Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chicago Plugging Green

Through the leadership of Mayor Richard Daley, the City of Chicago has joined Plug In Partners with a big bang by committing to purchase 850 plug in hybrid vehicles.

Recently, Chicago's greening was highlighted in Time.

The Greening of Chicago
Mayor Richard Daley wants to turn the City of Big Shoulders into the most environmentally friendly city in the U.S., and he's not just blowing hot air


"Chicago, a blue-collar city of asphalt and glass and concrete canyons, would seem an odd place for admitted tree-hugger Sadhu Johnston to think he could save the planet. But Johnston, Mayor Richard M. Daley' s environmental commissioner, believes that cities are actually the answer to the earth's environmental ills.

And with that in mind, he is working to turn Chicago into what he claims will be the most environmentally friendly city in the U.S. — as well as the nation's center for environmental design and the manufacturing of components for the production of alternative energy.

If it works — and Daley is betting a hefty sum it will, with promises to buy millions in solar panels, for example — the green movement here is expected to yield the city perhaps billions in saved energy costs and new business.

"This is way beyond tree hugging in Chicago," said Johnston, 31, who before coming to Chicago helped dust some of the rust off of Cleveland's image by serving as executive director of the non-profit Cleveland Green Building Coalition. "

This is about quality of life. What we're talking about is creating a city that exists in harmony with the world, a place that can be a model.


In much the same way that cities like Austin and San Francisco latched onto the boom in the Internet or biotech industry to propel their economies, Chicago is working hard to rev up its manufacturing and capitalize on the growth in green construction and wind and solar energies. "

Chicago is also going to start a green roof program.

Now, as a Plug In Partner, Chicago becomes an important part of the move toward Plug in Hybrids.

The plug in partner campaign has recently received fleet orders from other cities and states. Here are the most recent.

Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources 1800
City of Seattle 410
King County, WA 22
Shohomish Co, WA 300
Chicago 850

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is Ford First?

photo by George Lange

Last week, Bill Ford made an announcement at his Stockholder meeting . "Pressed by activists to take steps to improve the efficiency of Ford's vehicle line-up, Bill Ford Jr, great-grandson of Henry Ford, said the carmaker was considering launching a plug-in hybrid, a potential industry first.

Here is the story from Consumer Affairs.

Ford May Build a Plug-In Hybrid
May 11, 2006

Ford Motor Co. is considering a major hybrid initiative -- a plug-in car -- that could make the struggling automaker the leading U.S. producer of hybrid cars.

Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford told shareholders at the automaker's annual meeting that the automotive market is shifting rapidly because of higher oil prices and the company is trying to respond.

"Our fleet is getting smaller and we are working hard on ethanol, biofuels and hybrids," Bill Ford told shareholders.

Plug-in hybrids can be charged from an outlet and have greater range in all-electric mode. A small gasoline engine provides power for the vehicle over longer distances, much like the Toyota Prius.

Environmentalists argue that plug-in hybrid technology is the most immediate option to improve fuel economy and cut greenhouse gas emissions."

The development inspired plug in activists Andy Frank and Felix Kramer to write Ford a letter .

The group plans to rapidly build a small prototype/demonstration fleet of plug-in hybrids using Ford's Escape Hybrid as a platform. First customers for the conversions of several dozen SUVs would be cities, utilities, CEOs, entrepreneurs and celebrities.

The vehicles would demonstrate a range of energy storage and propulsion components, flex-fuel (E85) capability and other design solutions.

Asking for no money or other resources from the company, the group has asked Ford to release a statement giving permission to begin independent work:

"A consortium that includes UC Davis engineering Prof. Andy Frank and the non-profit California Cars Initiative is starting a project to demonstrate the potential of the Ford Escape Hybrid to operate as a plug-in hybrid.

There's a growing national interest in this technology, especially among fleet buyers, to further reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gases. While Ford focuses on expanding the adoption of hybrid technology throughout our line, we applaud their choice of the Escape as a development platform, and we will support this independent, innovative effort.

We delegate Ford advisor and designer/architect William McDonough to participate in this project."

As noted on the Energy Blog,

"If the consortium can come through with their plans to build a demonstration fleet, that would be a real kickoff for the plug-in movement. It would seem a natural to me if Plug-In Partners were somehow associated with this program.

Let's hope that Ford has some real plans to produce a plug-in; it would be the first time in a long time that a U.S. auto company has led the field in something this significant."

It would indeed, it would indeed.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Consortium Partners

Two major forces in the drive for Plug In Hybrids have come together. Here is the story.

Austin Energy and Plug-In Partners
Team with the Hybrid Consortium
By Business Editors
(c) 2006 Business Wire
Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 10, 2006--The Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium announced today that Austin Energy, a public utilities company in Austin, Texas and the Plug-In Partners, a national grassroots campaign working to build public support for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, have joined with the Hybrid Consortium as Advisory members.


The Consortium is made up of a growing number of automotive suppliers, manufacturers and other organizations working together to accelerate the commercial production of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).

"Austin Energy is pleased to join with the Consortium alongside other utility companies in support of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. By working together we can build a stronger unified voice advocating the development of PHEVs and the use of clean renewable energy for transportation.

We believe that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be practical and cost-effective and are pleased to support the cooperation between the Plug-In Partners and the Consortium," said Lisa Braithwaite, spokesperson for Austin Energy.

Plug-In Partners is a national grassroots initiative to demonstrate to automakers that a market for flexible-fuel Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) exists today.


Roger Duncan has been active in the leadership of the Plug-in Partners national campaign. Mr. Duncan serves as the Campaign Coordinator for Plug-In Partners, and Deputy General Manager of Austin Energy. Mr. Duncan joins the Consortium as an advisory member.

"We are pleased to welcome Austin Energy and the Plug-In Partners to the Consortium," said Ed Kjaer co-founder of the Consortium and Director of Electric Transportation, Southern California Edison. "

Roger has done a tremendous job in developing public awareness for PHEVs, and we support his innovative campaign to accelerate demand through the fleet 'soft order' program," continued Kjaer.


The Consortium plans to demonstrate affordable plug-in hybrid technology to automakers in a PHEV design with the potential of achieving over 100 mpg by using electric fuel for local driving."

Become a Partner today.

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