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Archive for Saturday, February 19, 2011

Group energizes talks on car-charging stations in Lawrence

February 19, 2011

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Months before President Barack Obama called for drastically increasing the number of electric cars on the road, an informal group in Lawrence was meeting to find a way to do just that.

The group — with membership including Kansas University researchers, Westar Energy, government officials and a car dealership — is looking at what infrastructure needs to be in place to make the electric car a reality in Lawrence.

And according to the group’s members, that “Jetsons”-like image of plugging in at home to power up your car isn’t as far off as some would think.

By the end of this year, Kansas University plans to have the first recharging station in Lawrence. And Briggs Nissan, 2300 W. 29th Terrace, is among the third wave of car dealerships that would offer the 100 percent electric Nissan LEAF. Exactly when they will come to Lawrence hasn’t been determined, the car dealership’s business development manager, Chris Rowe, said.

“Being that Lawrence is a very green community, there is an advantage of having it in this community,” Rowe said. “I’m a firm believer it is going to work here.”

More electric options

Electric cars are slowly moving into the mainstream. During his State of the Union address, Obama called for a million new electric cars to be on the road by 2015. Helping achieve that goal are a number of electric vehicles being offered by major automakers.

Along with Nissan, Ford has plans for the 2012 all-electric Focus. And Chevy is offering the Volt, a hybrid that has an electric motor with a 40-mile range and a gasoline engine that kicks in for longer drives. Owners can charge the vehicle from home.

Nissan is operating on a different sales strategy than it does with its traditional vehicles. Interested customers put in a request online for more information. From there they can buy the car. Then the local dealership will come to the house to set up the charging system.

“This is a 100 percent consumer demand,” Rowe said.

The transition of electric cars from a roadway oddity to dealership showroom is, in part, due to improved technology that keeps the electric car running longer and faster. But it also has a lot to do with basic economics.

“Gas prices keep going up. And they are just not going back down,” said Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for the city of Lawrence and Douglas County. “And I think that is playing on people’s awareness.”

Charging stations

As new electric car models come on the market, communities must answer how they will be charged away from home.

Last fall, the city of Lawrence applied for a grant that would have allowed for construction of a charging station. It turned out the grant wasn’t quite geared toward that kind of project, so the city withdrew its application, Horn said.

“We don’t want to build one that doesn’t get utilized. We are in a holding pattern, waiting to see how quickly Lawrence residents adopt this new technology,” Horn said.

But Lawrence could see its first charging station soon.

It will be part of a 2,000-square-foot addition to the Chamney Farm on KU’s West Campus. The building, the construction of which is part of architecture professor Dan Rockhill’s Studio 804 class, will be a LEED certified green building that will be a space for demonstration projects on new technologies. The site is along Bob Billings Parkway, between Iowa Street and Crestline Drive.

Along with technology that creates, stores and monitors energy, the building will be able to charge electric vehicles, said Carey Novak, who is director of business relations and development for KU.

The charging station will be used primarily for electric vehicles designed by researchers at KU. Whether it will be available to the public is still being discussed, Novak said.

The local Nissan dealership also has plans to build a charging station once it starts selling the LEAF.

The city is keeping an eye on spots that would make for good charging stations, Horn said. Those sites will likely be where people congregate and where they can burn time while their car charges.

Electric corridor

The informal Lawrence group has asked Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., to consider a charging station in its parking plans for the library expansion, Novak said. It also thinks it would make sense to place them at large stores such as Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Dillons.

Once there are several stations in Lawrence, the next step would be to set up a network of charging stations between Topeka and Kansas City so people can commute with electric cars.

“We could very easily with not a lot of investment have a 60-mile (electric vehicle) corridor. And Lawrence is right in the middle,” Novak said.

Embracing electric cars is one more way Lawrence can become a nexus of green-minded innovation, Novak said.

“We have got a wonderful opportunity in making Lawrence this huge test lab of developing technologies,” he said.

Comments

Agnostick 3 years, 1 month ago

Quite the riotous laughter I've had, reading most of these comments here. Most of them seem to come from the minds of petulant children. Such is the effect change has had on mankind. I'd love to take this whole lot through a time machine and drop you @ 100, maybe 110 years back... watch all the clamoring about, "I'll never give up my horse!"

How about some reading?

Quote:

"In addition to connecting renewables, more lines would solve a vexing surplus problem. In a growing number of markets today, even when demand for electricity is low, certain power plants must run to keep voltage stable across the system, yet there is no demand for the actual power they are producing. At night, when winds are often high, there may be no place to send the electricity they create. In these situations, some transmission managers, such as the California Independent System Operator, are forced to pay power generators such as wind farms to cut their output. And if that still outpaces demand, 'you pay people to take [the power],' laments Yakout Mansour, CEO of the California operator.

"This imbalance can make clean, renewable energy awfully expensive. Forcing wind turbines to stop producing when the wind is blowing can quickly make them uneconomical. Electric highways can dilute the surplus, sending it to customers who do need power but are far away. More lines can also help spread out voltage surges and dips across a larger area of suppliers and consumers, so the fluctuations can be absorbed without creating dangerous voltage spikes or meddlesome blackouts or brownouts.

"More lines would also make storage facilities for mass energy more feasible. Surplus wind energy at night could be stored by any number of technologies that can generate power during the next day when needed: big batteries, flywheels, compressed air chambers, water pumped uphill so it can later fall through turbines, molten salt tanks heated to later drive steam turbines, and so on. But the power needs to reach those facilities in the first place."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-build-the-supergrid&print=true

Quote #2:

"The impact of switching to electrics would be transformative, Musk believed. With the combustion engine, we’ve been largely stuck with oil to produce fuel for transportation. Electricity, on the other hand, can be produced in many ways—by a coal-powered plant, a nuclear reactor, a hydroelectric generator, a wind farm, or a solar array. In a world dominated by electric cars, all these power-producing technologies would be spurred to compete, encouraging innovation. What’s more, an electric engine is inherently more efficient than a combustion engine: One gallon of gasoline could be used to generate enough electricity to power an electric vehicle for hundreds of miles."

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/09/ff_tesla/all/1

But please... go ahead... cling to the past...

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe a fossil, but I still do road trips, Long and short. Hard to think about investing 50-50 K and not having this option.

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BigPrune 3 years, 1 month ago

How much does it cost to replace a Prius' battery when it stops working, $10,000? So the cars cost thousands more than a regular car. Wouldn't smart money be driving a gasoline powered car even if it gets less miles per gallon?

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devobrun 3 years, 1 month ago

Everybody out there who values physics, look for battery technology advances. Unless batteries become better, electric cars will be a novelty. At this point, cars that cross Australia are a novelty. Cars that use petro-fuel to charge batteries are a novelty.

Batteries folks. They aren't good enough. Billions are being poured into battery research. Charge storage is the key to unlocking a vast energy market. Electrical energy is the best....except it doesn't store easily. When (or if) it stores in quantities necessary to run a semi from KC to Salina, then you can put bank on the technology. Until then, don't.

All this talk is just a bunch of bored folks who know that someday...eventually, maybe....there will be a battery that can do the job.

Whistling past the cemetery?

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ralphralph 3 years, 1 month ago

If you want to plug in your car, you need to have nuclear energy to provide the juice.

It's called "the truth", also known as "reality".

Or, we can keep burning coal, and our food.

Clean + Safe + Reliable + Domestic = Nuclear.

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Mr_B9 3 years, 1 month ago

Taxpayers are forced to pay for charging stations and our utility rates will increase because of more demand. Brilliant, and we have been told there is an energy shortage and we need to conserve. Thus smart meters, WTF? If the electric cars are the future than one would think that the private sector would be investing their dollars for return of profit from a charging station. But no, Uncle Sam has decided we the taxpayer will pay for this farce. Is there any wonder why were broke as a nation? This is simply another persuasive master plan in the game of re-elections. Frankly, I am disgusted to say the least at this form of governance. The dominoes are tumbling sequentially and will not lose any steam until were completely broke. Wake up America and quit playing into the Dumbing of America that obviously is in full swing. Just so you know, I am 100% on board with any alternative fuel source or vehicle as long as it is not at the expense of the taxpayer. I certainly understand the responsibilities of the taxpayer, however this is another example of what is not our responsibility.

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Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

My grandchildren will be using Nuclear energy like the Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Japanese children of the future will use,...and are using today........It's due to the Greenheads we don't use this source of fuel in the U.S.

Taking on the argument, huge giant Mideast drawfing oil fields seem to pop up on a regular basis nowadays, at least every other year. The Brazilian oil fields were the last.

Yet we still march on like the last drop of oil is hours away.

I always smile thinking our future generations may have the job of finding ways of disposing of the waste oil momma nature made when they begin to build subterranean.

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TheStig 3 years, 1 month ago

Q: What is the estimated time for full charging with 110v, 220v and fast charge stations?

A: It takes about ~30 minutes to 80% at a 480 volt quick-charge station. Starting from a depleted battery, ~7 hours at 220/240V (depending on amperage), about 20 hours at 110/120V.

Can you imagine the wait, and the Westar profits!

Q: Since the Nissan LEAF solely runs on electricity, would charging from home dramatically increase my electricity bill?

A: Based on a US average of $0.11/kWh, a full charge will cost about $2.75. It could be even less, if your area has time-of-use rates and you charge at off-peak hours.

Assuming you drive 40 miles/day and need to fully charge every day in a year that would increase your electric bill $83.64/month ($1003.75/year). http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/faq/list/charging#/leaf-electric-car/faq/list/charging

While we are at it lets not forget the Fuel Charge ($0.016159/kWh using February-March 2010 fuel charge), Transmission Charge ($0.007263/kWh), Environmental Cost Recovery Rider ($0.002173/kWh), Property Tax Surcharge (1,000 kWh x ($0.000224/kWh), Franchise Fee (3%), Local Sales Tax (1%) Amounts vary by location. Rates may vary. http://www.westarenergy.com/wcm.nsf/resources/Residential%20Rates/$file/Residential%20Rates.pdf?openelement

If I were Westar I would be selling electric cars at a discount as long as they were forced to use my generators, like mobile phone companies do with Smartphones and a service agreements.

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gccs14r 3 years, 1 month ago

We have to get our energy budget back down below what we get in real time from the Sun. Coal, oil, and gas are stored solar energy from millions of years ago and once they're depleted, they are not likely to be created again for the life of this planet. All this talk about 80 years this and 300 years that is just so much dithering while we hurtle toward an energy precipice. Sure, there may be enough fossil fuel remaining for some of you to not have to change how you live, but is that really the legacy you wish to leave behind? Your grandchildren will be so proud.

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Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Geez, turbine wind farms which don't operate during peek seasons. Canadia uses more electricity in Winter. So sorry, but this whole alternate energy thing just doesn't seem to work well.

First we put ugly panels on our homes (tax purposes only) which can power a light bulb or two, then we convert our food into gas. What about gas, were not we to run out by 1989? What happened?

Electric cars do have merit. Think they will work, but what happens when you wish to break wind. No motor to rev up drowning out the hiccup. Scientist never think of these important things.

What a we men supposed to do at Thanksgiving if there's nothing for us to fake looking at while congregating in the garage with a car hood open? uhhh?

How about all the poor skunks and possums who have a hard enough time getting out of the way of loud cars now? Good grief K-10 will look like a post battle scene from Gettysburg.

Forget the Volt, how about a Nuke Lincoln Town Car? 567,789,333 miles between fill ups.

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Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 1 month ago

With the new smart meters Westar is shoving down our throats, we can now enjoy huge charging bills while we charge at work.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 1 month ago

In other electric news: "...The Caribou wind farm near Bathurst, N.B., has the capacity to produce enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes, but has been slowed by ice for two consecutive winters.... Manager Mark Hachey says the 33 turbines were last in operation during the second week of January. The farm, which is about 70 km northwest of Bathurst, had similar problems last winter and had lost 20 days of power generation by mid-February...." Read the rest at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/02/15/nb-caribou-wind-farm-ice.html

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prospector 3 years, 1 month ago

LesBlevins (anonymous) says…

With distributed generation putting locally generated power on the local grid people could plug in their electric vehicles at home and not need charging stations,, if they wanted to. February 20, 2011 at 6:10 a.m.

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LesBlevins (anonymous) says…

With distributed generation putting locally generated power on the local grid people could plug in their electric vehicles at home and not need charging stations,, if they wanted to.

February 20, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.

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I thought I had seen it before. It makes sense if you put it up a couple more times.

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50YearResident 3 years, 1 month ago

Whatever developes with this I hope none of the decision makers Downtown decide to take out 4 more meters in each block to dedicate to re-charging only. Downtown parking is already killing business. I would like to see a report about how the 15 minute only meters are working out. Does anyone ever use them? Or do people do like I did, I needed a parking space for 30 min and pulled into an 15 min one. Then I had to back out and look for a differant meter. How many parking tickets have been written for the 15 min ones? Are ticket payers complaining? My guess, it is a nightmare for all involved and a very bad decision to install them. Enough time has pasted for an evaluation, lets see it in print LjWorld.

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Les Blevins 3 years, 1 month ago

With distributed generation putting locally generated power on the local grid people could plug in their electric vehicles at home and not need charging stations,, if they wanted to.

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prospector 3 years, 1 month ago

Ellectric cars are limiting and look for rolling blackouts near you.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/7437278.html

But, but, it was the weathers fault. Yeah the wind did not blow their turbines.

Natural gas vehicles will make the US trade deficit a surplus. Fact

What the hell is wrong with people?

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Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 1 month ago

Electric cars are bad because of the "types" of people that endorse them. Brilliant logic.

However... “This is a 100 percent consumer demand,” Rowe said.

A key point that so-called conservatives smugly dismiss in their anti-green ranting. It is the market that is driving innovation. It is the market that has produced first hybrids and now electric vehicles. It is the market that has dramatically reduced the costs of alternative energy sources.

Conservatives used to be pro-market. Wonder what happened?

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 1 month ago

Will the Volt replace the Prius as one of the leading causes of smug in America? Stay tuned to find out.

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Bill Griffith 3 years, 1 month ago

I think most of the electric cars should be sold in states with a lower dependency on coal than Kansas (69.9% although probably dropping in the next 5-10 years). If you charge up in Lawrence the energy is coming from Lawrence Energy Center which is problematic. However, one also has to recognize the drumbeat of lowering our oil demand for many reasons and I respect that argument. The purest way to use these cars is if you have a photovoltaic system at your home and use that for the majority of your charging. Folks who can afford the first generation of electric cars can probably entertain the the thought of investing in a solar cells for their home as their price continues to decline.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

THINK Street ready golf carts: http://www.gatormotoutilityvehicles.com/street-legal-golf-carts.php There are local sources available such as Olathe.

These cannot travel on highways, 23rd or 6th( both are highways) but would do good around town. Traveling across say 23rd or 6th is legal but not on. They will not travel faster than 25 mph. There are many safe ways to get around Lawrence without traveling the busiest fastest of streets. Some of these vehicles do come with solar power.

My thinking is electric cars initially will be practical only around town until one is developed that will go several hundred miles in between charges. Around town driving is one of the largest sources of pollution.... yes around town driving is quite polluting.

Other practical methods: http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCMain.jsp?scid=1002&gold_ses=&menuItemId=15155

with: http://www.bicycletrailers.com/Featured-Brands/Burley/index.cat?gclid=CNmf-8HmlqcCFYpN2god4R03eQ

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BigPrune 3 years, 1 month ago

Whatever happened to compressed natural gas (CNG) automobiles? Honda has one and some government cars have it. Natural gas is cleaner than the coal burning plants that generate electricity and it is far cheaper.

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LogicMan 3 years, 1 month ago

With good timers so that charging occurs only in the wee hours, maybe a good percentage of cars could be electric without expanding the grid. 10%? Otherwise new generators and much heavier power cables, transformers and so on will be needed. They are not cheap.

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macon47 3 years, 1 month ago

what will the state and fed charge for road taxes on electricy like they do gas, they sure are not going to let any tax money slip away, no matter how green you are?

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Les Blevins 3 years, 1 month ago

With distributed generation putting locally generated power on the local grid people could plug in their electric vehicles at home and not need charging stations,, if they wanted to.

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Les Blevins 3 years, 1 month ago

The advantage of community energy projects is that communities can develop these projects themselves, using local funding if available, and add significant amounts of cleaner renewable energy to their local grid without waiting for outside developers and at the same time create local jobs, economic activity and reduce the city's carbon footprint.

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Les Blevins 3 years, 1 month ago

My proposal centers on community scale distributed generation using a city's municipal wastes along with yard wastes and other biomass. Westar Energy and Lawrence City officials and this media outlet must be colluding to avoid any discussion of this proposal since I can't get any of them to discuss it or cover it in the media. This leads me to believe my proposal is the most frightening thing out there for Westar and they are somehow keeping this discussion off the table. But the thing is Lawrence could be the manufacturing point for the equipment that would empower other towns and cities to incorporate these distributed power generation systems if they could shake off the notion that all the City's power needs to come from the monopoly utility.

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ralphralph 3 years, 1 month ago

If we're going to start plugging-in cars, we'd better start building more nuclear plants. ... unless you are big fans of coal-fired plants.

Windmills aren't going to power your cars. Neither are solar panels. So, what's it going to be? Coal or nuclear.

I'm thinking ... Clean, Safe, Reliable, Domestic, Sufficient = Nuclear.

If you disagree, then don't plug your damn car into my grid.

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