Emory Report

July 26, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 36

DOE grant to help electrify University Apartments deck

When the University Apartments parking deck opens its arms sometime next summer, it will be fitted not only with quick-charging stations for the fleet of seven electric shuttles running back and forth to campus, but also with up to 50 individual chargers for those who drive their own electric vehicles to campus.

Emory, along with Georgia Power and Clean Cities Atlanta, recently won a $225,000 grant from the Department of Energy (administered by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority) for the "Emory University Electric Eagle Project," the name the University assigned to its electric vehicle program for grant application purposes. The money is packaged in an 80 percent-20 percent matching grant-Emory's portion is basically figured into the parking deck's construction costs. Georgia Power and Clean Cities Atlanta will offer in-kind services for their part, including the installation of the charging stations at the UA deck.

Cheryle Crumley, director of alternative transportation, said she hopes to use the DOE money to purchase up to four fast-charging stations for the shuttle buses. These units are capable of refueling a bus up to full charge within 15 minutes, she said. She added that the University is currently exploring funding options for the shuttles themselves.

The rest of the money will be used for individual charging stations, available to anyone who comes to the University. "They can support well over 100 electric vehicles on campus," Crumley said. "Anyone who comes to Emory in an electric car can park in that deck while they're doing business and have their vehicle recharged while they're here."

With the rate Emory gets from Georgia Power for electricity, the cost for refueling an electric vehicle would be minimal, according to Crumley. "We're talking cents here," she said. President Bill Chace's electric sport utility vehicle notwithstanding, not too many people own electric cars right now, so Emory's electric deck is more an investment in the future.

"The bottom line is the technology and the infrastructure will be there," Crumley said. "Once the community gets to a point where there is a demand, we will already have the supply there. We probably won't just open the deck up to let anybody in, but we will make it available somehow."

It is exactly the kind of program the DOE wanted to help. Emory's grant is part of nearly $17 million in federal funding recently awarded to 45 states and the District of Columbia for 168 projects that "will help improve energy efficiency of schools, homes and office buildings," according to a release.

"These grants underscore the productive relationship between the Department of Energy and state energy offices around the country," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "I am pleased we were able to fund solid, important projects which will help create a cleaner environment and a stronger economy through the increased use of energy-efficient technologies."

Washington is not the only capitol where air quality problems are being discussed. The Federal Highway Administration has asked all Atlanta-area organizations involved in air quality and traffic congestion issues (including the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association) to gather and share their programs and information. Crumley, who serves as executive director of the Clifton TMA, said the highway asministration plans to analyze how federal dollars for air quality improvements and traffic mitigation are being used.

"The meetings have been formative, foundational," she said. "They're basically going to set the pace for how employer-based commuter programs will evolve in the future and how this will be reported. As air quality and traffic congestion awareness increases in Atlanta between government agencies, employers and individuals, there is a need for us to get together and evaluate what we've done and collaborate on what we'd like to do."

--Michael Terrazas

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