Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tesla Installs the First Florida Supercharger Stations in Port Saint Lucie and Fort Myers

by Lawrence Chanin, Founder of Florida Tesla Motors Club


What is a Tesla?

Tesla is a California-based automobile manufacturer that exclusively makes zero emission, battery electric vehicles (BEVs).  Currently it is producing the Model S which is a luxury sports sedan that seats five adults and, and with optional rear-facing seats, two addition children.  Lately the Model S has been shaking up the auto industry by receiving numerous awards including the prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year Award, beating all cars, not just electric vehicles. It also has received Consumer Reports highest score ever for any car.  The Model S has very large batteries and, depending on the size the owner purchases, it can travel between 208 - 265 miles on a charge based on EPA testing.   

How do you usually charge a Model S?
Like most BEVs the Model S does most of its charging at home overnight.  Based on typical driver daily commutes it usually only needs to be topped off overnight like your cell phone and rarely needs a full charge. While it can charge from a normal 110v outlet, in most instances this is not practical since for the larger battery it could take as much as 66 hours.  Most owners install a high capacity 240 volt outlet in their garage similar to an electric dryer outlet.  This operates at 40 amps and can fully charge the car in about 8 hours.  For those who need faster charging a device called a High Power Wall Connector can be installed. It also operates at 240 volts and 80 amps and will fully charge the car in about 4 hours.

Because of its large battery, the Model S needs a lot of power to charge in a reasonable amount of time.  Unfortunately the vast majority of public charging stations have a capacity that is lower than the owner’s home charging source and only charges at 30 amps.  As a result public chargers are frequently not practical for Model S owners to use when traveling long distances beyond their range.  The notable exception is when they are installed at hotels where the owner can conveniently charge overnight.

The charging discussed above is done with alternating current (AC).  The car has one or two on-board chargers that take the AC electricity from these outlets or connectors and converts it to direct current (DC) that the battery needs.

What is a Tesla Supercharger? 
A  Tesla Supercharger is an industrial device that bypasses the Model S’s on-board AC chargers and feeds very large amounts of DC directly into the Model S battery at high voltage.  This can be as high as 255 amps at 380 volts.  What this means is that a Model S can obtain around 150 miles of range in as little as 20 minutes.  

What is a Supercharger Station?
A Supercharger Station is a collection of Superchargers that are being strategically built near major highways across the country at host locations.  Supercharger stations are located near amenities like roadside diners, cafes, and shopping centers. A Model S owner can stop for a quick meal, a restroom break and have their Model S charged when they’re done.   They are placed to allow owners to drive from station to station with minimal stops. Ultimately the network of stations is being built to permit travel across the country.  Tesla states that by 2015 98% of the US population and parts of Canada will be covered by the network. 

It is Tesla’s objective, where ever possible, is to add canopies over the charging parking spaces, and to install photovoltaic arrays on the canopies.  Tesla plans to eventually install more solar electric capacity than the fleet of Model Ss are consuming and to therefore produce a net positive flow of energy to the grid.

What does it cost to charge at a Supercharger Station?
There is no cost to charge at a Supercharger Station, for the life of the Model S even if it is sold to another owner.  So for road trips Model S owners are driving for free, forever, and eventually on sunlight.

Line up of Model Ss at Supercharger Station at Gulf Coast 
Town Center in Fort Myers.  Photo credit: Alexis Meyer
So with that background, it should be obvious that the arrival of a Supercharger stations in Florida is a very big deal for Model S owners, but also to anyone who is concerned about the environment. 

It’s also a big deal for the local economy.  Joann Faiella, the Mayor of Port Saint Lucie said she read the positive press about the Model S and the Supercharging stations and had the vision to see that encouraging charging infrastructure in her town would be good for local businesses.  So she reached out to Tesla to build the first Superchargers in the state and they did.  For the ribbon cutting ceremony two dozen Teslas charged up for free.  Afterwards the crowd of Tesla owners with their family and friends enjoyed the restaurants conveniently located nearby.  This is not a one-time event.  From now on individual Model S owners will converge on Port Saint Lucie as they travel up and down I-95 to top off their batteries and enjoy the local amenities.

The day after the Port Saint Lucie opening, a Supercharger station at the Gulf Coast Town Center in Fort Myers had its ribbon cutting ceremony.  Both locations have charging stations to permit 8 Model Ss to charge simultaneously.
Line up of Model Ss at Supercharger Station at Port Saint Lucie Town Center.
Photo credit: Lawrence Chanin

Kevin Kessekert, Tesla Director, Supercharger Deployment listens to Mayor Joann Feaiella
 address the crowd at the Port Saint Lucie Supercharger ribbon cutting ceremony.
Photo credit: Lawrence Chanin

The Supercharger’s heavy electrical cable is about as thick as a gasoline hose.
Photo credit: Lawrence Chanin 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Electric Vehicle Sales Double in 2013

Compared to the same period in 2012, electric vehicle sales doubled in the first 6 months of this year.   According to this U.S. EnergyDepartment Release, “plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales tripled from about 17,000 in 2011 to about 52,000 in 2012.  During the first six months of 2013, Americans bought over 40,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), more than twice as many sold during the same period in 2012.”

Surely, this sharp rise in sales is due, at least in part, to the reality that it costs on average $1.18 per “gallon” of electricity to power an electric vehicle compared to the national average of $3.49 for the dirty oil that conventional automobiles consume.  U.S. consumers can use the Department of Energy’s newest tool, the eGallon, to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline depending on location. 

The U.S Energy  Department also reports that sales of modern electric vehicles, which entered the U.S. market in late 2010, are out-pacing those of the early years of hybrid vehicles.

This is good news for our environment and our air quality here in Florida.

Making the switch to electric vehicles will make a distinct and measurable difference in the amount of oil we consume and the amount of tailpipe emissions each one of us are responsible for.  Every conventional internal combustion engine on the road that we replace with a zero emission electric vehicle, we are displacing thousands of gallons of gasoline and tons of smog-producing air pollutants – not to mention saving big bucks on our gasoline costs.  It’s a win-win.

EVs are the cleanest cars around, even after taking into account the electricity needed to charge them. Even better yet, as we retire more coal plants and bring cleaner sources of power online, the emissions produced from charging an electric vehicle will drop even further. But as long as our highways are dominated by gas stations rather than EV-charging stations, it will be very hard for us to take these crucial steps to move beyond oil.

To learn more and see how you can get involved, visit our Florida Healthy Air Campaign Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Report Shows Seven Coal-fired Power Plants in Florida Discharge Toxic Coal Ash or Wastewater, Highlighting Critical Need for Strong Federal Standards

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- Today, a coalition of environmental and clean water groups, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Clean Water Action, released a new report demonstrating the importance of strong U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that limit toxic water pollution from coal plants for Florida. The report, “Closing the Floodgates: How the Coal Industry Is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It” reviewed water permits for 386 coal plants across the country, and sought to identify whether states have upheld the Clean Water Act by effectively protecting families from toxic water pollution.

As the analysis relates to Florida: 
  • At least seven plants discharge heavy metals into the waters of Florida. No plant in Florida has permit limits on all of the toxic metals of concern, such as arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury, and selenium.
  • Rice Creek has become an impaired waterway because of pollution from the Seminole Generating Station in Putnam County.  Now, instead of addressing concerns about toxic metals in its discharge, the Seminole Generating Station directly discharges into the St. Johns River.
  • Alligator Bayou is impaired by pollution coming from Gulf Power’s Lansing Smith coal plant, which dumps mercury and arsenic without limits.
  • Florida does not ensure that the permit limits it does have are stringent enough to protect our water.
“This report makes it clear that Florida utilities need a lesson in common sense: dumping poisons into our water without disclosing threatens health, drinking water and recreation opportunities,” said Julia Hathaway, Florida Sierra Club Beyond Coal organizer. “Environmental Protection Agency limits on these toxics in our water will prevent children from getting sick and save lives.”
Existing guidelines written to limit toxics discharged from coal plants do not cover many of the worst pollutants such as in 2011 when the Big Bend Power Station in Hillsborough County discharged 1206 lbs of selenium into the Big Bend Bayou. These guidelines have not been updated in 30 years. In April 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first ever national standards for toxics dumped into waterways from coal plants.  
The Sierra Club’s Florida Beyond Coal campaign and Clean Water Action are organizing to support the strongest options for these “effluent limitation guidelines” that will limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are dumped into our waterways.  These standards will also require all coal plants to monitor and report the amount of toxics dumped into our water, giving us detailed information for the first time about the types and amounts of dangerous chemicals in our water.
“Limiting the amount of toxics in our water through commonsense standards will strengthen our economy, protect our health, and ensure our water is safe to drink and our fish are safe to eat,” said Kathleen Aterno, Florida Director of Clean Water Action.
“There is technology available to keep toxins from coal plants out of our water, and we should simply insist that these corporations use it,” added Bradley Marshall, attorney with Earthjustice.
The new report’s nationwide findings were similarly shocking: 
  • Of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways, nearly 70 percent (188) have no limits on the amounts of toxic metals like arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury, and selenium they are allowed to dump into public waters.
  • Of these 274 coal plants, more than one-third (102) have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of toxic metals like arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury, and selenium to federal authorities.
  • A total of 71 coal plants discharge toxic water pollution into waterways that have already been declared as impaired. Of these plants that are dumping toxic metals into impaired waterways, nearly three out of four coal plants (59) had no permit that limited the amount of toxic metals it could dump.
  • More than half of the coal plants surveyed (187) are operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit. 53 of these power plants are operating with permits that expired five or more years ago. 
The new report also reviewed red-line copies of the EPA’s proposed coal plant water pollution standards or “effluent limitation guidelines” obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, finding that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) caved to coal industry pressure and took the highly unusual and improper step of writing new weak options into the draft guidelines prepared by the EPA’s expert staff.
The seven coal plants include:
  • Tampa Electric Company's Big Bend plant in Hillsborough County
  • Gulf Power Company's Crist electric generating plant in Escambia County
  • Gulf Power Company's Lansing Smith generating plant in Bay County
  • Tampa Electric Company's Polk plant in Polk County
  • Gulf Power Company's Scholz Electric generating plant in Jackson County
  • Seminole Electric Cooperative's Seminole plant in Putnam County
  • Jacksonville Electric Authority's St. Johns River power plant in Duval County


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

No More Nukes in Miami!

This Thursday, the State of Florida will hold a public hearing on FPL’s proposal for a massive nuclear power plant expansion in Miami.

FPL wants to cluster four nuclear reactors on Biscayne Bay at a cost of $25 billion dollars.
This is a disaster waiting to happen if you do not speak up.  This is your chance to be heard! 
(FYI:  More time and dates listed below)

Where:  Coral Gables Youth Center, 405 University Dr, Coral Gables, FL 33134  

When: Thursday, July 18th, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Why: Nuclear expansion is dead in America. Only your voice can stop it in Miami and move this region to a sustainable future.

Why not build more nuclear reactors in Miami?

Cost prohibitive:  FPL’s expansion would cost $25 billion. The extremely high cost is why America has moved away from nuclear.

Nuclear Atlantis: Scientists have confirmed the area will be completely underwater due to sea level rise in a matter of decades.

Non-renewable: There is no safe place to store the radioactive waste in an area to soon be underwater.
Voracious thirst: Nuclear’s dirty secret is that it takes the water people need to live.

Plentiful and safe alternatives: Solar power, on rooftops, warehouses and dedicated plants is plentiful and cheaper than nuclear.

Deadly consequences: An accident from a direct hurricane strike, malfunction or human error could lead to catastrophe for millions of people. Fukishima also clustered its reactors on the edge of the sea.

Nothing’s sacred: The reactor expansion is on the edge of Biscayne National Park and power line routes may be inside, on the edge of or just outside Everglades National Park. The plan also calls for massive wetland destruction.

Waste dump: The plan calls for potentially-contaminated wastewater to be pumped into the ground and where it goes is anyone’s guess.

More dates for public comment sessions where you can speak up about Turkey Point Units 6 & 7 siting issues including the transmission corridors within Everglades National Park and along US1.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Keys Gate Golf and Country Club, Banquet Hall
2300 Palm Drive
Homestead, Florida 33055

Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Miami Airport Convention Center, Room MACC1
711 Northwest 72nd Avenue, Miami, FL

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Miami Airport Convention Center, Room MACC1
711 Northwest 72nd Avenue, Miami, FL

Proposed Nuclear Expansion by FPL

Proposed Transmission Line Corridors by FPL