In Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 15, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev, which provides seamless interoperability and clearing among multiple electric vehicle charging networks.  The Collaboratev service will allow EV drivers to charge anywhere and receive a single bill.

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

There are now 100,000 plug-in vehicles in the US.  Although that number is small compared to regular cars sold, it’s an important milestone.  Not surprisingly, early adopters are looking for more charging options, according to Wolf.

Collaboratev is working towards building a seamless transactional experience for EV users by which they will be able to recharge their vehicles at any station regardless of where they are or what charging network they belong to.  The company allows EV drivers to use a single authentication credential, which generates one monthly bill, thereby opening up any charging station for use by EV drivers.

Like the corner gas station using pumps that accept credit cards, Collaboratev envisions corner charging stations that accept its payment system.  Benefits include removing the need for multiple memberships, alleviating range anxiety, and allowing long-distance travel among multiple EV charging networks.

Although talks are in their initial stages, it is envisioned that each charging station, which will be owned and operated by independent charging network operators, will have different characteristics – coffee bars, retailer shops, media and even gasoline, all of which are intended to enhance the EV user’s experience while recharging his or her vehicle.

Will more charging stations and a seamless payment system inspire you to purchase an electric vehicle?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Wolf: Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (27:42 mins; mp3)

Collaboratev website: http://www.collaboratev.com/about.php

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

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

In Episode 67 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 23, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Lars Jacobsen, co-founder of Stalk Bicycles, which produces handmade bamboo bicycles.

Lars Jacobsen of Stalk Bicycles shows off bamboo framing

Lars Jacobsen of Stalk Bicycles shows off bamboo framing in The Wendel Forum studio.

The fastest growing plant on earth, bamboo is considered by many in the U.S. as a pesky weed, but it is also a surprisingly versatile sustainable material.  It has a finished exterior and the grain allows it to bend, but it is still remarkably strong.  In some countries, for instance, it’s used as a substitute for rebar! 

As for its use in bicycles, bamboo boasts a “supreme vibration dampening quality,” making it comfortable to ride.  Stalk Bicycle’s bamboo bikes ride beautifully, explains Jacobsen, who spent two years empirically testing the bikes, riding down stairs and along the pock-marked roads of Oakland to assess product quality.  The base model, which takes more than 40 hours to custom construct and weighs about the same as an aluminum bike, costs $2,500 and comes with a three-year warranty on the frame.  

To increase its commitment to sustainability, Stalk uses other natural fibers, such as hemp, for its products and sources as many materials locally as possible.  In fact, another Wendel Forum guest, Entropy Resins (Episode 47, Shaping a Superior Surfboard), is a supplier of the resin that Stalk uses on the joints of its bike frames.

According to Jacobsen, market acceptance in bamboo bikes is increasing.  “When people ride them, the bikes sell themselves.”  In addition to direct customer feedback, Stalk has earned support from Northern California’s local artisan movement as well as the cycling community.

Would you consider purchasing a bamboo bike?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jacobsen: Episode 67 of The Wendel Forum(27:31 mins; mp3)

Stalk Bicycles: http://www.stalkbicycles.com/

Entropy Resins: http://www.entropyresins.com/

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

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

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

CODA Automotive achieved a major milestone yesterday as the first CODA all-electric sedan rolled off the production line at CODA’s Benecia, California plant.  You may recall that The Wendel Forum interviewed Forrest Beanum, VP of Public Affairs at CODA, almost a year ago on April 30, 2011.  Our discussion covered various aspects of the electric car marketplace, including costs and incentives associated with vehicle ownership, energy use and sourcing, and the current and future landscape for supporting infrastructure.  The only thing missing was a test drive.

First CODA car comes off the production line

The first CODA sedan rolls off the production line in Benecia (photo from CODA Automotive press kit).

Well, the wait is over.  We are proud to congratulate Forrest and the rest of the CODA team on this great news!  Initial reports price the CODA sedan at $37,250 – a sticker price that can be reduced with a $7,500 federal tax credit and a $2,500 state rebate.  A $27,250 electric car?  Sounds good to us.

To learn more about the launch of CODA’s sedan, read the Mercury News story at http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_20156808/first-all-electric-coda-sedan-rolls-off-assembly or check out CODA’s website, http://www.codaautomotive.com.

In Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 22, 2011), show host Donald Simon talks with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek Ventures to discuss current trends in the cleantech investment landscape. 

Claremont Creek Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early stage information technology companies.  Their East Bay location allows them to work closely alongside many excellent research-driven “incubating institutions,” such as UC Berkeley, UC Davis and the Lawrence Livermore and Berkeley Laboratories.

According to Randy, the investment climate is actually seeing some positive moves, despite what you read in the papers.  He claims that there is a 12% uptick in 3rd quarter investing over 2nd quarter in the cleantech space this year.  And Northern California is a great place to be in this sector.  We still get 35 – 40% of the deals being done in the United States and about half of the total dollars.  While the early part of the year saw increased IPO activity, the overall venture capital investment climate is stronger now than it has been in the past couple of years.

Donald and Randy discuss the impact of the research and development funded by U.C. Berkeley and local labs.  Historically, these types of institutions have not been as nimble as some of the private schools and institutions when it comes to licensing the technology they develop.  Even so, the fundamental “game changing” research that they can inspire sets a great stage for technology to evolve into the marketplace.

Further, Randy shares his view on the market shift in the types of deals being done.  Previously bigger amounts of money went to fewer projects. More recently the trend has move toward smaller deals that look like early stage software technology deals.  The models of lean investing that have been previously used in the technology industry are becoming more popular in cleantech.  Deisgn, develop and deploy runs parallel to programs for customer engagement to speed the time to market and ensure a strong company launch.  While these tactics have been used for consumer internet companies for a number of years, other industries including cleantech and healthcare are adopting the tactics.

The two wrap up with a brief discussion of the common pitfalls that Randy has seen with early stage companies when they neglect some fundamental legal issues in their early development.  So often, young companies start out with a couple of friends and a handshake. That may be a fine way to start out, but ignoring issues regarding how the company will be structured and who owns what rights to innovation can lead to problems down the line.  As he says, “It matters if you’re successful.”  So what are the three key areas that deserve attention?  Randy suggests:

  1. Corporate Formation 
  2. Intellectual Property and Licensing
  3. Employment

If you’re interested in hearing more perspectives on the investment climate and meeting some of California’s “Game Changing” clean tech companies, check out the California Clean Tech Innovation Conference happening in Oakland on November 2-3.  Randy will be a panelist at the Energy Efficiency session.  Go to the conference website for more information or to register. 

California Cleantech Innovation Conferencecleantech conference icon
November 2-3, 2011
Kaiser Center Auditorium

At the Kaiser Center in Oakland CA, you will see California’s leading Clean-Tech policymakers… Hear from “Game Changing” Clean-Tech companies on Energy Efficiency, Water, Recycling & Environmental issues along with renewables such as Solar, Water, & Wind & Green transportation. Also speaking will be Clean-Tech experts from California’s leading Universities & Federal Labs, as well as numerous Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists & Private Equity Funds. Grow-California brings all the influencers together at one Clean-Tech Conference.  http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/

Post Links:

Interview with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek: Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)

California Cleantech Innovation Conference website: http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/

Claremont Creek Ventures website: http://claremontcreek.com/view.cfm/3/Home

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Donald Simon website bio: www.wendel.com/dsimon

In my humble opinion, one of the things that sets Wendel Rosen apart from other firms in the green space is our desire to move the needle forward.  Not only do we represent clients who focus on sustainability as an operating principle, but we also take part in legislative initatives that are designed to expand the principles of sustainability to all.

Today, I am proud to state that SB 582 passed through the California State Legislature on Wednesday.  SB 582 – a commuter benefits bill - was modeled on a San Francisco ordinance that required employers to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, and air pollution by offering employees options to pay for alternative commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars (e.g., commuter checks to buy high-value BART or Muni passes).  This legislation doesn’t just benefit employees, however.  There is a financial benefit to the employer, as well, because participation in this initiative is sweetened through a reduction in the payroll taxes that the employer pays.

It is estimated that approximately forty percent (40%) of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions is due to commuting.  Reducing vehicle miles traveled by the sole driver is a priority to reducing these emissions.  By offering commuter benefits, such as those outlined by SB 582, employers and employees can work together to consider alternatives to simply driving alone to the office.

Wendel Rosen, like other mission-driven businesses, happily supported SB 582 (as you can see from the Wendel Rosen Letter of Support for SB 582).  We’ve been offering commuter benefits to our employees for years.  We’re proud of that track record, and we are equally pleased to have assisted in the passage of this bill. 

We can’t wait for Governor Jerry Brown to sign it into law.

In the second part of our two part series, show host Dick Lyons chats with three more finalist companies from this year’s San Francisco Business Times Cleantech & Sustainability Awards, held on June 16, 2011.  In Episode 22 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on July 2, 2011), Dick learns more about the following companies:
 

Winner: Cleaire (interview with Brad Edgar, President and CTO, and Gale Plummer, CEO)
Category: Transportation

Description: Based in San Leandro, Cleaire designs and manufactures diesel engine filtration systems that could be used to remove particulate matter from exhaust in one million diesel engines in California –- and an estimated potential universe of 40-50 million vehicles already in service world wide.  They distribute and service the technology through a qualified dealer network whose customers include fleets of buses, construction equipment and trucks.

Winner: Solazyme (interview with Harrison Dillon, Co-Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer)
Category: Sustainable Fuels/Chemicals

Description: Solazyme makes oil – all kinds.  Their renewable oils are used in applications ranging from jet fuel to food products.  Dillon and his partner, CEO Jonathan Wolfson, started the company eight years ago in a garage in Palo Alto (where have we heard a story like that before?), originally setting  out  to make a diesel oil substitute from algae.  Since then, they’ve expanded to be able to custom design oils that can be used in a multitude of products.  Their oil can even be found in natural products carried by retailers such as Whole Foods and GNC.  By putting these healthy oils into food products, they are able to take out the saturated fat and keep the products both low fat and satisfying.

Winner: Driptech (interview with Peter Frykman, CEO)
Category: Water

Description:  Driptech makes affordable drip irrigation systems that allow small-plot famers in developing countries to have access to the same water-efficient irrigation that large plot farmers have used for decades.   The key to the technology (which includes some nifty precision laser manufacturing technology) is distributed local manufacturing.  Amazing what a class project at Stanford might turn into!

Coming up this week:

Tune in Saturday morning (July 9) to hear from a company that gives collective buying power to individual employees in organizations for home energy improvements (such as solar panels, insulation and water heaters).   If you’re out of radio signal range, remember you can always click the “Listen Live” button on the station’s website at www.green960.com

Post Links:

Listen to the Interviews: Episode 22 of The Wendel Forum(22.17 mins)

Cleaire website: http://www.cleaire.com

Solazyme website: http://www.solazyme.com/

Driptech website: http://driptech.com/

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

About show host Dick Lyons: 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

In honor of Bike to Work Day, check out Episode 14 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on May 7, 2011), in which our guests discuss Bay Area transit issues and the impact and implementation of commuter benefits programs with show host Bill Acevedo.

Stuart Baker, Vice President of Business Development at Commuter Check discusses the ins and outs of commuter benefits programs for organizations and their employees. This win-win program allows employees to use pre-tax dollars for many of their transit costs and employers to lower their payroll taxes – who doesn’t love that?

Dr. Jeff Ritterman, a Councilmember in the City of Richmond, California, discusses the commuter ordinance that was recently passed in his city.  He says, “The only reason not to do this is laziness.”  He discusses what’s happening locally, as well as for cities and states around the country.

Kristine Roselius, Supervising Public Information Officer, for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, discuss the District’s Spare the Air program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  They have been encouraging people to change their behavior to improve local air quality for a long time and have been able to show results. Not surprising, transportation is the number one source of air pollution in the Bay Area.

What’s their message?  If you don’t already, try using the Bay Area’s public transit options and see how surprisingly easy it is to help improve local air quality.

Thursday, May 12, is Bike to Work Day! 

For local resources, check out these links:

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition: http://www.sfbike.org/?btwd   
Oakland Local: http://oaklandlocal.com/article/oakland-bike-work-day-events-thursday-may-12

 

Post Links:

Discussion regarding Bay Area Commuter Programs: Episode 14 of The Wendel Forum (25.47 minutes)

Commuter Check: www.commutercheck.com

Spare the Air / Transit planning websites: www.sparetheair.org; www.511.org

Association of Bay Area Governments website (Green Business Program business certification): http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

About show host William Acevedo: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

 

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