On Monday, September 14, the conference kicked off with three strong and distinct educational sessions.
First, Utility Roles in EV Charging: Defining and Building Consensus featured a 90-minute conversation between Joe Halso from the Sierra Club, Maria Haberman with AEP Ohio, Kevin Miller at ChargePoint, Josh Cohen from Greenlots, and Jeff Myrom from Consumers Energy. Under Joe’s leadership, the session accomplished exactly what we had hoped it would – identifying areas of strong consensus among critical EV stakeholders who don’t always agree.
All agreed that utilities have critical roles to play in funding for EV charging infrastructure in a variety of locations. They also agreed that many approaches can work, including “make ready” infrastructure programs, rebates for site hosts to purchase charging equipment, and utility ownership of equipment in some situations. Whether or not utilities actually own charging stations, it’s important for utility programs to preserve a competitive marketplace rather than limiting consumers to one or a few choices. The speakers reached a consensus that utility programs need to be designed to ensure all utility customers will financially benefit as the number of EVs increase and contribute new load to the system. Approval of new rate designs are needed, and additional utility demand response programs can be helpful as well. All emphasized the need to address demand charges as a market barrier, to prevent the need for site hosts to charge excessive fees to drivers or operate stations at a loss. As more consumers buy EVs, this will become less of an issue. The session encapsulated the kind of stakeholder process that policymakers in Ohio and other states need to facilitate. Clean Fuels Ohio and others will be able to build on this.
Next, Ohio Green Fleet Experiences, moderated by Andrew Conley, Consulting Services Director at Clean Fuels Ohio, provided an opportunity for leaders of three certified Ohio Green Fleets to discuss their experiences deploying advanced and sustainable technologies, how they have worked with Clean Fuels Ohio through this process and what the future holds. Panelists included Vicki Miller from Columbus Regional Airport Authority, John Hyatt from the City of Dublin, and John Marlow from The Ohio State University (OSU).
All panelists emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to increasing fleet sustainability. Vicki discussed the Airport’s successful experience with propane Autogas shuttles and emphasized cost savings that they have achieved, seamless operations and ease of maintenance. John Hyatt focused on Dublin’s experience with compressed natural gas (CNG), which continues to prove itself as a strong choice operationally and economically. He mentioned their growing partnership with Dublin City Schools that has been acquiring CNG school buses. John Marlow explained OSU’s ongoing highly successful experience with biodiesel over many years and their more recent choice to acquire CNG buses and develop an on-campus refueling station. All discussed recent efforts to explore additional options, such as EVs, and whether light, medium or even heavy duty options will suffice. John Hyatt expressed that hydrogen may offer a strong long-term solution. Finally, all discussed the positive recognition from the Ohio Green Fleets program and the strong support from Clean Fuels Ohio in helping them understand and explore options.
Finally, the day wrapped up with Fleet Experiences and Options: Light Duty EVs, Sponsored by Lordstown Motors. Alleyn Harned, Executive Director of Virginia Clean Cities, moderated the panel. Panelists were Michael Gray, from Stanford University in California, Ken Crowley, from the City of Oak Park, Illinois, and Morgan Kauffman, President of Columbus Yellow Cab.
The three panelists come from different types of fleets. In sharing their unique experiences, they discovered much common ground. Michael has acquired several small purpose-built utility trucks from Tropos Motors. These units perfectly suit the campus environment where they travel about 30-50 miles per day to support various operations. They use simple, level one charging most of the time, and there are no issues replenishing daily ranges overnight.
Ken’s fleet has about 250 pieces of equipment. Their experience with EVs began about ten years ago. He emphasized the need to plan for the future, especially in charging infrastructure. For their situation, gathering data and being able to actively control charging was important, so they opted for smart charging. Chicago Clean Cities was very helpful to the process.
Morgan emphasized his family’s long history in the business and their focus on humanity – people, planet, and then profit. Collectively, their vehicles run about 10 million miles per year. He discussed their work with National Renewable Energy Laboratory to analyze flow of vehicles and dwell times. They have been using these data to plan out charging “mobility hubs” to make charging as convenient as possible for drivers. Morgan and the rest of the panelists emphasized the importance of driver training, and how that has made a huge impact with acceptance and genuine enthusiasm for EVs.
In case you missed any of these sessions, recordings will be accessible by all registered attendees of the virtual conference. Check the Whova app or website for access.