In Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros, a consulting firm focused on electric vehicle service equipment systems. The company advises clients – CFOs, directors of sustainability, CEOs, facilities managers and electricians – regarding vendors, installation and other issues related to EV charging systems.

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

The Obama Administration wants one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Kalb believes one way to achieve the goal is for large fleets – Zipcar, Avis and similar companies that purchase hundreds of cars at one time – to switch to electric vehicles.

At the personal consumer level, though, the industry is still in the early adopters phase, primarily because most people have not yet had an electric driving experience. Kalb wants consumers to know that “the fun factor is high.” Bill adds that it’s like driving “a super-charged golf cart.” Plus, without oil, water or tailpipe emissions, EVs require little maintenance making the cost of ownership low.

Kalb notes that pre-purchase decisions usually center on range anxiety, post-purchase concerns usually focus on charging because consumers don’t see options other than their own houses. But Kalb is working to increase public and workplace charging opportunities.

Still, whether the Obama Administration’s goal is met depends not only on the consumer adoption rate but also infrastructure development. Bill and Kalb discuss recent legislation related to EV charging. California’s SB 209, for example, mandates that homeowners associations in multi-family environments can’t prevent individual homeowners from installing a charging station. Network chargers allow the capital cost to be borne solely by the EV owner.

Similarly, AB 631 makes it easier for shopping center owners, business owners and employers to own and operate charging stations. While the cost of charging stations is $6,500 to $10,000, the Public Utility Commission won’t regulate these alternative fuel stations. Usually, EV owners are happy to pay for that amenity and would more frequently patronize businesses with charging stations.

AB 2502, which is under consideration, would permit EV manufacturers to offer consumer financing of the cost (about $2,200) of residential chargers. Needless to say, the California legislature is putting policy in place to foster necessary infrastructure development.

Wendel Forum listeners, we’d like to hear from you: If more charging options were available, would you purchase an EV?

  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with John Kalb: Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum  (27:45 mins; mp3)

EV Charging Pros website: http://www.evchargingpros.com/

Legislation:

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association.  EDTA is a cross-industry trade association promoting the electrification of transportation.  Previously, Cullen, a lawyer, served as a government affairs consultant, working with Congress and the executive branch to promote sustainable technology.

Bill queries Cullen about the roadblocks to a sweeping societal switchover to electric vehicles.  They discuss “range anxiety” as a primary issue.  Cullen explains that plug-in vehicles come in different configurations, with pure electric cars having a range as high as 100 miles and others, which combine batteries with internal combustion engines, having a range identical to conventional vehicles.  Since the average daily commute is fewer than 40 miles, 80 percent of vehicle charging could be done at home or at the workplace, Cullen says. 

Fortunately, range anxiety can be reduced with education and experience.  In fact, studies show that range anxiety disappears within weeks of owning an electric car, according to Cullen.  Yet manufacturers haven’t properly educated potential consumers.  So EDTA created its own website for that very purpose. Goelectricdrive.com addresses range anxiety, cost concerns and answers other consumer questions like “Can I plug my car in when it’s raining?”

Other good news: on the manufacturing side, the cost of the battery, the largest incremental cost of electric vehicles, is declining faster than predicted thanks to collaboration between industry and the Department of Energy.  Soon, there will be an even larger variety of price points, already evidenced by such vehicles as the Mitsubishi Eye, the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Tesla Model S.

When more personal and commercial vehicles are electric, the US will be far less at the mercy of the global oil market, which is “governed by interests and nations not always in sync with our own,” Cullen says.  That will have both economic (the US spends a billion dollars a day on foreign oil) and national security benefits. 

UPCOMING EVENT:
May 6 – 9, 2012, EDTA will host the 26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, where consumers can test drive cars and hear keynote speeches from industry leaders, technology experts and the policy community. 

Post Links:
Listen to the interview with Genevieve Cullen: Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (27:15 mins; mp3)

EDTA website: http://www.electricdrive.org/

EDTA consumer information website: http://www.goelectricdrive.com

26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium: http://events.ntpshow.com/evs26/public/enter.aspx

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to implement policies and programs that “transition the world to cost-effective clean energy now while delivering unparalleled economic benefits.” Ted is a co-founder of the group and currently oversees policy development and strategy for both regulatory and legislative efforts. 

Photo of Ted Ko

Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition

Ted explains how the group goes about fixing problems and issues facing those looking to build small to medium scale clean local energy projects such as wind farms, biofuels, solar, fuel cells, etc.  Their mission is to help make it faster and easier for these projects to come to fruition.

Dick and Ted discuss energy distribution issues and the Coalition’s position on how to best get the most cost-effective energy to market.  They touch on the challenges of the current energy distribution system, with its long, inefficient transmission lines and the environmental, permitting and construction issues associated with large scale power plant production.  In contrast, Coalition projects focus on small, local projects that benefit local economies. While many projects employ solar PV technology, the program is designed to be source agnostic.

Small projects are generally done on a custom basis, so transaction costs are often an impediment to a project’s success.  By trying to standardize and simplify the contracts across utilities, cities and jurisdictions, the Coalition is focused on simplifying the communication about these types of projects, as well as the process to get them up and running.  Clearly, as smart grid and energy storage technologies come into play, the landscape for energy distribution will change.  The Coalition believes that it’s important for policymakers and lawmakers to get serious about these issues.
In the meantime, the Coalition will continue to push for clean local energy.

For those local and municipal entities interested in launching their own projects, the Clean Coalition has a Local Clean Program Guide that is a free how-to manual available for download on their website (link).  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Ted Ko:  Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (27:53 mins; mp3)

Clean Coalition website:  http://www.clean-coalition.org

Free Guide download: http://www.clean-coalition.org/local_clean_program_guide/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 33 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on September 24, 2011), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Peter Walters, COO of Zinc Air Inc. and an expert on the topic of how to deliver utility-scale energy (particularly from renewable sources) more efficiently.  Peter provides explanations regarding the concepts of power firming and peak shifting, along with a number of other aspects related to safe and predictable energy delivery. 

His company, which is based in Kalispell, Montana, is the developer of the Zinc Redox flow battery.  According to the company’s website:

Zinc chemistry reduces cost through the use of abundant and locally available materials. Zinc Redox batteries have high energy density, low cost, safe operation, and are designed to be the greenest battery technology on the market. Using a flow battery technology, Zinc Redox focuses on grid storage applications including energy peak shifting and renewables (solar/wind) integration, designed to address the issues of matching demand with supply and variability.

Peter identifies several of the problems we face in the U.S. related to our delivery of energy to consumers.  According to him, we waste about 60% of the energy we produce, we have an aging energy infrastructure, and demand continues to increase.  Not only that, but new applications (such as electric vehicles) are placing new stresses on our energy delivery systems.

Current generation and transmission of energy throughout the grid fail to adequately address the issues of real time supply and demand. Historically, we have struggled to effectively store energy so that it can be harnessed and released to the grid when needed.  The development of better battery storage technologies opens the possibility of load shifting and other tactics to deliver energy when supply is required, not just when we are able to produce it.

During his interview, Peter explains some of the limits of our current infrastructure and how battery storage may solve many of the problems. He and Dick also discuss some of the specific challenges as they relate to the production of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. 

Need more proof that this technology is heading in the right direction?  The flow battery solutions being developed by Zinc Air start with safety.  The chemicals used are non-toxic and not corrosive, a step forward from what we typically think of in batteries.  The company spends a lot of time on the issue of safety in the product development and the installation of these systems, addressing concerns related to both man-made and natural disasters. And they know they have to do this all at the right price point.  
Show Note:
This Saturday (October 1, 2011) tune in to The Wendel Forum at 11:30 a.m. on Green 960 AM radio for a conversation with Flory Wilson of B Labs, who will reveal the new Global Impact Investing Ratings System (GIIRS), which is a comprehensive and transparent system for assessing the social and environmental impact of companies and funds with a ratings and analytics approach analogous to Morningstar investment rankings and Capital IQ financial analytics.
Post links:

Listen to the interview with Peter Walters:  Episode 33 of The Wendel Forum(27.48 min, mp3)

Zinc Air Inc. company website: www.zincairinc.com

Wikipedia entry for “flow battery”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

In the first part of a two part series, show host Dick Lyons chats with several of the top executives from finalist companies at this year’s San Francisco Business Times Cleantech & Sustainability Awards, held on June 16, 2011.  In Episode 21 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on June 25, 2011), Dick learns more about the following companies:

Winner:   InterContinental San Francisco (interview with Peter Koehler, General Manager)
Category: Best Practices, Large Company
Description: This 33-story, 550- room, luxury hotel recently earned LEED Gold certification.

Finalist: Propel Fuels (interview with Matt Horton, CEO)
Category: Transportation
Description: This company brings consumers flexible fueling stations (ethanol and biodiesel), largely by installing green pump stations in existing gas stations across California. They hope to become the leading provider of clean fuel in the country.

Winner: Primus Power Corp. (interview with Tom Stepien, CEO)
Category: Energy Storage
Description: This development-stage company builds large-scale batteries that will enable us to warehouse electricity from variable renewable energy sources, leveling transmission peaks and valleys and making the delivery of renewable energy more reliable.

Winner: Numi Organic Tea (interview with Tisha Winters, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator)
Category: Best Practices, Small Company
Description: In addition to selling an organic product, this Oakland-based company has instituted a number of environmentally-friendly measures, from green packaging to product weight reduction that results in lower transportation costs. 

We’ll share more interviews with award finalists on the July 2 episode of The Wendel Forum.  Tune in Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. on Green 960 AM radio to hear the broadcast.  And if you’re out of signal range, you can click the “Listen Live” button on the station’s website at www.green960.com.  We’ll talk to folks from winning companies Solazyme, Cleaire and Driptech.

So which green companies would you choose to honor, if you were in charge of giving an award?  Tell us about the unsung heroes in green business! 

Post Links:

 Listen to the Interviews: Episode 21 of The Wendel Forum(27.28 mins)

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

About show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

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