Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Domestic Energy Empowerment and Deregulation Act

One if the most frustrating aspects of electric car ownership is when the second tier of charging priority1, charing ones electric car at work, be prevented due to outdated regulations, one can be left with being forced into the uncomfortable third tier, namely going out of ones way to get a suplimental charge, waiting for 30–120 minutes to get enough charge to go home.  One of the biggest arguments employeers give against letting their employees charge their electric cars at work is that they'd be giving the electricity away for free, which is more than they do for traditional gasoline cars, even if the cars are only taking the equivalent of ounces of fuel.  Of course, most electric car drivers, myself included, sympathise with employeers facing this conumdrum.  Ideally, the employeer would see that providing $1.50 worth of electricity to an employee over the course of a day would hardly break the bank and would be a huge value-added benefit employees that helps retain your best and brightest workers.

However, what if your employer is the biggest employer in the entire United States of America?  An organization that employed an estimated 4.231 million people in 2013?  What about the United States Federal Government, including our men and women in uniform serving both domestically and abroad?  How do we get the federal workforce the right to charge their cars at work?  If we're not allowed to take a $1.50 of electricity for free, why can't the Government just shut up and take our money?

When it comes to Charge at work… Shut up and take my money!

After all, it's not like the House and Senate didn't give themselves that same right in 2012.  All I'm saying is what about the rest of us?

Well, thanks to Representative Zoe Lofgrin (CA-19), we almost got just that with her EV-COMUTE bill.  Unfortunately, this bill went nowhere in Congress and now, with the 114th Congress we start again with a clean slate.

Now, I live in a conservative district of the nation.  As such, the values and principles we have aren't always aligned with those in the more progressive parties such as the party which introduced the EV-COMUTE act.  The EV-COMUTE act wasn't written in any kind of partisan way, but it strikes me that perhaps it should have in such a way that a conservative could in fact support it.

It's about Empowerment

The biggest issue as I see it is an outdated regulation that prevents government employees and men and women in uniform from simply paying the treasury directly for the electricity our electric cars might be using.  I therefore propose the Domestic Energy Empowerment and Deregulation act, or the DEED act.  The act, as I propose would read as follows:

In order to allow the use of domestically-produced energy for the propulsion of privately owned vehicles used by the nation's Men and Women in Uniform and the Civilians and Contractors who make up the Federal Workforce.  Being that current Federal Regulations prohibit this workforce from paying the Treasury for the use of locally-sourced electrical energy which could be used to power these private vehicles. To remove all regulations which prohibit the use of electricity on Federal property and authorize any office of the Federal Government which owns or operates a parking area for the use of its employees to install, construct, operate, and maintain a battery recharging station in the area, and for other purposes, and to allow any such Agency which owns this property to bill and collect for any and all electricity used for which the Federal Government is already paying or has paid.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ``Domestic Energy Empowerment and Deregulation Act'' or the ``DEED Act''.

(a) Authorization.-‍-
(1) In general.-‍-

The head of any office of the Federal Government which owns or operates a parking area for the use of its employees (either directly or indirectly through a contractor) or members of the armed forces may install, construct, operate, and maintain on a reimbursable basis a battery recharging station in such area for the use of privately owned vehicles of employees and service people of the office and others who are authorized to park in such area.

(2) Existing infrastructure.-‍-

The head of an office may carry out paragraph (1) by making use of existing parking infrastructure through the authorization of selected, US National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 5 outlets or other electrical receptacles available and convenient to employee parking.  Use of existing outlets shall be considered optimal by an office head as the lowest-cost solution.

(3) Use of vendors.-‍-

The head of an office may carry out paragraph (1) through a contract with a vendor, under such terms and conditions (including terms relating to the allocation between the office and the vendor of the costs of carrying out the contract) as the head of the office and the vendor may agree to.

(b) Imposition of Fees To Cover Costs.-‍-
(1) Fees.-‍-

The head of an office of the Federal Government which operates and maintains a battery recharging station under this Act shall charge fees to the individuals who use the station in such amount as is necessary to ensure that office recovers all of the costs it incurs in installing, constructing, operating, and maintaining the station.

(2) Deposit and availability of fees.-‍-

Any fees collected by the head of an office under this subsection shall be-‍-

(A) deposited in the Treasury to the credit of the appropriations account for salaries and expenses of the office; and
(B) available for obligation without further appropriation during-‍-
(i) the fiscal year collected; and
(ii) the fiscal year following the fiscal year collected.
(c) No Effect on Existing Programs for House and Senate.-‍-

Nothing in this Act may be construed to affect the installation, construction, operation, or maintenance of battery recharging stations by the Architect of the Capitol-‍-

(1) under Public Law 112-170 (2 U.S.C. 2171), relating to employees of the House of Representatives and individuals authorized to park in any parking area under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives on the Capitol Grounds; or
(2) under Public Law 112-167 (2 U.S.C. 2170), relating to employees of the Senate and individuals authorized to park in any parking area under the jurisdiction of the Senate on the Capitol Grounds.
This Act shall apply with respect to fiscal year 2016 and each succeeding fiscal year.

Won't you write your representative to introduce or sponsor this act?

1The first tier is charging at home while one sleeps, like a mobile phone.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mr. TimeHorse's Wild Ride and how he tried to save the Virginia Environment

On Tuesday, 3 February, 2015, members of the Virginia Advanced Energies Industries Coalition (VAEIC) will be gathering in Richmond, Virginia for Clean Energy Lobby Day (CELD) 2015.  The event is in co-operation with Virginia Clean Cities and the Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA)—who produce the rather repetitive and wordy Solar Flare newsletter.  A number of industries in the energy sector are also sponsoring CELD, including Dominion Virginia Power, Solar City, Prospect Solar, Standard Solar, and Columbia Gas of Virginia; a complete list of sponsors is available on the official CELD page above.

The Trip

Unfortunately, none of the bills under consideration in the Commerce and Labour committee solve the many problems Electric Car drivers face in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which I hope to summarize in a subsequent article.  None the less, it's my desire to be a part of events like this, but usually I need to be at the job and those silly AdSense ads (sorry about those) aren't gonna pay the bills.  However, due to some abuse I received at my job to which I reacted exceedingly poorly I happen to have the day off so it's absolutely my plan to be there tomorrow.  That is, to drive to Richmond… 115 mi (185 km) away… in #CO2Fre Nissan LEAF… which is lucky to do 80 mi (130 km) on a good day… at 05:00 in the morning… in 20℉ (-7℃) weather… and naturally no heater…

Not only that, but in the evening I'm planning to meet some friends in Laurel, MD—land of the $35 cab to go 3.5 km (2 mi).  Needless to say, if I'm to try anything as ambitious as 320 mi (515 km) in a single day, I'm gonna need some quick charging; I'm gonna need CHAdeMO.

Fortunately, thanks to the folks at NRG eVgo, various Nissan Dealers and Greenlots (not to be confused with Gringotts, though they can be just as pricy), I have some hope.  First, I plan to use ECO routing to get to Pohanka Nissan in Fredricksburg, VA.  From there I should be able to get straigt to Richmond, however, it's possible that the Level 2 plug at the Richmond Omni Hotel will be in use (I plan to call from Fredricksburg to make sure), so as a backup I'll hit the CHAdeMO at Mac's Service Center in Ashland, VA, which is part of Greenlots.  I should therefore arrive in Richmond around 08:00, or so I hope.  Fortunately, the Virginia General Assembly building should be about a 5–10 minute walk from the Omni.

I should be able to bring #CO2Fre to 100% charge at the Omni by 12:30, so if anyone needs the EVSE I'll be happy to move my car during lunch; I need enough charge to get back to Pohanka and have some left over for my next two stations.  Once I'm charged at Pohanka the second time, I plan to drive all the way up to the Alexandria, VA NRG eVgo CHAdeMO.  Then, it's all the way over to the Gateway Overlook in Elkridge, MD for a third CHAdeMO session.

My hope is, after the CHAdeMO in Elkridge, I should have enough energy to visit my friends in Laurel and then drive straight home.  At least that's the hope…

Relevant Legislation

Anyway, as I was saying, I'm planning to go down to the General Assembly on Tuesday, with a focus on a couple of environmental bills before the Commerce and Labour committee.  Specifically, I'm focusing on 2 bills before the committee.

HB2237: Electric utilities; costs of solar energy facilities

Electric utilities; costs of solar energy facilities.  Authorizes an investor-owned electric utility that purchases a solar power generation facility located in the Commonwealth consisting of at least five megawatts of generating capacity to recover the costs of acquiring the facility, with an enhanced rate of return on equity, through a rate adjustment clause.  The rate adjustment clause for recovering such costs may be based on a market index in lieu of a cost of service model. The measure also states that (i) the construction or purchase by a utility of such a solar power generation facility and (ii) planning and development activities for solar energy facilities are in the public interest.

The idea of this bill is to give an incentive to electric utilities which buy solar power facilities within the Commonwealth.  It sets a minimum capacity of 5MW so that trivial purchases don't qualify for these incentives.  The only problem is that it doesn't say much about third-party interests in terms of the initial construction of a solar generating facility.  But otherwise, this seems like a good thing and something I'm happy to support.

SB 1331: Natural Gas Conservation and Ratemaking Efficiency Act; cost-effective programs

Natural Gas Conservation and Ratemaking Efficiency Act; cost-effective programs.  Requires the State Corporation Commission, when determining whether a natural gas conservation or energy efficiency program is cost-effective, to base its determination upon an evaluation of a portfolio of programs as a whole and not upon an evaluation of a program or measure on an individual basis.

The idea here is that we want the elimination of non cost-effective programs to be based on whether their elimination would make the whole package of incentives and benefits more cost-effective rather than subtracting one element and because it's removed some other benefit is hindered and thus the net effect could be worse than keeping the seemingly single less-effective subsidy in place.  By allowing the State Corporation Commission to take the entire package into account, it's hoped that conservations programs can be added and removed with a guaranteed overall net benefit.  This is why I support this bill.

Of course, these bills aren't the only reason I'm trying to make this insane trip to Richmond, Laurel, and back again.  In July, I'm planning to go to my 5×5 joint High School reunion, up in West Hartford, CT, a 360 mi (580 km) journey with, hopefully, no 4½ hour stop-over like in Richmond.  Now that's gonna take some planning!