SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Energy Commission recently approved nearly $12.6 million for nine projects aimed at developing cleaner transportation. These include programs to manufacture electric vehicles and vehicle batteries, add vehicle charging stations, and encourage the use of biofuels.
The $12.6 million in awards will leverage more than $16.1 million in private funds. The awards are funded from the commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation (AB 118) program.
"Innovative companies are beginning to make California a manufacturing center for cutting-edge transportation choices," said Energy Commissioner Anthony Eggert. "Just as the ideas of Silicon Valley helped drive our economy in the last decade, transportation innovation is helping to restore California's prosperity and rebuild our manufacturing base."
Here is a summary of the nine projects (totaling $12,590,686):
- Electric vehicles -- The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation program will provide $2,052,560 to Green Vehicles Inc. to help it build 2,000 Triac electric vehicles a year in Salinas. The Triac, priced at $24,995, is a two-passenger, three-wheeled, battery-powered freeway commuter car that has a top speed of 80 miles per hour and a range of 100 miles. Participants in the Triac project include Fremont-based Leyden Energy, supplier of the vehicle's lithium-ion batteries; Automotive Technology Group, an Irvine-based engineering and management firm that designs and manufactures concept vehicles; and the city of Salinas. The project team will provide $2,878,611 to match the state grant. The overall project is expected to add nearly 500 new employees working in assembly, supply and electronics for the new electric vehicles. Each Triac car sold is expected to cut petroleum use by 575 gallons a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent.
- Electric vehicles components -- Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc. of Lake Forest, Calif., will use an Energy Commission grant of $1,371,679 to manufacture and test its Q-Drive, a hybrid powertrain for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. Quantum, a co-founder of electric vehicle manufacturer Fisker Automotive, expects to produce 36,000 of the new combination inverter/charger units each year at an existing facility in Lake Forest. In addition to the Energy Commission's grant, Quantum will provide match funding of $1,760,000 to upgrade the facility with testing equipment, a pilot production line, and ultimately a high-volume production line that will directly create 30 to 40 jobs. More jobs will follow if Quantum's second-generation Q-Drive is successful. If it replaces a traditional internal combustion system, each powertrain is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48 percent and gasoline use by 270 gallons annually.
- Electric vehicles components -- The Energy Commission will provide $900,272 to Santa Cruz-based Zero Motorcycles. The company will develop a motor and integrated controller specifically for use in electric vehicles -- including motorcycles, neighborhood electric vehicles and all-terrain vehicles -- and design cost-effective, scalable manufacturing processes that will allow the powertrains to be produced for less than $450 each. The project is expected to create 12 jobs to begin with, with additional hiring expected when manufacturing scales up. The project team will provide match funding of $938,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, with the city of Santa Cruz contributing $415,000 in loans, permitting assistance and advising, infrastructure improvements and an owner's participation agreement. Each powertrain that replaces a traditional gasoline-powered motorcycle engine will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent, gasoline use by 70 gallons per year and tailpipe emissions by 100 percent.
- Electric vehicles components -- Large battery systems with thousands of cells are the single most expensive component in an electric vehicle, accounting for up to 50 percent of the purchase price. Sylmar-based battery manufacturer Quallion LLC is automating the process to mass-produce lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery modules to bring down the cost. Using a $1,026,072 grant from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation program fund, Quallion will standardize both the size and design of batteries and battery modules. The company will provide $1,026,072 in matching funds to create a pilot-scale manufacturing line capable of producing 10,000 one-kilowatt/hour Li-ion modules. Once deployed, each battery module can reduce carbon emissions by 68 percent per vehicle. The project is expected to generate 50 to 100 temporary and 100 to 200 permanent jobs over the next three years.
- Electric vehicle assembly -- Stockton-based Electric Vehicles International (EVI) will develop an automated production process that brings under one roof the on-site manufacture and assembly of battery packs, battery boxes, motors, controllers, drivetrains and other electric vehicle components. By integrating on-site manufacturing with vehicle assembly, EVI estimates it can reduce power system costs by 50 percent and vehicle costs by an estimated 30 percent. The Energy Commission is providing a $3,881,224 grant; the Stockton-based company will provide $7,226,102. The manufacturing process will immediately create 50 permanent jobs in California, while the commercial-scale plant is expected to create an additional 375 jobs. This project will produce medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles that should cut emissions by up to 68 percent per vehicle.
- Electric vehicle charging -- As California deploys electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state, Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies is preparing for those chargers to be integrated into a smart power grid. With an Energy Commission grant of $1,102,985, the equipment manufacturer will develop and build their Charge Point Communication Processor, designed to be installed into existing electric chargers and into new chargers manufactured by other companies. The result will be a complete smart charger network capable of remotely controlling the charging and discharging of batteries and shifting charging loads away from peak hours. Shifting charging to off-peak periods reduces stress on the grid and allows chargers to take advantage of renewable power, which can reduce the cost of electricity and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Coulomb's smart charge network also will be capable of providing billing, wireless monitoring, and Web and cell phone services for consumers. The company is matching the grant amount of $1,102,985.
- Electric vehicle charging -- With the help of a $415,185 grant from the Energy Commission, EV Connect LLC will install 20 publicly accessible charging stations at five different public transportation hubs in the Los Angeles area. Serving plug-in electric vehicles, the chargers will allow drivers to drive to a metro station, park their car, take public transportation, and have their electric car fully charged when they return. Locations are served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and include Universal City, epicenter for much of the entertainment industry and local tourism; the Los Angeles International Airport; Union Station, the train depot with connections to Metrolink, Amtrak, Metro Bus, DASH shuttles and other municipal bus lines; the Canoga transit station, a connecting point for hundreds of thousands of people living in the San Fernando Valley; and the Sierra Madre Villa transit station, a hub that connects travelers to local and regional transit services provided by Metro, Foothill Transit, and Pasadena ARTS buses. More than 60 million passengers will pass through these five hubs every year, significantly raising awareness of electric vehicles. EV Connect will provide funding of $23,096 for the project.
- Biodiesel distribution -- Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent if made from soybeans or up to 88 percent if made from waste grease. A lack of biodiesel terminals, bulk storage and blending facilities, however, limits California's ability to use the renewable fuel. Using $1,790,000 from AB 118 funds, RTC Fuels will develop two new biodiesel blending facilities. In Sacramento, RTC will partner with InterState Oil Co. to create a one-million-gallon-a-year facility that will serve the San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Stockton metropolitan areas. A second site in El Cajon, created with SoCo Group Inc., will make up to 800,000 gallons of biodiesel blends available annually to Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial and San Diego counties. Through these two terminals, biodiesel blends of 5 percent, 20 percent and up to 99 percent will be distributed to 70 percent of the state, displacing up to 1.2 million equivalent gallons of diesel per year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 7,400 tons annually. The project participants are providing a minimum of $1,143,336 in additional funding. The two terminals are expected to create 50 construction, fuel terminal contractor, and equipment manufacturing jobs.
- Biodiesel production -- The Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation program is providing Davis-based West Yost Associates with a grant of $50,709 to study whether a municipal wastewater treatment plant can economically grow algae that can be converted into biodiesel. If successful, the project could produce a new source of revenue for wastewater treatment plants, could better remove algae and nutrient loads from wastewater to improve the quality of water releases, and could reduce treatment costs. The engineering firm will undertake the study at the Stockton Regional Wastewater Control Facility ponds and its constructed wetlands in San Joaquin County. Preliminary estimates indicate the Stockton facility may have the potential to produce 6 million gallons of pure biodiesel per year. The 10-month study will determine how biofuel production can be enhanced through techniques developed by AlgaXperts, a consulting partner from Wisconsin. Oils produced by the project will be sold to Community Fuels, an existing local biofuels producer in Stockton. These project partners will provide $50,709 in match funding.