Author Archives: Stacy Wallace

A Difference You Can See!

“Thayer Energy Solutions completed the final phase of our upgraded lighting project at the Top of the Block and we are thrilled with the results.  We achieved an energy reduction of 84%, a simple payback of 1.6 years and an annual savings of $15,345!”

Rick Beale, VP, COO Anderson Automotive Group

The Thayer Difference

“Thayer provided a free assessment and presented three options to fix the problem.  They also tapped into incentives and reduced our cost for the upgrade.  Our facility looks great and we are saving about $200 a month in electrical bills!”

Kurt Broski, CPA, CEO Entre Computer Solutions

Is the Electric Vehicle Revolution Really Going to Happen?

Sometimes progress seems like a juggernaut; sometimes a shining example of technological progress turns out to be a diversion.  In light of recent events, it’s worth asking: Which of these categories do electric vehicles fit into?

We say “in light of recent events” because some headlines have cropped up that detract from the sunny optimism common among electric vehicle (EV) supporters in the past 2 to 3 years. Let’s review those, but also review other, quieter events that indicate EV’s are here to stay, and already making a sizable impact.

Negative Indications

Recent developments include canceled vehicles, trouble at the biggest name in EV’s, and failure by the government to make important incentives a reality.

This month, Ford stopped sales of the Mach-E Mustang EV, because of a fault that could cause its electric motors to suddenly switch off. This comes after Ford shut down Mach-E ordering earlier this year. Ford also (in late 2021) canceled a joint vehicle project with the EV manufacturer Rivian.

But this story is a mix of good and bad news. The fault in the car can be fixed via recall and appears to be a factory problem rather than a design flaw. And the reason Ford stopped orders in the past? Demand for the car was so high that with current supply chain difficulties, Ford can’t keep up with orders. Meanwhile, the Rivian project was just one effort the companies were exploring, and its cancellation is not a strong negative indicator for either company, much less the whole industry.

Tesla has run into embarrassing public relations difficulties. Though Tesla EV’s are still the most famous example of the technology, antics by CEO Elon Musk, legal problems resulting from racist activities by some employees at their plants, and questions about how and when their Autopilot technology acts to avoid accidents have marred the brand’s image. On top of those problems, the media continues to refer to Teslas that have been in an accident while Autopilot is engaged as “self-driving,” when the cars were actually human-controlled.

Concerns about government incentives are rising. The Build Back Better bill, which included specific tax incentives for EV’s, failed to pass and is likely dead. Most analysts predict a GOP takeover of the House and Senate in 2022, and though voters from both parties tend to be personally supportive of EV’s, Republican politicians have blasted these incentives as wasteful spending.

Positive Indications

While obstacles exist, we remain confident that the EV fleet will continue to grow rapidly. Among the reasons for that confidence:

EV sales and demand remain high, with sales doubling in 2021. Keep in mind that sales in 2020 were one of the few bright spots in the pandemic and shocked many analysts. Supply chain issues that are holding back sales are mainly related to the pandemic, and each day moves them further toward resolution.

Corporate adoption is growing. Household name companies—including Comcast, DHL, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Ikea, Pepsi, and even Waste Management—are converting to electric fleets. Amazon plans to purchase 100,000 EV delivery vans.

Automakers are betting on EV viability. Every major vehicle manufacturer now offers multiple EV’s in their lines, and some of the world’s largest (such as Ford, GM, and Volkswagen) have committed to only offering EV’s by 2035. No one knows the markets better than them.

EV uses tech and infrastructure that are already available. Mass market gasoline engines are as efficient as they can be, and widespread fleet conversion to something like hydrogen, LP gas or fuel cells would require massive new infrastructure. Electrical infrastructure already crisscrosses the nation.

Texas is betting big. In oil-rich and culturally conservative Texas, the state Department of Transportation has just announced a plan to place charging stations every 50 miles along major state highways and interstates, then place them in rural areas throughout the state within five years. Each station will feature multiple stalls with high-power fast chargers.

Texans are making this choice in part because of funding in the infrastructure bill, but also because they expect the EV fleet in the state to grow from less than 130,000 to more than a million in that time. The Texas EV fleet has already tripled since 2020.

Your Partner

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of fleet conversions, EV adoption, and charging stations? We have experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions at 815-282-1112 today, and together we’ll find the best ways to profit from this revolution.

Thayer Shows Off Your True Colors

“Thanks to Thayer, our gym has never shown our colors like they do now.  The new lighting has brought an additional sense of pride to our students, faculty, and community.”

Mike Prestegaard, Director of Maintenance, Winnebago Schools CUSD 323

Infrastructure for a Better Fleet – Preparing Your Facility for Conversion to Electric Vehicles

As the green revolution picks up steam, household name companies – including Comcast, DHL, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Ikea, Pepsi, and even Waste Management – are converting their fleets to electric vehicles, or EV’s.  Amazon is making perhaps the biggest EV bet, with a plan to purchase 100,000 EV delivery vans.  Others such as AT&T and Best Buy are using hybrids to reduce their emissions.

Does EV conversion make sense for your business? One important thing to consider is the charging infrastructure you’ll need to operate an electric-powered fleet.

Do EV’s Fit Your Operation?

Range is arguably the most important consideration for anyone adopting EV’s. Fortunately, ranges are constantly increasing, and most commercial vehicles drive relatively short distances in a local area.

Fleets with these characteristics are excellent candidates for conversion:

  • Vehicles return to and remain in the same location for long periods.
  • Daily mileage does not exceed the vehicle range of the vehicle, requiring recharging during service hours.
  • Stop-and-go traffic. Surprisingly, this is actually a benefit, because regenerative braking can add charge to the vehicle as it drives.

If your fleet does not experience significant daily downtime, you may need to either convert to hybrids or use Level 3 fast chargers.

Charging Levels and Infrastructure

Let’s review the charger types, what fleet uses they work best with, and what infrastructure changes you will need to implement. EV charging is divided into three distinct levels. At each level, more power is delivered to the vehicle’s battery more quickly, and more robust equipment is required.

Level 1—The Wall Socket Charger

This type connects the vehicle to a standard 120 volt 3-prong wall outlet and delivers the power for about 3-5 miles of range per hour of charging.

Infrastructure Changes: Either none, or addition of standard “house wiring” and grounded outlets to equipment bays.

Fleet Uses: Though the investment is very low, this type can realistically only be used with vehicles that drive less than 40 miles per day and then can charge overnight for 8 hours. They may also make sense for use with plug-in hybrids.

Level 2—Wall Mounted Stations

These chargers are often wall-mounted and use 240-volt AC power. They deliver 8 to 65 miles of charge per hour depending on the acceptance rate of the EV, making them a good balance between the need for fast charging and overnight charging.

Infrastructure Changes: Station installation in each vehicle bay or parking area, plus new 240-volt wiring.

Fleet Uses: These chargers are perfect for most fleet uses, where the vehicle travels more than 40 miles per day and can charge for at least a few hours. Their versatility and relatively low cost compared to Level 3 chargers can make it worth the investment to install them at the homes of workers who take their vehicle home each day.

Level 3—DCFC

This type is the one most often seen by the public, along with some level 2 chargers and tends to vaguely resemble a slender gas pump. Like gas pumps, they are commonly found at commercial locations near highways because they are the best option for long-distance travel. They convert 240-volt or 480-volt AC power to DC for faster charging and deliver about 250 miles of charge per hour.  Cars like the KIA EV6 will charge 80% in about 18 minutes.

Infrastructure Changes: Station installation in each vehicle bay or parking area, plus new 240-volt or 480-volt wiring. These stations cost more than Level 2’s, but for operational reasons (see below) you will likely need fewer of them.

Fleet Uses: It may make more sense for your fleet to use chargers at commercial locations to “top off” if they are driving long distances and/or have little or no daily downtime. This will usually be more cost-effective than installing a full set of DCFC chargers at your facility, but it will be wise to install some DCFC chargers for use by vehicles as they return to base temporarily during work shifts.

Your Partner

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of fleet conversion and charging stations? Thayer Energy Solutions has experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch at 815-282-1112 today, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.

Choosing a Partner for Your Charging Station Project

You’ve watched the electric vehicle (EV) revolution take off, and you’ve decided you want to be part of it with EV charging stations.  The question is, how do you choose the right partner to get them installed and maximize your ROI?

Let’s review a few best practices for choosing the right EV station partner.

Look for experienced companies

New technologies always attract neophytes. A few are fly-by-night, but most are legitimate startups launched by fans of the new tech who want to ride the wave. The problem is there’s no substitute for experience with construction, power, and emerging technologies. Make sure your shortlist only includes companies that were installing power systems long before the first Tesla rolled out.

Evaluate them as you would any other contractor

Installing charging stations is a new type of project, but it’s still an improvement to your business by a contractor. Use the same practices you would use to evaluate a remodeler or electrician:

  • Get multiple quotes.
  • Check references carefully.
  • Inquire if they use subcontractors, and if so, about their oversight process.
  • Check the warranties on their work and beware of loopholes.
  • Choose a company that will handle permits and other paperwork with local authorities.

Choose a partner who knows the incentives and costs

Governments and manufacturers are eager to increase the number of charging stations available, and are providing rebates, incentives, etc. to help you add them to your business sites. The problem is that just with other green incentives, there are a wide range of different sources, benchmarks, qualifications, and application procedures. Governments and large corporations love their paperwork!

Your installation contractor should be a partner in navigating this territory, helping you realize the best possible return on your dollar. It’s wise to choose an installer with long-term renewable energy and/or green technology experience. The more experience they have dealing with the ins-and-outs of these programs, the more likely you are to maximize your ROI.

Choose a partner who knows a wide range of markets

One of the best upsides of the electric vehicle revolution is that since cars and trucks are something nearly everyone uses, those who serve electric vehicles will be serving a large and growing customer base that will soon include customers from nearly all walks of life. The catch to that is that when installing a product that will help serve that market, you’ll need a partner who understands them, and your goals.

Those you serve with a charging station could include single family homeowners, condo or apartment renters, business tenants, fleet operators of nearly any type, shoppers, restaurant patrons, moviegoers…the list goes on. An installation partner who has helped a wide range of businesses serve their customers better will help you serve these customers well.

Choose a local partner

By definition the market you serve with your charging stations will be a local one, so you should choose a local company as your partner in serving them. They should know not only the local markets you serve, but the ins and outs of local contracting regulations, codes, permitting, etc.

In our increasingly connected world, buying equipment or even seeking advice from outside the region makes a certain kind of sense. But the energy revolution is an ongoing process. For that reason, it makes even more sense to have a partner who can visit your site easily, answer concerns as they come up, and give you the best advice after seeing “the lay of the land” in person.

Need a local partner for your project? We’d like you to consider Thayer Energy Solutions. We have decades of experience with LED’s, solar installation, Electric Vehicle Chargers and other energy-saving technology, know how to navigate the jungle of incentives, and are right here in your region. Get in touch at 815-282-1112 and let’s see what we can do together!

Charging Station Basics: Equipment, Incentives, and More

electric vehicle charger plugged into car

In previous articles we explored why adding electric vehicle charging stations to your business sites is a profitable idea, but what about the actual equipment and installation process?  Let’s review the most important points.

Plugs and Adapters – From Complex to Simple

One common misconception about EV charging is that each vehicle can only charge at certain stations because of a variety of plugs, voltage, etc. Fortunately, the reality is more simple.

The main charging plug in North America is the SAE J1772. Designed as a standard by the Society of Automotive engineers, this plug comes in a 5-pin basic form for cars that charge from alternating current (AC) and a 7-pin Combined Charging System (CCS) form for cars that use direct current (DC) fast charging. This second type was adopted by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Porsche, Volvo, and Volkswagen for the 2012 model year and beyond.

A less common option is the CHAdeMO plug, used mainly on some Japanese and French models. CHAdeMO only provides DC fast charging.

What does this mean for those providing charging stations for the public? Most public stations feature both types of plugs, and though Tesla cars use a different plug, the company provides an adapter (at no charge) that allows drivers to connect their car to a J1772 station.

Charging Levels and Physical Forms

EV charging is divided within the industry into three distinct levels. At each level, more power is delivered to the vehicle’s battery more quickly, and more robust equipment is required.

Level 1—This type of charger connects the vehicle to a standard 120 volt 3-prong wall outlet and is included here for completeness. A Level 1 charger delivers the power for about 5 miles of range per hour of charging.  It’s best for private commuter vehicles that can be charged overnight.

Level 2—These stations are often wall-mounted and use 240-volt AC power. Homeowners often install a Level 2 charger to give them more flexibility in how they use their EV. They deliver 25 to 60 miles of charge per hour, making them a good balance between the need for fast charging and overnight charging.

Level 3 (DCFC) —This type of station is the one most often seen by the public and tends to vaguely resemble a thin gas pump. Like gas pumps, they are commonly found at commercial locations near highways because they are the best option for long-distance travel. They convert 240-volt AC power to DC power for fast charging, and deliver about 250 miles of charge per hour.

Evaluating Your Situation

Whether Level 2 or 3 stations make sense for you will depend on what vehicles are being charged, and for what purpose.

 

If you are charging vehicles in your own commercial fleet, Level 2 stations mounted in an indoor bay or dedicated outside parking spaces will suit your needs. Vehicles can be charged overnight, and anytime your drivers return temporarily to your main location. The same applies to locations where tenants will be charging their vehicles. Level 2 chargers will allow apartment residents to charge overnight and allow the employees of companies renting a commercial location to charge their vehicles during the workday.

If you are placing chargers at a commercial business such as a shopping destination, Level 2 chargers will be the most common and Level 3 fast-charging is the best way to serve customers on the go, as they may be on site for only 20 minutes to an hour.

The Incentives

Incentives vary, so it’s best to talk with an experienced partner who can identify the best programs for your situation, but possible incentives include:

  • Government incentives—In the past, the federal government provided a tax rebate of up to $30,000 for installing stations. An effort is being made to renew this and other incentives in a congressional bill this spring. Some state governments also provide incentives.
  • Utility incentives—Some electric utilities offer rebates and other support for new charging stations.

Your Partner

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of installing charging stations? We have experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions today, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.

Charging Stations, Tenants, and You: How Supporting Electric Vehicles Gives You an Edge at Your Property

A transportation revolution is underway, one that will transform almost every vehicle on America’s roads – the conversion to Electric Vehicles (EV’s).

Any major change in consumer behavior is a major opportunity for those who get ahead of the curve. The move to EV’s will create profit opportunities for many commercial enterprises that have never offered services to vehicle owners before.

In the case of residential commercial property, you can provide a crucial service to your tenants by installing EV charging stations in your parking areas. This will help you recruit and retain tenants, with many of them coming from an upscale income bracket.

Let’s review the market potential, the benefits you can receive from charging stations, and the investment involved.

A Surging Market

EV market penetration will surge between now and the end of the decade, due to manufacturer commitment, growing adoption, and government investment.

Manufacturer commitment—Several auto manufacturers (including Ford, GM, Hyundai, and Volkswagen) have committed to producing mostly EV’s by 2035 and have made multibillion dollar investments in development programs. Every major automobile manufacturer is already offering electric vehicles, and nearly two dozen new EV models will debut during the 2022 model year. Vehicles offered now run the gamut from an electric Mercedes-Benz S class to a Ford F150- Lightning truck model, and many cost less than $45,000.

Growing adoption—More and more households are buying EV’s. The fleet increased by 70% in 2020 alone despite total car sales being down almost 15% due to the pandemic. Experts estimate at least 40% of American cars and light trucks will be electric by 2030.

Government Investment—In addition to tax incentives for EV buyers, the federal government has made a major commitment to placing charging stations throughout America, including a network of 500,000 that will follow major highways. This will help increase adoption of EV technology by increasing the range drivers can conveniently travel.

Potential Benefits for Landlords

As electric vehicles move along the usual adoption curve, you’ll have an immediate opportunity and a near-term opportunity, both of which can pay off for years to come.

Immediate upscale tenants—The majority of EV owners earn more than $100,000 per year and have at least a four-year degree, making them the type of affluent customer who can boost profitability for any enterprise. The largest chunk of them (43%) are in their prime earning and spending years, 24-54 years of age. This makes them an excellent target market for upscale residences, and the ability to conveniently charge their vehicle at home will put you a cut above other properties.

Near-term middle-income tenants—As more Americans embrace EV technology (and as EV prices drop precipitously into the same neighborhood as gas vehicles), another, larger potential market of EV-owning tenants is emerging. These tenants will not necessarily be in the six-figure income range but will tend to be in their peak earning years and looking for the convenience of charging their EV right at their residence.

A study by Apartmentdata.com found that 61% of residential renters will pay more to live in an environmentally friendly apartment. If your building is part of the green revolution and also makes their lives easier, you will be able to attract that segment and charge them rent that matches the convenience and social impact you’re delivering for them.

Approximately 10% of parking spaces will need charging stations in the near term, a relatively small commitment.

Making Your Move

If you’re ready to take advantage of this new wave of change, or even just have some questions, Thayer Energy Solutions is glad to be your advisers. Get in touch, and we’ll help you create a strategy to power you to greater profitability.

Attract More Profitable Customers with Charging Stations

Every business chooses a main path to maximized profits.  For some, the strategy is high traffic (perhaps with loss leaders), making up for lower margins with large volumes.  Others serve fewer buyers, but their upscale products maximize the profit from each affluent customer.

What if you could boost your profits by adding a little of both these strategies to your current operation? By installing charging stations for electric vehicles (EV’s), you can bring more customers who have more money to spend. Let’s look at three basic business questions: Is there a market? What is the market’s profit potential? What is the cost to reach and retain them?

Is There a Market?

The market penetration of EV’s is strong and picking up speed. The fleet increased by 70% last year despite total car sales being down almost 15% due to the pandemic. Experts estimate at least 40% of American cars and light trucks will be electric by 2030, and major manufacturers such as Hyundai and Volkswagen have announced they will go full electric by 2035.

All these vehicles will need charging. If you provide charging stations, customers will take advantage of it and of nearby shopping and entertainment opportunities.

What is the Market’s Profit Potential?

The majority of EV owners earn more than $100,000 per year and have at least a four-year degree, making them the type of affluent customer who can boost your profitability. The largest chunk of them (43%) are in their prime earning and spending years, 24-54 years of age. Though the majority of owners are male, a Fuels Institute study found the top demographic is men whose households include a wife and young children, with multiple vehicles.

But you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope these potential customers show up. Charging takes 30 minutes to an hour, with 36 minutes being the average. Emerging research shows that when customers have access to shopping, meals, or entertainment while their car is charging, they spend time and money on those opportunities. For example, Kohl’s and Target found that EV drivers spent more time in the store while charging. Kohl’s customers spent 20 additional minutes; Target customers tripled their time in the store. Kohl’s also found that EV drivers spent at a rate of $1 per minute while they were onsite.

What is the Cost to Reach and Retain Them?

The good news is that the costs are minimal, and may essentially be zero, depending on your circumstances.

  • In areas where EV’s are common, it’s recommended that developers equip 10% of parking spaces to charging stations, a relatively small commitment.
  • EV makers offer apps to their customers that direct them to charging stations, sending them to you.
  • A number of EV manufacturers will install stations for free. This means they make life easier for customers (and sell more cars) while you reap all the benefits without any upfront cost.
  • If you do have upfront expenses, they can be offset by a federal tax rebate for up to 30% of the project cost. Unfortunately, these incentives will end on December 31st of this year (and currently the credit is not included in the new infrastructure bill) so the time to make a move is now.

If you’re ready to take advantage of this new wave of change, or even just have some questions, Thayer Energy Solutions is glad to be your advisers. Get in touch, and we’ll help you create a strategy to power you to greater profitability.

How Electronic Vehicle Charging Stations Can Boost Profit at Your Commercial Property

The single most important change in transportation in 100 years is already happening: The widespread conversion to electric vehicles, or EV’s.

While policymakers are betting on EV’s as a remedy for climate change, the real story is what manufacturers and drivers are doing. For example, Ford has introduced the F-150 Lightning truck, GM has announced a $5 billion development investment, and Volkswagen plans to go electric-only by 2035. Each vehicle manufacturer has EV models on the market or launching soon, and customers who are ready to buy. The EV fleet increased by 70% in 2020 alone and will grow to 115 million vehicles by the end of the decade, with 40-50% market penetration in the US.

Any major change in consumer behavior is an opportunity for those who get ahead of the curve. As a commercial property owner, you can profit from this trend by installing electric vehicle charging stations at your sites.

Retail Properties Can Increase Traffic, with Affluent Customers Brought Right to Them

If you lease space to retail businesses, charging stations can boost their success, and yours. Typically, an electric vehicle will need to charge for at least 30 minutes. Even better, electric vehicle manufacturers supply apps that direct drivers to local charging stations, and the majority of EV owners earn more than $100,000 per year. 

In other words, once you’ve installed charging stations, someone else sends customers to your site who have an above average income and time on their hands. It’s a perfect situation for retail profit.

Residential Landlords Can Attract More Upscale Tenants

As more and more consumers base their purchasing decisions on environmental impact—and as EV’s move through the early adopter stage–they will begin to purchase these cars and choose housing that supports them. Indeed, tenants are already choosing greener rental spaces and condos. For example, 61% of residential renters say they will pay more to live in an environmentally friendly apartment, according to surveys by Apartmentdata.com.

What does this mean for residential landlords? First, it means getting a tenant that won’t choose a building with no charging capability. Second, these tenants have a level of income that makes them an excellent target market for higher end rental properties and single-family homes. All you have to do is make sure you provide a station that will accommodate their vehicle.

Industrial and Office Properties Can Attract New Tenants

As the EV fleet grows, so will the number of them being used in company fleets. Those vehicles will need charging and having those stations available may be the difference between signing or losing a commercial tenant.

Even without fleet vehicles, charging stations make your property more attractive. Business owners and C-suite personnel are in the current target market for electric vehicles, and these leaders are just as eager to go green as residential tenants are. With minimal expense (see below), you can set your property apart.

Now is the Time, and the Investment is Smaller Than You Think

In areas where EV’s are common, it’s recommended that developers equip 10% of parking spaces to charging stations, a relatively small commitment. Plus, A number of EV manufacturers will install stations for free in order to make life easier for their customers and sell more cars. That means you may be able to get all the benefits without any upfront cost.

If you do have upfront expenses, they can be offset by a federal tax rebate for up to 30% of the project cost. Unfortunately, these incentives will end on December 31st of this year, so the time to make a move is now.

If you’re ready to take advantage of this new wave of change, or even just have some questions, Thayer Energy Solutions is glad to be your advisers. Get in touch, and we’ll help you create a strategy to power you to greater profitability.