Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* Power vs. Congestion: Last week’s list of newly available Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) includes a Draft EIS for the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting MAGLEV Project; well, really, a proposed project since there’s no construction money.  In fact, time goes faster than this train: this Draft study appears 15 years after the 2005 federal transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU) authorized a 240 mph MAGLEV project.  One section deals with energy impacts.  There’s plenty of juice available to get this bad boy smokin’.  DOT estimates that even during acceleration the train’s demand would be equivalent to 0.02% of PJM’s total generation capacity.  But a big potential problem?  Transmission!  Current infrastructure may not be adequate to handle power draws, particularly during peak demand, say, 4:00 to 6:00 pm when everyone wants to get home and everyone who’s already home is either turning up the heat or turning down the AC.  Progress, it’s difficult.

* Driving the future: The Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) is seeking public comments on the newly developed “Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan (Comprehensive Plan)” that describes how DOT is working towards safe integration of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) into the surface transportation system. The Plan explains Departmental goals related to ADS, identifies actions being taken to meet those goals, and provides real world examples of how DOT’s actions relate to emerging ADS applications. Comments are due March 21.  This is a big-picture, high-level approach.  DOT notes that the deployment of ADS-equipped vehicles, outside of small pilots, remains years away.  DOT wants to stay ahead of this technology.  The Plan seeks to address near-term needs while laying the groundwork that can accommodate longer-term changes.

* Ohio renaissance (hopefully…): DOE is partnering with Youngstown State University and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance workforce development for the battery manufacturing industry. This $1 million project will help develop the Energy Storage Workforce Innovation Center. This new training center would support the battery and EV manufacturing industry in the North-East region of Ohio – referred to as “Voltage Valley” due to the number of investments made in the area by the electric vehicle industry – by helping supply a capable workforce.  This effort supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, an extensive research effort that includes DOE’s National Laboratories, universities, and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies. The Energy Challenge has a great tag line: “Innovate Here, Make Here, and Deploy Everywhere.”

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