DETROIT — Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 13 major U.S. employers — including Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. — and eight stakeholder groups — including Detroit’s NextEnergy — joined the new Workplace Charging Challenge to help expand access to workplace charging stations for American workers across the country.
In a speech at the Washington Auto Show, Secretary Chu outlined the new initiative, which aims to expand the availability of workplace charging, increasing the convenience of plug-in electric vehicles and providing drivers with more options.
“The market for electric vehicles is expanding dramatically, giving drivers more options to save money on gasoline while reducing carbon pollution,” Chu said. “These 13 companies are taking strong steps to make charging infrastructure more broadly available to their workforce — setting an example for others to follow and helping America lead the global race for a growing industry.”
The Workplace Charging Challenge is a collaborative effort to increase the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging by tenfold in the next five years. The Challenge also supports the broader efforts of the Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, announced by President Obama in March 2012, to make PEVs as affordable and convenient for the American family as gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years.
The first 13 employers to sign the Workplace Charging Pledge as partners include the Detroit Three, Chrysler, Ford and GM. Other partners are Google, Verizon, 3M, Eli Lilly, GE, Siemens, Duke Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric, Nissan, and Tesla. The pledge commits each partner organization to assess workforce PEV charging demands, and then develop and implement a plan to install workplace charging infrastructure for at least one major work site location.
Detroit-based non-profit NextEnergy, one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries in Michigan, was asked to serve as one of eight stakeholder organizations to sign the Ambassador Pledge to develop and execute plans to support and promote the workplace charging initiative. To support the Partners and Ambassadors who sign the pledge, DOE will provide technical assistance and establish a forum for Partners and Ambassadors to share information. NextEnergy President and CEO, Jean Redfield, attended the first of these events Jan. 31 in Washington, D.C.
“Having a solid charging infrastructure in place is integral to the success of the PEV. Next to parking at home, the workplace is the spot where our vehicles spend the most amount of time, so it’s an obvious place for charging,” said Redfield.
According to Redfield, the benefits of workplace charging can go even deeper than increased sales for automakers and convenience for PEV owners. Employers may be able to take advantage of something called bi-directional charging, a technology NextEnergy is researching and demonstrating at its Detroit facility. “In addition to employees having another place to charge their vehicles, the employer may at some point benefit from the energy storage capacity of the employees’ vehicles by tapping that energy in an emergency, or as a means to lower the electrical energy costs to the facility by reducing peak demand charges,” Redfield explained.
PEVs can offer consumers significant advantages over gasoline-powered vehicles, including savings on fuel costs, added convenience, and reduced maintenance costs. Electricity is cheaper than gasoline to power a vehicle – generally equivalent to about $1 per gallon – and consumers are able to conveniently fuel up at home.
The Energy Department also released the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge Blueprint, which describes PEV technology and deployment barriers, as well as steps to move forward in achieving the EV Everywhere goal. The full Blueprint can be found HERE.
For more information about the Challenge or EV Everywhere, please visit http://electricvehicles.energy.gov.
Founded in 2002 as 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, NextEnergy is one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries. NextEnergy drives technology demonstration and commercialization; delivers industry and venture development services; and provides an authoritative voice in the public sector. Since its inception, NextEnergy has helped attract more than $1 billion of new investment in the state of Michigan, including programs in excess of $150 million in which NextEnergy has directly participated.
More at www.nextenergy.org