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ArborBike – installation plans coming into form
June 5, 2014
ArborBike station locations

ArborBike station locations

ArborBike is getting closer and closer to launch. The very first assembled ArborBike was on display for Bike To Work Day as part of the getDowntown Program’s Commuter Challenge. Stationed at a future ArborBike kiosk at the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown branch, bike enthusiasts were able to get their first look, feel, and ride on the new bike share bikes. The first of 125 bikes even displayed a Planet Blue decal from Title Sponsor University of Michigan. For more on the event visit our recent post here.

So when will the stations and bikes be on the streets of Ann Arbor? Plans for the stations have been submitted to the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan and are pending approval. As planned, the first 14 ArborBike stations will be installed this summer, potentially as soon as late June. Due to different review processes and varying site preparation needs we will install the stations in a phased approach. The first phase of stations will consist of some stations on UM campus as well as some on private property. The second phase will consist of the stations located in the public right-of-way and a few sites that require more substantial site modifications that are being integrated into existing construction schedules.

The ArborBike stations need to have a good base of concrete for stability and for ease of use. Some of our stations are planned for spaces with existing concrete, and these will be the easiest to install. Others require a new concrete pad to be poured. In an effort to be as efficient as possible some of the site improvements are being included in existing sidewalk programs and other construction projects.

Regardless of placement and site conditions, we are hopeful that all 14 stations will be installed yet this summer, and we will send out special announcements when we are closer to launch. Make sure you visit ArborBike.org, sign up for the ArborBike email list and follow us on facebook and twitter to stay up to date on the project status, launch date and deals from our sponsors. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor download our sponsor packet.

For more information on ArborBike contact:

Nick Helmholdt
ArborBike Operations Manager
734.585.5720 x13

Yes, solar works in Michigan
May 29, 2014

Does solar work in Michigan? This is the most common question raised when discussing the potential for solar in Michigan due to our rapidly fluctuating weather and seasonal conditions. Despite these climatic realities, there exists significant solar potential for our state. Cooler air temperatures allow for increased panel efficiency, meaning panels installed in Michigan can generate more voltage per sunlight hour than those installed in hot “sunny” states.

For comparison, we turn to Germany. Germany receives less sunlight than Michigan, but generates more solar power than any other country. From its southern to northern border, Germany’s Latitude runs from 48 to 54 degrees. In Michigan, the highest Latitude in the state is 47 Degrees (Houghton) and the lowest is 41 Degrees (New Buffalo). Yet, despite having less access to sun than Michigan, Germany is continuing to rapidly deploy solar generation through targeted advancement policies and programs. Overall, Germany generates almost 3 times the amount of energy from solar than the entire United States.

Solar is also becoming a more cost-effective solution. Just a few years ago the average price for installed solar was over $9 per watt. Today costs have dropped to roughly $3 per watt for panels that are more efficient. Due to dropping prices, an ever increasing number of businesses and residents in Michigan are now installing solar and and enjoying the benefits of generating their own clean energy along with reducing utility costs. In addition, homeowners and businesses can take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit.

A nearby example to Clean Energy Coalition includes the popular watering hole, Arbor Brewing Company. Arbor Brewing Company installed a 2.4kW photovoltaic array and 300 solar thermal collector tubes. The system offsets gas usage by between 40% and 50%, and electricity usage between 15% and 25%. Another Ann Arbor example includes the Michigan Theater. The Michigan Theater installed a 3.24kW system to help offset their energy use. In this case, the cost of the solar array was only $2.88/W.

For more information on solar and other renewable energy systems view our renewable energy fact sheets.  If you are business or residential property owner looking to install renewables use our Renewable Energy Guidebook to get started and make sure to sign up to our solar news list to receive more information on our future program offerings to be announced later this year. For communities looking to encourage more solar installations in your area use our Solar Ready Guidebook to help make your community solar ready.

For more information contact:

Jenny Oorbeck
Operations Director
734.585.5730 x18

Reduce fleet costs with alternative fuels
May 29, 2014

If you could reduce your fleet’s operating costs by 5% would you be pleased? What if it was 20%? For many fleets after an initial fleet analysis easy recommendations such as basic driver behavior changes and anti-idling procedures can reduce operating expenses by 5%. Converting a fleet or portion of a fleet to alternative fuels can see operating cost reductions of 20% or more. As part of the Michigan Green Fleets program Clean Energy Coalition provided our Fuel Forward services to more than 10 fleets to analyze their fleets to develop strategies to reduce petroleum consumption and determine the cost benefit of transitioning fleet vehicles to alternative fuels. As part of the report all available and approved alternative fuels by the Department of Energy were reviewed to understand the true costs for conversion and true cost savings by fuel type. Based on each fleets unique needs, vehicle usage and type, alternative fuel types ranged from hybrid electric and biodiesel to propane and CNG.

Wright & Filippis, a provider of home medical equipment including respiratory care, prosthetics, orthotics and barrier-free equipment worked with Clean Energy Coalition to pursue alternative fuels for their fleet. Wright & Fillipis’ goals for converting to alternative fuels included improving fleet sustainability, cutting fuel costs and becoming more environmentally responsible. For Wright & Flillipis propane was the best solution because existing infrastructure was available and the cost per gallon equivalent to petroleum was less. They purchased 12 new vehicles, Ford E350 and E450 vans that were converted to run on propane. Following the conversion greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 13% totaling almost 50 tons of CO2. The vehicles will displace 30,000 gallons of petroleum annually. Fuel costs were reduced by 45% for converted vehicles saving Wright & Fillipis $40,000 each year.

Metro Cars, a provider of chauffeured sedans, limousines, and group transportation services throughout Michigan pursued converting a portion of their fleet to alternative fuels. For Metro Cars propane was the ideal solution for a cost effective conversion of existing vehicles and development of infrastructure on their property. Metro Cars deployed 90 propane fueled SUV’s, full-size sedans, and shuttle busses. With the conversion Metro Cars has reduced fuel costs by 45% totalling almost $700,000 in annual savings. Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 13% totaling almost 700 tons of CO2 and will displace over 320,000 gallons of gasoline annually.

If you are looking to have a cleaner fleet and save on operating costs make sure you learn about the alternative fueling options available to you. To learn more about alternative fuel options available to your fleet contact your local Clean Cities Coordinator to stay up to date on the latest alternative fuel industry trends information and funding.


Aaron Champion
Detroit Area Clean Cities Coordinator
734.585.5720 x23

Josh Rego
Ann Arbor Clean Cities Coordinator
734.585.5720 x25

Sixth Annual Electric Vehicle Show
May 28, 2014

If you have ever considered buying an electric vehicle, you need to attend the Sixth Annual Electric Vehicle Show at Schoolcraft College.  The show, which is on June 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free and open to the public.  It is a great opportunity to see all types of EVs and PHVs (plug-in hybrid) up-close, talk to the owners and ride or drive many of the cars around campus.

The EVs on display will include the BMW i3, Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S.  The show also features electric scooters and performance EV motorcycles.  Other vehicles at the show include unique conversions such as a Chevy S10s, an Austin Healy Sprite, a Fiat X19, a Ford Escort, a PT Cruiser, Porsche Boxter and even an electric Go-Cart Kit for kids.   Highlights of past event have been a 1916 Detroit Electric, a 1976 Citicar and drag-pull racing electric tractors. Visit www.schoolcraft.edu/evshow for more information.

“This is the largest event of its kind in the Midwest,” said Michigan Electric Auto Association President Larry Tuttle. “In addition to learning all about the latest EV and PHV technology and talking to people who drive EVs every day, visitors can even ‘Ride and Drive’ in several vehicles.”

A number of vendors who provide equipment, services and resources to the electric vehicle industry and EV owners will be on hand, including DTE Energy, Ann Arbor Automotive and Clipper Creek charging stations, Mechanical Energy Systems and many others.  Refreshments also will be available.  Concrete Cuisine will be onsite selling gourmet food and Treat Dreams will be selling innovative ice cream and custom dessert from their mobile truck.

Event co-sponsors are Schoolcraft College and the Michigan Electric Auto Association in partnership with Detroit Area Clean Cities, Clean Energy Coalition, DTE Energy, Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program and the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. Event organizers see the show as an educational and entertaining way to raise awareness of the general public about electric vehicles.

For more information on this event or other Clean Cities events contact:

Aaron Champion
Detroit Area Clean Cities Coordinator
734.585.5720 x23

Alternative signage for alternative fuels
May 28, 2014

The number of vehicles operating on propane, compressed natural gas, electricity, and other alternative fuels is expected to increase 524% over the next 25 years. With this increase, the need for alternative fueling infrastructure will grow as well. Currently, there are more than 14,000 alternative fueling stations available across the county, but how can drivers find them? They could use the alternative fuel locator on the web, or download an app for a smartphone, but what about basic way-finding signage? As part of the Michigan Fuel Forward project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Clean Energy Coalition reviewed the existing U.S. Federal Highway Administration Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as well as the Michigan Department of Transportation’s amended version, the MMUTCD, to evaluate current road signing practices for alternative fueling stations.

As a result of this research, Clean Energy Coalition created a white paper that outlined the challenges with the existing signage standards, and made recommendations for the development of more appropriate symbols and signage practices in order to create a more alternative fuel-friendly environment.

One example of the MUTCD’s shortfalls is the lack of appropriate symbols for certain types of alternative fuel. Although there are 74 propane fueling stations in Michigan, there is no standard symbol to indicate the availability of propane vehicle fuel. The symbol depicted in the MUTCD represents a portable propane cylinder, which is commonly associated with camping or barbecuing, not with use in alternative fuel vehicles. A more appropriate symbol would match the rest of the fuel signs and feature the acronym for liquid propane gas.

MUTCD propane symbol

Recommended symbol

To learn more about alternative fueling signage challenges and Clean Energy Coalition’s recommendations for improvement, download the white paper here.

For more information on how Clean Energy Coalition is helping to reduce barriers for alternative fuels contact:

Laura Palombi
Director of Business Development
734.585.5720 x22

ArborBike – getting ready to roll
May 28, 2014

ArborBike is getting closer and closer to launch. The very first assembled ArborBike was on display for Bike To Work Day as part of the getDowntown Program’s Commuter Challenge. Stationed at a future ArborBike kiosk at the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown branch, bike enthusiasts were able to get their first look, feel, and ride on the new bike share bikes. The first of 125 bikes even displayed a Planet Blue decal from Title Sponsor University of Michigan.

Friday, May 16, 2014 was National Bike to Work Day, and cities across the nation held special events, rides, and promotions for cyclists. In Ann Arbor, the 16th was also the final day of Bike to Work Week, part of the Commuter Challenge for the month of May. The getDowntown Program coordinated 12 commuter stations across downtown with giveaways, free food and beverages, bike tune-ups, and information about biking efforts in Ann Arbor. ArborBike stationed a table outside of the AADL downtown branch on 5th Ave, adjacent to the site of a future ArborBike Library Lane station. Dozens of commuters and interested residents stopped by to learn about the program, receive informational materials, score a free ArborBike t-shirt, and take a ride on the first ArborBike.

To stay up to date on the latest ArborBike news sign up for the newsletter here, follow us on facebook and twitter and visit ArborBike.org. If you are interested in starting a bike share program on your campus or in your community contact us.

Nick Helmholdt
ArborBike Operations Manager
734.585.5720 x13

Question of the Month
May 27, 2014

Question of the Month: What are the key terms to know when discussing hydrogen fuel, fuel cell vehicles, and hydrogen fueling infrastructure?

Answer: It is important to know how to “talk the talk” when it comes to hydrogen and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Becoming familiar with the terms below will help you better understand the fuel so you can ask the right questions and make informed decisions.

Considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct), hydrogen (H2) can dramatically reduce emissions and has the potential to significantly reduce our dependence on imported petroleum. While pure hydrogen is not abundant, it is present in water (H2O), hydrocarbons (e.g., methane, CH4), and other organic matter.

Although hydrogen is not currently widely used as a transportation fuel, government and industry are developing clean, economical, and safe hydrogen fuel and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The first commercially available hydrogen vehicle is expected to be offered in select dealerships this year.

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are zero emission vehicles fueled by pure hydrogen gas stored directly in the vehicle. FCEVs are two to three times more efficient than a conventional vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. FCEVs produce no harmful tailpipe emissions, have the ability to refuel in as little as three minutes, can achieve a range of more than 300 miles on a single fill-up, and may use other advanced efficiency technologies, such as regenerative braking systems.

Similar to battery electric vehicles, FCEVs use electricity to power a motor located near the vehicle’s wheels. However, unlike other electric vehicles, FCEVs produce electricity from hydrogen using the fuel cell, leaving heat and water as byproducts. A fuel cell is a device that can convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into an electrical current through a chemical reaction with an oxidizing agent, such as oxygen. The most common type of fuel cell for vehicle applications is the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). A PEM fuel cell is composed of an electrolyte membranepositioned between a cathode (positive electrode) and an anode (negative electrode). The hydrogen gas is introduced to the anode, while oxygen is introduced to the cathode. A catalyst (typically platinum) induces an electrochemical reaction that splits the hydrogen molecule into hydrogen ions. The protons are allowed to pass through the membrane while the electrons are forced to travel through an external circuit to produce electricity for the car. Then the electrons combine with the protons and oxygen at the cathode to form water, which is the fuel cell’s exhaust.

The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas provides about the same FCEV driving range as a conventional sedan propelled on 1 gallon on gasoline. Due to hydrogen’s low energy content by volume, the fuel must be stored as a gas in the fuel tank at high pressures (10,000 pounds per square inch). Additional research is currently underway to optimize fuel storage.

At this time, FCEVs are more expensive than conventional vehicles, but are nearing commercial readiness. Many major original equipment manufacturers, including Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota, have announced plans to begin selling or leasing FCEVs to the public in 2014 and 2015 in certain markets.

Fuel Production
Hydrogen can be produced domestically from a variety of sources, such as natural gas, coal, and renewable resources (solar, wind, and biomass). The environmental impact and energy efficiency of hydrogen depends on how it is produced. A challenge of using hydrogen is efficiently and inexpensively producing hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen for use in FCEVs is split from other molecules through either reforming (using steam) or electrolysis (using electricity and water).  Currently, natural gas reforming is the cheapest and most efficient process to produce hydrogen in the United States.

If the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis from clean, renewable energy, FCEVs could produce zero lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. There are projects underway to decrease the costs associated with these production methods.

Fueling Infrastructure
Hydrogen stations are typically located in areas of current or expected FCEV deployment, and can either be designed to store delivered hydrogen, or to produce hydrogen on-site (via electrolosys or reforming).  Fueling sites include storage tanks, compression, and fuel dispensing equipment. Hydrogen fueling stations can be standalone operations or co-located with conventional fuel or natural gas dispensers. Applicable safety standards and codes specific to hydrogen fuel include the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)’s NFPA 2: Hydrogen Technologies Code(http://www.nfpa.org/catalog/product.asp?pid=211&cookie_test=1).

To date, most existing hydrogen fueling stations have been constructed as part of demonstration projects. Earlier this month, the California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded nearly $47 million in grants for the development of a network of retail hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state. For additional information, please see the CEC’s Notice of Proposed Awards (http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/PON-13-607_NOPA.pdf). As the FCEV market expands, fueling infrastructure is expected to continue to grow to meet the demand.

For more information on hydrogen fuel, vehicles, and infrastructure, you can visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center Hydrogen page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen.html) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program page (http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/).

For more information on alternative fuels sign up for our email list or contact one of our Clean Cities Coordinators:

Aaron Champion
Detroit Area Clean Cities
734.585.5720 x23

Josh Rego
Ann Arbor Clean Cities
734.585.5720 x 25

Why Airport Shuttle Companies Switch to Propane Autogas
May 16, 2014

Airport shuttle companies across the country are finding value in switching to propane autogas for their fleet. Even with a multitude of alternative fuels to choose from, Ace Parking, SuperShuttle and GO Airport Express say clean and cheap propane autogas is an obvious choice.

Ace Parking operates four propane autogas shuttles around the clock at San Diego International Airport. Since implementing the autogas shuttles, Ace Parking has experienced extended time between fill-ups on their propane autogas vehicles. With 58 percent of their fleet filling up less often, Ace Parking is saving money on fuel and providing greater availability to their customers.

GO Airport Express has experienced a similar effect on cost savings. In 2011, with gas prices on the rise, the company decided to implement thirty Ford E-350 vans fueled by propane autogas to transport customers from the Chicago airports to downtown hotels. To further reduce fuel expenses, GO Airport Express also built two on-site refueling stations. Robert Hann, vice president of marketing for GO Airport Express, says that propane autogas has saved on their bottom line while providing cost-efficient and reliable vehicles.

“The biggest reason to go to autogas is the fuel savings for us,” Hann says. “We love the green aspect and think that has a lot of environmental benefits. But when you look at gasoline prices in Chicago, and you can get autogas for less than half of that, it doesn’t take a lot to see how that’s going to pay off.”

SuperShuttle is another airport shuttle company fueling with propane autogas. SuperShuttle currently operates 75 propane autogas passenger vans at Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor International Airport. With each van using almost 150 gallons of fuel per week, SuperShuttle saves about $10,000 per year, per van, on fuel and maintenance costs.

Cost savings is usually the initial reason for switching to propane autogas. Ace Parking, GO Airport Express and SuperShuttle also find value in ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas vehicles due to reduced emissions, technical and warranty support and on-site driver training.

Clean Energy Coalition worked with Metro Cars, a shuttle, chafuer and limousine service that transports passengers to and from Detroit Metro Airport, to convert a portion of their fleet to run on propane. Using our Fuel Forward services, Clean Energy Coalition analyzed the fleet vehicles, available alternative fueling infrastructure, and basic driver behavior developing a comprehensive analysis of the best options to reduce emissions, displace petroleum consumption and reduce fueling costs. The final results indicated that conversion of the existing vehicles to run on propane would be the most cost effective solution. As part the the Michigan Green Fleets program Metro Cars retrofitted 90 vehicles to run on propane, seeing annual fuel cost savings of $700,000. To learn more about how and why Metro Cars converted their fleet to propane visit their success story.

For more information contact:

Laura Palombi
Director of Business Development
734.585.5720 x22

Join our team of riders on Climate Ride Midwest!
April 28, 2014

Want to help raise money for our programs and have an amazing adventure too? Join Clean Energy Coalition’s team of riders on Climate Ride Midwest! Our staff and community supporters will journey 300 miles through the back roads of Lake Michigan from Grand Rapids to Chicago over 4 days from September 6th-9th. We’re one of the beneficiaries for the ride, so through your participation and fundraising, you can help support our programs and create a better future for all of us.

We already have a team of five signed up and excited to train and fundraise for the ride – Bonnie Bona (Project Manager), Heather Croteau (Clean Cities Intern), Rebecca Filbey (Program Supervisor), Nick Helmholdt (ArborBike Operations Manager) and Nicole Ver Kuilen (Proposal Coordinator). We could use your help in growing our team even more! It’s going to be a fun ride and the more riders we have, the bigger impact we can make for Clean Energy Coalition.

Check out our team’s fundraising page and roster to learn more about “Why We Ride.” Then consider signing-up to join us on the ride!

About Climate Ride & Registration
Climate Ride is the first multi-day, multi-city charitable bike ride that benefits organizations working on sustainable solutions. The ride is fully-supported by a team of talented leader-hosts and bike mechanics. Climate Ride is with you every step of the way to help with fundraising and training. To top it all off, Climate Ride is one of the ‘greenest’ multi-day charity ride events in the world.

The cost is $100 as a registration fee and then Climate Riders fundraise a minimum of $2800 to participate in this multi-day, all-inclusive cycling adventure. Proceeds go directly to the beneficiaries that riders choose – our team has chosen Clean Energy Coalition! Beneficiaries are selected based on their programs dedicated to sustainability, renewable energy, climate issues and bicycle advocacy.

More Information:
Visit climateride.org to learn more about Climate Ride’s events. Remember, even if you’re not in the midwest area, you can still support Clean Energy Coalition by choosing us as a beneficiary on other Climate Rides.

Climate Ride California Wine Country – May 17-20, 2014
San Francisco to Sacramento, 4 days, 250 miles

Climate Ride Midwest – September 6-9, 2014
Grand Rapids Michigan to Chicago, 4 days, 300 miles

Climate Ride NYC-DC — September 20-24, 2014
NYC to DC, 5 days, 300 miles

Climate Hike Glacier National Park – August 24-28, 2014
Glacier National Park, Montana, 5 days, 50 miles

For more information about Clean Energy Coalition’s team or questions about registering for our team, please contact:

Nicole Ver Kuilen
Proposal Coordinator
734-585-5720 ext. 37

Funding Available for Energy Efficiency Building Retrofits
April 28, 2014

Are you a small business or nonprofit organization looking for ways to reduce your operating costs? Or have you been looking for funding to implement recommendations from a recent energy audit?

The Michigan Energy Office (MEO) recently announced a request for proposals to fund energy efficiency retrofit projects in commercial buildings that are owned by Michigan’s most vulnerable organizations: small businesses and private nonprofit organizations. The purpose of this grant assistance is to encourage cost-effective energy upgrades that reduce operating costs for building owners, support local job creation, and free up capital to reinvest in these businesses over the long term.

Some key points to consider when thinking about applying for funding:

  • Amount: Grants will range in size from $5,000 to $20,000. (The anticipated total funding available is $150,000.)
  • Match Requirement: A minimum 1:1 cash match is required (100% of grant fund request).
  • Eligibility: Any small business or nonprofit organization with fewer than 100 employees statewide that owns a commercial building that is physically located in Michigan.
  • Deadline: Proposals will be considered as they are submitted and awards will be made until funds are exhausted or August 31, 2014, whichever comes first.
  • Eligible Projects: Energy efficiency measures must reduce both energy use and costs; can include but are not limited to measures that reduce energy waste and costs from the building envelope, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, indoor and outdoor lighting, and water heating systems; impacted facilities must have been occupied by the applicant for at least 12 months with long range plans of continued use. Other eligibility requirements apply; see request for proposals for further details.
  • Ineligible Projects: Renewable energy generation (e.g. solar, wind, biomass, etc.); demonstration projects involving non-commercially viable energy efficiency equipment or technologies; projects requiring an environmental impact assessment.

With limited funds available, interested organizations are encouraged to apply early.

Want to participate but need help applying? Clean Energy Coalition can help your organization apply for funding through our grant writing team of experts. Please contact Laura Palombi, Director of Business Development, at laura@cec-mi.org for more information.

Laura Palombi
Director of Business Development
734.585.5720 ext. 22

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