Webinar on the Role of Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Emergency Preparedness (Text Version)
This is a text version of the video for the Role of Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Emergency Preparedness webinar presented on April 4, 2013, by Linda Bluestein, national Clean Cities co-director; Jeff Pillon, National Association of State Energy Officials; Rita Ebert, Greater Long Island Clean Cities coalition; and Bill Sheaffer, Valley of the Sun Clean Cities.
COORDINATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time all participants are in a listen only mode. During the question and answer session please press star 1 on your touch tone phone. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections you may disconnect at this time. Now I'd like to turn the meeting over to Linda Bluestein. Thank you, you may begin.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Good afternoon or morning depending on where you are. This is Linda Bluestein. I'm the co-director of Clean Cities and I am going to run through a really quick presentation today and overview that I gave recently at the National Association of State Energy Officials meeting here in Washington DC.
To kind of clue you in on this issue and what we're looking at from a Clean Cities point of view. Then we'll—I'll introduce the three distinguished speakers we have on the line today with a short bio. We'll do all that at once and then we'll have the three speakers speak briefly on their subject.
At the very end of all the speakers we'll take questions and answers. But today we're going to be addressing an important topic and I just want to emphasize that we have some very valuable lessons coming from the recent Hurricane Sandy event that occurred in the Northeast.
And I think that it reminded me that we have probably some—a new value proposition for fuel diversification, alternative fuels, and advance technology vehicles because as you will learn from this presentation, the MotorWeek video we just recently completed and also from the presentations you're going to hear today that there could be a substantial role for alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles in essential storm related activities and that the value of that is quite important.
Not just from the standpoint of, you know, planning but also from the standpoint of the Clean Cities Coalition and stakeholders having a role, a direct role, in helping their communities with clean up efforts after storms.
Back in—about 10 years ago I went to a national biodiesel board meeting. This is the first time I heard of this type of thing. It was with Florida Power and Light had a meeting in Fort Lauderdale. They discussed how they used biodiesel as a strategy to stretch their diesel supplies during power outages.
Of course they're on the front line trying to get their trucks out to be able to clean up the mess that's left after the hurricane in terms of restoring electricity. So they found that had been a really useful strategy. And to tell you the truth, I kind of put that back in my Rolodex and thought that was a great story.
But more recently got information from the Clean Cities coordinators just a few months ago after the hurricane that there was some great opportunities and stories out there for alternative fuel vehicles after the storm. And the alternative fuel vehicles and the fleets had performed admirably in helping the recovery effort from Hurricane Sandy.
So more recently I was asked to talk about this at a NASEO meeting and met Jeff Pillon who is going to be our second speaker today. And he is in charge of energy assurance planning for the National Association of State Energy Offices and he's going to talk a lot about energy assurance planning and possibly how coordinators and stakeholders can get involved in that process and use information they already have and are collecting to help in the face of storms.
And then we'll hear from Rita Ebert who obviously has lived through the storm being our Long Island Clean Cities Coalition coordinator. And that particular coalition and her stakeholders had a direct impact on clean up from that storm. There are other great stories out there. I don't mean to diminish the other ones.
And they are in the MotorWeek video so we'll let you look at that too on your own afterwards. So I just want to run through these slides really quickly for you and discuss a little bit—give you a little bit of background.
I mean, Sandy formed on October 22 in the Caribbean and became a Category 1 hurricane two days later. And it was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the US north of North Carolina. So a very kind of shocking and surprising and devastating event.
Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 29 and then a storm surge in New York Harbor set a record at 14 feet. Parts of the subway system and tunnels in Manhattan were flooded and flooding made the neighborhood of Breezy Point in Queens virtually inaccessible to emergency crews and more than 100 homes were destroyed in a fire that burned for several hours.
And not only that, a hundred people lost their lives including at least 40 in New York City. And over 7 million people were without power in the Northeast for some time as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Well, on our side of the story, several petroleum refineries in New Jersey either closed in preparation for the storm or were closed after the storm due to flooding and power outages.
Two-thirds of the East Coast refining capacity was shuttered ahead of the storm and this had a devastating impact limiting supplies of conventional fuels for transportation. And as you saw from news clips that were prevalent on television and on the internet, people were waiting for hours and hours and maybe even days to get fuel.
Well this just shows the EIA actually quickly put together some data, not having had to do this before, they put some data on outages in that area. And as you can see, it took days and days to actually restore some of these situations. Some of the stations were out of communication, terminals were closed, and 21% of the stations still had no fuel after 11 days.
And two of the—after one week, two of the six refineries that had been in Sandy's path were still closed.
So as a result of efforts by local Clean Cities Coalitions and their stakeholders, alternative fuel vehicles were already working in these communities impacted by the hurricane.
Some of those vehicles were vehicles that were purchased as a result—partially as a result of the funding from the Recovery Act projects that were in that area. Because trucks and buses operating on alternative fuels were ready when they were needed for preparation or recovery efforts and because they're not dependent on the limited supply of petroleum, they were able to continue serving their communities using alternative fuel supplies that were still available.
On the next several slides I'm just going to show you some really quick examples. And since Rita is here I'm not going to belabor them and she'll talk a little bit more about that. But if you—I have a slide on the MotorWeek video and how to get a hold of it, but there's some interviews with the Jitney drivers in New Jersey.
These were part of a Recovery Act project that Chuck Feinberg worked on in New Jersey and the Jitney's are of course independent operators and had a history of helping out in times of need. And their fleet went totally to compressed natural gas, you know, after the Recovery Act funding was available.
And they were able to move populations of elderly and disabled residents with these and, you know, really helped people get out of the way of the storm. So very important and very compelling. The efforts in Long Island I'm not going to talk about those because Rita will talk about them.
But needless to say, the refuse trucks that were funded from the Recovery Act and run on compressed natural gas were operable where the diesel counterparts were not and were able to start removing a huge amount of debris that was in the way after the storm.
Alternative fuel vehicles and advanced technology vehicles can play an important role in disaster planning and as we've seen, natural gas vehicles can keep going when conventional fuel supplies are not available. And as well as other examples like biodiesel.
Because of their benefits, Clean Cities, you know, needs to work with their states and their localities to include alternative fuel vehicles in state and local planning efforts. The Clean Cities network can be of great assistance in providing information about local alternative fuel fleets and connecting planners with key stakeholders who can assist.
And so this is a map, you know, the Clean Cities Coalitions cover about 75% to 80% of the population of the US and a lot of them are concentrated in areas that have naturally occurring disasters where some of this planning should be occurring.
This is just to show you that, you know, that we have these individual coalitions. They are connected to Clean Cities coordinators, people that you can actually call on the phone and e-mail and, you know, perhaps they can share some of the great information that they collect on an annual basis for Clean Cities.
They actually know about all of the fleets, they collect data on the fleets and they have access to a lot of information that could be really useful in the time of an event like Hurricane Sandy. And so I just want to say that we did a MotorWeek segment and it has aired already.
It's on YouTube. I would highly encourage you to look it up and take a look at it. It's about four to five minutes. And then we also have some case studies on an Alternative Fuels Data Center here. And finally, here's some contact information that you can have.
Just general contact information for me and for Clean Cities websites and the Alternative Fuels Data Center. And please feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions you might have after this webinar. And I guess with that, we'll go ahead and we'll introduce Jeff Pillon who is the director of Energy Assurance for the National Association of State Energy Officials.
And in this capacity he provides technical support to states and updates their energy emergency response plans and plans to enhance the resiliency of critical energy infrastructure. He is also the Midwest regional coordinator for NASEO and has a special term appointment to Argonne National Laboratory Infrastructure Assurance Center.
And he serves on the government Coordinating Council for the Energy Sector under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and is a member of the Electric Power Research Institute's Energy Efficiency Smart Grid Public Advisory Group. And he is the past chair for the NASEO Energy Data and Security Committee and a past chair of the Staff Subcommittee on Critical Infrastructure for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
He also worked for the state of Michigan and he served as emergency management coordinator for the Michigan Department of Energy Labor and Economic Growth. Second we'll have Rita Ebert and she's key staff member of the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition since 2007.
She's the program director, she administers all the contractual reporting duties for CMAQ funding, $10 million in CMAQ funding and close to $15 million in the Recovery Act funding. And she is the coordinator of one of the nation's largest coalitions, represents the interests of over 400 regional stakeholders and promotion and advancement of alternative fuel technologies and programs.
And she also serves as one of the co-chairs of the National Clean Cities Coordinator Council. In addition to that, we finally have Bill Sheaffer. He has been the coordinator of Valley of the Sun which is the Phoenix area coalition since 2002 and now serves as the executive director of this coalition.
And the coalition has been actively involved with the state legislators as well as key agencies, municipalities, and utilities. He's got a lot of fuel vehicle experience under his belt in various capacities with industry and industry groups and is very knowledgeable and works a lot on petroleum reduction in his area.
He also serves on the Scottsdale Energy Committee and is vice president of Arizona biodiesel producer. And he formally served on the technical committee of South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Energy Foundation of the University of California Riverside.
And he is active in outreach as a guest speaker at Arizona State University and several other locations. So first we'll get started with Jeff and we'd like him to go ahead and I think he's got a few slides as well and he'll be sharing those with you right now. Thank you.
JEFF PILLON: Well thank you Linda. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some perspectives on the work that's been ongoing at the state level for the last, going on almost four years now in the area of energy assurance work.
Just to give you a little bit of background, if you look at the first slide here, if I can get this to advance. Would you advance the first slide please? Just to give you some background, basically the Department of Energy, back in 2009, made approximately $58 million available to 48 states and two territories and 43 cities to develop energy assurance plans.
These plans are designed to really address two important areas. One is what do you do in the event of an energy emergency when supplies are significantly disrupted for whatever reason? And secondly, what can you do in periods when we're not dealing with disasters.
What are the ways that you can develop a more resilient energy infrastructure, one that can be brought back online more quickly if it is disrupted or perhaps even stay standing in the event of a more serious type of storm or other event.
It's important in this planning process that you are looking at all energy resources and one of the things that was I think, somewhat unique in this particular endeavor is the Department of Energy did ask us to make certain that we looked at the new energy portfolios, renewables, biofuels, smart grid, all these kinds of things, and take a look at how they can help contribute to a more resilient infrastructure and system of recovery.
But also to look at the fact that as we become increasingly reliant upon these renewable energy resources, to take a look at issues about what we would do if in fact they were disrupted. So it was kind of a different perspective. Now states have been doing energy emergency planning for many years. Most state energy offices actually got their start following the Arab oil embargo which this October will mark its 40th anniversary.
And as part of that planning, the kinds of things that we've really looked at is to develop new or refine existing plans, develop some greater levels of expertise at a state and local level, look for better ways that we can track energy supply disruptions, conduct exercises and training types of procedures, look at our policies and programs.
And we believe that, you know, this kind of activity can go a long way to reduce the human and economic consequences of events because these events can be extremely expensive. I mean EPRI has looked at the cost of power outages to the US economy on a normal basis annually. The cost is in the billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars of lost economic opportunity.
If we look at the next slide, what I'd like to move on to talk about is some of the other aspects of this planning process, get a little lag here. I would point out on this slide there's a link at the bottom where you can find out more information about this planning program.
So if we go to the next slide, I wanted to focus a little bit on the petroleum response plans and essentially while energy assurance plans do look at natural gas and electricity, you know, certainly an important area is petroleum as we saw during Hurricane Sandy.
And developing these plans means taking a look at, you know, understanding what the energy infrastructure is that supplies these fuels, understanding its capacity and throughput, understanding where the refineries are, where the storage is at, having good industry contacts, having in place ability to monitor petroleum supply demand in crisis so you can provide updated information in order to provide good situation reports to the policy makers who are making decisions.
And then develop a series of programs that can take a look at how do you manage supply and ensure essential public needs as well as reduce the demand for fuels. The guidance that NASEO has prepared for these two areas are included in the state energy assurance guidelines and a more recent publication that we developed called Petroleum Shortage Supply Management Options for States.
And here there's a full range of things that could be considered. Some of these you may be familiar with including driver waivers, waivers of environmental specifications for gasoline, programs to assure that priority end user's needs are met, state set aside programs which are allocation type programs allowing states to allocate fuel to priority requirements, plans for resupplying gas stations along evacuation routes if you've got a hurricane coming ashore.
And also taking a look at ways that you can switch to alternative fuels. Many states and localities do have a significant number of alternative fuel vehicles within their fleets. And as there may be a need they could set some priorities to how those vehicles might best be used in an emergency.
If we go onto the next slide, we also want to look at a range of actions that can help reduce the demand for fuel and looking at things where we have public information programs encouraging ride sharing and van pooling, increased use of transit, approved vehicle maintenance, you know, the ongoing efforts that are going on through the Clean Cities program to diversify our transportation fuel mix are all important parts of what these overall plans tend to look like.
If we go onto the next slide, we've got a little bit of work to begin to examine what is contained in these very energy assurance plans. NASEO has collected about 23 of them so far that we have begun to go through and we've found some definite common threads.
Most states do have these environmental and driver waiver provisions. A couple of states have priority end user programs. A lot of states kind of hadn't thought about even a minimum purchase type of programs and so Sandy saw that measure used for the first time in many years, in many decades actually. So that was kind of interesting.
And a full suite of, you know, demand type management programs that, you know, can be used to try to reduce your overall demand for fuel as you're trying to increase the supply and get things back to normal.
On the next slide we begin to talk a little bit about the details that are important to go into these plans. And so that each of these contingencies have fleshed out in some measure, you know, what is it that this measure is designed for? Who is going to coordinate it? How long will it take to put it in place?
What do you estimate the impacts of taking this action would be? What is the risk of putting this in place? Are there any downside risk? And if you lay all these things out, develop draft executive orders, develop draft press releases, what you have then is when you're faced with these types of situations is the ability to respond much more quickly and more effectively to the situation because you've got a lot of the work done.
People don't tend to realize that in an emergency that you can really make quite a few of the decisions in advance. I mean, communication issues, you know, who's going to handle press release and what are your legal authorities. And if you've really got that laid out in advance you can move much more quickly.
Moving on to the next slide, a little bit of a lag here. I just wanted to say that I'll take questions at the end of this thing. Here is my contact information. We've got a significant amount of resources as well as videos on energy assurance if you're interested in learning more about that. You can find those located at www.naseo.org/energyassurance.
A lot of good resources there if you'd like to know more about energy assurance. And for those of you involved in the Clean Cities program I would say if you're interested in talking with states about the work that they're doing in energy assurance that the grants were administered through the state energy offices.
So if you contact the state energy offices I'm sure they can put you in contact with the people that are involved in working on that program. We have a complete list of state energy office contacts located on the NASEO website under the member list.
So you can look them up there. And Linda I understand there, you know, there's a similar set of content list available through the Clean Cities program. So it would be a good opportunity for folks to get together, maybe talk about what's going on within their states. That kind of wraps up what I had to say this morning. Thank you.
Linda Bluestein: Thanks very much for your contribution to this Jeff, really appreciate it. And next we'll turn to Rita to talk about her firsthand account of the storm and maybe some of the contacts she's had with emergency personnel in the area and what kind of words of wisdom she has for stakeholders in Clean Cities coalitions.
RITA EBERT: Thank you Linda. Next slide. First I'd like to talk about what happened on Long Island with the Hurricane Sandy. The aftermath, I'm sure people have seen many pictures of uprooted trees and devastation to homes and vehicles, but one of the things that I think after, you know, the search and rescue sees people are okay and you check out your homes.
The bottom line is, we have to continue to live our lives and the only way that we were able to continue to live on Long Island was through alternative fuels. Next slide. We have—we had no power, no food, no gas and this went on for three weeks where I live.
The lines, you know, for gas were extremely long and once you got up there, you know, they could have been out of gas by then. One of our main concerns was that our first responders in the area, their trucks run on diesel. We're working with Homeland Security on Long Island and first responders about alternative fuels for their vehicles.
Like Linda had said earlier, a lot of first responders couldn't even get to half the scenes because there wasn't any gas available. As you can see, since Hurricane Sandy, I have been in touch with 2700 fleets, mostly delivery fleets.
And the picture shows empty shelves in the grocery store, that was absolutely throughout Long Island because delivery trucks couldn't even make their deliveries of food. Next slide. A couple of the pictures here are shown with Long Island Power Authority and National Grid who have alternative fuel vehicles who were able to go out and pick up trees and telephone poles that were down.
One of our big success stories is the town of Oyster Bay. They have 54 compressed natural gas dump trucks and garbage trucks. They were a recipient of the American Recovery Reinvestment Act and these trucks not only cleaned up the town of Oyster Bay and surrounding areas because other towns couldn't get out because there was no diesel fuel for them.
On the bottom picture is a NICE bus, it's a Nassau Inter County Express. I had found out afterwards that they're all CNG, they have 209 buses in their fleet. They were able to go to the shoreline and take people from the devastation area and bring them up to housings or Red Cross centers. So they were used during the storm as well.
Private companies such as Mario Garafolo who has a carting company that runs on CNG has 23 garbage trucks. He was also very extremely—implemented the cleanup of this. A lot of the private companies that ran on CNG were able to continue their work and clean up the area.
The cleanup isn't totally done now. It's going to take quite a bit of time. There is quite a bit of trash still out there. But the most important thing that we've learned through this is we can't rely on gasoline and having it trucked in. We have to use our sources that are here on Long Island.
And natural gas is in abundance on Long Island and very reachable to just about every city and every village. So we have to continue our work to reach out and educate other fleets, towns, the counties, educate them on compressed natural gas and alternative fuels.
We also have to reach out to more fleets, delivery trucks. If we stopped in the middle of a storm for three weeks and couldn't get delivery of gas then people would end—if it was worse, people would end up sick, hungry.
You know, so we really have to continue the work that we do. It is important to work with our local and state governments and also with our first responders. I know that just recently a hospital North Shore LIJ Health System has now started planning to have CNG ambulance in their fleet.
They took their first delivery of an ambulance two weeks ago. So the word is going out, but we must continue. This was very devastating to Long Island. I've never seen anything like this. But the worse part is the cleanup, you know, like we had to have people come from out of town.
The only gasoline that was available was for first responders and for the cleanup. So everyday mister and misses, excuse that expression, but couldn't get gas in their cars or their generators. Not only is it important for CNG, compressed natural gas stations, but all gas stations now are going to be regulated and need to have a generator, a backup system.
Our generator system for the town of Oyster Bay is run on CNG. So they had a CNG station and a CNG generator to make sure that station was constantly going. And they have been very successful and they have been a highlight on Long Island and I think other towns are learning from it.
Just once again, I'd like to extend a thank you to everyone for their thoughts and prayers on Long Island and for continuing to do the work that we do and how important it is. And next slide.
WOMAN: That's the last one.
RITA EBERT: I think that's it. That's the last slide. Okay thank you. But if anybody, you know, has any questions we'll certainly take them. Thank you Linda.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Okay really appreciate that summary Rita. It was great to hear from somebody who has actually been in it and some of the advice and information that you have is invaluable and I think, you know, other people will be calling you if they have similar situations that are trying to prepare for them.
So thank you for that and thank you for serving your community so well. The next person that's going to speak is Bill Sheaffer and we've got his slides up. So Bill, if you can go ahead that would be great.
BILL SHEAFFER: Great good morning or good afternoon. A very inspiring scenario there from Rita. And I think as we talk though this we find that, I think one of the strengths of Clean Cities is it is a bottom's up organization and each area is different.
The Phoenix area, as an example, is quite divorced from that. We don't have hurricanes, et cetera, but we are extremely vulnerable on regular petroleum fuels. There is no oil in Arizona. There are no refineries. The only fuel that we have comes through two pipelines each of them about 350 miles long coming across the desert.
One from Southern California and one from Texas. Of course we experience the same thing as all in the 1970 oil embargo, but in 2003 we had a pipeline rupture in the line coming from Texas and the place sort of went crazy.
It wasn't a total shortage, but the partial shortage really messed up things. It occurred to me at that time, again talking down this same road, that alternative fuels could play, you know, play an important role. So I started searching around as to what agency was really in control of this and found out that we have an Arizona Department of Emergency Management.
I met with those folks and provided them with a list of the vehicles. We're very fortunate here, we've worked hard at it as well, but as an example, we have over a thousand Valley metro buses that run on compressed natural gas and a few hundred trash trucks.
We have propane users are increasing. Super shuttle runs about 90 propane fueled shuttled buses. It could be very handy. Mesa school district is running, oh they have nearly a hundred school buses, some of which are special needs buses that will allow for loading wheelchair patients, et cetera.
We were then invited to participate in the transportation fuel assurance report and were able to insert the information that we provided to, you know, have recognition of alternative fuels and, you know, where they're located.
One thing that occurred to me as we looked at the different fuels and E85 is an example. We have roughly 1500 E85 vans and pickups, et cetera with the city of Phoenix. You know, that takes care of—it only needs 15% of the gas. Certainly propane is by itself, natural gas, et cetera.
When it came to biodiesel the stretching thing of 20% I wondered about that. We checked with Cummins and with NREL and found out that jet fuel can be used in an emergency. It's essentially the number one diesel and it would be preferable if we could blend it with some biodiesel.
We have a huge blending facility at the rec where we could accomplish that. So we can fill out the whole process if you will, assisting the diesel fuel vehicles and you don't really have to shut the airport down in looking at the calculations. The average fueling of a plane is about 12,000 gallons though if just one plane were out of service we could operate 120 emergency vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks almost entirely run on diesel fuel.
Most of the heavy duty vehicles are. So we provided the wording to the energy assurance folks which was incorporated in our plan, the state plan. I then invited the director of emergency management to one of our stakeholder meetings and invited as well our stakeholders, the large fleet operators.
So we had an excellent chance for discussion, a mutual discussion there of what can be done and how. I then—if we can go to the next slide.
WOMAN: Bill do you mind just speaking up a little bit?
BILL SHEAFFER: Sure. We provided the director and his folks, this is just a picture of the front of the brochure or the binder that we provided of 2013 alt fuel locator. I delivered that to them yesterday as a matter of fact. Next slide.
And this is the cover page index that shows the fuels that are listed and the vehicles that are listed within this binder. And I also—we took a look at metro light rail, those are nothing more than big electric cars and we've got a 20 mile route with some 50 cars that could hold a couple hundred people each.
So it's just another asset that's available. The next slide shows contact information. We provided the emergency management folks with a binder of some 20 plus major fleet operators and gave them all of the contact information, name, address, phone number, et cetera, e-mail address.
The next slide shows really a copy of the form that we use for our annual fuel report. And of course this defines, this happens to be the city of Scottsdale, how many vehicles, how much fuel they use by each type of fuel category. And also in anticipation, we asked them to provide their capacity of fuel storage by type so that we know which of these fleets actually has some of their fuel—required fuel onsite.
As an example the Mesa school district has an 18,000 gallon propane tank which, you know, can help to fuel their vehicles as well as be a storage point. We've also provided with them some information on the alt fuel locator website that they can use for public access to alternative fueling.
So they can get some direction from that standpoint. At the end of the meeting, Lou Trammel who is the director of emergency management for the state came over to me and looked me in the eye and he said, if we have a pipeline interruption I expect you to be in the command center with me helping to direct and secure the alternative fuel vehicles and fuels.
So we're certainly pleased to be in that role and I think as Linda pointed out, this provides another dimension of the values of alternative fuels in emergency planning. So that was—that's where we are. Our information is as current as yesterday so we're working very closely with emergency planning.
We realize there's a lot more to be done. There are agreements that have to be made although we have a blanket agreement of participation with many municipalities. But certainly there's contact work to be done. But at least we're underway with really a very comprehensive coordination with the emergency planning here in the greater Phoenix area and I thank you.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Thank you Bill. That's great coordination that you have going on there and partnerships and I think that it's good instruction for other coalitions to look at working with the emergency planning processes. And also to take up Jeff Pillon's advice to get in touch with the energy offices in your states to find out how you can participate in the energy assurance plan.
As I understand a lot of them are near complete or completed, but they are to be updated every so often. So there's no reason that you can't—they can't add an addendum or add more information to their plans.
And each state may be a little bit different in how they handle the energy assurance plan. Some of them, I think, are pretty tightly guarded and not let out to the general public due to issues with them getting in the wrong hands and that type of thing.
But I think, you know, you have the Clean Cities Coalitions and stakeholders have a pretty strong case to be made that they, you know, should work with the officials on this and be part of the planning process for energy assurance. I guess next we should, Sandra turn it over for questions and answers.
SANDRA LOI: Wonderful. Diana can we go ahead and open up the lines for questions please?
COORDINATOR: Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question please press star 1. You'll be prompted to record your name. To withdraw your request please press star 2. One moment please to see if we have any questions or comments.
SANDRA LOI: Great thank you so much. While we're waiting, we did get some questions online in the Q&A function. One of the questions that came in I think Rita addressed this a little bit and you all, the other speakers, can jump in as well.
Its why is gasoline & diesel supplies especially vulnerable in power outages yet CNG or biodiesel to be less impacted since both require electricity to operate fuel pumps?
RITA EBERT: Well it says—yes there are—you still need electric to run the pumps because you have to have the dryers on and the whole pumping process. So that's when you have a backup generator. And the backup generator is CNG. Some have biodiesel, but you still need a backup generator to help that as well.
The reason it is more—it's very accessible on Long Island and it helps because you don't have to wait for a truck to bring in the diesel. The trucks were not coming in with the fuel so that's why the CNG worked out very well.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: I think that's a great point that you can use biodiesel in some of those diesel generators as well.
SANDRA LOI: All right thank you. Diana do we have any phone questions?
COORDINATOR: We have a question from Julia. Your line is now open.
JULIA: Hi there. There's been some talk about, or a bunch of talk about the CNG benefits. I wondered if there was any electric vehicle benefits you guys saw on the ground after Sandy or know of some other examples around the country. I guess providing some backup power in the wake of a disaster.
RITA EBERT: That was—the electric vehicles was actually a big downfall because we didn't have electricity in a lot of parts of just about all of Long Island because poles were down. So how were people recharging? So you couldn't charge electric car anywhere at that point.
And, you know, as far as being a first responder, they still have to charge. So without the electric, unless you're running on the solar panel charging station that would be the only thing.
BILL SHEAFFER: We've also looked at, I think, the hybrids again stretch the fuel and we're working with the Discount Cab here that has about 750 hybrid Prius and we think they could be pressed into service as they would be using, you know, a lot less gasoline particularly on the short hops.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: I think one tale I heard, maybe this was from your area Rita, was that somebody, you know how the utilities in other part of the country help out when there's electricity down in certain areas after storms.
Well I heard that one came from Wisconsin, it was a Recovery Act funded plug in electric hybrid, I believe a recovery bucket truck came from one of the utilities there that was funded under the Recovery Act and helped.
And it was great because, you know, it wasn't burning diesel when they were using the electric lifts and it used a lot less fuel. So that was a benefit. And I can't remember, I'm sorry, which territory that went to, but they did have good success with that vehicle and found it very useful.
RITA EBERT: It was Long Island. Yes it was Long Island. Things like that, when we use electric hybrid truck, of course that part of the electric is great. It's not running and burning the diesel. You would still need the diesel for the truck to get here and to continue to work. So that's why, you know, there's no silver bullet as we say and even that little bit, every little bit helps.
JULIA: Great. Thanks.
JEFF PILLON: Yes this is Jeff Pillon. Yes I would point out that, you know, there are situations we haven't had to deal with them very frequently in recent years, but if you did have a petroleum shortage caused for whatever reason and you had supplies cut off from non contract customers and found that the companies were allocating fuel supplies.
Your ability to draw upon your alternative fuel vehicle fleets would probably be very helpful because there are scenarios. There's some of the different conditions we've looked at that, you know, you might have electricity but you might not have other energy resources available and they may be limited. So under those particular types of scenarios, then you would at least have some alternatives readily available if you had a more diversified vehicle fleet.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: And I want to stress too, in a bucket truck like that you could use biodiesel. And as the example that I mentioned in Florida, they were using hybrid bucket trucks that were part of the H test program and they were having very good success with the fuel economy in those vehicles.
But in addition, adding, you know, higher blend mixtures of biodiesel to that, you know, significantly reduced their petroleum use.
SANDRA LOI: Do we have additional phone questions Diana?
COORDINATOR: A question from Michael. Your line is open. I'm sorry, Dick Cromwell your line is open.
DICK CROMWELL: Thank you. Just to jump in—I don't have a question, but just to jump in on this pile. One of the things we were working with in the early of our fuel cell activity is a system where you can take a fuel cell bus to a hospital, to an emergency area and power off the bus.
I know that Westport Innovations is working on this and with so many of us moving into alternative fuels in the transit industry and many now beginning to give strong consideration to hydrogen using fuel cells, there becomes a portable fuel source that can be moved around. Just something to think about.
My question or comment has to do with what the Department of Energy already has done in reference to first responder training. They helped to pay or perhaps pay the NAFTC to put on a very comprehensive first responder training program. As many of us, Rita you were there. And by the way, outstanding job you did over this crisis.
And it's really a comprehensive program that really needs a way to get out from various groups around the country. I've been involved in several conference calls lately where they're doing their own thing. It just—once you lose control of this you don't know what's being taught to who and all that sort of thing.
So I would really encourage the Department of Energy to find a way to really perhaps put on the Clean Cities a little funding help because it really has to do with the books and that sort of thing. We can do pretty well all the rest of it and make it part of our program that we do one of these a year or two of these a year because then our video that we shared with Clean Cities TV.
Here's that Riverside county guy looking right in the camera saying we need this, we didn't know anything about this. Well that's got to be kind of scary. And I think we need to do everything we can do to use Rita's experience and the experience in Arizona to begin to show how vital we can be to getting our first responders not only trained, but how to deal with the fact that maybe all you have is diesel or gasoline vehicles.
What do we do? What resources do we have locally that could help the first responders? I think this is a wonderful webinar. Thank you Linda for putting it on.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Sure well, you know, we're always looking at ways to get more first responders trained and, you know, we'll continue to try to work with the resources that we have to get more of that out there and, you know, we're pretty committed to that.
SANDRA LOI: Next question please.
COORDINATOR: Our next question comes from Michael. Your line is open.
MICHAEL: Hello. Can you hear me? Hello?
MICHAEL: Can you hear me?
WOMAN: Yes we can hear you.
MICHAEL: Okay because I got cut off earlier. This is Mike Suarez with Stillwater Associates. We're a transportation consulting firm and we work with states on their EAPs and most recently I was with—out at the table talk that Bill Sheaffer was talking about.
One of the things that I just wanted to bring to the group was that we have found that table talks which bring together in many cases industry, especially the trucking companies and where they get to meet the state agencies and the emergency responders, is very beneficial to working through some red tape and some obstacles in the heat of the battle.
The other thing I wanted to mention is lots of times these shortages, and sometimes they're just perceived from the gasoline diesel perspective, is that most retail sites run on the bottom of their tanks. It's sort of a just-in-time inventory situation.
So what happens is the trucking industry doesn't have enough trucks to deal with the sudden demand. So what happens is the retail sites runs out of gasoline, that's what causes the shortage. And in 2003 in Phoenix that's what essentially happened.
The terminals had plenty of gas, they had plenty of electricity, but they didn't have enough trucks because there was this unannounced surge. And if as the industry changes with the major oil companies getting out of retail businesses directly, the ordering of gasoline and so forth is done by the individual dealer.
It's not managed from a central location. So that adds to the challenge. So I just wanted to say that we have—as I said, we work with states on kind of figuring this out. And I think that one of the key things is bringing the industry stakeholders to sit down along with the government folks to, you know, break through some of the initial contact barriers to facilitate the response.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: I think those are all great points. And, you know, the situation was a little bit different on the East Coast, but I think your experience on that sounds right on and those are great points. So thank you.
JEFF PILLON: And if I could just add to that. Mike makes some very good points about the importance and value of exercises and the comments earlier about training. I think those are very important activities that need to be sustained on an ongoing basis so that you maintain the working relationship with the folks.
And to the point about inventories, it's very interesting to look at the historical data because at the state level, when you look at the amount of fuel that's kept in primary storage and you look at that in relationship to the volumes that are consumed within the state, the base supply numbers in virtually all state has dwindled to very, very small numbers.
Which means that, as Mike said, if there's any type of disruption or surge in demand because people are panic buying because something's going on, it dries up the system pretty quick. Or even at the higher level if there's a refinery outage or a pipeline disruption there's very little surplus capacity available downstream from those places so things manifest themselves much more rapidly than they have in the past.
MICHAEL: Am I still on the line?
WOMAN: Yes you are.
MICHAEL: I wanted to add, you know, one of the things we learned in the Phoenix exercise is that, and I don't want to be an absolute here, but the day of the press release is quickly dying because of, you know, Facebook and Twitter.
That the message, and again if people would not panic during these extreme weather situations or disruptions, that it would lessen the impact and stretch out the inventory of fuel. So it's important—the other key thing which we work with the state energy offices is having a prepared media plan to sort of dispel, you know, false information and rumors.
And to the credit of the folks in New York, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo, they used Twitter and they used Facebook very effectively to sort of keep a lid on the prices. So I just like to pass that along also.
BILL SHEAFFER: That's an excellent point and that was a, you know, a participant of the panic buying in Phoenix. But as we went through the calculations, even on a good day without surge buying, we have a total of three days supply of fuel and then we're flat out. With surge buying that narrows down to one or two days of flat out running out of fuel.
MICHAEL: Right. And again, I've said this before, I don't want to take up everybody's time, but there's been a key change in the way gasoline businesses run these days. And that, you know, five years ago a major oil company like Mobile or an Exxon or a Shell would control the inventories at the service stations from a central point in the country and they did it by computer.
When the feeds to the satellite, the satellite downloading into a dispatching sort of inventory control process. Well as the major oil companies have divested of the retail business, the individual franchisee or operator does it, you know, the old fashioned way. Picks up the telephone and orders gas and they do it by playing the price game.
So it's not the same. In the old days, five years ago, we could anticipate a storm and we would fill the tanks using the trucks that we had and we would be able to extend the inventory, you know, maybe even a week. But those things don't exist anymore.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Okay. It seems like we've answered—I'm going through the list of questions of people online and I think we've answered most of these, you know, through the answers that have been given so far. So I guess, at this point I'm not sure. Do we have any other phone questions?
COORDINATOR: Yes we do. One more question and it comes from Andrea. Your line is open.
ANDREA: Hi this is Andrea Freedman from New Jersey. Because of the storm many, many vehicles were destroyed from flooding and we would very much like to help fleets, municipal fleets and private fleets replace some of their vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles.
Funding is always the issue, paying the incremental cost. Do you know of any funding resources, FEMA, Department of Energy or others that would be available to help fleets pay the incremental costs for buying clean vehicles rather than the usual?
LINDA BLUESTEIN: I would suggest going on the Clean Cities website and looking at our funding page. It's cleancities.energy.gov. And we have a funding page that lists all current solicitations of that nature that we have available. And right now Clean Cities itself is not in a funding cycle where it's offering programmatic funding for these types of purchases.
But, you know, and keep tuned and in the future we may have some opportunities coming up but then we'll probably do a solicitation next year. I can't comment on it or say what it will be but just, you know, keep an eye out for that.
Also, I know DOT and EPA sometimes also has some opportunities as well. But again, a lot of that information would be on our Clean Cities website. And of course the grants.gov website.
RITA EBERT: And Linda if I could just add something. After the storm, NYSERDA was given 100% of the incremental costs for any school buses that were damaged in the storm. So if you went from a diesel to a compressed natural gas or propane they would pay 100% of the incremental costs. So different states have different opportunities. So always check into that.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Yes your state energy office should probably have some information as well.
ANDREA: Good. Thank you so much.
COORDINATOR: We have one more question. One moment. Thomas your line is open.
THOMAS: Hi good afternoon. I'm wondering if there's a reference that lists cities that are most prepared for natural disasters that would affect those areas where we can look to those who are most prepared and learn by lesson or learn by what they are—what actions they're taking to be in this most prepared state. Is there some reference that is offered through Clean Cities or some other area where we can look to get help from these people who have taken it upon themselves to really do this?
LINDA BLUESTEIN: You know, we've never done a scoring of cities like that. This is really kind of an area that's just been brought up as a result of Hurricane Sandy. But if Jeff is still on it would be great to hear from him if he knows of anything like that.
JEFF PILLON: Yes. Just a comment on that, because of the unique nature of states and cities, they all have very different kinds of needs. So what's a really great plan for one community might not be such a great plan for another community.
And this also depends on the nature of the hazards that present themselves within those communities. I mean, some communities have the greatest threats due to, you know, wildfires or flooding or hurricanes or tornadoes or, you know, other kinds of events.
And so it's very hard to necessarily make really good judgements about any given plan. But I can tell you that the work that was done in the 43 cities that were part of the local energy assurance program provided some really good insights into things you can do to be better prepared.
That work was supported by the Public Technology Institute and they have a website called energyassurance.us and I believe they have links to their local energy assurance planning guide which is sort of a parallel document to the state energy assurance planning guidance that NASEO produced. And I would suggest you take a look there. And if you need more information than that, please feel free to, you know, contact me directly.
THOMAS: Thank you very much Jeff. I did—I was specific in my question about natural disasters that are specific to different areas. The Midwest the tornadoes, extreme weather. The North, Northeast with extreme weather conditions.
The Southern areas with hurricanes. I just felt that if there were some, and I felt if there was some reference—there's a hundred cities that can share information or at least know to find some helpful information by other cities that have taken this more on as a serious activity around in those different pathways of those specific problems. So I got your answer. Thank you very much.
LINDA BLUESTEIN: Okay I think we're about at the time that we're going to wrap up. I really appreciate everyone sticking in there. I think it's a really interesting conversation and we'll be continuing to update, you know, people on it and work with our Clean Cities Coalitions as things come up and take the lessons learned and distribute them through webinars and maybe at some of our meetings.
But I'd also like to let you know that, you know, if you're interested in this we are—we do have a webinar recording that will be posted on the Clean Cities website within the week. And also in the webinar archives section. So that's on cleancities.energy.gov.
And I really appreciate all of the speakers. You did a fantastic job talking about your respective issues and look forward to collaborating with you more on this area in the future as things come up. Thanks.
COORDINATOR: This concludes today's conference call. Thank you for participating. You may disconnect at this time.