sorger’s group, in George Washington University‘s Electrical Engineering department, sought to test that hypothesis.  Their conclusion: no.  In multiple future scenarios, mass adoption of EVs still results in better DC health gwsmloutcomes, despite the area’s four coal plants and negligible hydro.

Pepco’s energy portfolio, while cleaner than the national average, is hardly spotless.  But EVs, as we already knew, use a fraction of the energy of GVs (gas vehicles), as internal combustion and multispeed transmissions are surprisingly lossy.  What’s more, adoption of EVs (which mostly charge at night) gives a utility options to run their plants and grid better.   Further into the future, EVs used as electricity storage (“V2G”) or simply as flexible power demand (“V1G”) enable smart grids, and clean generation (such as wind turbines) closer to demand.  Coal or oil, where used as an electricity source, is often kept away from homes, blunting the health impact.  But gasoline engines emit pollutants everywhere, residential or not.  Overall, EV scenarios showed a noticeable drop in lung cancer, and hundreds of fewer DC/MD/VA cardiopulmonary-related deaths per year.  Continue reading

Brief News on Short Cars

We already knew GM was releasing the Spark EV for Maryland sales- the first East Coast market.  Now, Honda announced lease renewals for Fit EVs; they don’t want to kill the electric car (yet).  Current leaseholders, and customers for used Fit EVs, can sign two-year extensions or leases respectively, for $199 a month.  There is no down payment or mileage limit, and collision coverage is included.hfev

It’s not all mooncakes and saki, however.  The terms indicate this extension is the end; there will be no option to re-extend or purchase in 2017.  And this is all assuming you can find a Honda Fit EV.  The company made little effort to promote or sell them any more than they had to.  Still, we’ve got members who have one and they recommend them.  As long as you like blue, apparently.

March 2015 Minutes

As we’ve said before, good luck Charlie. And as we’ve also said, lots of stuff going on for the Spring. We started right off with pizza, drinks, and well wishes to our outgoing president for a happy hike. Then we introduced new people, including George from the Skyline Automotive Museum in Front Royal, Virginia, and multiple Tesla reps.

Our main guest, however, was Sarah Oleksak, of the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge. The DoE’s EERE division does vehicle research with the Argonne, Oak Ridge, and NREL national laboratories, among others. But with the Workplace Charging Challenge, they are doing outreach and programmatics for us e-thusiasts. The outgoing Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, calls the workplace a “second showroom,” and program data shows that wcclemployees with charging are twenty times more likely to go electric than the average motorist. We, certainly, are used to getting the Five Questions in parking lots. Employees, in turn, must prompt their management to install (or just allow) charging. The WCC has then used data, employee experiences, and intermediary groups (like our own parent EAA) to convince further companies. As of the 2014 update, there were over 180 major companies enrolled in the program, with over 300 worksites.

Data from WCC and the EV Project goes to the Idaho lab; they’ve found that 90% of over 180 WCC companies get their slots filled up five days a week. This is despite an average of 11 slots per company, since those drew an average of 26 EVers. Of those, the most common (LEAF and Volt) did almost 40% of their charging at work; Volt drivers actually seek charging more than the LEAFs. Level 1 charging started out being more popular, but Level 2 caught up within years. Most companies prefer smart EVSEs, not dumb outlets, which is an opportunity for ChargePoint, GreenLots, and other service providers. One exception was Telefonix, which installed a smart L1 network. Overall, installations are still continuing, despite many grants tapering off, and building LEED certifications not really recognizing the oil savings. Charging goes beyond Scope 1 and increases your building energy use, without accounting for the employees’ steeply-reduced consumption and emissions. Sarah closed by giving us materials and links.

Of course, federal employees are (mostly) left out without a law getting passed. Sarah mentioned California has put forth some state resources for federal offices, and a Florida DHS office is in a leased building, so the landlord did the installation.

More locally, member Charlie is now the proud owner of a Tesla. Some members have written in, supporting MD Senate Bill 762 for charging in multiunit housing; it’s spearheaded by Senator Brian Feldman. Our partner BEVI has received money from Constellation Energy, and updated the Marylandev.org website. The Maryland electric highway project received its official announcement as expected; ground has already been broken on some of its fast chargers. In case you haven’t been following, Maryland will install DC chargers (both CHAdeMO and SAE CCS) from Hagerstown to Ocean City, Elkton to Waldorf, including many Royal Farms locations. Many are slated to be online this year. Meanwhile, Greenlots will be doing similarly in parts of Virginia.

We’re soliciting “trail bosses”- people to honcho our public outreach events. It’s quite simple, organizing volunteers and their EVs on days of festivals, showings, etc. These include the first Montgomery County Green Fest, and the DC STEM Fair, this March 28. The MoCo Fest will have speakers, an EV panel discussion, and of course our vehicles on display. We already have the usual suspects- LEAF/Volt/Tesla, but could use a Ford C-Max or Honda Fit EV if anyone can show them. Contact Joyce or JD. Continue reading

Fill-A-Lot…

The month is warming up, and so are the E-vents:

  • The Solar Impulse all-electric plane has begun its round-the-world flight.  As I write, they’re on leg 2 over the Middle East… with not a drop of fuel.
  • Author Levi Tillemann will discuss his book, The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future, at the Takoma Park location of Busboys & Poets this Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 pm.  Actually, it’s within DC, 234 Carroll St NW.
  • In Formula E racing, the series will charge up Miami on March 14.
  • Our next club meeting will be March 18, at Rockville Library again.
  • The first Montgomery County Green Festival will be March 26, rain or shine.  We have a representation of cars to show, but more cars- and more enthusiastic owners and e-thusiasts- are always welcome.
  • Another “car show” will be in Bowie, April 11.  The Bowie Green Expo will be at the Kenhill Center, 2614 Kenhill Dr.
  • Then, of course, no shortage of E-vents on and around April 22…