Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When Should Property Owners Install Electric Car Charging Stations

A year ago, I never got questions about electric charges. Today, I get several inquiries from our clients each week. When a client asks whether or not they should install a charger, I first ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?" If they say, "I want to meet demand and maybe make some money," I explain that there is no demand yet, and the only reason they should install a charger today is for the PR purposes of being a first adopter. Or perhaps the client can take advantage of the tax breaks before they expire. I go on to say, "You do not want to install more than a couple chargers, but you may want to build in the infrastructure to expand later on if it takes off."

A recent article "Charging Stations Multiply But Electric Cars Are Few" in the Wall Street Journal explains why electric chargers are multiplying much faster than the plug-in vehicles that can use them. While the federal subsidies help, some in the business community believe that the chargers will attract customers.
"Charging equipment is popping up largely because of subsidies. As part of a $5 billion federal program to subsidize development of electric vehicles and battery technology, the U.S. Energy Department over the past two years provided about $130 million for two pilot projects that help pay for chargers at homes, offices and public locations."
Although the subsidies will not last forever, the cost of chargers will fall as production rises, meaning that if you wait, you will probably not pay much more than you would today with the subsidy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Congestion Pricing Only True Road to Relief

How do you relieve traffic congestion? The assumption is that you either need to build more roads, more transit, or both. And most of the time, this pits transit advocates against road advocates. Well, maybe neither is necessary.

In a new study published in this month's American Economic Review and reported by Eric Jaffe for The Atlantic Cities called The Only Hope for Reducing Traffic, researchers contend that congestion pricing is the only solution to decrease congestion.

Two economists from the University of Toronto analyzed data and road capacity in U.S. cities from 1983 to 2003 and found that there is such an enormous latent demand for road space, they believe that whenever a new lane is built or a driver shifts onto public transportation, another driver quickly grabs the open space.

They believe congestion pricing programs are the only things that will decrease overall car use and delays during peak hours. produced a video on congestion pricing in March:

The US DOT put out this report on congestion pricing in October 2008:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Motorcycles Get to Use HOV Lanes

Have you ever wondered why they allow motorcycles in HOV lanes? [Find out the REAL reason at the bottom of this post] I just assumed it was because they pollute less than cars. Well, I caught a recent episode of the Disney Channel's "Mythbusters" and was very surprised to find out that the car pollutes less than motorcycle.

Hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman collaborated with Kent Johnson, an assistant research engineer at the University of California at Riverside, to conduct the experiment:
"Three cars and three motorcycles, each built in either the 1980s, '90s or '00s, were fitted with tailpipe probes that measured the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions of each vehicle over a closed course... In the end, Mr. Johnson observed that while the motorcycles burn fuel more efficiently and produce lower levels of carbon dioxide than the cars, the noxious pollutants generated by the bikes exceeded the levels generated by cars. Insofar as the hosts sought to determine the greenest mode of transport, the car won by virtue of its lower pollution profile."
Read the full story here, Source: New York Times, September, 30, 2011.

The REAL rationale behind allowing motorcycles to use HOV lanes is that it is safer to keep two-wheeled vehicles moving than to have them travel in start-and-stop traffic conditions, but states can choose to override this provision of federal law, if they determine that safety is at risk.