Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Understanding Electric Vehicles

Many of you are hearing a lot about electric vehicles and the role they may play as a future transportation alternative. The Indiana Office of Energy Development has been working with stakeholders throughout Indiana to promote alternative transportation technology, specifically electric vehicles.  Grant funds are being allotted to select stakeholders in order to help implement electric vehicle use through the purchase of battery storage, more advanced power grid technologies, and charging stations.

Grants are not the only means through which the state is pushing for greater electric vehicle use.  Indiana’s Project Plug-IN, coordinated by the Energy Systems Network, was created with the goal of getting more electric vehicles out on the road.  Employees from the State of Indiana and utility companies were able to test drive some of the vehicles in early September of 2010.  The drivers were able to offer suggestions as well as consider purchases both for company and individual use.

While still in the early stages, electric vehicle technology has come a long way and offers a possible alternative to traditional  means of transportation.  Electric vehicles are an exciting development in green technology, so learn more so you too can get a real understanding on all that electric vehicles have to offer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mixing Green and Brawn

I  had the pleasure and privilege of attending a portion of the Work Truck Show at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.  One part of the show is called the Green Truck Summit, which is dedicated to showing off the latest technologies in work trucks that employ more environmentally sound fueling practices.  Indiana fleets have long been leaders in implementing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), propane, and biofuels alternatives to regular petroleum fuels.  OED has long supported groups like Greater Indiana Clean Cities and South Shore Clean Cities which promote these technologies and have been great partners in spreading new uses of cleaner fuels.

Many people have attempted to make alternative fuels more relevant to the personal automobile market but limitations in fuels and their availability have held these advancements back in the personal auto.  However, large scale fuel users that fill up at dedicated fueling areas, like fleet vehicles have found a cost advantage in using alternatives like CNG and propane.  Even larger fleets are looking to go hybrid mixing electric and  fuel.  Groups in Indiana like Energy Systems Network are leading that charge.

These opportunities to use alternatives and gear them towards greater use through the proper technology applications is important.  It is not to say that these technologies will never make it in personal autos, but the fleets and trucks that fit the maximum use criteria for these fuels should continue to promote and endorse them.  Seeing some of our largest energy users commit to reducing fuel use and using greener technologies represents the mixing of green and brawn for a better world.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How I spent My Summer Vacation

One of the best ways to not only get experience, but find out if a certain profession or certain business sector will hold your interest is through an internship. Internships, with the right organization, can be enlightening, engrossing, and even entertaining.

The Office of Lt. Governor Becky Skillman is seeking students who are interested in internships primarily during the summer of 2011.  Interns working with the Lt. Governor may work in her office,  or in one of the agencies under her supervision.  those include, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Tourism Office, The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and of course the very best place to spend your summer vacation…the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

The time to start the process is now.  If you would like more information regarding summer internship opportunities,  please send an email to

Friday, February 4, 2011


News from the Southwest United States and especially Texas should serve as a wakeup call for all of us.  Natural gas shortages and rolling blackouts are taking place in New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and California and there are various reasons why, but I want to make some key points of concern we all need to think about.

First off, this isn’t new to Texas.  They had prior shortages and blackouts and part of that can be blamed on the weather.  Both situations have happened during unseasonably cold weather and unexpected energy use skyrockets.  Texas is also on its own grid system and therefore is not able to take power from other US sources and in this case has relied on Mexico to send power.  Indiana is part of a larger Regional Transmission Operator that can send power to us from far away points of production if our need arises.

Second, and I think most concerning is that this shows that with growth in population and economy energy production must also keep up.  Many people suggest energy conservation and renewable power is cleaner and effective in reducing the need for new power plants.  This is nice theory but simply conservation and renewable power cannot totally reduce the need for new production facilities and Texas is the perfect example of what we could face when our production capacity cannot keep up with demand.

The basic issue is that nuclear, coal and natural gas are the three major sources of power that can work 24/7 and are reliable to the user.  When either new natural gas wells are not allowed to come on line, or new power production facilities are disallowed, utilities begin to scramble when unlikely weather conditions can change usual patterns.  Unfortunately if new production continues its slow nearly non-existent rise due to political concerns and bureaucratic barriers, then situations like these will not only happen when there is extraordinary weather but these shortages and rolling blackouts could become more frequent and in more places in the United States.

Shortages and blackouts would be new to almost all Americans and send quite a shock into the economy.  While many countries deal with shortages and blackouts as daily life, they are also countries that cannot support large industries and  a thriving economy because of unreliable energy.  The thing is , the United States doesn’t have to go this direction, we have the technologies and resources to use our coal, nuclear and natural gas more efficiently and cleaner.  Make sure you take the time to learn more about how the US gets it energy and where it all comes from.  A good site is the Energy Information Administration:

Stay warm and safe Indiana.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Your Wichita…I Mean Indiana…Lineman Is Still On The Line..

As a classic country fan I couldn’t resist using this cheesy Glen Campbell reference as title for this blog edition. In all seriousness though in this post I want to honor and thank those in the energy world that insure our lights stay on in the midst of wild weather, falling trees, car accidents, and any other happening that can turn off the power.

So, to the utility worker the linemen and equipment operators who are called at a moment’s notice to take care of our power outages no matter if it is Christmas Eve or the Fourth of July a big THANK YOU and appreciation for what you do. Today we throw the word hero around like it’s a wooden nickel and sometimes we don’t talk enough about those who 1. Just do their jobs, but 2. Do them well and make our lives better in doing them. The utility worker is just that type of job.

I remember as a youth that one of the first permanently disabled people I ever knew had been injured while working on the utility lines and there are always the unfortunate stories of death in the field. Certainly as time and technology have increased worker safety has improved, but we also must realize that these workers are working on lines and systems that have been in use for many decades and need constant maintenance.

So with this blog I ask the reader to go to your local utility, or find that family member or friend who works on the lines, or if you see a crew at lunch or on break, don’t be afraid to say “thank you” for working in less than ideal conditions at all hours on any day to keep our lights on, and our lives easier.

Here’s to you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

My early posts have centered primarily around the electric side of energy and the importance of certain fuels sources to insure we have the electricity we need to continue our way of life and economic livelihood. For this edition I want to discuss transportation and the fuels necessary to get our kids to school, people to work, and food to our stores.

As with electric power, we in the US have had the luxury of knowing that when we pull up at the pump we should be able to find more than enough supply of gasoline for our vehicles; and for the most part the average American can afford the price of that fuel. However, when fuel costs rise, the cost of things transported rises and the consumer keeps less of their paycheck because fuel and goods are at a higher cost.

Thinking about this can seem daunting if prices rose with little relief. In Indiana we have tried to develop and promote alternative transportation fuels that have the potential to temporarily relieve people and businesses of higher petroleum costs and at the very least offer an alternative in price and performance to our traditional petroleum fuels.

Our major fuel strategy first focused around our biofuel potentials in Indiana. Being an agricultural state corn production for ethanol made sense and brought new markets to farmers in proximity of the ethanol plants. Recognizing production must have and end user we also developed a strategy of bringing E85 pumps to the private consumer and Indiana boasts over 165 E85 pumps for number 3 in the whole nation.

To learn more about Indiana’s biofuels push please see the website below.

If you need to know the location of an E85-equipped retailer, there is a county-by-county map on the Office of Energy Development Web site,

Indiana is also making a push in becoming a leader in the development and manufacturing of electric vehicles. The Energy Systems Network is doing work to develop a strategy to bring electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles into mainstream markets, not only in the way of personal vehicles but also in promoting businesses and fleets to embrace these technologies where it is feasible. ESN has gathered an impressive group of businesses and individuals with decades of experience in the electric and hybrid vehicle world. The link below will tell you more:

Finally, Indiana was awarded a grant last year that is helping various government and private entities convert some of their fleets to either propane or natural gas powered fuels. These two fuels are more recognized as home heating or cooking fuels have shown great success in certain vehicle applications. Beyond that they have proven to carry some price stability to offset increases in regular petroleum fuels.

Below is a press release in regards to this project partnership between OED and the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition. Also, I have included links to Indiana’s two Clean Cities Coalitions.

As with any alternative power sources none of these I highlighted can totally replace our petroleum based fuel economy, but used in the right application they can help offset resources locally and be a piece of a larger puzzle. Also, using these fuels in everyday applications can help researchers and businesses look for ways to improve performance and bring more alternative fuels into the mainstream.

Always take time to remember when you go to the store or heading down the road what kind of energy it takes to keep this nation moving and how changes in prices of fuels trickles into the prices of our everyday goods and services. Always be aware of what is going to produce alternatives and be bold to go and learn more about them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Greetings for 2011

Hello Hoosiers and Happy New Year.  I hope that everyone had a safe and sound holidays with friends and family. 

Well, the new year brings many new things in the world of energy.  The Indiana General Assembly is beginning session again, and this is the long session, or budget session.  There are various bills pertaining to energy that are being proposed.  To follow those the website has some very user friendly tools to view proposed bills.  The link below can lead you to the proposed bills by both the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives.

Another issue to be mindful of as we head into the depths of winter is heating costs and heating use.  December gave us some bitter cold we haven't always been used to.  People are already running through their first season fill-ups of propane and fuel oil supplies.  It never hurts to check on your equipment and make sure it is working efficiently, also, many utilities offer programs to provide an energy audit that can let you know what improvements you can make around your home to be more energy efficient.  Below is a link to the OED website with helpful information on energy efficiency in both residential and commercial settings:

As I sign off for today I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy 2011.