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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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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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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

 

 

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A recap of the 13 Annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month: READ the Governor’s Declaration

Governor Declares November as Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month

Event demonstrates Utah leadership on clean transportation

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah kicked off the 13th annual Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month with an event showcasing the state’s efforts to advance development of clean transportation choices in both the private and public sectors. Governor Spencer Cox’s official declaration was read today by Thom Carter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development. The declaration highlights the emerging portfolio of advanced fueled vehicles, both public and private, including fuels produced from Utah-sourced agricultural and municipal wastes, renewable electric, hydrogen, methane, and biofuels. Utah is one of nine western states to explore electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure deployments throughout the west as part of the Western Governors Association’s Electric Vehicles Roadmap Initiative. Additionally, the REVWest program has grown into the Utah-led CORWest project which is recognized as a national rural model for building electric vehicle infrastructure throughout rural gateway communities, national parks, and scenic byways.

In Southern Utah, more than 30 public and private partners have collaborated to advance Smart Mobility systems in gateway communities, including the EVZion electric shuttle demonstration pilot and the commitment of Zion National Park to electrify all busing services in the park.

“Half of all air pollution along the Wasatch Front comes from the transportation sector. Of that, fifty percent comes from the tailpipes of medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The 13th Annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month amplifies opportunities while directly addressing the real and perceived barriers to using abundant, affordable, and Utah-based clean fuels solutions. Awareness is the most urgent call to bring action and real deployment of zero emissions vehicles to Utah’s transportation sector,” said Utah Clean Cities Executive Director Tammie Bostick.

Manufacturers currently offer more than 850 models of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, ethanol and renewable fuels for compressed natural gas and propane to provide state-of-the-art road-ready options for vehicle classes for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleets. Utah is working collaboratively with the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, United States Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to build the highway systems of the future with Utah’s existing Alternative Fuel Corridor along major interstate corridors offering 868 alternative fueling sites.

The Utah Inland Port Authority is also working to bring alternative fuel options and zero-emissions technologies to heavy-duty transportation and logistics fleets. Partnering with BayoTech, Lancer Energy, and others, UIPA has begun a project to develop a distributed hydrogen production hub and fueling station within the Salt Lake valley jurisdictional area. The Port Authority is also working with ASPIRE, the Utah State University electrification technology leader, on port electrification and hydrogen technologies with renewable sources from Utah’s own energy sector for port-to-port freight movement.

“Environmental sustainability and economic development are not mutually exclusive,” said Jack Hedge, UIPA Executive Director. “UIPA’s role is to invest in all kinds of alternative fuel infrastructure to lead the region to cleaner, more sustainable options for the logistics industry.”

Demonstration vehicles showcased at the event included an all-electric bus from the Salt Lake City School District, a 100% Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Ford F150 from Lancer Energy, a RNG refuse and recycling hauler, and Tesla passenger cars.

Read the declaration below:

 

Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah Declaration

Whereas, November marks the 13th Alternative Fuels Awareness Month, which continues to raise public awareness and encourage the adoption of clean transportation choices in Utah to reduce pollution and improve air quality;

Whereas, we support the Western Governors Association’s Electric Vehicles Roadmap Initiative, providing a coordinated effort between nine western states to explore electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure deployment throughout the west; 

Whereas, manufacturers currently offer more than 850 models of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas and propane to provide state-of-the-art, road-ready options for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicle classes;

Whereas, the emerging portfolio of advanced-fuel vehicles that operate on Utah-produced sources continue to ensure our energy security with growing numbers of renewable options for electric, propane, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, and from agricultural and municipal waste;

Whereas, the State of Utah, working collaboratively with the United States Department of Energy, the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, continues to build transportation systems that will meet future needs through Utah’s existing Alternative Fuel Corridor, offering 870 alternative fueling sites along major interstate corridors;

Whereas, the REVWest initiative, involving eight Intermountain West Governors, has grown into the Utah-led CORWest project and is now recognized as a national rural model for building electric vehicle infrastructure throughout rural gateway communities, national parks and scenic byways; 

Whereas, we applaud southern Utah leaders who have worked tirelessly to create smart mobility systems in gateway communities including the EVZion electric shuttle pilot and the commitment of Zion National Park to electrify all busing services in the park;

Now, therefore, I, Spencer Cox, Governor of the great State of Utah, do hereby declare November 2021 Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah, henceforth known as Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month.

 

Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah

Speakers included

  • Tammie Bostick – Executive Director, UCC
  • Thom Carter – Executive Director, Office of Energy Development
  • Dr. David Christensen – Innovation Director, ASPIRE Center
  • Kim Frost – Executive Director, UCAIR
  • Matt Sibul – Director of Sales, Stadler Rail
  • Julie Snowball – Assistant Vice President of Regional Partnerships, Weber State University
  • Jack Hedge – Executive Director, Utah Inland Port Authority
  • Debbie Lyons – Department Director, Salt Lake City Office of Sustainability (SLCGreen)

 

 

 

 

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New mountain bike trail in Zion National Park part of plan to spread out impact of crowds

Posted on October 28, 2021

By Alastair Lee Bitsóí The Salt Lake Tribune

Article 

East Fork • The McLaws family has owned land outside of Zion National Park for 23 years. Most of this land, which consists of juniper, pinon and pine, would normally be reserved as a family ranch and for off-spring inheritance and fortune. Valued at $1.3 million, they’re giving it away.

The McLaws family donated about 20 acres of their lands to a private-public partnership called the East Zion Initiative, which plans to develop and protect the east gateway entrance into Zion National Park.

One of the first projects to come out of this collaborative is the East Zion Bike Trail Network. On Wednesday, the McLaws, along with state and Kane County officials, the Zion Forever Project and officials from Zion National Park celebrated the first 10-miles of a 24.5 mountain bike trail system that will loop around the eastern edge of the famous park.

Zion National Park is one of the most popular parks in the nation, with approximately 4.5 million visitors coming from all over the world to see its iconic red canyons. Oftentimes, tourists pack into the park’s propane-fueled buses to hike, camp or bike through the 15-miles of the canyon’s steep 3,000 feet cliffs. Park officials want to disperse visitors throughout the park to lessen the impact of the crowds.

“I do understand from talking to people, and having them in moments around the campfire, that people do need this,” Kevin McLaws said, referring to how the East Zion Initiative is trying to develop the land in a sustainable manner.

The East Zion Initiative was founded with the goal of providing new experiences and recreational opportunities that expand beyond what Zion National Park offers in its park borders. Most times visitors come to Zion for popular visits and hikes like Angels Landing and the Narrows, but there is more recreation beyond the cliffs.

Along with the visitor center, the east entrance is getting an electric shuttle bus system. A pilot project by the Utah Clean Cities, the electric buses will begin to shuttle people to and from Zion in Kanab, according to its executive director Tammie Bostick.

Over 23 years ago, the McLaws made an offer on 20 acres of land with future generations in mind. The goal, McLaws said, is to also help offset visitor impact to Zion National Park, which annually attracts about 4 million visitors. This year, the park is already about to surpass the 4.5 million visitors that came in 2019.

“It certainly becomes a place that can relieve the pressure of the main canyon in Zion,” McLaws said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony near the intersection of Highway 9 and North Fork Road.

Construction on the new bike trail, built by American Conservation Experience, began last fall, and will now be a cycling option for the one million visitors that enter Zion National Park’s east entrance, said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeffery Bradybaugh.

The superintendent explained the East Zion Initiative is an example of diversifying the recreational experience for the region.

“We want to provide visitors with a range of experiences,” Bradybaugh said.

The proposed visitor center, which will be staffed by the National Park Service, was a venue that NPS identified as a need in 2000, but has since lacked the money to fully operate it. Overall, the NPS says it has a need for $11 billion in infrastructure.

Bradybaugh added that partnerships — like those with Kane County, the Zion Forever Project, the McLaws family and others — will allow Zion to have a visitor center in the east “with minimal impact to the park’s operation.”

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that development in East Zion has been led by the county and its partners, including the securing of a $15.5 million loan for the proposed visitor center.

Citing the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute’s report on the economic impact of Zion National Park as the tool for the new growth, Chamberlain said that the park is a vital part of Kane and Washington counties. The report, published in March 2021, found that the park’s east entrance could generate 545 jobs and $36.9 million per year from 2020 to 2030 for southwest Utah.

“It’s just its incredible country, so it provides an opportunity,” Chamberlain said, noting that visitors would be able to park their huge recreational vehicles at the visitor center and have the option to ride in shuttles and no longer slow down traffic through the Mount Carmel Tunnel.

For the Zion Forever Project, which helped to fundraise for the bike trails, the grand opening has finally come to fruition after many months of private-public conversations. Before riding his bike on the new trail, Mark Preiss, director for the Zion Forever Project, said, “I think it’s been inspired by our local community. And I think that when we think about pioneer spirit, this is sort of a next gen[eration] version of that.”

 

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Inside Zion National Park’s first electric bus to park’s east entrance

Posted on October 19, 2021

By K. Sofie Wills, St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Posted on October 27, 2021

Article 

The first electric shuttle for Zion National Park took its first drive to just outside the park’s east side on Wednesday, with officials celebrating the opening of the first 10 miles of mountain biking trails at the new East Zion trails project.

The Spectrum took an exclusive first ride on the shuttle’s maiden voyage from Kanab to Glendale with state and local officials, with Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain at the helm.

With 14 seats, a wheelchair ramp and a quiet engine, leaders on board discussed the road to get to this point after years of grant-writing, applications, campaigning, managing and building to finally watch the shuttle run for the first time.

The $2 million shuttle was equipped with electronic mirrors inside that showed the driver the outside of the bus, with a dashboard battery level gauge positioned n the dash instead of a fuel gauge.

A little over a half-hour later, the shuttle landed in Glendale, just outside Zion’s east entrance at North Fork Road, where more than 60 people gathered to celebrate the trail opening and the East Zion Initiative.

Mark Preiss, director of the Zion Forever Project, the park’s charity arm, welcomed the shuttle by saying the East Zion Initiative is the next step toward the future of the park, the area and conservation.

“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,” Preiss said. “We’re going to determine what that looks like for the next 100 years.”

Preiss said the shuttle project and the East Zion Initiative is “next-generation innovation” that requires extensive partnership to distribute the nearly 4 million visitors who come to the nation’s third most-visited park.

“No one makes money with visitors sitting in lines for hours,” Preiss said.

Tammie Bostick, executive director of Utah Clean Cities, said this project and their work to push Utah to clean energies has put the state on the radar as a leader for the entire country.

“I cannot tell you how inspiring your public-private collaboration is to the whole state. You are the poster child of creating a sustainable recreation and visitor economy,” Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, said.

The proposed $16 million visitor’s center, a second for the park, is just down the road from the bike trail and marked by a few tents. A formal opening for the shuttles and a groundbreaking for the visitor’s center will be held in mid-November.

Officials discussed the vision for the area around the trailhead, with a roundabout leading to an “EV Electric shuttle bus hub, and regional transportation center linking guests and visitors to other area towns and places,” a press release said.

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that even though the county is sparsely populated, it is doing some heavy work for the park and the state with the East Zion Initiative — something he calls the “holy Zion Initiative.”

“You’re standing at a point in time here where destiny has brought everything together … We’re not done yet,” he said.

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that even though the county is sparsely populated, it is doing some heavy work for the park and the state with the East Zion Initiative — something he calls the “holy Zion Initiative.”

“You’re standing at a point in time here where destiny has brought everything together … We’re not done yet,” he said.

Last August, The Spectrum wrote an exclusive investigative series into why the park’s aging shuttles could not receive funding to replace them, something leaders credit with leading to the federal Department of Transportation grant of $33 million for new electric shuttles in February.

Chargers for the shuttle were delivered to the Kanab Center in May, where future shuttles will charge overnight.

Jeff Bradybaugh, superintendent of Zion, said the trail system is a “tremendous recreational asset” and emphasized the need for visitors to “create” as part of their recreation.

“It’s so important for us to be out in nature, to explore our cultural sites to regenerate our spirit,” he said.

The ribbon-cutting is the first event of the eighth annual Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit held in Kanab, which will continue through Thursday.

“The Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit is a gathering place for all sectors of the outdoor

recreation industry to build a vision together for the future, health, and vitality of outdoor

recreation in Utah,” a press release said.

Funding and land for the East Zion Initiative came through land grants and easements from private landowners, donations to the Zion Forever Project, funding through the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation Grant, The National Park Foundation, Kane County, the release said. E-bikes for a ride through the new trail were provided by Magnum.

“So as we think about moving ahead, and we think about recreating, and we think about renewing our spirit. Let’s remember that our work is not done,” Bradybaugh said.