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At Last: Congress Proposes to Electrify Postal Fleet
Jan 25, 2010 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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As a kid, seeing postal trucks drive, stop,turn off, restart, or drive, stop, and drive, first put the idea in my head that idling didn't make sense, especially for delivery vehicles. The USPS has had several unsuccessful experiments with EVs. Finally a savvy coalition is coming together to do it right. It starts with "e-Drive," H.R. 4399, a bill recently introduced by NY Rep. Jose Serrano with bipartisan co-sponsors, and a just-unveiled website to build a support campaign. (Rep. Serrano is Chairman of the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government subcommittee, which oversees the federal payment to the USPS.) Notably, the measure includes not only new plug-in vehicles but also conversions of many of its existing local delivery vehicles -- those compact trucks built by Grumman, nearing the end of their life unless they get an energy boost. At a time when Japan has committed to convert 1/4 of its 22,000-vehicle fleet to Electric, and when Ruth Goldway, the Chair of the US Postal Regulatory Commission has become a strong advocate of plug-ins, the U.S. has the opportunity to prove what's possible with its 142,000 LLVs. We'll be talking about this effort next week (see­events.html ).
Below are some excerpts from the website at -- a blog introduction, legislative sponsors, and endorsements by the heads of PRC, FERC,
the postal workers union, and PJM, the grid interconnection organization for 13 states and Washington, DC.

FROM THE BLOG by founders Erik Toomre and Joy Leong­blog

Thank you for visiting the site. As you probably know already, this site is dedicated to providing information about the bipartisan proposed American Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Act or "e-Drive" bill introduced as H.R. 4399 on December 16, 2009. We would like to encourage you to register here at the website. Not only will you be able to post comments on any of the blogs, but also it will give us a way to reach you with additional information about the e-Drive bill.

The e-Drive bill would provide up to $2 billion for an Energy Department program in which vehicle manufacturers would compete for grants to build electric vehicles for immediate deployment by the U.S. Postal Service, operator of the nations largest civilian fleet. Besides the environmental benefits and vast fuel savings the program would achieve, the bills passage would also position the Postal Service fleet as a key energy storage asset for the nations power grid. Through Smart Grid technologies, new and converted electric postal vehicles would serve as power storage devices for the grid, helping ease peak loads and storing energy from intermittent or fluctuating sources, like wind power systems.

There are two Phases of the e-Drive program. Phase I lasts 3.5 years and involves a highly competitive solicitation for electric vehicles (EVs), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), and electric and PHEV powertrains for conversions. The best performing solution(s) are rewarded with a large Phase II contract. Each phase procures approximately 10,000 electric drive vehicles (or powertrains that are used in conversions of existing LLVs) and 12,000 charging stations.

Publicity about the e-Drive bill is growing. In the next two weeks, two events are scheduled in which speakers will have comments about the e-Drive bill:

  • Ruth Goldway, Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission will be speaking at the EDTA (Electric Drive Transportation Association) Conference and Annual Meeting for the Panel Session: Electric Does It (Part 1): Electric Drive at Work and Off-Road on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 from 1:30pm-3:00pm in Washington DC.
  • Felix Kramer, Founder of the California Cars Initiative will be speaking at the RETECH 2010 conference, co-hosted by American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) for the Panel Session: B7: Advanced Vehicles and Batteries on Friday, February 5, 2010 from 1:30pm-3:00pm in Washington DC.

We expect a lot more coverage in the press and as word gets out within the industry. We look forward to your support. Please send us your questions by making a blog comment (registration required) and we'll try to address them through additions to the FAQs or via a future blog article.

BILL SUMMARY­sites/­default/­files/­012110%20E-Drive_hr4339_summary.pdf
(see also chart at­sites/­default/­files/­012110%20E-drive-hr4339-graphic.pdf

E-Drive Bill -- HR 4399 Electrification of the Postal Fleet

USPS operates the largest commercial fleet in the country with 142,000 local delivery vehicles. These "LLV" model vehicles average 9 MPG, have an average age of 17 years, and need to be replaced or retrofit in the near future. The fleet is an ideal test bed for large scale electrification because of its predictable routes, frequent stops and starts, range of weather and terrain conditions, and high visibility. Post offices could provide the public easy access to EV charging stations.

The E-Drive bill provides $2 billion to fund electrification of 20,000 postal delivery vehicles over 3 years. It builds upon the $2.4 billion investment in American battery and electric vehicle component manufacturing capacity in 2009. The industry is now at the point where it needs a major customer to provide demand for large scale deployment. With strong Buy American provisions, the bill will create high-paying American jobs and help revitalize the automotive industry as it shifts from internal combustion engines to electric drive.

The E-Drive bill addresses national security concerns by reducing our dependence on oil imports. Seventy percent of the oil consumed in 2008 went to the transportation sector. The E-Drive bill will prove that wide scale deployment of EVs is not only possible but desirable, and thus accelerate the nation's movement toward alternative fuels.

Electrification of the postal fleet will reduce carbon emissions of the country's largest fleet by up to 75% and lower annual fuel purchases by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The E-Drive program capitalizes on both the Department of Energy's expertise in batteries and electric vehicles and the Postal Service's experience in fleet management. The bill:

  • Has two phases: (1) production, deployment, and assessment of 10,200 vehicles and 12,000 charging stations, and (2) subsequent award of 10,000 vehicles and 12,000 charging stations for the best solution(s) of Phase 1.
  • Emphasizes competition among suppliers and between technologies, without dictating a winning technology. Areas of interest include: "off the shelf" e-Trucks, new highly efficient e-LLVs; PHEVs; new all-electric and PHEV powertrains for conversions of existing LLVs; and charging stations.
  • Lays the foundation for smart grid infrastructure by setting standards, funding seven regional deployments across the nation, and building teams of power companies, ISOs, aggregators, and fleet operators. The batteries in the test fleet will make intermittent alternative energy sources, like wind, more valuable by enabling connection to the grid at night.

HOUSE SPONSORS:­congressionalsponsors

JOSE SERRANO (D-NY): "The e-Drive bill is a bold step to help the USPS achieve sustainability from an operational standpoint. It also will help them lead the greening of our nation's delivery fleets and jump-start the electric vehicle industry in the U.S. Through a rigorous testing and competitive grant process, administered by the Department of Energy, manufacturers, large and small, will compete to bring their leading-edge technologies to the market. The industry will grow stronger as a result -- creating knowledge, deploying new technologies, and producing quality American jobs. Our nation must become a leader in green technologies and leveraging the enormous assets of the USPS provides us with a direct route toward that goal." "Our nation is ready to support an electric vehicle fleet. Our power grid would benefit, our industrial base would benefit, our environment would benefit, and under this approach, the USPS, as well as its employees and customers, would benefit. Its a win-win situation all around. I look forward to passing this bill with my allies in Congress, and the support of the public and private sectors.

LEE TERRY (R-NE): "This legislation will provide a much-needed boost to the development and use of electric drive vehicles on a nation-wide scale. It will stimulate private sector investment in electric drive vehicles, powertrains and new battery technologies. It also addresses Smart Grid integration through new Vehicle-to-Grid technologies. I look forward to working with my colleague, Mr. Serrano, on this forward-thinking approach to less dependence on fossil fuels and reducing emissions from mobile sources."

RUSS CARNAHAN (D-MO): "By supplying new, more efficient electric vehicles built right here in the United States we reduce fuel costs for the struggling Postal Service and jolt American clean-energy manufacturing, creating jobs here at home."

DAN MAFFEI, (D-NY): "This bill will spur American electric vehicle production, creating manufacturing jobs and moving us toward a green economy. Central New York is a leader in green technology innovation, and I am confident our region will contribute to the e-Drive program's success."

STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY): "The United States Postal Service maintains the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world with about 221,000 vehicles in service. By converting to a greener electric fleet we will be using the purchasing power of the federal government to spur innovation, create new green jobs and reduce energy costs for the postal service. I've worked with Congressman Serrano on demonstration projects using these vehicles in New York and I am proud to continue to work with him on the e-Drive bill."

CHARLES A. GONZALEZ (D-TX): "As world leaders convene at the UN Climate Conference to find ways to reduce global carbon emissions, we are doing our part here with the introduction of 'e-Drive'. Homes in America are visited by the USPS six days a week, and it only makes sense that we find a green alternative to one of the largest delivery fleets. With e-Drive we can lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce our carbon emissions, and create more green jobs as we encourage the car manufacturers to develop more non-polluting vehicles."


RUTH Y. GOLDWAY, Chairman, U.S. POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION: "This legislation uses the unique characteristics of the Postal Service's existing transportation network to rapidly increase the market for electric vehicles in the United States. It provides well-deserved support for the Postal Service and a reasoned plan for the simultaneous development of the electric grid and non-polluting automobiles. I congratulate Congressman Serrano on his foresight and leadership putting forward this program to create green jobs, an improved electric grid and
- most importantly - a revitalized mail delivery system."

JON WELLINGHOFF, Chairman of the FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION: "Done right, electric vehicles provide a huge opportunity to add stability and versatility to the grid and because of their crucial storage capacity they can stimulate private investment in renewable electricity."

WILLIAM BURRUS, President of the AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION: "It will be good for the Postal Service, good for the environment and good for the economy."

TERRY BOSTON, President and CEO of PJM, the largest Independent System Operator in the country: "PJM is very supportive of congressional direction that helps to advance vehicle-to-grid technology. ISOs are the non-profit entities that operate the nation's electrical grid. Vehicle-to-grid is a credible technology that has been successfully demonstrated within the PJM territory for more than two years. Electric vehicle integration is both a challenge and an opportunity that PJM is prepared to facilitate in the near-term. A highly visible fleet of United States Postal Service vehicles would not only showcase clean and economic transportation, but with smart charging would provide a positive contribution to the electric grid."

FELIX KRAMER, Founder, THE CALIFORNIA CARS INITIATIVE: "e-Drive provide jobs building new and converting existing postal vehicles. It can lower the postal fleet's operating costs, improve the environment for postal workers and the general public. These vehicles will help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and our greenhouse gases. The program will help build demand for batteries and other components whose costs will decrease with high-volume production. And it points to a future where most new vehicles and many of those already on the road can plug in. Taken together, it's a way to move the broad trend to electrify transportation into high gear."

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