Electric Vehicle FAQs

There are many alternative fuel options available, and choosing the most appropriate for your lifestyle can be a challenge. However, electric drive vehicle (EDV) technologically is becoming more reliable, practical, and convenient, and as a result their adoption rate is growing fast. Particularly in areas with relatively clean, very cheap power generation, such as YTCEC’s region, EDVs are enormously effective in reducing petroleum consumption, harmful emissions, and fuel costs. But EDVs come in a variety of configurations, and determining which best fits your needs can make your head spin. The following FAQs and answers should help you sort through this challenge and lead you to the best EDV for your needs.

What Is the Difference Between the Various EDVs?

[ezcol_1fifth]icon_basics_hybrid[/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have conventional engines and are only fueled using conventional gasoline or diesel. The efficiency of these vehicles is improved by a regenerative braking system that charges a battery to power an electric motor that assists the drive train.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]

[ezcol_1fifth]icon_basics_plugin[/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are fueled with conventional gasoline or diesel, and as the name implies, with electricity. PHEVS also have regenerative braking to maximize their efficiencies, but plugging into the grid helps to displace even more petroleum use by utilizing increasingly clean electricity.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]

[ezcol_1fifth]icon_basics_electric[/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Electric vehicles (EVs) have no internal combustion engine, use no petroleum fuel, and operate entirely on electricity. As such, the range of these vehicles is limited to the amount of energy stored in their batteries. However, if the electricity it utilizes is renewably derived there are effectively no emissions.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]

What Are the Environmental Advantages of Electric Vehicles?
Too often, it is assumed that shifting from gasoline to electricity will simply transfer emissions from the car’s tailpipe to the power plant’s smoke stack. However, there are in fact, no grids in the US where electrically fueled vehicles are dirtier than gas or diesel. In addition to this head start, grids will continue to become cleaner as states reach their renewable portfolio standards. Even today, the majority of the electricity consumed in our region is produced from hydropower making our grid-powered vehicles significantly cleaner than petroleum in both criteria pollutants like SOX and NOX, as well as the primary greenhouse gas, CO2.GridMix Such a renewable heavy grid mix helps to generate electricity with 30% fewer carbon emissions than the nation’s average. One can see that this clean grid mix further reduces CO2e emissions from EVs and PHEVs relative to conventional vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and even plug-in vehicles powered by the nation’s average grid mix.EVandGASHow Far Can I Drive?
Because HEVs and PHEVs operate on conventional fuel and have the typical range of a conventional vehicle, there are few operating concerns for these vehicles. However, EVs do not have a fuel tank and cannot gas up at the nearest station. Today, EVs have ranges from 62 to 208 miles on a full charge, and luckily, 95% of trips taken by rural Americans are under 50 miles, offering enormous functionality of an EV, especially in households with more than one vehicle.

Electric Vehicle Make and Range According to the AFDC Buyer’s Guide 2015[ezcol_1third]BMW i3 – 81 mi             Chevy Spark – 82 mi          Fiat 500e – 87 mi[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]Ford Focus – 76 mi          Honda Fit – 82 mi                 Kia Soul – 93 mi[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]Nissan Leaf – 84 mi Volkswagen eGolf – 87 mi Testla Model S – 208 mi[/ezcol_1third_end]

How Long Will it Take to Charge?
To fully charge EVs and PHEVs, they must be connected to a source of electricity. The options available are categorized at three different levels, based on their charge capacity.

  • The first, Level 1 is the slowest option and operates on alternating current (AC). Any standard 120V household outlet will suffice, and the vehicle will earn 2 to 5 miles for every 1 hour charging.
  • Level 2 charges run at 240V AC, which can be installed at your home and are increasingly common at workplaces and public and private parking areas. At 10 to 20 miles per hour of charging, 8 hours will generally fully recharge the electric vehicles currently available. This can be accomplished at the office during the workday or overnight at home.
  • Level 3 fast chargers are by far the most expensive, but operating at 480V of direct current, they can provide 60 to 80 miles of range in only 20 minutes of charging – just enough to grab a coffee and a bite.

Where Can I Charge?
In addition to any Level 1, standard 120V plug, EVs can charge at any of the regional, Level 2 charging infrastructure. This network is growing, and the connectivity is improving, easing range anxiety. Additionally, more charging infrastructure helps to increase the number of miles PHEVs can operate on clean electricity. The map below shows the current charging stations (white pins) as well as the predicted locations of six planned stations (yellow pins) throughout the three states in which YTCEC operates, ID, MT, and WY.
EV Charging ID MT WYTo find real-time details for each station, such as the charging station level and the exact location, please visit the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Station Locator.

What Will Extreme Temperatures Do To a Vehicle’s Electric Range?
The Greater Yellowstone Region experiences extreme annual temperature fluctuations. Such highs and lows do have an impact on battery capacity and thus, vehicle ranges.  In an analysis by Idaho National Laboratory, three EVs were tested at a cold, mild, and hot temperature all while maintaining 72°F inside the car. Cold temperatures reduced range by about half, depending on the vehicle, and hot temperatures had a lesser, but still significant reduction on range.EV_City_Range_INL_ShirkHowever, much of this loss is due to maintaining a comfortable climate inside the cab. And while locals can deal with a little heat and even more cold, there are certain steps you can take to create a comfortable driving climate and ensure your heater or AC doesn’t drain your battery. First, park your vehicle in a garage to avoid it from getting too hot or too cold. Second, preheat or precool while you are still plugged in. Many EVs are integrated with apps that will allow you to do this remotely, and it ensures your battery stays charged while your vehicle gets to a comfortable temperature. Finally, when heating, use seat heaters as they are more efficient than space heating.

January Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I search for, update, and add new alternative fueling station information using the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator?

Answer: The Alternative Fueling Station Locator (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) is the most used tool on the AFDC and was recently improved to include new options that may change the way users search for and update station information. You can now filter search results by several fuel-specific fields, such as connector type for electric vehicle charging and fill pressure for natural gas fueling. Read on for more details and information on how to update an existing station or add a new station to the Station Locator.

Searching for Alternative Fueling Stations

Previously, Station Locator users could select “more search options” to look for stations with a certain status/access type (e.g., existing, planned, or private), owner type, payment methods, and electric charger types (e.g., Level 2, DC fast charge). The Station Locator now allows users to search filter by fuel-specific fields corresponding to each alternative fuel. First, select a specific fuel type from the “All Fuels” drop-down menu, and then click on “more search options” to choose from the following filters:

  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

o   Fill type – the type of dispensing capability available at the station (e.g., fast-fill, time-fill)

o   Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the CNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)

o   Fill pressure – the pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure available at the station (e.g., 2400, 3000, 3600)

  • Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)

o   Charger type – the type of electric chargers available at the station (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast, Legacy chargers)

o   Connectors and outlets – the type of outlets (e.g., NEMA 14-50, NEMA 5-15, NEMA 5-20) and connectors  (e.g., J1772, CHAdeMO, J1772 Combo, Tesla) available for charging

o   Networks – the name of the EVSE network

  • Ethanol (E85)

o   Mid-level blend availability – stations that provide mid-level ethanol blends, such as E30

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

o   Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the LNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)

  • Propane (LPG)

o   Vehicle-specific service – stations that cater to propane vehicles by offering a vehicle fuel-specific price and accept credit cards

Updating Station Information

Once you have located a station of interest, click on the station pinpoint on the map and select “More details” for even more information about the station. If you would like to report updates to the station, such as additional fuel types available, click on “Report a change” in the top right corner of the station details page. Users will receive an email confirmation after reporting updates, and the submission goes directly to the Clean Cities Technical Response Service (TRS) for review and verification. Anyone reporting an update should expect the TRS to contact you or a station point of contact before the changes will appear on the Station Locator.

Adding New Fueling Stations

If you have searched the Station Locator, including private and planned stations, and would like to report one that is not listed, use the New Station Submission form (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/places/new). You can navigate to this form by clicking “Submit New Station” in the top right corner of the Station Locator map. Please provide as much detail as possible in the submission form, and use the “Comments” section as needed to include additional information. As with the station update process mentioned above, you will receive an automated email confirmation and the TRS will likely contact you to verify information before adding the station to the Station Locator.

Alternatively, you may submit new or updated station information by emailing the TRS directly at technicalresponse@icfi.com. If you have several new stations or updates to submit, this method is preferred, as the TRS can provide you with an Excel spreadsheet template.

For more information on how fueling stations are maintained and updated in the Station Locator, see the AFDC About the Alternative Fueling Station Data page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/data_methods_stations.html).

Guest Shot: We’re Charging Ahead for Clean Energy

 Jackson Hole News and Guide 8/21/13 Guest Shot

On Aug. 5 the Jackson Town Council voted to approve the installation of five electric vehicle charging stations in public parking lots around the core of Jackson.  The Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition and the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project commend the mayor and council for their leadership and commitment to energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Nationally there are 8,010 public and private charging stations, yet in Wyoming there is only one available to the public.  The five charging stations will literally put Jackson on the map in Wyoming and throughout the region as being a leader in promoting cleaner, more diverse transportation options.

There is a common misconception that electric vehicles simply replace oil with coal in terms of fuel use.  However, it’s not that straightforward.  How an electric vehicle is supplied ”fuel” depends on where and how your community receives its power.  Lower Valley Energy, our local utility provider, purchases all of Jackson’s electricity through Bonneville Power Administration, which is 84 percent hydropower, while the national average grid is 49 percent coal.  Due to Jackson’s clean grid there is a 60 percent reduction in fuel-source emissions per mile when comparing an electric vehicle with a conventional petroleum-powered vehicle.  In addition, all of the town of Jackson’s operations run on 100 percent certified green power from Lower Valley’s Strawberry Creek hydro facility.  As if that wasn’t enough green, four of the five approved EV stations are located in parking lots where the power will be offset by large solar installations. The kilowatt capabilities of the solar arrays at these public lots will be enough for 15 average vehicle charging events per day.

Fuel source emissions are only half of the equation. If you live or drive your electric vehicle somewhere outside of Jackson, rest assured, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently completed a study that concluded, ”There are no areas of the country where electric vehicles have higher global warming emissions than the average new gasoline vehicle.” This conclusion is a result of electric vehicles’ energy efficiencies.  An electric motor converts 75 to 80 percent of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels.  An internal combustion engine converts only 20 percent of the energy stored in gasoline.

Electric vehicles also help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  The United States imports nearly half of the oil we consume each year, two-thirds of which is consumed by transportation.  Electric vehicles derive all their energy from electricity, which is a domestic source of fuel.  While there is no perfect fuel, adding electric vehicle charging in Jackson sends us along the right path of more diverse and cleaner fueling options.

Approximately 120,000 electric vehicles are on U.S. roads today, and the adoption of electric vehicles continues to outpace early sales of hybrid vehicles.  According to Forbes magazine, “Recent news from the U.S. on that front (electric vehicles) is somewhat encouraging: Sales of EV s for the first half of 2013 reached 41,447, according to AUTOS.aol.com, over twice the rate of sales in 2012.  Thirteen models of plug-ins now populate our roads, and more are coming.”

In light of the trend, the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition is convening a regional electric vehicle infrastructure working group.  There is a need to adapt to the coming technology, and Jackson is leading the way in this region.

The Jackson charging stations should be installed and functional by this winter.  We look forward to coordinating our marketing efforts with local rental car companies and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce to get the word out that people can charge their cars in Jackson.

The Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project was proud to loan Jackson the funds for the five charging stations out of the 2010 specific purpose excise tax monies for energy efficiency.  Being innovative as well as conservatively minded are values we care about in Jackson.  The leadership demonstrated by the Town Council shows that we are moving forward as a community while taking care of this special place.

Both our organizations are proud to work closely with the town of Jackson and the community to provide information and cleaner transportation. We are always available to discuss this issue.

Shelley Simonton, is executive director of the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project.   Alicia Cox is program coordinator for the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition.

EVs Face Unfounded Criticism

Scientists acknowledge that changes are occurring at an accelerated pace and every action, or inaction, impacts our fragile future. The successful fight against the uphill battle of climate change requires a shift of attitudes in our culture, which is likely the greatest challenge.

The importance of delivering factual information, without hidden opinions, has been at the core of a recent argument between Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors, and John Broder, a staff writer for the New York Times, over Broder’s review of the Tesla Model S and Tesla’s new web of “SuperChargers”. Broder’s account of his test drive-road trip stood out because of its blunt dissatisfaction with both the car and the company. Musk was shocked by this review as the car had previously received praise and proceeded to examine the driving logs of the car. Broder’s account of the test drive was found to be laced with exaggerations and lies intended to bash the progressive technology he was testing. When these facts and raw data were reported, it became clear that Broder pushed the boundaries of truth to aid his opinion.


Developing alternative ways to power our transportation system is critical to successfully addressing carbon emission, one important element of climate change. This fundamental shift, which for many is uncomfortable, requires public interest, support, and action. Electric vehicles, which effectively lower an individual’s carbon footprint, have been shown to provide a successful alternative to gasoline-powered automobiles, buses, and trains. EVs are excellent options for many people but continued development of this technology is necessary for wide scale application. Acceptance of this technology is directly influenced by media reports.

Inaccurate or disingenuous information contained in articles like Broder’s do nothing but create confusion and skepticism, which usually leads to inaction. The recent standoff between Elon Musk and John Border serves as an excellent example of how a lack of transparency and journalistic integrity can directly hinder progress. An individual’s ability to form a thoughtful opinion upon which to take action is limited if the data is presented is in an incomplete or skewed form. Articles such as Broder’s should either be more deeply investigated prior to publishing or be left to the Opinion pages.

-Peter Neal, COO Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund

Peter spent the past year in East Burke, VT as a junior at Burke Mt. Academy. He will return to  Jackson Hole for his Senior year at the Jackson Hole Community School. He is the Chief Operating Officer at the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund while not XC-Ski racing.  


Vegas Vacation, aka National Biodiesel Conference

As well as being an intern this winter at YTCEC, my other hat is as Co-Chair of the National Biodiesel Board’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. As part of this role I was lucky enough to head down to Las Vegas last week for the 10th annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo.

The theme of 2013’s conference was ‘Momentum’ – chosen to capture the energy and growth of the industry’s first twenty years and propel it into the next twenty. The industry was celebrating the reinstatement of the $1/gal biodiesel tax credit, as well as the upping of the federal mandate to 1.28 billion gallons a year. No small feat for an industry that started in a small lab in Missouri in the early nineties.

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Guest Post: Natural Gas – The Cleaner Alternative

In his January 9 Guest Shot column, Hugh Owens disparages the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, mainly on the basis of what he claims are inflated estimates of reserves and potential cost-savings to the individual consumer. Both claims seem to me to overlook important realities.  A nation wide conversion from diesel-fueled haulers to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and petroleum passenger vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), offers holistic opportunities for economic growth across all sectors of the country.  Most importantly, natural gas is a significantly cleaner burning alternative to traditional petrol products, particularly as the industry responds to growing awareness of the need for responsible drilling practices.

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Alternative Fuel Options Revealed

Last week The Coalition co-hosted a petroleum reduction seminar with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The seminar took place at the Noble Historic Hotel down town Lander, WY. An interested audience composed of community members, business partners, and a handful of NOLS employees were there to learn more about options for incorporating alternative fuels in to their transportation sector. The all-day event hosted speakers from around the region sharing information and insights about several alternative fuels and petroleum reduction techniques.

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Fuel from Wyoming, Compressed Natural Gas

Last week summer intern Annika Sohlstrom and I had the pleasure of attending a public Compressed Natural Gas Ride and Drive event in Riverton, Wyoming.  A meeting with the Wyoming Natural Gas and Infrastructure Coalition preceded the event.  Often this meeting is a teleconference so it was refreshing and invigorating to actually see everyone and feel the enthusiasm for compressed natural gas in the region.  The event itself took place at The Pit Stop Travel Center, 819 S. Federal Boulevard.  The Pit Stop began offering compressed natural gas in October 2011.

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Diesel Cars: Demand Will Increase, Says

Diesel Cars: Demand Will Increase, Says Diesel Coalition

Would you consider purchasing a diesel vehicle? Why or why not?

Post oil: Glimpses of life after fossil

Post oil: Glimpses of life after fossil fuel – CSMonitor.com http://ow.ly/6ZQqj