Welcome to the monthly Gist. We hope to keep it brief and interesting.
This month we explore the challenge of meeting aggressive fleet electrification goals; hint - it’s not just about charging stations and EVs.
Ad Hoc exists at the intersection of three communities: energy, startups, and policy. Most of you work in the same vicinity, and ideally, the Gist is about you and your corner of this world. Forward to those who should subscribe, and be in touch when the mood strikes.
January 20, 2022
Tesla and Chargepoint are Not Enough
President Biden's recent Executive Order on Federal Sustainability sets an ambitious EV procurement target for the federal vehicle fleet:
"Transition to 100 percent acquisition of zero-emission vehicles by 2035…including 100 percent light duty vehicle acquisition by 2027."
But I recently spoke with a friend who relayed a sobering statistic: In 2020, out of 49,315 vehicles purchased by the Federal Government, only 111 were electric. Which is actually a hundred fewer than they bought in 2019. Which is, in a word, paltry.
Five years away from their first EV target, the Biden administration is starting largely from scratch. And while 111 electric vehicles is not exactly excusable (NYPD just bought 434), it also illustrates the very real challenge of electrifying large transportation fleets. It’s harder than it looks!
Because when you electrify a fleet as large as the Federal Government's, you're not just purchasing EVs and charging stations (something you’ve never done). You’re merging your fleet with the grid.
Fleets will require new utility infrastructure to accommodate the new power demand. And they’ll need software to help them go from pumping gas to managing a grid resource. They’ll also have to deal with a new set of characters – utilities, public utility commissions and regional transmission organizations – many of whom are themselves not ready for the electric onslaught, which is occurring at a rate of change that exceeds their normal pace of business.
Startups will come to the rescue, providing the connective tissue to make sure that everyone from fleet owners to my father-in-law can charge a F-150 without the grid going down or causing grandma’s bills to spike:
- The nation's trucking fleets will receive crucial rural resources from Camus Energy, which sells affordable demand response software to the nation's co-op utilities, which serve half the country’s geography.
- Silicon Valley Clean Energy has launched its ev.energy-designed EV charging app that will enable customers to shift EV charging toward hours of abundant renewable energy.
- Japan is targeting 100% EV/hybrid sales by 2035, and Mitsubishi has tapped London-based Kaluza to do the software.
- Revel has partnered with Electric Era to provide backup energy storage to help its NYC charging hubs align with grid needs and manage costs.
California’s 2035 target for all drayage fleets stimulates a growing market for industrial-grade EV transport. The state's funding submission deadline is February 16. Companies like Forum Mobility, EvGo and others will compete on lowest cost per mile value, while vehicle startups like Arrival will pitch both transport and logistics sectors on the simplified utility vehicle of the future.
Many of the new EV consumer models will have fleet-ish elements:
- Envoy provides EVs as-an-amenity for resorts, apartment buildings, and businesses.
- Motor will enable drivers to subscribe to electric vehicles before buying them and connect them to their utilities.
- Link is an EV marketplace with a Pro Membership that offers lower home charging rates and roadside assistance.
Here in Alexandria, VA (pop. 160,146) I serve on our transit company’s board, where we set a goal to electrify our bus fleet by 2040 and have the most electric buses of any city in Virginia at 14! We've found that even a small fleet requires a new operating model. Different seasons may call for different service schedules (e.g. heating buses in winter is - for now - a major battery drain). And getting chargers and buses to communicate properly can be a thing.
The Federal Government and other fleet owners will face these challenges at scale. But for each one, the same fact holds: if you buy enough electric vehicles, you are the grid.
News from Our Network
From our clients:
Dandelion CEO Michael Sachse rallies for Build Back Better in AM NY, citing the proven track record of clean energy tax credits.
Peter Reinhardt is leaving Twilio to become full-time CEO of Charm Industrial.
BlocPower will expand with $30 million from Microsoft's Climate Innovation Fund, and CEO Donnel Baird recently appeared on Bloomberg TV to talk about the recent Bronx fires and the need for safer heating systems.
Octopus Energy approaches its 100,000th customer in Germany as households tire of wholesale price surges.
From our friends and colleagues:
Many of us are mourning the loss of Ryan Popple, former CEO of Proterra, who passed suddenly in December.
Energicity CEO and Opower alum Nicole Poindexter took to Time.com to call for solar/storage minigrids in the fight against energy poverty in Africa.
Rewiring America co-founder Alex Laskey sat down with the My Climate Journey podcast to talk about his Opower days, utilities, and rapid electrification.
Former Ad Hoc client Opus One was purchased by GE Digital, one of three public companies recently spun off from General Electric. Congrats, Josh!
Amply was recently bought by BP, congrats to Vic and the team.
I worked across the hall from Don't Look Up co-creator David Sirota when we were both House press secretaries - 20 years ago! If you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen the movie yet, it captures our painful political moment. And if you want your pulse to rise higher, check out David's independent news outlet, the Daily Poster.
Jobs in our network:
Charm Industrial is hiring a Head of Market Development and Policy (ping me if interested in this one - it’s not officially listed) and for R&D roles in San Francisco.
OhmConnect seeks Product Managers.
Copper Labs is hiring a Director of Sales.
Pano AI is hiring for Business Development.
AiDash seeks to fill multiple roles in Sales & Marketing and Product Management.
Singularity Energy has an opening for a full-stack developer.
Ev.energy is hiring a Head of Marketing in the US, and a Utility Business Development Manager in Europe.
Recurve is hiring at the Director and Manager levels.
Radiator Labs is on the search for a CFO, plus software roles.
BlocPower is looking for an engineer to support their work electrifying the city of Ithaca, NY.
Dandelion Energy is hiring for a range of roles, including a Head of Talent, Head of Field Operations and Sales.
Singularity is on the lookout for engineers.
Google Nest Renew seeks a Business Development Manager in the Bay Area or NYC.
Reasons for Hope, Reasons for Despair
Hope... Long live the Motor City: Michigan utility Consumers Energy was recently approved for a special rate for industrial customers in EV manufacturing, battery storage and related sectors. That means more companies like Detroit's Our Next Energy (ONE), whose battery recently caught the attention of Car & Driver after taking a Tesla 752 miles on a single charge.
Despair… Youngkin puts Trump’s EPA chief in charge of Virginia’s natural resources…cue Don’t Look Up!