Ecofest Report: Renewable energy seminar
Thanks to the mobile Internet, I'm writing you from the 2006 New York Ecofest. Billed as "the largest environmental event on the East Coast," there's a wide range of exhibitors featuring lifestyles and products focused on the conservation of natural resources and alternative energy technologies.
My focus here today is the Sources of Energy Other Than Oil (SEOTO) Exposition. Exhibitors this year include Myers Motors, the U.S. Postal Service, Beaver Energy, Ford, Segway, Bicy-taxi, Genasun, the Vehicle Design Summit at MIT and the University of Toronto's Blue Sky Solar Racing Team.
A bit more about the exhibitors later. I just walked out of a seminar titled Getting Rid of Foreign Oil: The Future of Solar and Renewable Energy. The panel of speakers consisted of Steven Blinder, president of Bicy-taxi; Andreas Marouchos, managing director of the Blue Sky Solar Team at the University of Toronto; and Mark Simon, the director of the NYC Department of Transportation Alternative Fuels Program.
The seminar seemed to be directed more at those who were a bit less informed than the typical AutoblogGreen reader, but they hit on a few interesting points. Mr. Simon in particular discussed the role of the NYC DOT Alternative Fuels Program. He said they mostly write grants and work with companies researching, developing and implementing alternative fuel vehicles.
Here are some facts and figures about New York. Currently, New York City has 800 compressed natural gas (CNG) and 275 hybrid transit buses in operation. The City Department of Sanitation (DOS) runs 26 CNG trucks including street sweepers and has the first six E85 pumps in the city. The DOS will also be evaluating the use of biodiesel in its fleet. NYC currently has the largest municipal fleet of hybrid vehicles in the country with over 1000 sedans. The state of New York has implemented a CNG fueling network for state vehicles yet many of the sites are open to the public.
In the question and answer portion of the seminar, I asked Mr. Simon what impact the NY DOT Alternative Fuels Program has on the types of fuels New York's gas stations offer and whether or not he sees E85 as a viable alternative for New York. His answer was that as a government institution they have very little say in what gas stations offer other than being a "cheerleader to promote alternative fuels." While he does believe that E85 will eventually become a notable option for consumers in New York City, he doesn't think this will happen until New York State begins more production of its own ethanol as he mentions that driving the ethanol in from the Midwest is costly.
I'll have more about the exhibitors in subsequent posts, but right now I have to finish uploading this before my laptop battery dies. Oh, and I forgot to bring my digital camera adapter, so I'll put up the pics later, too.
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