DOE awards $300 Million in Clean Cities Grants, which includes EV Infrastructure

Sunday, August 30, 2009 0 comments
On August 26th, 2009, U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of 25 projects under the Clean Cities program ( which will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

While most of the monies go to projects related to moving trucks, buses and other big vehicles to CNG or LP, there are monies dedicated to EV Infrastructure in about half of the projects.  You can read about the announcement here:

Here are some of the projects with investment into EV charging infrastructure...
  • $13 Million for the North Central Texas Council of Governments' North Central Texas Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology.  In addition to monies for other things, this project 4 charging stations, 34 electric vehicles, and 251 hybrid electric vehicles.
  • $6 Million for the Maryland Energy Administration’s Maryland Hybrid Truck Goods Movement Initiative.  This project will implement the largest collaborative hybrid truck project in the nation, and provide financial and technical assistance to many large fleets including: ARAMARK, Efficiency Enterprises, Nestle Water Company, Sysco, and UPS to purchase 150 hybrid electric vehicles. 
  • $13 Million for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Statewide Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program for CNG, LPG, EV, and HEV Vehicles and Fueling Stations Initiative.  Details at their site:
  • $11 Million for the Clean Fuels Ohio’s Ohio Advanced Transportation Partnership (OATP).  This program includes nearly $3 Million for EV fleet vehicles and charging infrastructure.   Details at their site:
  • $15 Million for the City of Chicago, Department of Environment’s Chicago Area Alternative Fuels Deployment Project.  This project will deploy 554 alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles and install 153 alternative fueling and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Chicago region.  $13 Million for the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition’s Hybrid Electric School Buses Provide New Horsepower for Kentucky.  This project will replace 190 older diesel school buses with hybrid electric school buses to be used in school districts throughout Kentucky. 

EV Charging Station "Levels"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 5 comments
Updated 4/5/12

To the National Electrical Code, charging stations for electric vehicles fall into three distinct Level (or types).  When the rubber hits the road, these Levels really describe how much power you can supply to the vehicle you are charging...the more power you can deliver, the faster the charge...and vice versa.

Here are the three Charging Levels as specified by the NEC...

Input Voltage (VAC)
Input Current
Input Power
Standard Outlet
Level 1
NEMA 5-15R (Standard 110v outlet for US)
Level 2
SAE J1772/3
Level 3
Direct Current charge in US/Japan. SAE standard coming in 2012.  CHAdeMO is the Japanese spec which is supported by several automakers.

Level 1 (120V - AC)

Level 1 uses the "usual" 120-volt, single-phase outlet for a three-prong grounded plug for the US.  Although it depends GREATLY on the vehicle you are charging, it typically takes between 8 to 14
hours to fully charge a vehicle.  The biggest advantage to Level 1 is that you can find service almost anywhere in the US and since the charging current is about the same as a standard blow dryer, it won't put too much of a burden on your existing electrical service.  Obviously, the biggest disadvantage is the length of time it takes to recharge a vehicle.

Level 2 (208-230V - AC)

J1772 Connector for
Level 1 & 2 Charging
Level 2 increases the charge power by 5x and decreases the typical full charge time down to 4-8 hours, thus the main advantage for Level 2 Charging is speed.  The disadvantage of charging something faster is managing the heat that is produced in the battery through the charging process.  Although today's EV's are built to manage this heat (using liquid cooling/fans), heat typically shortens battery life.

Level 2 charging will be the normal charging service that we will be using in the future.  The Society of Automotive Engineers has approved a new standard plug called SAE J1772 which will be the "gas hose" that new EV/PHEVs will use.

Level 3 (Input: 3 phase 480VAC...Output: 300-400VDC)

Level 3, or Fast Charging, requires very high levels of voltage and current, but the big advantage is speed.  Some vehicles can charge in as little as 15 minutes, but it all depends on the battery type and charging this fast makes a HUGE amount heat that has to be disposed of quickly.  Level 3 Charging is perfect for: fleets that need frequent recharges during the day; anyone traveling cross-country trips; and emergency charging in case of evacuation.

J1772 Combo Connector for
Level 1, 2, & 3
Unlike Level 1 & 2 chargers which output AC to the vehicle, Level 3 chargers typically output DC using a different plug than the J1772.  The CHAdoMO plug specification is used in several Japanese cars including the Nissan Leaf.

The SAE is set to decide on a J1772 Combo Connector (a.k.a. FrankenPlug) which combines the current J1772 and high power (90kW) DC charging in one plug.  This creates a US Standard for Level 3 and saves automakers from installing two connectors/filler doors on a car.  You'll only see this plug on future Level 3 chargers.  You can read about it here.

Water Hose Comparison

If you want an easy way of looking at the different Charging Levels, you could think of...
  • Level 1 - a 5/8 inch standard garden hose
  • Level 2 - a 3/4 inch garden hose - not much bigger, but lots more flow.
  • Level 3 - a 3 inch Fire Hose with a big red truck behind it!

If you were King, where would you install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

Even though there are many charging stations installed already (mostly on the West Coast), where SHOULD they be installed?  In other words, if you were starting from a blank slate and you were King, where would you put them?  While we’re thinking of this, let’s address these questions too…
  • What type of charger would be best?
  • Who would install/own them?
  • How would they offset their costs?
See the legend at the bottom of this post for explanations of the terms.

Homes with PHEV/EVs
Obviously, every homeowner with a PHEV/EV will want to plug their car in at's the smartest option in terms of cost and convenience.

  • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
  • Likely owner: Homeowner
  • Cost offset: Free charger from car company, Government Incentive
Apartment buildings
  • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
  • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
  • Cost offset: Fees, Pay Per Use, Advertising, Government Incentive
Public Garages and Parking lots
  • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
  • Likely owner: Government, Third Party
  • Cost offset: Fees, Taxes, Pay Per Use, Advertising
Companies with Fleets of EVs/PHEVs
  • Charger type: Level 2 or Level 3.  Battery Swap (Better Place).
  • Likely owner: Company Owner
  • Cost offset: Government Incentive, Carbon Credit 
Rest Areas and Service Plazas
  • Charger type: Level 3 or Level 2.  Battery Swap (Better Place).
  • Likely owner: Government, Third Party
  • Cost offset: Pay Per Use, Fees, Taxes, Advertising
Malls, Stores, and Restaurants who want to attract "green minded" shoppers

  • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2 (Level 3 if near Major Highways)
  • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
  • Cost offset: Pay Per Use, Advertising, Fees
Workplaces (for Employees)
  • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
  • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
  • Cost offset: Company Benefit, Pay Per Use, Fees

Charger Types - from NEC Handbook
  • Level 1 - 110V 12A service
  • Level 2 - 208/220V 32A service
  • Level 3 - 480V 400A service

Cost Offset Types (Examples)
  • Company Benefit: Companies provide charging stations for "free" to their employees
  • Pay Per Use: Credit Card, Smart Card, or coin-based charging stations
  • Fee Based: Subscription or Monthly fee to have access to a charging station
  • Advertising: Charging stations and/or access cards/keys have advertising on them
  • Government Incentive: Tax credit, grant, or loan guarantee
  • Carbon Credit: Company earns carbon credit by reducing GHG emissions by utilizing EVs
  • Taxes: Installation and use of charging stations are offset by tax revenue
What other types of scenarios can you think of?

DOE outlines funding opportunites, including funds for EV Infrastructure

Friday, August 21, 2009 1 comments

On August 20th, I attended an enlightening presentation where I learned a lot and met some interesting people. The presentation was arraigned by Congressperson Susan Kosmas (Florida, 24th District, Democrat) as a part of her “Follow the Green Money” campaign to inform citizens about how they might be able to benefit by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other stimulus funding.

The presentation was titled: “DOE funding for venture capital, energy start-ups and incubator companies” and was presented by Brian Quirke of the Department of Energy (DOE). Brian was a good speaker…and funny enough, he was kinda quirky in this reaction with the crowd which made the 3 hour session mildly entertaining too. It was time well spent to get the perspective of a DOE insider – and how they are committed to making sure our tax dollars are spent carefully…and Brian was believable since he was more of a geek and not a PR guy.

Brian walked us through a Powerpoint Presentation that was very informative.

Here are some tidbits from the presentation…
  • The DOE’s cut of the ARRA funds was $32.7B. Of that, $6.7B is slotted for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and $4.5B is slotted for Smart Grid. That’s $11.2B available for projects that are directly or indirectly affected by a charging infrastructure for EVs!
  • The money will largely be given away in grants, but there is a small amount that will be loan guarantees.
  • Start taking action NOW, the application process is long, especially if you are forming a new company to take advantage of a grant.
  • Big focus on transparency: if you get money, you must document how you spent it on (this is a good thing)
  • As of 8/20, about half of the existing grants were closed, but Brian said that there will be a "tsunami" of new grants coming online in about 6 weeks or less.
  • All grant applications should VERY obviously state over and over how you help the goals of ARRA: Addressing Global Warming, Creating Green Jobs, Helping the Economy Recover, Promoting partnerships, and finally, be able to Get r done fast (Shovel Ready)…as they all of the money spent within 1.5 years.
Here's are some things to get you started on your hunt for DOE's funding opportunities for Grant and Loan Guarantees...
If you would like to invite Brian Quirke to your town, you can contact him at 630-252-2423.

Why should you care about all this?

One good reason is $99 Million dollars. That’s how much the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) got in a DOE Grant to put in an initial 12,800 charging stations in Washington State, Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee. Here’s a link to an eTec FAQ on the Grant:

The eTec Grant is huge news, as it signals a large commitment between government and business to embrace the evolution to EVs now…even in this sucky economy.

For a great overview of eTec's History and how they plan to execute on this grant, watch this interview from Horizon...

Wanna go deeper down the rabbit hole into the details of a DOE Grant? Here's John Kelly dissecting a Smart Grid grant application:

If you are not checking to see if your organization could benefit, what are you waiting for?

Viva la (electric car) Revolution!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 0 comments
There's a quiet revolution going right now that WILL soon change nearly everyone's life: the shift to using electric vehicles. Nearly every auto manufacturer has announced that they will be selling a Plug-in Hybrid or Electric Vehicle by 2012, so you know it's only a matter of time before we have to choose whether we want to use them...or support charging them.

You might think that creating a charging infrastructure is simple, since we have electircal power available to us almost everywhere. While installing charging stations is pretty straightforward, figuring out how to make money selling "juice" and not breaking the electrical grid are the harder parts of the puzzle to solve.

The charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is an integral part of Smart Grid, the US Department of Energy's program for modernizing the electrical grid so that we can efficiently manage electricity nationwide including the things that use it. For example, in a few years, you'll be able to tell your electric car to only charge itself when the electric company is on the cheapest electricity rates….or to allow your car to sell back stored electricity to the grid at expensive rates.

While there are some excellent resources on the web today that cover all aspects of electric vehicles, this blog will focus on the more boring...but arguably more important part: the charging infrastructure. After all, if we don't get the infrastructure right (the eggs), customers won't buy electric vehicles (the chickens)!