If you want to know more about energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy management solutions, you’ve come to the right place. The Tennessee Energy Education Initiative provides training, tools, and potential funding options to help Tennessee organizations take control of their energy usage. Learn how we can help yours.

Workplace Charging Partnership Mid-Program Review and TN Workplace Charging Partnership

Three years ago, the U.S. DOE initiated the EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge, which established the goal of having 500 U.S. employers commit to installing workplace plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging by 2018. On December 1, 2015, U.S. DOE released its Mid-Program Review, and announced that 250 employers have joined thus far as Challenge partners. As a result of their efforts, more than 9,000 PEV-driving employees are charging at these worksites on a regular basis.

The benefits for joining the partnership are manifold. U.S. DOE provides employer partners access to personalized toolkits, webinars, workshops, newsletters, one-on-one technical assistance, and case studies. Beyond this, partner employers stand out as leaders in sustainable business, helping to contribute to harmful emissions reductions. In fact, workplace charging efforts made by partner employers eliminated 17 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, which is equivalent to each company removing more than nine gasoline vehicles from U.S. roads.

Below are a few key highlights from DOE’s Mid-Program Review:

• Over 90% of employees express satisfaction with their worksite charging program.
• 70% of employers have received positive recognition for their workplace charging efforts and 60% have helped another employer develop a workplace charging program.
• In 2015, challenge partner employees were six times more likely to drive a PEV than the average worker.
• The majority of employer partners (80%) provide free PEV charging, compared to 20% who charge their employees a fee. However, survey responses showed similar occupancy rates of charging stations at workplaces that provide free charging and those that charge a fee.
• 85% of partners’ PEV drivers plug in at worksites where charging stations are occupied five days a week or more.


In order to help Tennessee employers gauge whether the DOE partnership is right for them, East Tennessee Clean Fuels, a DOE Clean Cities Coalition, has teamed up with TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs and other entities to create the Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership. With a slightly lower barrier of entry, the Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership acts as a stepping stone to the DOE partnership, bringing the initiative to the local level and engaging a new cooperative of nonprofits, state agencies, and industry partners to help Tennessee businesses learn about and place EV charging equipment onsite. For more information, check out these 6 simple steps to implementing workplace charging, as well as the one-page Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership Agreement form.

Tennessee Loan Program Now Open to Local Governmental Entities to Help Communities Reduce Utility Costs

On December 15, Pathway Lending announced that its flagship Energy Efficiency Loan Program, the largest of its kind in the nation, is now open to local governmental entities. Under this expansion, those seeking to reduce energy consumption and costs can access affordable loan capital needed to make their projects a reality. The program offers up to six years of financing for qualified energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to Tennessee local governmental entities including municipalities, counties, school districts and other similar public agencies. The program will begin accepting applications from local governmental entities on January 4, 2016.

Launched in 2010, the loan program helps Tennessee businesses finance investments in energy efficient technologies, including energy-saving building retrofits and renewable energy systems, which reduce energy consumption and energy costs and avoid release of harmful air pollutants while spurring local job growth. The program, which has originated more than $24 million in loans to date to both for- and non-profit businesses, now welcomes Tennessee local governmental entities to participate on a first come, first serve basis.

The Energy Efficiency Loan Program is a collaborative effort between the State of Tennessee / Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Pathway Lending.

“We strongly believe expanding the reach of the program will provide great benefits to Tennessee communities. This new source of capital gets the ball rolling on projects that have been long delayed due to a lack of funds,” said Clint Gwin, president of Pathway Lending. “I want to thank Governor Haslam and his team along with TVA for supporting this expansion. Their backing will help local governmental entities become leaders in energy efficiency in their communities.”

“TVA is pleased to have supported this expansion of the Energy Efficiency Loan Program to include local governmental entities,” said Cindy Herron, Vice President of EnergyRight® and Renewable Solutions at TVA. “We have long supported increased implementation of energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy and bringing this valuable source of capital to governmental entities will deliver long term impacts to the local power companies and the communities they serve.”

The TDEC Office of Energy Programs works with both the public and private sector to provide real solutions and savings on energy expenses. “Expanding the Energy Efficiency Loan Program provides yet another valuable resource for local governmental entities seeking to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and complements TDEC’s grant and technical assistance offerings,” said Bob Martineau, TDEC Commissioner. “We encourage governmental entities to take advantage of this opportunity through Pathway Lending.”

Through the Energy Efficiency Loan Program, Pathway Lending offers below-market rate loans to finance building retrofits, equipment replacements or upgrades, lighting and renewable generation. Up to 100 percent of project costs may be financed, including design and installation fees. The loans are designed to allow for energy costs savings derived from each project to provide the repayment of the loan.

The program is available to any local governmental entity or business seeking to reduce energy consumption of its Tennessee facilities through energy efficiency-improving projects. To be eligible for a loan, a governmental entity or business must have a complete third-party energy audit, assessment or vendor proposal that details estimated energy savings.

A list of energy auditors can be found at http://www.pathwaylending.org/loans/energy/energy-resources.

To learn more about the Energy Efficiency Loan Program, please visit www.pathwaylending.org or call (615) 425-7171.

About Pathway Lending

Based in Nashville, Pathway Lending is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) as certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Founded in 1999, Pathway Lending provides loans to businesses lacking access to traditional financing options throughout Tennessee. Since its inception, Pathway Lending has made more than 800 loans totaling $150 million to over 500 companies. The Energy Efficiency Loan Program is a $30 million dollar revolving loan program that has helped more than 125 Tennessee save money by reducing their energy consumption. Pathway Lending is headquartered in Nashville. For more information, visit www.pathwaylending.org.

About State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

With more than 2,900 employees working across the state, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is a diverse and dynamic department, serving the state by safeguarding the health and safety of Tennessee citizens from environmental hazards; protecting and improving the quality of Tennessee’s land, air and water; and managing Tennessee’s 56 state parks, 85 natural areas and a variety of historical or archaeological sites. For more information about the department, please visit www.tn.gov/environment.

Tennessee Valley Authority

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River System and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation. For more information about TVA, please visit www.tva.gov.

EmPower TN Announces First Round of Projects to Improve Efficiency, Lower State Utility Costs

Office of Customer Focused Government Director Terry Cowles announced yesterday the project selections for the EmPower TN Program to improve energy efficiency at state buildings and reduce the cost of government. The projects will now move forward for final review by the State Building Commission. Once approved, state agencies can begin implementing projects, saving energy and money, such as high efficiency heating and cooling upgrades, lighting improvements and energy management control systems.

EmPower TN is an initiative that seeks to lower the state’s utility costs by improving energy efficiency in state buildings. Currently, the state receives approximately 7,000 monthly utility bills and pays an estimated $193 million annually in total utility costs. Thirty-three projects representing $33.6 million in EmPower TN funding requests received final selection by the EmPower TN Steering Committee which has an oversight role over the program and is comprised of cross sections of representatives from the legislative branch, state government operations, and higher education. Once fully implemented, these projects will produce an estimated savings of $4.43 million each year for as many as 20 years.

The program began accepting applications in June, following a series of workshops across the state to help promote the effort. The Tennessee General Assembly approved $43.7 million in funding for 2015-16 to improve efficiency in state facilities and $6.2 million of that goes toward acquisition and implementation of a statewide energy management system.

More information on EmPower TN and a listing of selected projects are now available at www.tn.gov/empowertn.

TVA’s Extreme Energy Makeover Project to Award $3.75 Million to Cleveland for Low-Income Housing Retrofits

TVA recently announced that it would award United Way of Bradley County a $3.75 million Extreme Energy Makeover Grant, to retrofit at least 300 homes in low-income neighborhoods. The grant, which is part of TVA’s Smart Communities program, aims to achieve a 25 percent reduction in each home’s electric energy usage through cost-effective, whole-home retrofits.

Cleveland Utilities will join Impact Cleveland as part of the makeover team, which also includes the Cleveland Housing Authority, CLEAResult, and the City of Cleveland. Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity will also provide support for the program, which is due to launch in April of 2016. Homeowners interested in learning more about the program can call 1-844-615-8321.

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, in conjunction with its subrecipient Clean Energy Solutions, Inc., has been providing no-cost technical assistance to the Cleveland Housing Authority since September 2014. This assistance has been provided under its U.S. DOE State Energy Program Competitive Award, “Stimulating Energy Investment in Local Jurisdictions, K-12 Public Schools and Public Housing Authorities,” and hopes to leverage a portion of the TVA Extreme Energy Makeover grant funding towards an Energy Savings Performance Contract for the Public Housing Authority, which will amplify the impact and energy savings of the funding.

Energy savings performance contracting (ESPCs)

An ESPC is a comprehensive agreement in which an energy services company (ESCO) performs an investment grade energy audit, and then develops, designs, arranges financing for, installs, and often operates and maintains energy- and water-saving improvements for a customer, such as a state, public housing authority, or local government. Unlike the conventional design-bid-build process of purchasing energy-efficiency improvements, which can require separate solicitations and contracts, an ESPC allows for a comprehensive approach to energy and water savings that is more desirable and cost effective than a single measure approach. The crucial benefit of energy performance contracting is that the agency can use future avoided costs from utility bills generated by the project to pay off the original investment, plus financing and maintenance costs, over the term of the contract, which can be up to 15 years.

Annual energy savings are contractually guaranteed by the ESCO. To ensure accountability, all ESPCs include a formal measurement and verification (M&V) plan that specifies procedures the ESCO must follow to demonstrate that the installed energy conservation measures are delivering the guaranteed savings. If the savings guarantee is not met in a given year, the ESCO must pay the agency the difference between the guaranteed amount and the actual verified amount. This savings guarantee places the risk of performance on the ESCO, not the agency.

Stimulating Energy Investment in Tennessee

Tennessee’s program, which officially launched in July of 2014, includes work to engage local officials in the benefits of energy efficiency and to provide free technical assistance related to cost-effective energy efficiency measures, such as building audits, Requests for Qualifications to qualify ESCOs, benchmarking, measurement and verification of energy savings, and procurements. In particular, the project helps local officials to explore energy efficiency financing options such as energy savings performance contracting, utility incentives, and utility bill repayments. The project period for this award program runs through early 2017. For more information, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-doe-state-energy-program-2013-competitive-award.

New Report Assesses Environmental Impact of Widespread Vehicle Electrification

A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) modeled electric sector and transportation sector emissions with and without widespread vehicle electrification, to determine the environmental effects of vehicle electrification on overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

For the analysis on widespread vehicle electrification, the report makes the assumption that by 2050, electricity will replace roughly half of light- and medium-duty petroleum-fueled vehicles, as well as a significant portion of non-road equipment, such as forklifts and lawn mowers.

A Cleaner Electric Sector, Combined with Clean Transportation

Given the continued de-carbonization of the electricity sector due to existing and prospective regulations and the expanding deployment of low-emission generation technologies, the report forecasts GHG emissions through 2050, considering the high likelihood for clean generation sources to achieve significant reductions in overall electric sector emissions.

The report then assesses the possibility of further GHG emissions reductions, resulting from widespread vehicle electrification, as well as the continuation of improvement in conventional vehicle efficiency. With these two transportation-related elements, in addition to the de-carbonized electric grid, the report concludes that by 2050, total annual GHG emissions (from both mobile and stationary sources) could be reduced by 45-75%, relative to 2015 levels. Without the broad electric car adoption, however, emissions would be cut by only 25%, relative to 2015 levels.

Consequentially, the report notes that while electric vehicles are already cleaner than petroleum-fueled vehicles, with the development of a cleaner electric grid, electric vehicles will ensure an even larger portion of future greenhouse gas reductions overall.

Electric Vehicles in Tennessee

As part of last week’s National Drive Electric Week, the Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalitions hosted a number of events to promote increased electric vehicle deployment in the State of Tennessee, including ride-and-drive demonstrations that allowed individuals the opportunity to view and test drive various electric vehicle models.

The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition has also recently launched www.DriveElectricTn.org, which is a website dedicated to spurring the growth and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging structure in the State of Tennessee. Be sure to check out this website for blog posts, case studies, and useful resources related to electric vehicles.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs is also offering a two-tiered rebate on qualifying electric vehicles that are purchased or leased after June 15, 2015 in the State of Tennessee. As of September 25, 2015, there is $536,000 remaining in rebate funding. For more information, and for details on eligibility, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-electric-vehicle-rebates.

Three New Sustainable Transportation Initiatives Get Off the Ground in Tennessee

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs is proud to be a supporter of the following three initiatives, which are paving the way towards making transportation within the State of Tennessee more sustainable:

Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership

In August, Drive Electric TN, a Tennessee Clean Fuels initiative, was launched. The project aims to spur the growth, adoption and deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the State of Tennessee. One particular focus of this initiative is to promote the new Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership, in addition to the national version, known as the U.S. DOE EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge. These challenges are open to employers of all sizes and industry types in the U.S. whose charging stations are primarily for or include the opportunity for employees to use them. Companies that take on the challenge commit to install charging for PEVs at their worksites, thus playing a critical role in helping to build the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By signing on as a partner, employers gain statewide or national recognition, access to a peer-to-peer information exchange network on best practices and lessons learned, as well as direct technical assistance and access to related informational U.S. DOE resources.

Now in its second full year, the DOE Workplace Charging Challenge program’s initial goal was to increase the number of employers that offer electric vehicle charging tenfold by 2018. So far, over 300 work sites across the country have signed up to participate. Within the State of Tennessee program, the following companies and local governments have signed or are planning to sign on as Tennessee Workplace Charging Partners:

For more information on the Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership, and to see case studies of active partners, be sure to check out http://driveelectrictn.org/tn-workplace-charging-partners/.

Southeast AFV Demonstration Initiative

The East TN Clean Fuels Coalition is a partner in the forthcoming “Southeast AFV Demonstration Initiative” grant (SADI), along with the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.  The project seeks to incorporate alternative fuels into new fleets and industry sectors by focusing on non-existent or under-utilized markets for alternative fuels.

The SADI initiative will make several alternative fuel vehicles (propane, CNG, and electric-powered) available for Tennessee fleets to borrow for periods ranging from several days to several weeks. By allowing fleets to test out these vehicles at no cost, the project will educate and market alternative fuel vehicles to a considerable number of prospective drivers/fleet operators. In the coming months, ETCleanFuels will provide more details and begin the process of registering fleets that are interested.  The following vehicles are expected to be available for Tennessee fleets to borrow:

  • EV = a 2015 Nissan Leaf
  • Propane = a bi-fuel liquid-injection Ford Police Interceptor Utility, and a bi-fuel vapor-injection Dodge Charger
  • CNG = a dedicated Chevy Cruze, two Freightliner Cascadia day cabs, and one Freightliner straight truck

Contact Jonathan Overly with any questions: jonathan@etcleanfuels.org, 865-974-3625.

Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Center

Light electric vehicles (LEVs), which consist of low speed EVs, such as electric bicycles or scooters, are an understudied yet critical alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), as they represent the largest growth segment of AFVs in history, with over 150 million sold in the last decade.

The University of Knoxville’s Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Center focuses its research on the role of LEVs in urban mobility, including the variables associated with LEV adoption, system integration, societal impacts, and related policy. This research center is initiating the formation of an international cooperative research center, focused on LEVs. For more information, visit http://tesp.engr.utk.edu/lever.php.

New Resources and Incentives to Save Energy at Home

Are you curious about what you can do to enhance your home energy savings? By way of the three below-mentioned programs, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and your local power company are making it easier for homeowners to conserve energy and lower monthly energy bills:

1. Take advantage of the TVA eScore™ – Home Depot “ellumination” event. For a limited-time only, customers are able to receive the following in-store lighting discounts:

  • $3.00 off per bulb on selected LEDs
  • $1.00 off per bulb on selected CFLs

Eligible bulbs are automatically discounted at checkout and are marked by an eScore Opportunity sticker in the lighting section of participating Home Depot locations. Customers are limited to 12 packages. This offer expires on September 18, 2015.

2. Take the eScore™ Self Audit at your place of residence. This quick and easy online audit will help you learn about your home’s energy use and provide recommendations to help you save money right away. Furthermore, all qualifying households that complete the audit will receive a free energy saving kit containing CFLs and other tools to help you save energy and money. As a bonus, homeowners who complete the Self Audit between July 16 and September 30 will receive a $10 Home Depot gift card in their energy savings kit.

3. Finally, TVA and participating local power companies are partnering to offer the eScore™ residential energy efficiency program. Customers who make a qualified energy efficiency upgrade performed by a Quality Contractor Network (QCN) member or a participating Home Depot retailer will receive an in-home energy evaluation by a TVA-Certified Energy Advisor, an online eScore card with a customized list of recommended energy efficiency upgrades, and access to rebates for upgrades made. Work your way toward a score of 10 while increasing your home’s comfort and saving money!

Visit www.2eScore.com or www.energyright.com, or call your local power company for more information.

Tennessee’s Energy Education Camps for K-12 Educators

For the past few years, the Office of Energy Programs has conducted summer Energy Education Camps for K-12 educators. These camps are comprised of four-day training sessions, and are chock full of hands-on activities that the campers can incorporate in their own classrooms or after-school programs to educate students about the science of energy and energy conservation. In particular, camp activities hone in on the collection and analysis of data so that teachers can show their students how to evaluate and improve their school’s energy consumption.

As “energy” per se is rarely offered as a distinctive course for K-12 students, the curriculum for the Energy Education Camps builds a unique framework of studying energy as it relates to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects), bridging these subjects and encouraging students to pursue career paths in energy and related fields.

Educational info-board, created at Energy Camp

Educational info-board, created at Energy Camp

This year’s two Energy Education Camps were held at Pickwick Landing State Park from June 9-12 and at Fall Creek Falls State Park from June 16-19. The camps were offered to interested Tennessee educators free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and a total of 100 educators participated. In addition to addressing Tennessee science curriculum standards, the camps offered “team building” energy-related activities for teachers, such as an energy scavenger hunt, energy bingo, energy relay, the construction of solar ovens, and the creation of ice cream in a bag (a lesson in heat transfer). Furthermore, this year’s campers received educational products to utilize in their energy-related education lessons, including both Electric Circuits Kitbooks and Kill-A-Watt meters.

The Electric Circuits Kitbook, a Tennessee-made educational tool, merges the features of a hands-on science kit with those of a textbook in the form of a single self-contained educational

KitBook presentation by Ed Basconi

KitBook presentation by Ed Basconi

tool. With the Kitbook, students are able to study electricity and simple circuits by testing what they learn in each lesson on an actual circuit board, built into the book. The curriculum supplement was designed to meet National Science Education Standards and covers the following topics:

  • What is electricity; electricity safety; definitions
  • Simple circuits
  • Batteries
  • Conductors and insulators
  • Switches
  • Series circuits
  • Parallel circuits
  • Electromagnetism

Kill-a-Watt meters are innovative tools for measuring plug loads. At this year’s camps, OEP Energy Consultant Scott Slusher conducted an interactive lesson on measuring and reducing plug loads, and teachers used the Kill-a-Watt meters to measure various plug loads around the park. The lesson on plug loads was also shared with the teachers so that they can conduct similar demonstrations with their own students.

OEP plans to conduct two camps in the summer of 2016, for 100 total participants. The dates and locations for these camps are still to be determined. The application process will be announced on the OEP website on January 4th, 2016.

For more information, please contact Angela McGee at angela.mcgee@tn.gov or 615-532-7816.

Decreasing Costs of Solar Power

As solar technologies improve, photovoltaic companies have been able to lower installation costs while increasing overall quality. Solar power is already more cost effective than retail electricity in hundreds of markets around the world, and in some areas, solar has even contributed to the decrease of wholesale electricity prices by as much as 40 percent.[1]

The startup costs in the U.S. for solar power continue to drop, with the installation price for photovoltaic systems falling by 12% since last year.[2] Based on this, in 2014, the national solar industry grew by 34%, with the addition of almost 7,000 megawatts (MW) of new electric capacity.[3] At the end of the March 2015, more than 21,300 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity, which is enough to power 4.3 million homes, had been installed around the U.S.[4]

Tennessee’s Solar Research Initiative

In 2010, a $20 million National Science Foundation award financed the creation of TN-SCORE (Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education), which, over the past five years, has resulted in 239 research publications, an additional $19.7 million in research funding and the creation of two start-up companies.[5] TN-SCORE has placed Tennessee on the map for cutting-edge solar research, while expanding the collaboration of leading experts and resources at research centers such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT Knoxville, and Vanderbilt University.


Photo of the Westmill Solar Cooperative, courtesy of MrRenewables.

The program, guided by researchers at 11 partner institutions across the state of Tennessee, has served as a vehicle for collaboration between most universities within the State, middle and high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM ) programs, and industry representatives. A key component to TN-SCORE was the enhancement of solar research infrastructure. Among other things, the program financed the development of a rapid prototyping lab at UT Knoxville and the purchase of key diagnostic equipment to aid with the advancement of solar conversion and innovation, the development of components and devices for energy storage and conversion, as well as research into nanostructures for enhancing energy efficiency.[6]

Tennessee Solar Facts

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 151 solar or solar related companies in Tennessee, employing more than 2,200 people.[7] In 2014 alone, $92 million was invested in solar installations in Tennessee, and 56 MW of new solar electric capacity was installed, ranking the state 15th nationally.[8]

Noteworthy installations in Tennessee include the VW Solar Project in Chattanooga, which has 8 MW of electric capacity and is the biggest solar installation at a U.S. auto factory, as well as the Selmer and Mulberry Solar Farms in McNairy County, which are tied, at 20 MW capacity each, for the largest solar installations in the State.

Curious to know more about solar power in Tennessee? Be sure to check out TenneSEIA, the State chapter for the national Solar Energy Industries Association.

Financing for Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure

On July 1, 2015, the National Association of State Energy Officials, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), hosted a workshop for State Energy Offices and Clean Cities Coalitions to discuss barriers and solutions for financing alternative fuel vehicles and fueling and charging infrastructure.

The workshop complemented the findings from NASEO research done on private sector financial solutions to alternative fuel vehicle deployment barriers, and provided an open discussion for relevant stakeholders to brainstorm the best avenues for implementing these funding opportunities.

The following information details some of the discussion points regarding electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure:

In the realm of EV charging stations, there are short term policies that State Energy Offices can help implement in order to encourage investment. However, in most cases, it takes layers of investment, from both the private and public sectors, to build a compelling business case for investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has developed an Electric Vehicle Financial Analysis tool, to help individuals evaluate the financial viability of EV charging infrastructure investments involving multiple private and public sector partners. This tool determines returns for certain investments over the expected lifetime of the charging equipment, based on up to 100 variable inputs. This tool is particularly helpful because it gives users the opportunity to run back-to-back scenario analysis, by which users can see tradeoffs with charts, helping them identify which variables will best improve the performance of their project. The tool is also unique in that it evaluates a variety of public sector interventions (such as low interest loans, grants or rebates) in terms of the business case or profitability of those interventions.


Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/

The research and modeling done with this tool has found that many compelling opportunities exist for installing DC fast charging along travel corridors to expand range, as well as installing Level 2 charging in neighborhoods that already have a high number of EVs.

Discussants at the conference noted that when evaluating the business case for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, you have to look beyond the direct revenue from charging, and should consider indirect value, measured in electric vehicle sales, retail sales for host sites, and increased tourism. EVs can also lower electricity rates with decoupled utilities, and alternatively, if utilities make a higher profit with increased electricity sales, the augmented use of EVs is also in their interest.

For a variety of case studies and more in-depth discussion on the AFV market state of play and the opportunities that exist, refer to NASEO’s report on AFV & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions.

Transportation Funding with AFVs:

Another hot topic of discussion at the workshop centered on sustainable transportation funding, by way of alternative fuel vehicles that bypass the traditional gasoline tax. As more and more AVFs enter the picture, the gasoline tax becomes less and less a reliable source for funding improvements to the country’s transportation infrastructure.

The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation has released a manual, which suggests an innovative way to approach transportation finance, and to address the shortage of transportation funding head on. VEIC proposes a model for a transportation efficiency utility (TEU), under which a system benefit charge or electric utility tariff on the electric power used by EVs is charged to the user’s bill, and the money is then pooled into a common fund, which is routed to transportation infrastructure funding.

In line with this, the State of Colorado has created a Special Fuel Tax & Electric Vehicle Fee, by which EV drivers are charged an annual registration fee of $50. Sixty percent of the fee replaces the revenue not collected from gasoline taxes and goes toward road and highway maintenance, while the other forty percent funds electric vehicle infrastructure such as charging stations.

Beyond an upfront registration fee, other states have considered implementing a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax. The 2013 Oregon Legislatures passed Senate Bill 810, the first legislation in the U.S. to establish a road usage charge system for transportation funding. The bill authorizes the Oregon Department of Transportation to set up a mileage collection system for 5,000 cars and light commercial vehicles beginning July 1, 2015. For those who volunteer to participate, the Road Usage Charge Program, also known as OReGO, will assess a charge of 1.5 cents per mile and issue a gas tax credit as warranted. Participants in the program choose from 3 vendors that provide either GPS or a mileage reporting device for measuring the total miles traveled.

For a full list of enacted, pending, or failed legislation by State on the subject, refer to this transportation finance database by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Want to stay up to date on sustainable transportation statistics and findings? Make sure to check out the U.S. DOE Vehicle Technologies Office’s Transportation Fact of the Week to read about interesting studies, datasets and observations regarding transportation and alternative fuel vehicles.