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Sandy City Launches Sustainable Sandy Initiative; Unveils New EV Chargers

Learn more about the rollout of EV chargers throughout Sandy City!

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The Case for Electric School Buses

What first comes to mind when you think about school bus transportation? Perhaps it’s the orange or yellow color, the sound of one passing by your home, or the dot moving on the map on your phone as you watch your child’s commute to school. What may not yet come to mind, however, is a quiet, emissions-free electric school bus.

Since school buses transport millions of students to and from school every day throughout the school year, they may be the most critical vehicles on the road. What if there was a way to make their commute safer, healthier, and more efficient? There may be, and per the benefits, we explore below, the answer may point to electric school buses.

Improved Health and Safety

  • Cleaner Air for Passengers

According to an article by Environmental Defense, exposure to various pollutants from inside a diesel school bus is five to six times greater than ambient levels and three times higher than someone walking to school. The exposure to pollutants inside the bus, called self-pollution, occurs because the bus’s tailpipe emissions are reentering into the cabin. Because there are no tailpipe emissions on electric vehicles, an electric bus’s air quality inside (and outside) is significantly improved.

  • Reduced Health Risk

Electric school buses may reduce asthma symptoms and other respiratory issues since they do not emit exhaust. However, air pollutants such as diesel exhaust can trigger or worsen asthma attacks. Another scary condition to which diesel exhaust is a contributor is cancer. Diesel exhaust is internationally recognized as a carcinogen and recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a substance that likely causes cancer.

  • More Reliable Transportation

Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts; therefore, there are fewer parts to deteriorate or break. This can mean that electric buses are more reliable, especially for longer bus routes and traffic considerations.

  • Quieter Commute

Electric vehicles are much quieter than gas or diesel-powered vehicles, making the inside of buses less noisy as well. Driving a quieter school bus could mean that bus drivers can better hear and communicate with students and better hear their surroundings (such as a siren).
Environmental Benefits

  • Cleaner Air

Exchanging one diesel school bus with an electric school bus can lower greenhouse gas emissions by over 50,000 pounds per year. The air quality of an area dramatically improves with the lack of diesel fuel exhaust emissions. Cleaner air benefits other commuters, surrounding plants and wildlife, and the community.

  • Quieter Roadways

Since electric vehicles don’t make much noise, they don’t contribute to the nuisance of “noise pollution.” Noise pollution is any environmental noise that is unwanted and disturbing. Traffic and regular vehicles fall into this category.

  • Continuously Lessening the Environmental Impact

While pollution is created in producing electric vehicles, the amount varies depending on the process, company, location, and other factors. Manufacturers are continuously finding new ways to produce and operate electric vehicles more cleanly and efficiently. This also includes the electric grids from which the batteries are charged.

Lower Operation Cost

  • Better “Gas” Mileage

Electric school buses require less energy and cost to operate. If you compare an electric school bus’s “gas mileage” to that of a diesel school bus, electric gets the equivalent of 17 miles per gallon, while the diesel gets approximately 6 miles per gallon. Additionally, electricity is less expensive than diesel fuel and has more predictable prices.

  • Less Maintenance Cost

Gas and diesel-powered vehicles require frequent maintenance such as oil changes and tune-ups and component replacements such as the water pump and fuel pump. However, since electric vehicles don’t need much maintenance, the maintenance cost savings of an electric school bus versus a diesel school bus is nearly 60%. The operation cost savings can offset the initial investment of an electric school bus, which is more than that of a diesel school bus.

  • Healthcare Savings

By reducing air pollution, moving to electric vehicles is expected to create significant savings in overall healthcare.

Other Benefits and FAQ’s

How long will the electric batteries in electric buses last?

The electric batteries are expected to last for the life of the bus or about 12-15 years.

What happens with the battery after it can no longer be used?

Most electric school buses will use a lithium-ion battery which can be recycled after use.

Will an electric school bus be able to complete a bus route before needing to charge again?

A typical school bus route one-way is 30-40 miles. The electric school buses can travel between 100-135 miles between charges, giving more than enough energy to complete a daily route.

How long does it take to charge the bus’s battery fully?

It depends on the bus and the size of the charging station, though it typically takes about 6-8 hours. This timeframe makes overnight charging convenient for schools.

What about all the other diesel and gas cars on the road?

While we can’t control the types of transportation citizens use, communities can choose the type of transportation their schools operate.

Electric school buses are quickly becoming a priority for cities and government officials, and with the long list of advantages, they may become a priority for parents as well. As electric vehicles become more common, the benefits of electric school buses on the health of children and communities, safety, lower long-term costs for schools are becoming more apparent.

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DOE Funds EMPOWER Workplace Charging Project

Press Release from Tennessee Clean Fuels: 

empower header

On Nov. 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office announced the winners of the FY’21 “Low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Vehicle Technologies Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment” funding opportunity. Included in this year’s round was a Topic Area of “Electric Vehicle Workplace Charging.” One of the announced winners was the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition (CWCC) and their EMPOWER proposal – “Equitable Mobility Powering Opportunities for Workplace Electrification Readiness.”

Leveraging their experience with the Drive Electric USA program, East Tennessee Clean Fuels is providing administrative support and project management guidance for the EMPOWER program.

This proposal included 30 DOE Clean Cities Coalitions as a large workforce that would lead the boots-on-the-ground implementation of a new national workplace charging alliance. The work will begin with a year’s convening of diverse transportation electrification representatives that will share experience, listen and craft a program that will encourage participation by workplaces in diverse communities across America.

“This project offers a great opportunity for Clean Cities Coalitions to listen to the communities we work within and find out how workplace charging could benefit them,” Brian Trice, Executive Director of CWCC, said.

The project aims to…

“… reach upwards of 2,000 employers and secure at least 650 employer commitments to install and support workplace charging programming, and 3,500 installed EVSE/units at employer sites. Additionally, our goal is to end up with at least 20% of our employer commitments from diverse employers in qualified opportunities zones that benefit underserved communities and people of color. Participating workplaces will provide critical feedback on our workplace charging resources as we produce them, allowing us to continually improve our program system and materials during the project period. This feedback loop is a critical part of the successful development of a national workplace charging program that is both effective and user-friendly.”

The EMPOWER project will accelerate the interest and support for workplace charging nationwide using a national landing page/funnel and website that will house our tools, resources and information, along with consistent messaging, tactics and coordination with national data and utility partners. This project has a primary goal of advancing employer commitments for workplace charging programs and installations. Secondary goals include collecting and advancing electric vehicle charging research and increasing career pathways in the EV charging industry for underrepresented communities.empower leader logos jpg 1030x585

“We are looking forward to engaging directly with unrepresented and overburdened communities through this project,” Jonathan Overly, Coordinator of ETCF, said. “We will be listening to what these communities have to say about electric vehicle infrastructure in their communities and considering it as this project progresses.”

Major project partners working with CWCC include Cadeo Group, East Tennessee Clean Fuels (ETCF), Louisiana Clean Fuels (LCF),  ICF InternationalShift2Electric, Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), National Rural Electric  Cooperative Association (NRECA), Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP), Cerritos CollegeWashington State Department of Commerce, American Lung Association (ALA), the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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The project also has charging provider partners that include Siemens and Chargepoint and the following diverse utilities: ComEdAlabama PowerEntergyEversource, Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW), OK Gas & Electric (OG&E), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Green Mountain Power (GMP), Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Avangrid, Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB), Pepco Holdings, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), Central Maine Power (CMP), Knoxville Utility Board (KUB), Rocky Mountain PowerBurlington Electric Department, Portland General Electric (PGE), Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and Kentucky Power.

The project team is receiving $3,970,539 in federal funds while providing over $1,000,000 in cost share from non-federal sources.

Read on below to learn more about the project!

Want to contact the project leadership? Email empower@cwcleancities.org.


The EMPOWER project will build on our team’s learned understanding of workplace charging as well as the management of complex federal projects. We are utilizing a similar management structure in the coordination of our more than 30 Clean Cities Coalition partners and employing “regional Captains” based on the U.S. DOE’s geographic delineation. These regional Coalition Captains will be responsible for oversight and assistance to their underlying Coalitions, channeling two-way communications from the Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) to Coalitions and from the Coalitions to the SAT, resource deployment and ensuring that support is available when needed.

With a) parts of the country exceeding 5% electric vehicle market share, b) many new plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) options becoming available and c) many states starting to develop statewide Drive Electric partnerships and programs (e.g., see the DRIVE Electric USA initiative), this national workplace charging collaboration is important at this critical time of market inflection.

Workplace charging helps with employee recruitment and retention; offering plug-in access at work also proves an organization’s credibility when talking about sustainability efforts. Other benefits of workplace charging need further research and will be part of our program’s evaluation. Reliable access to a charging station at home remains a barrier that prevents many drivers from owning a plug-in vehicle. Workplace charging can provide a pathway for plug-in ownership for those considering an EV who live in apartments, condominiums or otherwise do not have access to an overnight charging station.

Workplace charging can affect large swathes of our community and directly affect many new EV owners, plug-in hybrid owners and a growing used-EV-owner populace.

An essential facet of our program design will be the diversity, equity and inclusion lens in place for all facets of this project. We will be looking at our team’s makeup, how we promote the program and the emphasis we make on our outreach to make a determined effort to fairly advance the benefits of transportation electrification where it will have the most significant AND most diverse impact.

Workplace charging is also increasingly seen as a value to electric utilities. Utility program administrators are forecasting the value of frequency regulation, load following and load shifting grid interactions with EVSE and EVs. Workplace charging can flatten the curve of demand by charging mid-day and lessening the extra evening demand during what is typically a peak evening event.

The EMPOWER project team understands the potential of our energy resilience and is collaborating with ORNL and the PNNL to help ensure that data from this project can inform national laboratory research and tools. This project will provide consistency for workplace charging resources and valuable research to continue evaluating the many associated variables of these programs and create a long-term plan to support a framework for communication and support for key market actors. There can be many regional differences that may affect how an employer or utility may respond to workplace charging programming – our resource package will allow for localization to help ensure that partners feel comfortable approaching their key stakeholders.

The Clean Cities Coalitions that will be part of the initiative include (listed from West Coast to East Coast):

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PODCAST Preview: Utah Clean Cities and The National Association of State Energy Officials host CORWest Demand Charge Webinar

Keynote Speaker Dylan Tucker Senior Project Manager with NASEO gives a brief overview of the EV Demand Charger Assessment and why it is so important. 

The webinar will lay out electric vehicle fast-charging and rate design options to enable ubiquitous public charging infrastructure as states, electric service providers, and private sector companies prepare for the electrification of the transportation sector, electric billing rates for electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging has emerged as a barrier to rapidly deploying new infrastructure and providing cost-competitive charging to EV drivers.

When: Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Where: Virtual event register here 

When 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. MST

Recent work by the CORWest Project Team has examined the effect of current electric billing rates through the report: Demand Charges and Electric Vehicle Fast-Charging: An Intermountain West Assessment. This webinar will present the results of that report, examining the rate structures of 41 electric service providers in the region. That will be followed by a discussion of case studies on how service providers can manage rates to enable the deployment of new fast-charging infrastructure and grow their customer base through vehicle electrification.

CORWest supports electrifying the intermountain west alternative fuel corridors

  • Remove barriers to investment to enable private station development.
  • Identify key infrastructure gaps and develop solutions to deploy charging stations in rural regions required to complete corridors.
  • Develop replicable educational tools to encourage EV consumer awareness.

CORWest facilitates regional connectivity with:

  • 8 State Partnership
  • Largest EV Corridor Collaborative
  • Designed to Scale & Replicate Nationally

 

 

 

 

 

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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Carves Out Billions of Dollars for Hydrogen: How Utah Could Benefit

Monday, November 15, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill allocates money for alternative fuels such as hydrogen. Experts with the Western States Hydrogen Alliance  (WSHA) say the money could help drive large-scale deployment and investment for the hydrogen industry in Utah and the United States.

“Hydrogen fuel cells do perfectly in the large scale setting,” WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said.“ Hydrogen fuel cells are a vital part of the decarbonization of especially, heavy duty equipment be it trucks busses, locomotives vessels, and even aviation”. 

According to an Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, fuel cell technologies and hydrogen energy are being increasingly viewed as essential decarbonization options across the United States and around the world for a wide range of sectors, including transportation, goods and people movement, power generation, energy storage, natural gas blending, marine propulsion, aviation, heating, steelmaking, and other industrial applications.

“This bill demonstrates the incredible potential for creating the nation’s hydrogen economy,” added Frank Wolak. “FCHEA is encouraged by further discussions surrounding the Build Back Better Act which includes an array of tax and policy activities that complement this infrastructure bill and will continue to drive innovation, economic growth, and emissions reduction.”

The infrastructure bill includes a package of resources for hydrogen including $8 billion for development of a number of large-scale Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs across the country, $1 billion for Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Research and Development, and $500 million in funds for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling. Also, the bill directs the federal government to develop the country’s first national hydrogen roadmap and strategy. 

“We are excited that the Biden Administration and Congress are supporting four hydrogen hubs.
They want one that will be utilizing fossil fuels, one that will utilize nuclear power, one for renewable energy, and the last one is up in the air,” WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said. 

The bill lays out other opportunities to help propel the deployment of l hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology throughout the nation’s energy and transportation systems. 

Bekemohammadi says the $1 billion allocated to clean hydrogen electrolysis research and development could help Utah based company OxEon Energy, a company that produces solid oxide electrolyzer and fuel cells. OxEon Energy is investigating the use of a solid oxide fuel cell stack as the power generation device for eVTOL applications. The challenges of robustness of the SOFC device was addressed under a NASA funded program to develop a solid oxide electrolysis unit that successfully generated oxygen on Mars. 

“On top of that, they are hiring locally so I anticipate there is going to be economic development through this money potentially being invested in OxEon”, WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said. 

Another Utah based project that could benefit from the infrastructure bill is the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA). Located in the Utah Inland Port territory of Salt Lake City, Lancer Energy is building the state’s first super station. Experts say the station is going to be an SMR unit taking renewable natural gas to hydrogen and then taking the hydrogen through a fuel cell for DC fast charging. UIPA plans to capture hydrogen using SMR  (steam methane reforming) using natural gas. This capture requires a combination of renewable and carbon captured hydrogen. 

Republican Senator Mitt Romney was the states only lawmaker in Washington to support the President’s Infrastructure Bill.

Senator Romney released the following statement, After months of unnecessary delay by House Democratic leadership, today’s passage is a win for Utah, as we will now be better positioned to meet transportation challenges, mitigate drought conditions, prepare for and respond to wildfires, extend broadband to rural communities, and fulfill critical water needs. In stark contrast to Democrats’ efforts to pass a separate bill to drastically expand social programs, the bipartisan group I worked with proved that it’s possible to achieve solutions without raising taxes or adding trillions to the national debt. I urge President Biden to keep his promise to sign this legislation without delay, so we can modernize our nation’s physical infrastructure, address supply chain issues, and demonstrate that, even in polarized times, Congress can still come together on behalf of the American people”. 

Utah Highlights:

Authorizes $3 Billion for Utah’s Roads and Highways

  • Utah has 2,064 miles of roads in poor condition. Commute times are up 7.2% in the state since 2011 and bad roads cost drivers an average of $709 per year in repair. This bipartisan legislation authorizes roughly $3 billion in highway funding for Utah over five years to construct, rebuild, and maintain its roads and highways.

 Includes key legislative priorities championed by Senator Romney:

  • Smart Intersections Act: Provides resources to state, local, and tribal governments to improve the functioning of their traffic signals;
  • Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act: Establishes a commission to study and recommend fire prevention, mitigation, management, and rehabilitation policies for forests and grasslands;
  • Secures additional funding for wildfire mitigation and recovery, including hazardous fuel removal, burned area recovery, prescribed fires, shared stewardship contracts and agreements, and more;
  • $50 million for Central Utah Project Completion Act: Provides water for municipal use, mitigation, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, and conservation;
  • $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration for drought-related shortfalls; 
  • $300 million to fund outstanding Emergency Watershed Program needs for post-fire recovery and wildfire mitigation;
  • $100 million for drought contingency plan funding;
  • $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities (BRIC) program for pre-disaster mitigation, including wildfire and drought projects;
  • $214 million to fully fund the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement: Legislation to bring running water to the 40% of Navajo Nation in Utah who lack it; and
  • $1.7 billion for the construction and improvement of Indian Health Services sanitation facilities.

Delivers $219 million to Utah for water revolving funds

  • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would authorize roughly $219 million over five years for the Beehive State through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program & Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

Invests in Utah’s Airports

  • In July, the FAA announced Utah airports received over $1.8 million in federal grants through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $25 billion for airport improvement projects such as expansions, installations, assisting with planning, rebuilding runways, improving lighting and runways, and air navigation facilities.

Provides $65 billion to expand broadband access across the country

  • Builds on Senator Romney’s efforts to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities in Utah.

Eliminates federal red tape by reforming the permitting process to speed construction projects

  • Builds on the Federal Permitting Council’s efforts to shortening the government approval process for large infrastructure projects by bringing relevant agencies together to reduce inefficiencies. 

    Provides $40 billion in funding for bridge construction, maintenance, and repair

  • Of that, $30 billion will be apportioned by formula to ensure bridges in every state are provided with needed resources. Utah currently has 62 bridges classified as structurally deficient.

About the Western States Hydrogen Association 

The Western States Hydrogen Alliance is a member-based non-profit alliance, dedicated to advancing the market for hydrogen and fuel cells in the commercial sector within the Western United States. WSHA’s focus is on swift and decisive action in the immediate term, acknowledging that an open window of opportunity exists in the market now.

About the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association 

The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) represents over seventy leading companies and organizations that are advancing innovative, clean, safe, and reliable energy technologies. FCHEA drives support and provides a consistent industry voice to regulators and policymakers. Our educational efforts promote the environmental and economic benefits of fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies. 

Resources

Utah Clean Cities Coalition Hydrogen Projects 

A beginners Guide to Hydrogen in Utah 

Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA)

Western States Hydrogen Association

listen to the entire interview with WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi. 

 

 

 

 

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The infrastructure bill could make Utah a leader in alternative fuels

Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

By Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY — President Joe Biden’s Monday signature on a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal may reengineer the way people and goods move around Utah, while also tapping the brakes on the trajectory of the climate crisis.

The House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 5, legislation negotiated with a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Road and bridge repair will get one of the biggest buckets of spending, with $110 billion dedicated to those projects and $3 billion alone going to Utah.

“It’s still early, very early, in terms of our understanding of exactly what’s in the bill,” warned Tallis Blalack, with Utah State University’s ASPIRE Research Center. “And more importantly, how what’s in there is going to be implemented.”

State agencies await guidance and clarification for how the infrastructure money can be applied for and spent. But it’s clear big investments lie ahead in many facets of transportation — $66 billion will go to rail projects throughout the nation, $17 billion is set aside for ports (including inland ports) and $7.5 billion is dedicated to electric vehicles, to name just a few examples.

Here, industry experts weigh in on how Utah can leverage the infrastructure deal’s funds and go beyond just patching potholes to transforming transportation in the state.

A ‘futuristic’ inland port

The Utah Inland Port Authority already has a plan in place to hire people dedicated to applying for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act grants, according to port director Jack Hedge, in order to build a “21st Century port.”

“About 40% of the nation’s goods move through Utah annually,” Hedge said. “So I think we can make a really good case for maybe a bigger slice of the pie than we might otherwise be entitled to.”

Those funds won’t be used to build projects the port authority has already shared with the public, like the transloading facility and expanded rail access, he said.

“I see it more as being some of these things that are a little more difficult to make a business case for. For example, renewable fuels,” Hedge said. “To build that infrastructure out becomes a chicken-or-egg question. Grant monies can help build the chicken so we can get the eggs.”

The port director said he’s particularly excited about the $65 billion the infrastructure plan dedicates to broadband. The port authority is currently partnering with Intel, Athonet, QuayChain and Wireless Industrial Group to build an “Intelligent Crossroads Network” at the port, a private 5G network that provides rapid information about the supply chain and makes moving cargo more efficient.

“There’s not a lot of good data points for where your cargo is, how it’s moving, whose truck it’s on,” Hedge said. “Our network will help provide the platform for that data to be available.”

The network could also support automation and autonomous vehicles in the future, he added. And the infrastructure bill’s timing is particularly good for Utah, since its port is largely just on the cusp of its construction.

“The portions of the port still to be developed, we can develop as this state-of-the-art, really futuristic view of how to build ports,” Hedge said, “whereas if you’re talking about a 100-year-old port, like Los Angeles, you’ve got a lot of existing infrastructure you’ve got to tear up and replace.”

Utah’s inland port remains controversial, however, and the port authority is locked in a lawsuit with Salt Lake City that sits before the Utah Supreme Court. Since its formation in 2018, opponents of the inland port have complained about the authority’s lack of transparency. Its plans for projects like the transloading facility and the Intelligent Crossroads Network continue to be vague.

Deeda Seed, with the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition, said she’s concerned infrastructure funds will be used to bring more truck traffic, climate-altering emissions and air pollution to the Wasatch Front.

“We’re in the situation where we have to see what the port authority proposes before we can respond,” Seed said. “Right now, as with everything, they give the public such incomplete information that it makes it hard for us to do the kind of robust analysis that we would like to do.”

A big rig revolution

Also at the inland port, researchers at Utah State University are ramping up to demonstrate groundbreaking technology for semi trucks, and the infrastructure deal could further drive those efforts.

An influx of diesel emissions-spewing trucks is the source of many anxieties about the growing inland port, but USU’s ASPIRE Center — which stands for Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification — is set to demonstrate a wireless charging network and potentially make Utah an epicenter of electrified transportation.

“A lot of our focus is on how do we electrify heavy duty vehicles?” said Blalack, ASPIRE’s managing director. “That’s one of the biggest challenges we have for the nation and for the world.”

The reason electric cars like Teslas and Nissan Leafs are a common sight on daily commutes, but electric big rigs are pretty much nonexistent, is because electric trucks are both expensive and the batteries are heavy. To cover a 500-mile range, a semi would need a unit that costs more than $100,000 and weighs 20,000 pounds.

Given that loaded rigs can’t weigh more than 80,000 pounds, those batteries limit the amount of cargo a truck can haul. But ASPIRE is working on wireless rapid chargers for trucks, similar to the cordless devices used to re-juice mobile phones.

“A semi driver will be able to pull over during a mandatory lunch break,” Blalack said, “and get enough charge in that half hour to do the full route.”

Eventually, the group wants to incorporate that technology into the road pavement itself so both truckers and commuters can charge while they drive, which would lower the price tag of electric vehicles for everyone, Blalack said. Instead of those huge 500-mile range batteries, trucks could get by on smaller and cheaper 50-mile ones.

The Utah Legislature allocated $5 million for ASPIRE’s program at the inland port, called the “Freight Logistics Electrification Demonstration Project,” and has signaled it will eventually dedicate $20 million to the pilot.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get significant matching funds from the infrastructure bill,” Blalack said. “This is going to end up being a very good investment by the state, as we’re able to prove out these technologies and prove Utah as a leader in the nation for electrification.”

And the inland port project, set to begin construction in 2023, is just the first phase of building that electrified network.

“Ultimately, we want to see an electric corridor from Provo to Ogden,” Blalack said.

A more equitable transportation system

The biggest chunk of the infrastructure deal will help patch crumbling streets, which is right up Blyncsy CEO Mark Pittman’s alley. The Salt Lake City-based tech firm recently launched a pilot program with the Utah Department of Transportation to use its Payver A.I. software in detecting road hazards and issues in need of repair.

But Pittman said what interests him most about the infrastructure bill is the chance to build a more equitable transportation system.

“This is a slog of money to fix all the bridges that weren’t up to date, to build the roads that we need to build … so it should move us critically forward,” he said. “My concern is what happens after.”

The infrastructure deal is set to improve the lives of low-income and minority communities by expanding services like broadband and finally delivering running water to the Navajo Nation. Utah also has a chance to improve connectivity and transform underserved areas by adding things as basic as sidewalks and bike lanes, Pittman said.

“We have lots of areas, particularly from a transit perspective, across this country where low-income populations are effectively forced to own cars,” Pittman said, “and the bill is looking to help right those types of wrongs.”

The federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program will get an additional a $7.5 billion through the infrastructure deal. RAISE has supported transportation projects like rapid bus lines to low-income neighborhoods in Alabama and the removal of a freeway that destroyed a once-thriving Black community in Detroit.

Congress has spent $8.9 billion on RAISE since its inception in 2009, so the infrastructure bill’s investment represents a significant boost.

And the president has directed that 40% of federal climate and clean energy spending should go to disadvantaged communities through the Justice40 Initiative.

Data that Pittman collects can show that low-income neighborhoods are prone to unsafe road conditions, or poor access to transit, he said, where those infrastructure dollars are badly needed.

“This can be based on a bunch of things, right?” Pittman said. “… But often we suspect a lot of it is that wealthier areas probably complain more. They donate to [politicians], their voices are elevated in ways that the other areas can’t be.”

The federal infrastructure plan also invests $5 billion to reduce crashes and conflicts with bicyclists and pedestrians through a Safe Streets For All program, which could further transform Utah’s streets into safer and more equitable spaces, Pittman said.

“We’re working really extensively and using our data detectors to find examples where there’s pedestrians and cars in conflict zones and use that to make investment in safety” with infrastructure like improved street lights, barriers and reflective paint, Pittman said.

A supercharged EV network and alternative fuels hub

The billions set to build out the nation’s electric vehicle infrastructure are bound to have an impact on Utah as well, particularly because the funds focus on rural areas.

Rocky Mountain Power recently announced a $50 million investment to add around 20 EV “extreme fast chargers” across the state. Utah can leverage that money to get more federal infrastructure funds to add even more chargers to the network, including in remote areas, according to Josh Craft with Utah Clean Energy.

That means more people will be willing to buy electric vehicles versus combustion engine cars, because “they’ll have the confidence and knowledge they can get to a charger when they need it,” Craft said.

Beyond electric vehicles, Utah is in a good position to become a leader in alternative fuels with the help of infrastructure funds. Craft noted an effort at the Intermountain Power Project in Delta exploring green hydrogen technology.

The plant, which sends most of its power to California, will stop using coal by 2025. It intends to convert to a mix of hydrogen and natural gas, eventually generating 100% of its electricity from “clean” hydrogen that uses renewables like wind or solar to harvest hydrogen from water molecules.

“It’s new, and green hydrogen is currently expensive in terms of delivered power,” Craft said. “But there are a lot of opportunities with national funds to drive down those costs.”

Lawmakers have dedicated $8 billion to create at least four sites that can demonstrate production and storage of clean hydrogen. The Intermountain Power Plant is next door to huge salt domes that happen to be ideal natural vessels for storing hydrogen, making it a good candidate for the funds.

“There will be opportunities to sell that [hydrogen] across the West, including to Utah customers,” Craft said. “It’s a [chance] for us to be on the leading edge of an energy hub.”

The hydrogen project at the Intermountain plant, called Advanced Clean Energy Storage, is largely focused on producing electricity. But hydrogen as an alternative fuel for vehicles is another big push in the infrastructure deal, and the massive oil and gas company Chevron Corp. recently signaled its interest in becoming an investor in the Delta effort, alongside Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development.

“We’re excited that Congress has taken the first step … in not only upgrading our infrastructure, but doing it in a way that’s mindful of our energy transition and climate change,” Craft said.

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Transportation Energy Partners Hosts Webinar

When: Friday, November 21, 2021

11 a.m. to Noon MST

Register Here

Some of highlights of the just passed $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill include:

  • $39 billion in new funds for public transit
  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging and other refueling stations
  • $5 billion to purchase electric and other alternative fuel school buses
  • $9 billion for hydrogen research, development, & demonstrations

The November 19th webinar will feature Washington’s top clean transportation policy experts who will address the following questions:

  • How will this transform the clean fuels and vehicles space?
  • What will be in the final Build Back Better Act?
  • Who will be the key players on disbursing these funds?
  • How can communities prepare to apply for infrastructure project funding?
  • What can Clean Cities Coalitions and other industry leaders do to effectively maximize these upcoming opportunities?

Representatives from the Electric Drive Transportation Association, NGVAmerica, National Biodiesel Board, National Propane Gas Association, and other prominent clean transportation organizations will join

us to discuss these and other important questions.

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Utah Clean Cities attends Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit

By Marti Sorensen Intern Utah Clean Cities

On October 27 (Wed.) and 28 (Thurs.), 2021, Utah Clean Cities attended the recent Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit held in Kanab, Utah.This event aims to develop and elevate outdoor recreation communities, foster stewardship, and improve the health and quality of life of all Utah residents. More than 250 attendees including: universities, non-profits, and local companies.The show of support at the Summit was a fantastic display of Utahns’ passion and love for the public lands. The East Zion mountain biking trail’s ribbon cutting ceremony kicked off the summit, including remarks from speakers Jeff Bradybaugh, Superintendent of Zion National Park, Brent Chamberlain, Kane County Commissioner, Pitt Grewe, Director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Mark Preiss, Director of the Zion National Park Foundation, and Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism. The 10 miles of new bike trail is one of the many features planned for the east entrance of the national park in the coming years to help address overcrowding. The trail comes as National Park Service data show more than an estimated 4 million visitors have visited the park already this year, through September, which puts it on pace to shatter its visitation record of over 4.5 million set in 2017. 

“The next generation of our park experience in our public land experience is going to look like a collaboration that is not just about our visitors and their experience, but it’s about the health and well-being of our communities. We’re going to determine what that looks like for the next 100 years,” Mark Preiss said. 

The land for the 10 miles of the mountain bike trails that opened Wednesday was donated by two local families: the McLaws and Neeleman families; the latter is the owner of the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, which is located in Kane County between the park’s eastern boundaries and the town of Orderville. 

At the trail opening, Utah Clean Cities unveiled  its new EV shuttle, which is part of the larger EV Zion Project, in order to promote the goals of strengthening outdoor recreation and improving health for all Utahns. This new EV Shuttle was created to navigate the varied weather and terrain of Zion National Park and the neighboring areas of Southern Utah. Both the EV shuttle and the new East Zion mountain biking trail illustrate how collaboration and forward thinking can lead to significant and long-lasting infrastructure that can be used by all. This brief demonstration is part of a greater transportation vision for this area, which is prone to traffic congestion due to the park’s high visitor numbers. 

Watch the entire ribbon cutting here. 

 

 

 

 

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Zion: Nation’s 4th most visited national park delivers big $ to Utah

Posted on March 23, 2021

By

Article here

SALT LAKE CITY — Zion National Park, Utah’s superstar of tourism, draws millions of visitors each year and stands to deliver even more economic success under a scenario with planned improvements to its east entrance.

A new report by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah details the financial impact of Zion National Park, which out of 62 national parks in the country ranked No. 4 in visitation.

“Zion National Park is a top driver of Utah’s travel and tourism economy,” said Jennifer Leaver, Gardner Institute senior tourism analyst and lead author of the report.

“In this study, we worked with park managers and stakeholders to project Zion visitation over a 10-year horizon. We considered recent visitation trends, the self-limiting effects of park crowding and the possible impacts of proposed east park developments to help local decision-makers make informed decisions on the future of Zion.”

The report found the proposed developments at the east entrance that include a new visitor center, electric shuttle fleet, hiking trails and lodging have the potential to generate 545 jobs and $36.9 million in gross domestic product each year from 2020 to 2030 in southwestern Utah.

Findings underscore the popularity of Zion and other national parks’ impact on tourism, including:

  • One-third of all Utah national park spending was by visitors to Zion, and over 40% of all visitors to the parks in Utah made a trip to Zion.
  • In 2019, Zion National Park visitors spent a record $253.6 million in Kane and Washington counties, supporting 4,438 jobs, $140.5 million in earnings, $235.3 million in gross domestic product and $42.2 million in state and local tax revenue.
  • Park visitors are one of Utah’s top visitor spending groups, with an estimated $1,133 spent per travel party per stay in 2019, and an estimated annual statewide spending of more than $434 million outside of the park and its surrounding communities.

Increased park visitation has been a “mighty” challenge for Utah’s Mighty Five, straining resources particularly at Arches and Zion national parks.

The institute’s report notes that Zion experienced a 47.5% increase from 2014 to 2019, squeezing in an additional 1.7 million visitors over that five-year period.

Such an increase demonstrates the need to disperse visitors to improve the tourism experience, alleviate the strain on park infrastructure and to avoid breaching visitor capacity.

“Public-private investment in infrastructure, including a new visitor center, electric shuttle system, over 40 miles of new trails and new lodging and retail services, will help with Zion National Park overcrowding and create both good jobs and economic growth across Kane and Washington counties,” said Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain.

Such a private partnership was born in 2017 with the launch of the Zion Natl Park Forever Project, which raises money to boost stewardship of the overworked park and to pay for improvements. The program has been active with a variety of projects.

In the report released Tuesday, authors detail a scenario via planned east entrance developments, including construction of four new hotels featuring 337 rooms that would boost Kane County’s hotel capacity by nearly 30%.

It also calls for construction of a visitor center at the east entrance and four high-end residential developments catering to tourists who could rent the homes for an average of $560 a night the first year.

The report describes ways to reduce congestion and pollution in the park through the purchase and deployment of a fleet of zero-emission electric vehicles. The vehicles would take visitors between Zion National Park’s South Entrance Visitor Center, the proposed East Entrance Visitor Center and the city of Kanab, passing through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.

The park’s current shuttle system only transports visitors up and down Zion Canyon.

If the park stayed on a trajectory of “business as usual” in the coming decade, the report notes that visitation will flatten as the park reaches capacity.

“The authors believe that continued Zion National Park visitation growth without future infrastructure investment risks negatively impacting the park visitor experience to the point of necessary visitor park capacity restrictions and diminished local economic benefits,” the report said. “In addition, the authors feel it is important for Zion National Park managers and east entrance developers to consider emerging local, national and global issues as they develop future park management plans and direct infrastructure investments.”

 

 

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Kane County votes down plan to create shuttle from Kanab to Zion The vote on Proposition 10 came just a week after the East Zion Initiative launched a pilot electric shuttle system.

Posted on Nov. 4, 2021

By Alastair Lee Bitsóí K. Sofie Wills, The Salt Lake City Tribune

Kane County voters, a majority who live in Kanab City, voted down a ballot initiative that proposed a public bus shuttle system that would have transported visitors from Kanab City to Zion National Park on Tuesday.

The county electorate was asked whether or not they’d support Proposition 10, which would have created a government body to run a shuttle from Kanab City to East Zion and on to Zion National Park. The shuttle would have also provided services to the region’s access to hiking and biking trails, vacation stays and other recreational opportunities.

Unofficial election results indicate that 1,338 voters or about 68.44% voted against Proposition 10.

“Proposition 10 lost,” County Clerk Karla Johnson said. “The people voted against it.”

Johnson added that Kane County had about a 60% voter turnout for this election cycle.

The vote on Proposition 10 came just a week after the East Zion Initiative launched a pilot electric shuttle system to demonstrate cleaner options for transportation in the region and as a way to help disperse Zion’s 4 million visitors to different parts of the park. The East Zion Initiative recently celebrated the opening of a new 10-mile mountain bike trail system as part of a larger project to develop the area, which includes a proposed $16 million East Zion Visitor Center Applecross Station.

Members of the East Zion Initiative say the vote is disappointing but it will not stop their plans to develop the area. The initiative consists of Utah Clean Cities, Kane County, Zion Forever Project, the National Park Service, the McLaws family, state and federal tourism officials and the Bureau of Land Management.

The vote will exclude any immediate regional recreational planning with Kanab City, supporters of the electric shuttle system say.

Tammie Bostick, executive director for Utah Clean Cities, said that the people’s vote on Proposition 10 is centered on misinformation and that the vote doesn’t impact her work to supply electric shuttles for visitors to Zion National Park. Utah Clean Cities will find other alternatives than Kanab City to launch its electric shuttle service, she said.

Last week, Bostick told The Salt Lake Tribune that the electric shuttle services sponsored by Utah Clean Cities would launch in Kanab, and now she and other partners will need to plan for other launch sites.

“[The] shuttle system is to serve Zion National Park,” Bostick said. “And to demonstrate the technology in the park has nothing to do with Kane County.”

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain, who also sits on the board of Utah Clean Cities, added that he is surprised by the public vote on Proposition 10. “We’re feeling like maybe it was a fair amount of people that are feeling overrun with tourists, and well, not tourists, just seeing the area grow and kind of resistant to that,” Chamberlain said.

As a result of the public vote, Chamberlain said, Kane County will no longer consider creating a transportation authority for the East Zion region, and that future transportation plans would probably be better suited to a private or nonprofit entity.

“We will just kind of go forward with doing the things we can do and things like the shuttle system, if that happens, it will need to be somebody else that does that,” he said.

The nonprofit Zion National Park Forever Project still plans to work with its partners to extend the park’s economic and recreational opportunities around Zion, including the East Zion area.

“In the spirit of shared stewardship for these heritage lands, Zion Forever Project will continue to work with its Kane County partners, business leaders and property owners to conserve the last unprotected and undeveloped gateway to a national park in the lower 48 through the East Zion Initiative, ” said Mark Preiss, director of Zion Forever