The Importance of Public Transportation

Recently we read an article in the Birmingham Business Journal (Original Article HERE) that showed Alabama as only one of five states in the country that doesn’t provide any funding for public transportation at the municipal level. While most of this study focuses on the job creation and service benefits of public transportation, we believe that the importance of public transportation goes beyond these and would like to bring attention to another, often under-appreciated benefit. Saving energy and saving even more money as a result.

The Importance of Public Transportation

While it is true that some people who currently do not drive would use public transportation, and thereby increase energy consumption, it is also true than many who currently drive cars would opt to use a well designed public transportation system. To further demonstrate this point, consider the following data points from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA):

  • Riding public transportation far exceeds the benefits of other energy-saving household activities, such as using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, or using energy-efficient appliances.
  • Public transportation use saves the U.S. the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually — and more than 11 million gallons of gasoline per day.
  • Households that use public transportation save an average of more than $8,000 every year — even more as the price of fuel rises.
  • Household residents with proximity to public transportation drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles annually compared to those with no access to public transportation.

Other forms of alternative transportation shouldn’t be ignored either. Walking and biking have substantial health benefits along with their financial and energy savings. Cars aren’t going away but they are becoming smarter and more efficient. Smart policy that places requisite value on public transportation, green ways, bike ways and alternative fuel vehicles will be imperative to improve livability in our communities.

Does Department of Energy Activity = Clean Energy for Alabama?

The last 30-60 days have seen a flurry of activity coming out of the Department of Energy (DOE). This federal activity could mean huge opportunities for growth in clean energy for Alabama. Here are some of the topics being covered by recent grant announcements or notices of intent.

  • Extreme residential energy efficiency
  • University R&D on energy efficient technology
  • Commercial energy efficiency
  • Distributed energy and storage integration

Of course it isn’t unusual to see such a large amount of federal activity during this time of year but the variety of topics is encouraging! Our mission to transition Huntsville to 100% clean and efficient energy by 2025 and Alabama by 2035 aligns well with DOE’s recent announcements. We wholeheartedly believe that the most cost effective energy is energy you do not need to use. This is why we put so much focus on energy conservation and efficiency. Then and only then should renewable energy, energy storage, and other forms of distributed generation be considered.

We’re hard at work with our partners to bring some of DOE’s investment in clean energy to Alabama. As always, we can never have enough committed team members and we hope you’ll join us.

-Daniel

Redstone Arsenal Goes Solar

The recent announcement that Redstone Arsenal will house the largest solar installation in the state is great news for Huntsville and Alabama, but also a reminder of how much work remains to be done. If solar installations are a force multiplier for the military, they are also a force multiplier for communities throughout our state. If our local communities adopted the same commitment demonstrated by the US Army we could open up a significant wealth creation opportunity and in doing so build stronger and more resilient communities.

Consider this quote from Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability, “We look at renewable energy as a means to secure energy for our installations. We are not doing these projects for politically motivated reasons or because of the mandate (energy goal of 25 percent production of energy from renewable sources by 2025). We are doing them for mission effectiveness.”

Redstone Arsenal goes solar!

He clearly states that renewable energy is simply the strongest way to secure clean, reliable and affordable energy in order to accomplish the Army’s mission. Losing power for a week is not an option when lives are on the line. Not to mention that this monumental effort is being accomplished with private money. No additional burden to taxpayers and the Army gets predictable and affordable prices. What could be better?

Spoiler alert! What would be better is a thoughtful but determined approach by towns and cities across Alabama to begin their switch to clean energy as well.

Just the fact that there were no prime contractors from the great state of Alabama bidding on this opportunity demonstrates how far behind we are.

But we, too, can do this. The magnitude of Redstone’s announcement may fade but the challenge will remain: how we respond as a community and as a state to this wholly feasible opportunity to generate our own clean, reliable and affordable energy. Will our communities also start to build resiliency? Will we see wisdom in the Army’s electricity choices? It won’t happen overnight but let us begin now.

Electric Vehicles Are Just Fun to Drive

Have you ever driven an electric vehicle? Chances are most people haven’t and that’s ok! If you haven’t though, you should. Why? Not just because you can save tons of money of gasoline/diesel, but because they’re just so fun!

We’ve been driving the all electric BMW i3 and wow. It handles extraordinarily well and the instant torque provides such quick acceleration you feel like you can pretty much beat anyone. Of course you can’t unless you’re driving a Tesla Model S…

We’ve also test driven a Nissan LEAF and a Chevy Volt. Each has their pros and cons for sure. You can easily get yourself a ticket because they are so quiet you don’t realize exactly how fast you’re going.

We won’t go on and on about how awesome they are but you should really try one and see what you think. If anything you should be scared that you’ll like it TOO much and want to buy one. But that wouldn’t be so bad would it?

Daniel