By on July 10, 2016

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Columbus, Ohio was chosen as the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Smart City Challenge,” beating out six other mid-size cities for the $40 million federal grant.

With that grant and $100 million pledged from philanthropic and business sources on tap, the city’s plan will see improvements in social infrastructure and green, connected transportation — including greater electric vehicle use and new recharging infrastructure — despite the fact that Ohio’s power grid isn’t very green.

The goal of the DOT’s Smart City Challenge is to create the sustainable transportation network of the future. Columbus beat out Portland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Austin, San Francisco and Denver to win the federal cash. The bulk of the remaining money ($90 million) will come from local businesses, with $10 million sourced from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc.

What does it mean for the Ohio capital?  Mainly, improved transit options and WiFi infrastructure in the city’s most impoverished neighborhood, better access to health care, an app for mobility options, electric shuttle buses connecting transit stations to job-heavy retail locations, and a big push to increase EV use.

Columbus plans to convert more of its public vehicle fleet to EVs, and its businesses have pledged to increase EV use in their own fleets, as well as build new recharging stations. Under the plan, company CEOs will even ditch their gas-powered rides for EVs.

The goal of reducing infant mortality rates and improving the lives of low-income residents is admirable, but the city’s EV plan has an environmental Achilles heel. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ohio’s electricity network ranks 49th out of 50 states for renewable power (2015 figures), with the grid’s biggest energy source (58 percent of generation, as of 2015) being coal.

Last June, Ohio’s public utilities commission listed “renewables” as just 1.5 percent of the state’s energy mix, with coal making up roughly 58 percent, natural gas at 24.8 percent, and nuclear at 15.47 percent.

State law says that 12.5 percent of Ohio’s electricity generation must come from renewables by 2027, which will surely make the Columbus EV fleet a little greener. Still, unless they offset their increased electricity use in other ways, EV owners in Ohio are just trading their personal tailpipe emissions for a faraway boost in smokestack emissions.

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122 Comments on “Columbus Wins Federal ‘Smart City’ Grant, Meaning More EVs in a State Without Much Green Power...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Coal has to go. And for the short term, nuclear is the only viable large scale option – like it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Perhaps, but only for the very short term, and we’re unlikely to add any nuclear capacity in the US. Within 5 years, solar will be the cheapest form of electricity for the majority of Americans, at current trends.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        How do you get that solar when there’s snow on everything close to horizontal and you only see unclouded skies fewer times per month than the average person’s exercise schedule?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Move to habitable land.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Long-distance transmission lines from places which don’t fit that description, same as now.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Good. I *hate* the sun but I love electricity.

          • 0 avatar
            TriumphDriver

            Unfortunately as variable renewables increase their penetration into the grid the ability of one area to pick up the shortfall in another area means building redundant capacity.
            Ted Trainer covers this very well at the link below, and while the green crowd generally try to shout him down since the truths he speaks are uncomfortable, I’ve not heard a convincing rebuttal that doesn’t depend on some future but as yet unknown development in storage technology.
            http://www.greens.org/s-r/48/48-11.html

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        @VoGo

        “Within 5 years, solar will be ……at current trends.”

        Citation please. Sounds like total B.S. to me.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          I had a few minutes and figured this question would have an entertaining answer… and it does.

          The first entry for ‘when will solar be the cheapest electricity’ was an entry from the esteemed website longbets.com and links to an article written in 2002.

          http://longbets.org/76/

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Bloomberg has had a series of interesting articles on the trends in electricity production. Here’s a start:

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-22/solar-power-to-grow-sixfold-as-sun-becoming-cheapest-resource

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        Not anywhere near enough sun in Ohio to ever make solar an option (especially in NE Ohio). There are however vast amounts of coal in SE Ohio, WV & E KY which are a much more economical choice.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Do me a favor, Acd, do some research before you fall back on these old tapes. Solar and wind are getting cheaper every day. Check out the Bloomberg article I cited above – you might be presently surprised.

          • 0 avatar
            Acd

            You need sun for solar–not much sunlight and lots of overcast skies for much of the year in many parts of Ohio. Lots of coal miners have either lost or are about to lose their high paying jobs in coal country. In a slow economy it is not a great idea to raise the cost of essentials like energy for vanity projects like solar.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            The first off shore wind farm is about to “break water” north of Cleveland either next year or 2018. At 20 megawatts It will be a pilot plant of sorts but should do well. The wind always blows on Lake Erie.

            Coal plants have been slowly shutting down. The Illuminating Company shut three down last year alone along Lake Erie. It’s easy to say coal has to go but along with it went alot of jobs. I was in the Ashtabula plant after it shut down to pull one of the fresh water intake pumps out of the Lake House for another facility. The place was massive and elegant to say the least. Fascinating how things were constructed 110 years ago. I’ve never seen so much brass decor anywhere. Huge squares of marble tiled floors and counter tops. Incredible stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Acd: “Lots of coal miners have either lost or are about to lose their high paying jobs in coal country.”

            It’s a crappy job, anyway, and the “coal country” economies have sucked for decades. Use some Federal money to help a business like GE wind or FirstSolar establish manufacturing operations there. Sorry, kid, you won’t get to grow up and get black lung like your Daddy.

            And it’s not the greenest solutions that are killing coal, it’s natural gas.

            Moreover, coal pollutes when you dig it up and pollutes again when you burn it. It’s a lose-lose. Go to maps.google.com and type in WV. You can see the open pit mines at state-wide resolution.

            Acd: “You need sun…”

            There’s plenty of it in Arizona and NM and it’s always windy somewhere. We can readily build up an energy infrastructure that allows us to move electricity from supplier to consumer. We already do this, just not on a continental scale.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            So VoGo’s brilliant plan is for people to move to sunnier climes so they can use solar power, but he’s too good to move to the south. Typical, happy to tell other people what to do, but wouldn’t think of doing it himself.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “So VoGo’s brilliant plan is for people to move to sunnier climes…”

            Nah.. he’s smarter and shiftier than that.

            Realizing that unfettered population growth will curse the entire planet with summer climes, he’s prepping to sell it as an feature.

            Then he doesn’t have to answer the question “See what happens when you run amok all over the globe saving other peoples’ children?”

        • 0 avatar
          JW9000

          Here’s a hint: if your product can’t be competitive, or even continue to exist, without massive gubmint subsidies, then it isn’t viable. You are wasting resources for ideological fantasies.

          Solar and wind have their uses, but not as a widespread power generation. The power is unreliable, places strain on the grid due to the unreliability and and you still have to have the conventional power generation in place for when solar and wind isn’t producing enough power, or in the case of solar, any power, as at night.

    • 0 avatar
      markogts

      You know they closed Diablo Canyon in California last week, because it is to expensive to keep it running, don’t you? So, if it is too expensive to keep an already existing nuclear reactor running, what can a rational person conclude about the economics of building a whole new reactor from scratch?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        It’s not solar energy that’s making nuke power uneconomical; it’s cheap natural gas. The plants are cheap to build, don’t pollute and the fuel is cheap. That’s also putting the hurt on coal, more than the Democrats’ energy policy.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        You Know Diablo Canyon went online in 1973, right? Keeping a 43 year old car running is a pretty expensive proposition. I’d imagine a nuclear reactor is pretty freaking expensive. Also, old reactor design + seismic activity have not proven a popular think since Fukushima. Meanwhile here in Georgia the construction of units 3 and 4 is continuing at Plant Vogtle, though I do believe they are both behind and over budget, but some of that can be attributed to the fact that there haven’t been any reactors built in the US in many years.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Yep. PG&E told the NRC they won’t reapply when the plant’s licensing expires in 2025. The reasons they cited include: seismic safety (think Fukushima), state renewable energy targets, expansion of solar and wind energy production, and loss of customers due to community choice aggregation (which some customers use to get more of their energy from renewables.
          http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article84993992.html

          So pretty much everyone is right here. PG&E might have closed the plant anyway due to seismic issues, and they’re not doing it immediately, but abundant availability of affordable renewable energy was behind 3 of the 4 reasons for closure.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          “I do believe they are both behind and over budget, but some of that can be attributed to the fact that there haven’t been any reactors built in the US in many years.”

          LOL, could also be the lazy union workers on the job. When your job req only mandates 4 welds a day progress tends to move along at a snail’s pace. Government job sites always seem to be the worst.

    • 0 avatar
      JW9000

      So, you like expensive electricity. Got it.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Will be interesting to see if the Nationwide Insurance CEO (based in Buckeye-Town) will Tesla-up!

    My guess would be that tech-savvy bigwigs would gravitate towards this stuff, so my assumption would be that FiServ’s CEO (fka CheckFree, also based in Columbus) would also be checking out Elon’s offerings at their Easton Town Center location.

    (Just looked, and saw that Pittsburgh has a Tesla store, which might have been a little awkward if there wasn’t one in the area, and the capitol of Steeler Nation would have won this award.)

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      And he’ll probably make it look like a grand gesture to support the program’s goals. The peons will get Chevy Bolts. All of which will be charged on corporate premises, not available to the public.

      Meanwhile, the city gets money from Uncle to replace their oldest diesel buses [that were probably due for replacement anyway] for electrics, regardless of whether CNG-fueled IC might be a better deal. Oh well, at least Wright-Patterson and Defense Supply Center will have some new commute options.

      How does more Wifi make the city greener? Oh yeah, because Paul Allen. And if you’re on a Windows device it’s twice as green.

      Who knew that adding some EVs to the fleet was all it took to reduce infant mortality? And all along many suspected it had something to do with the poor life choices of many of the residents.

      What are the consequences if the 12.5% renewable mandate state “law” isn’t met? Do the utilities get a fine that they pass along to the consumer, or does the city go dark for an hour a day?

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Interesting.
    – improved transit options and WiFi infrastructure in impoverished neighborhoods
    – better access to health care
    – an app for mobility options
    – electric shuttle buses connecting transit stations to job-heavy retail locations, and
    – a big push to increase EV use

    This is sure to bring out the best and brightest insight from the right wing fringe.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Our tax dollars at work!

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Apparently you missed the part about how $100M of the total $140M is privately funded.

        • 0 avatar
          Acd

          If you and I lived in the same town I would make sure that we both voted at the same time so that I could cancel out your vote.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            If we lived in the same town, acd, it would be because you suddenly won the lottery.

          • 0 avatar
            Acd

            Ok let me clarify–you’d have to live somewhere in the South otherwise I would have already moved from whatever high tax northern state you live in. I spent too many years of my life in areas with crappy economies and crappy weather and have chosen not to participate in dreary skies or harsh winters any longer.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Sorry, acd,
            I need to send my kids to school. So the South is out of the question.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “I need to send my kids to school. So the South is out of the question.”

            Absolutely. You’re going to want one of the citadels of public education like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland etc.

            I know that with a couple of glaring exceptions America likes to let its wars inconclusively and expensively fizzle out, but this North-South thing is ridiculous.

            Gave them Johnnies time to do a giant-sized Boat People on us.

  • avatar
    markf

    Where is all the electricity coming from in these left wing dreams? Unless you ramp up nuclear power demand will go up along with the price, electricity is not immune from the laws of supply and demand. Solar is useless in large scale environments, it cannot generate and store anywhere near the amount of electricity coal, oil or nuke plants can.

    But healthcare and WiFi should solve all these issues apparently…..

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Power plants do not “store” energy – they produce it upon demand. Part of what helps solar costs is that the excess that might be generated during the day can be fed into the grid, thereby eliminating the costly batteries that a storage system would require. But if solar ever becomes large scale relative to the total amount of power generated – grid stability might become a problem since solar output can change quickly should clouds roll in.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The “extra” electricity will come from better load-balancing in the near term. Right now, electric demand is much higher during the day than at night. Bringing the night-time demand closer to daylight demand will make life quite a bit easier for the utilities.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      You left out natural gas from your list. I wonder why?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      markf,
      Wi Fi and health are quicker instruments at grabbing votes. This is what is wrong with most advanced nations politics this day and age.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        This too, seems like a valid concern, with this being an election year in the U.S. You do sometimes have to questions the motivations of people as well as the timing of their announcements.

  • avatar
    markf

    And when we are all living in Leftopia, driving EVs where is that juice coming from? The plan is to leave the oil in the ground and cover the US in solar panels? Then Load Balance to make up for the increased demand?

    So there still needs to be electricity produced at night but (according to “green energy experts”)we are going to run out of oil, coal is bad and nuke is off the table. So that leaves windmills?

    Fire up the coal, pump the oil, build the nukes and be done with this silliness……

    • 0 avatar
      markogts

      It’s not left or right. It’s science. And basic economy. At current prices, nuclear is dead, fracking is dead. Coal kills thousands of people every year for direct pollution, not to mention the GW effects.

      OTOH, solar prices are falling quickly. Storage is growing quickly. Actually, EVs are storage units with wheels. So this is the obvious way things will move.

      BTW, to get the power the whole US needs, it would take some 0.x% of the available land, no need to “cover the US”.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        If you are asking i I work in the coal industry the answer is no. I don’t live anywhere close to where coal is mined. Coal is cheap and efficient and the whining about pollution is hyperbole. Fracking is not dead, that is an idiotic statement. I have been hearing about “peak oil” and the Global Warming nonsense for 25 years now. Every single prediction Al Gore and his clown followers have made has been wrong. Every single prediction of peak oil has been wrong.

        At least 10 years now we have been hearing how “solar panel prices are dropping and battery storage technology is advancing” And yet even in the face of government crony companies like Solara and A123 going bankrupt the left continues to cling to “green power” I am old enough to remember back in 2009 when “green energy” was going to create a zillion jobs….

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Markf,
          “Peak Oil” is a term used today only by right wing zealots and the fossil fuel industry to attack sustainable energy advocates. No serious thinker who opines on energy has used the term in decades, because the premise was false from the beginning. Oil is no different from any other commodity in that as supply declines, price increases and demand declines as well.

          If you want to close your eyes to the reality that solar and wind are fast becoming the cheapest means of electricity production, you are welcome to do so. I would even advise you to profit from your insight by buying stock in Big Oil and Big Coal.

          The rest of us will watch as the free market efficiently shifts from fossil fuels to cheaper renewable resources.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            What a bunch of hooey. Though I guess we need people like you to point at when we explain to our grandchildren how some people live in a fantasy world and seek to forcibly impose their fantasies on the rest of us.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            If the free market economy is a fantasy to you, then enjoy North Korea and Cuba!

            But do tell us more about people who impose their fantasies on you. Did you wander into an S&M club by accident?

            PS: Great job bringing back “hooey”. Try using “balderdash” next time. Or even “poppycock”

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            How many decades ago do you think 2008 was Vogo?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            2008: Trying to remember. Let’s see. The Great Republican Recession was in full bloom, proving the wonder of deregulating the finance industry. Unemployement was double what it is today under Obama. 15% of Americans had no health insurance. Seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

            As the Koch brothers would say: “Good times. Good times.”

          • 0 avatar

            As far as energy in this country most of it has been subsidized at one point or another. Rural Electricity TVA, Rural telephone. Basically all government subsidized. Nuclear subsidized. Coal mining isn’t but you could argue the health problems mean we aren’t being billed the full cost which regulations requiring cleaning up do and well we come with the current market leader CNG until the other come online.

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          I’ve been hearing the kind of utopian garbage being peddled by people like “VoGo” for over 40 years. I for one won’t be driving an electric car or putting solar panels on my roof any time soon.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Please don’t! We need people like you to point at when we explain to our children how some people are incapable of learning or change.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Coal is neither cheap nor efficient when you price in the cost of its health and environmental effects, which are appalling. In a rational society we’d tax coal at a rate to sufficient to recover the cost to mitigate those effects, so we could make rational market decisions about its use. I suspect that if we did this, most coal use would end.

          Coal power is the “worst case” for EV fuel, but even a coal-powered EV is about as clean and efficient as a Prius. Any other power source added to the EV fuel mix makes it cleaner.

          “Peak oil” is an interesting one, isn’t it? Some environmentalists fell for it, but the theory was actually promoted by oil companies starting in the 1950s to prop up prices and futures. The problem with oil isn’t that we’re going to run out soon, it’s that burning it harms living things in the short and long term.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Georgia Power is constructing 2 new reactors. Other countries rely heavily on nuclear power. It is far from dead and prices for reactor construction could come down too if we started building more of them. Our nuclear power stations are what, like 30 years old at best? They have gotten better and cheaper to operate in the years since.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          It was recently announced that the last operational nuclear power plant in CA will start shutdown operations next year.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            New nuclear plants are a tough sell in a country that thinks “TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima” every time it hears nuclear.

            A rational public we are not.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Probably for the best since it went online in 1973! Other states are less nuclear averse though.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Hey markf, your emphasis on coal, is that a coincidence? Is it your main reason for commenting? Any inherent bias we should know about?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    really none of this matters much, unless the grid system is updated changed we will be relying on what we have now, coal, oil, gas some Nukes and some solar, I think the last sentence of the story sums it up nicely.

    Still, unless they offset their increased electricity use in other ways, EV owners in Ohio are just trading their personal tailpipe emissions for a faraway boost in smokestack emissions.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      The grid is quickly moving to solar and wind, which are becoming cheaper than fossil fuel based electricity. Even here in dark, snowy Massachusetts, we are closing the last coal fired plant this year.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        VoGo,
        I’m a supporter of using alternative sources for energy, except I don’t think it should be subsidised by the taxpayer.

        Your comment alluding that solar and wind power are becoming cheaper than conventional greenhouse emitting generation is quite an over reach.

        It will be number of years before solar and wind power are cheaper than a coal fired power station.

        The only way green alternative energy can be used is via subsidies and by imposing stiffer regulations of fossil fuel emitters, ie forcing them to not exist. This does not make for “cheaper”.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          From Bloomberg:

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-22/solar-power-to-grow-sixfold-as-sun-becoming-cheapest-resource

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          Yes, it’s all being driven by government mandates and subsidies.

          When the home solar panel hucksters call, or as they accost me in the big box stores, I ask them point blank how much it costs WITHOUT subsidies. (The answer: too much!)

          If these so-called green technologies were economically viable they would not need to be subsidized. (Would any of the existing solar or wind farms have paid for themselves without taxpayers footing part of the bill?)

          I have no issue with these alternative sources if they are truly economically viable in the marketplace (Though I still would not put panels on my roof – they are ugly, dangerous if you have a fire, and hamper working on the roof, not to mention having to cut down shade trees prevent the roof from getting full sun.)

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            When you get gas, do you ask the attendant how much the gas would be without all the subsidies for Big Oil?

            Of course you don’t, because that wouldn’t reflect your politics.

            I’d be fine with ending subsidies for new technology; but only if we are also ending subsidies for Big Oil, Big Corn and US automakers. Why aren’t you calling for that?

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Most of the “subsidies” that the Lefties and Greenies say the “Big Oil” is getting is simply in the form of the government forcibly extracting less in the way of taxes. The Washington gangsters extracting less from their victim(s) is not a “subsidy.” A “subsidy” is when they pick your pocket and mine and give it to Solyndra, Tesla, etc., and use it to convince people to buy into economically non-viable technologies that would otherwise not be widely adopted.

            (And yes, I am against subsidies of the pocket-picking kind in general.)

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            2manycars,
            I really don’t see what all your furor is about.

            The only thing Tesla got from the US government was a loan, just like all the other American carmakers. Except that Tesla paid theirs back early. While GM and Chrysler cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

            The only current incentive for EVs is a tax rebate, which you say you favor. And the tax rebate for EVs is a drop in the bucket compared to the $billions in Big Oil subsidies. So what is your issue, exactly?

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Musk is a rent-seeker. Tesla would not exist if it were not for subsidies, and it’s not all tax breaks by a long shot.

            http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

            My “issue” is government distorting the marketplace by using its power of taxation and coercion to pick the winners and losers.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “My “issue” is government distorting the marketplace by using its power of taxation and coercion to pick the winners and losers”

            -says the loser.

            That’s what it comes down to. The thought that your precious tax dollars might go to someone besides yourself.

            But tell me, did you protest when the government helped to electrify the country? Did you complain when federal aid created the green revolution that made our farms so productive? Maybe you should boycott the internet – yet another case of the government “picking winners and losers.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “My “issue” is government distorting the marketplace by using its power of taxation and coercion to pick the winners and losers.”

            Ha ha!!! And what they can’t tax or coerce, they mandate into existence.

            But in all honesty, every administration does it. The only difference is where the money went depends on the priorities of the current politicians in power.

            And we can look forward to a continuation of current policies after Hillary gets sworn in.

            I don’t like it either, but we just have to suck it up and deal with it!

            Find ways around it.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            HDC,
            I think you summed that up nicely.

            The thought that sustained me in the first 8 years of this century was that no matter how amateurish W was, no matter how terrible his decisions, at the end of the day, my fate was *not* in his hands.

            Whether my family thrives or merely survives is in my hands. Yes, taxes and regulations exist – often for good reason, although occasionally not. But none of that prevents me from living my life, enjoying our liberties and pursuing happiness.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            “-says the loser.”

            Every productive person having his or her pocket picked by an aggressive, activist government egged on by left-wing “green” fanatics is the loser here.

            You seem to believe that the things you mention would not have happened without government involvement. That is not necessarily the case.

            In the instant case, “green” technologies should be permitted to succeed or fail on their own merits without government intervention and coercion.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “Every productive person having his or her pocket picked by an aggressive, activist government egged on by left-wing “green” fanatics is the loser here.”

            I think you’ve confused a democratically elected – and popular – president and a deeply conservative Congress with some sort of Ayn Randian fantasy world.

            Like I said, I have no issue dropping the tiny subsidies for green energy. But can’t we also drop the huge subsidies for defense contractors, for Big Corn, for Big Oil, for Detroit automakers and all the other corporate welfare?

            Where is your outrage there?

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            “Where is your outrage there?”

            If I have not made it clear enough, I am against all subsidies. However since the topic under discussion here is green energy that’s where I’m voicing my outrage in this case.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            2manycars,
            Every day at TTAC we have articles about cars. I would expect that someone with your levels of outrage over government handouts would comment on every post about GM and Chrysler how furious you are over the bailouts they’ve received.

            We just had an article on Top Tier gas. I would have expected you to register your distaste for all the subsidies – direct and indirect – that Big Oil receives. Where is that?

            Because unless you are vocal about all these other subsidies, people will think you’re a hypocrite for singling out renewable energy. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

          • 0 avatar

            Taxpayers foot the bill to build most of the grid and current generating capacity. Nothing new here really.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          When coal companies are allowed to literally blast the tops off mountains to get to the coal seams in Appalachia, filling in valleys and streams and poisoning the landscape for generations, that is a subsidy, paid in lives and opportunities.

          When wars are fought to ensure access to cheap and abundant oil, that’s a subsidy, paid in public blood and treasure.

          When fracking is cheap and easy only because the Bush administration literally made it illegal to regulate, resulting in everything from explosions to river and groundwater pollution, with impacts we won’t fully appreciate for generations, that’s a subsidy, paid for in public health.

          Anything spent to speed along development and adoption of renewables is tiny in comparison, and results in a much greater saving of lives and funds in the long term. It is in that sense a true investment, and a wise one.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        And buying hydro power from Quebec, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        You’re not closing coal fired power plants because the utility companies want to but because the EPA has implemented new rules that require too much investment to keep them compliant, not because the cost of solar has come down. The only reason why coal is becoming less economical is because the people making the rules are rigging the game against coal.

    • 0 avatar
      Deontologist

      They’re not necessarily boosting faraway smokestack emissions to the same magnitude that everyone thinks.

      Did everyone on this blog forget that EVs are far, far more efficient than gasoline vehicles?

      Did everyone on this blog and the author conveniently forget about something called “MPGe” and how EVs have MPGe ratings that are very, very high? The Tesla Model S has an MPGe of about 90 (depending on the model), which means it travels 90 miles on the equivalent of the energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.

      Obviously, this makes the analysis much more complex than “oh, well, they don’t have any green power plants, so running EVs just creates more pollution elsewhere.” You’d have to consider other factors such as the fact that EVs simply use less energy to go further compared to ICE vehicles.

      But obviously deep thinking isn’t familiar territory here.

      http://www.hybridcars.com/is-electricity-a-clean-energy-source/

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        ” EV owners in Ohio are just trading their personal tailpipe emissions for a faraway boost in smokestack emissions.”

        Pretty ignorant statement by the author. Even with strictly coal powered electricity it’s still less pollution with an EV versus an ICE powered vehicle. In city/suburban traffic (where pollution is more of a concern) an EV annihilates of any ICE when your talking about efficiency. Running down the interstate at a steady 70 MPH not so much.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Just more proof that government is playing politics and has no clue to solving the problems. Coal power is a real problem in our country but I bet the ohio delegates got this as some kind of reward for backing other bad issues also. Need to start with wind generation and solar where possible and build up our clean power sources.
    THis must be a reward to save the coal/utility industry that employ many people from ohio

  • avatar
    George B

    Mostly useless virtue signalling. What works is fixing streets to reduce traffic congestion and gradual fuel efficiency improvements. Building more turn lanes to help keep through traffic moving reduces fuel consumption for all existing vehicles.

    My city uses natural gas to power fleet vehicles like buses and garbage trucks. They also use hybrid cars where they sort of make sense for stop-and-go usage. They work like normal cars and trucks.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Why did the Federal Government target a smaller city?

    Smaller cities tend to not have the same levels of congestion and waste of energy sitting in traffic as larger cities do.

    Larger urban centres, ie alpha cities, should be concentrated on first, for a couple of reasons.

    1. They are the drivers of national wealth.

    2. They are more congested and most likely the better choice for dwellers to adopt alternative transport, ie, light rail, which is far better than an electric bus.

    How far will $100 million go for alternative energy anyway. I suppose that’s a lot of WiFi (an Aussie invention for those who didn’t know) and a few electric buses.

    Is the best that can be done by DOT? WTF? WiFi?? All with taxpayer money.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Big Al,
      Columbus is known in the US as the most typical American city. A lot of companies use it as a test market for new products, new restaurant designs and new service models. If it succeeds in Columbus, they roll it out nationally.

      I suspect that part of what drove Columbus to win was its status as “Generica”

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        As a resident of the area I can say VoGo has got it right. I’ve been aware that Columbus/Central Ohio has been considered a test market for probably 20-25 years. And, just outside of Columbus, on the NW side, is where Honda chose to built it’s U.S. car plant over 30 years ago. They chose the Heartland of the US. Dave Thomas gave us the Wendy’s fast food chain. Many years before, White Castle began in Columbus. Columbus is considered to be an All-American city. And certainly The Ohio State University is quite an institution.

        GO BUCKS!

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      The 90 mil from local sources to complement the 10 fromfrom Vulcan and 40 from federal coffers might have tilted the scale.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    This spending of tax money makes me nuts.

    Just depressing.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I’m sure the fact that Ohio has been a swing state in presidential elections has no bearing on their selection to receive the free money.

  • avatar
    markf

    “Peak Oil” is a term used today only by right wing zealots and the fossil fuel industry to attack sustainable energy advocates.”

    Famous right wing economist at the New York Times

    “Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/opinion/27krugman.html?hp&_r=1

    If you want to close your eyes to the reality that solar and wind are fast becoming the cheapest means of electricity production, you are welcome to do so.”

    So fast that solar is now producing a whopping .4% and wind a winning 4.7% of electricity in the US. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Markf,
      The production figures you cite are the rear view mirror. What matters is the electricity production capacity that is being built, vs. that which is being mothballed. There are no more coal plants being built in the US, but there are solar panels going up all over the nation. That’s just reality.

      The Krugman quote doesn’t mean he believes in peak oil, it means he uses a term that his audience has heard, and puts in the context of a reality in which fossil fuel production is declining – not because of limited supply, but because of declining demand.

      It’s great that you can actually cite sources, Markf; you’re a big step up in that regard from mtmmo and generalmalaise. Now show us you are capable of insight.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Are you a condescending ass all the time or only when you are a online?

        You let me know when wind, solar or any other “alternate” nonsense hits 25%

        You keep confusing facts with your opinion

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Try 50% by 2025 – AND we’re not just on track, we’re ahead of plan.

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-27/u-s-mexico-said-to-pledge-50-percent-clean-power-by-2025

          If I come off as condescending, it’s because I find it so difficult concealing my glee that our nation is progressing. Sorry if that feels insulting to all those who hate America.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            Much like Al Gore and Global Warming crowd it is easy to throw out percentages 10-15 years in the future because you assume no one will call you on it.

            You cite a Bloomberg article about some bureaucrats meeting and “pledging” another percentage far enough in the future they can safely assume no one will remember or call them out when 2025 rolls around.

            We have been hearing this “x%” by 20xx since the 70’s (when, they were all doom and gloom about global cooling)

            With Gov handouts “renewable” energy is dead and even with it these companies can’t stay afloat. And yes before you start on another non-sequitur diatribe I was against the GM/Chrysler bailouts and would never buy a product from either company. I am against the EV subsidies at the state and federal level and am against using the tax code to try to manipulate behavior and favor businesses or ideas the government has deemed superior.

            The mortgage interest deduction should be eliminated, the gov shouldn’t incentivize home ownership over home rental……..

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Bureaucrats? No. Presidents.

            10-15 years? No. Nine

            All energy is subsidized. Whether by tax break or foreign war or tolerance for lung cancer, all energy production is subsidized.

            I expect that you have the courage of your convictions and decline to reduce your taxes for having a mortgage or your charitable contributions, given that you are so principled.

            I smiled writing that. Knowing.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    “…the $40 million federal grant.”

    What a waste of federal money which comes from taxpayers’ dollars!!!

    Let the city get the money from private funds and states’ funds for EV projects.

    The federal grant should’ve been used to pay for infrastructure repairs such as public roadways or bridges, which are sorely needed in many parts of this country!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I live in D.C. and for myriad reasons like taking trains. There’s a bus stop two blocks from my front door. From there I can get on the bus, take the bus to the metro station, then take the metro to Union Station From Union Station I can take the Acela to NYC, or grab the overnight train (and a sleeperette) to Charleston SC. Use Amtrak for D.C. to Indianapolis? Amtrak to Pittsburgh, then a bus to Indy. There needs to be a passenger rail corridor from Pittsburgh to Indy or St. Louis. Autonomous driving for me, means cocktails and/or having the porter waked me up in time for a shower and some coffee.

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    This is nothing more than an expected Obama administration bribe to try and shore up OH for Hillary. The administration is understandingly nervous because the latest Quinnipiac poll has Trump up by 4. The bribery likely won’t work as Ohioans have previously rejected green power. In fact a few years back Walmart partnered with the largest electric co in OH installing EV charging stations only to end up removing 90% of them due to lack of use.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      You must have missed how $100M of the $140M is coming from private sources.

      The latest Quinnipiac poll I saw was June 29, which showed Clinton up by 2 points. The others show her up 4-9 points. Which is meaningless. You have to look state-by-state, and in the states that matter, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Clinton leads.

  • avatar
    markf

    The folly of “renewable” energy….

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9559656/Germanys-wind-power-chaos-should-be-a-warning-to-the-UK.html

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-16131200

    “Solar and wind energy have “no prospect of becoming economically competitive in an unrigged market”

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      The BBC report you cite is an article about how one-sided and wrong the conclusion you quote is.

      So,… thanks for proving my point.

      But it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is that the free market is moving rapidly to superior, more efficient sources of energy.

      Those of you who oppose sustainable energy will be forced to watch as all your precious coal plants are ripped out and replaced by windmills and solar panels. As I laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        As I said, the only thing pushing so-called “sustainable energy” is government coercion. (A tip: any time a leftist uses the word “sustainable” hold on to your wallet!) A change in politicians and that goes away and your fantasies can compete on their own merits.

        As individuals there’s nothing we can do on the large scale aside from voting for the right politicians to bounce the greenies and leftists out of power.

        However, we can reject green tech for our own personal use, as I do. The bottom line is that I really don’t care what people like you want or think – no solar panels on my roof, no electric car in my garage. (I won’t even change the kind of light bulbs that I use.) That much at least I have control over.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          You can disparage sustainable energy and America’s elected government all you like. But you can’t stop the free market.

          You can only whine from the sidelines and remind disinterested youth about how things were different back in your day.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Amazing, now you claim it’s the “free market” going green after defending all the subsidies pushing it!

            If really it was the free market I’d have no problem with it – but it’s not, and everyone here knows that. Some defend the subsidies, some decry them, but it’s all being pushed by big government. To call what is happening the “free market” is disingenuous in the extreme.

            I think we can all rest assured that if there were a major change in political direction, you and yours would be the ones “whining.” If there is no change I’m sure we can all look forward to your buddies in Washington pushing more strong-armed, “you have to pass it to find out what’s in it” type legislation.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You’re the one making all the claims, 2manycars. I’m not defending subsidies to anyone. I wrote exactly that twice above. I only point out that multiple industries enjoy subsidies. Where is your outrage at the subsidies to all the other industries?

            I don’t have buddies in Washington, as you claim. I’m just a plain citizen, pointing out the truth on a car site I’ve posted to for 10 years.

            My political party is currently having a healthy debate about its platform. Your party is having a foodfest over a document that won’t be read by its “leader”, and certainly won’t be followed.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            You have been spouted the wonders of government subsidies a number of times now and I have already told you that I oppose all subsidies. Government should not be forcibly favoring one industry over another, one company over another, or pushing one technology over another.

            MY party?? Where did I mention what MY party is or if I even have one? You are making some presumptuous assumptions.

            I have no loyalty to any political party. As far as I am concerned the two major parties are the Crips and the Bloods; murderers and thieves.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            2manycars,
            You oppose all subsidies, but only protest those against green energy.

            And that’s not hypocritical? OK.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Start a thread about another subsidized sector of the economy and I’ll be more than happy to protest it for you.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Just over the past 2 days, we’ve had articles on:

            – Potential Jeep Wagoneer – you could have protested government bailout of FCA, but were silent.

            – Top Tier gas – you could have posted about your distaste for Big Oil tax breaks, and were silent.

            – Camaro vs. Mustang sales -you could have protested the bailout of GM, and were silent.

            All subsidized sectors where you didn’t bat an eye. And we all know why.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            You are ASSuming that I have time to stop here every day, go through each article, and protest them in turn. I do not.

            However, since you bring them up:

            “Potential Jeep Wagoneer – you could have protested government bailout of FCA, but were silent.”

            I was not silent at all when the bailout actually occurred. (Not here as I only recently found this site, but in other places including face-to-face discussions in meatspace.)

            “To Tier gas – you could have posted about your distaste for Big Oil tax breaks, and were silent.”

            You’re not paying attention. I’ve already stated that tax breaks (that is, the Crips and Bloods forcibly extracting less) are not a “subsidies.” A “subsidy” is when money is taken from the public treasury and given to individuals or businesses in the pursuit of politically-motivated interests.

            “Camaro vs. Mustang sales -you could have protested the bailout of GM, and were silent.”

            I did protest this at the time it happened, as with Chrysler.

            As a practical matter of course the auto subsidies are in the past, fait accompli, can’t go back and change it. What is being discussed here is current and ongoing and can be stopped by putting the right people in power.

            “All subsidized sectors where you didn’t bat an eye. And we all know why.”

            You know little and fantasize much. It’s like trying to have an adult discussion with a child.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            The only assumption I made was that you might have integrity.

            I’ve been here for 10 years. People like you show up for an issue, and then disappear.

            No one wonders why you stopped coming.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            “The only assumption I made was that you might have integrity. ”

            That’s a lie. You certainly assumed I was associated with a specific political party. I know I never mentioned any such thing. Do I really have to throw your own words back at you from a few replies back?

            “My political party is currently having a healthy debate about its platform. Your party is having a foodfest over a document that won’t be read by its “leader”, and certainly won’t be followed.”

            That’s an assumption if there ever was one.

            If you are going to resort to barefaced lies while questioning my integrity I really don’t know what else there is to say.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I would call it a guess. I also guess that you used to vote Republican, but having seen how terrible a president W was, how week McCain and Romney were as candidates, and how loony Trump is, you abandoned the party.

  • avatar
    markf

    I’ll explain it so you can understand, I am against all manipulations and subsidies of the tax code. Mortgage payments, charities, loses, EVs, solar panels, business expenses, etc, etc, etc

    Is that clear and consistent enough for you or do you have another non-sequitur you would like to discuss?

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Electrical intertie grids have the effect of making it far less relevant where electricity is generated relative to where it is used. Interties also tend to smooth the irregularities of sustainable sources.

  • avatar
    The Dad

    So my training on the subject is a little long in the tooth, but iirc, it’s far cheaper and more efficient to scrub pollutants from stationary sources like power plants than from mobile sources like ICE cars. It’s at least theoretically possible that it’s a net positive.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    And to think, all those years Mayor Coleman spent trying to get light rail into the city. I bet he would have loved to get his hands on some of this money. Finally, instead of having the #2 occasionally slow down traffic on High St., they could rip out an entire lane that would make the OSU campus more accessible to criminals via light rail.

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