Midwest school buses go electric


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Four states are using VW settlement money to replace old school buses with modern electric ones (flickr). 

Julia Poska | November 23, 2018

Four midwestern states have secured a total of $20,000 in funding for fully electric school buses and charging stations, funded through settlements with Volkswagen over a 2015 scandal.

Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan set aside $11, $3, $2.75 and $3 million respectively. The states learned about the importance of decreasing children’s exposure to harmful diesel exhaust fumes during the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s four-state electric schools tour.

School buses are a particularly good candidate for electrification because they idle in front of school buildings for significant periods of time before and after school, releasing a high concentration of emissions in those areas full of children. According to The Lion Electric Company, one maker of such buses, converting one traditional bus to electric keeps 23 tons of greenhouse gases out of the air.

At about $300,000 each,  an electric school bus costs about three times more than a traditional diesel one, according to the ELPC, but savings on diesel and maintenance can total about $12,000 annually. Still, these funds will only provide buses to a few districts in each state.

EPA to maintain fuel economy standards


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The fuel economy standards require all new fleets of light trucks and cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon. (Robert Couse-Baker/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | December 1, 2016

Despite objection from automakers, the Obama administration decided on Wednesday to maintain fuel economy requirements for light trucks and cars.

Following a technical analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was concluded that vehicle manufacturers are able to continue meeting emissions standards and fuel economy requirements for model years 2022-2025. The standards require that new fleets of light trucks and cars average 54.5 miles per gallon, with a reduction to 50.8 miles per gallon should buying habits change. In a statement Wednesday, the EPA said that the requirements help to save drivers billions of dollars at the pump, double new-car gas mileage and drastically reduce carbon emissions. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said,

“Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering. This will enable long-term planning in the auto industry, while also benefiting consumers and the environment.”

Dan Becker is the director of the Safe Climate campaign environmental group. He said, “Numerous studies demonstrate that automakers have ample, affordable technology to achieve the program’s cost-effective goals.” Becker also said that the EPA plans to make the decision final before president-elect Trump is inaugurated in January.

The EPA is accepting public comment on the decision through December 30th, 2016. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov to Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0827.

On The Radio – Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars


The University of Iowa’s team presenting during Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition on April 9, 2016 in Iowa City. From left: Blake Robinson, Matt Taflinger, and Feng Mao. (UI American Marketing Association/Facebook)
Nick Fetty | April 25, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at competition in which Iowa college students studied consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles.

Transcript: Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars

In an effort to turn more people on to electric cars, a utility company has turned to Iowa college students for help.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy has teamed up with the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business for Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition, which took place earlier this month. The event gave an opportunity for teams of students from the University of Iowa as well as Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Luther College, and St. Ambrose University to study consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles, such as cost and availability.

Blake Robinson – a business student at the UI – along with classmates Feng Mao and Matt Taflinger won first place in the competition. The team’s platform aimed to educate consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles, motivating dealers to sell more electric vehicles, and lobbying for state-level legislation that would build the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles to succeed. Robinson said he learned a lot from the opportunity.

Robinson: “What I learned is that a sustainable future with automobiles is in electric vehicles. I’m excited for what’s to come. Tesla has many great new innovations that will really change the industry and I’m just looking forward for what the future holds.”

The first place finish netted Robinson and his team $1,250 in prize money.

For more information about the competition, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Chevy to release all-electric vehicle


General Motors will release a subcompact entirely electric powered car starting in 2013.

Read more from Midwest Energy News below:

General Motors is about to enter the all-electric car market.

The gasoline-powered subcompact Chevrolet Spark that will be sold at Chevrolet dealers beginning in 2012 will also be available in selected markets as an all-electric battery powered vehicle during 2013. Continue reading

On the Radio: Kwik Trip helps electric car owners


Photo by wd wilson, Flickr

Listen to this week’s radio piece here or read the transcript below.  This week’s radio segment discusses Kwik Trip gas stations’ new electric charging ports in northern Iowa.

Imagine all our gas pumps replaced with electrical outlets. Kwik Trip gas stations in the Midwest are taking the initial step in making this vision a reality. Continue reading