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Alexandria's Energy Future
Transcript of Alexandria's Energy Future
Transfer Task 3
Alexandria's Energy Future
Hybrid Buses (continued)
If we want to keep our city green for a longer period of time we need to find an alternate source of electricity to power our city. Our plan is to use solar panels. Solar panels would be the way that we want to produce electricity for Alexandria. Right now we mostly burn coal to make our electricity, but coal is very harmful to the environment and if we continue to use so much coal we will really start to destroy our air quality. Alexandria gets enough sunlight to make solar panels produce reasonable amounts of energy and instead of putting solar panels in one big field and having them take up a lot of space, we're planning on putting them on the roofs of Alexandria which already have ready made spaces for solar panels. We are planning to first run all the Alexandria government's electricity needs off of solar panels on government buildings and then possibly start running houses off of them too. in 2010 * The Alexandria government used 56,402,562 kWh of electricity in all. It used 10,389,930 kWh for street and traffic lighting. If we can get most if not all of that energy to be solar we would have an environmentally green government.
So, with some sacrifices from the budget and no small amount of change, We could make Alexandria a greener city with a brighter future. More accessible, quieter cleaner and more fuel efficient buses and efficient solar panels that give our city energy from an inexhaustible resource. Our plans will probably make both stakeholders happy and the budget reasonable. All our plans involve taking action over a few years so that we can balance environmental improvement and budget reality. There will be costs, but the budget is easier to recover than air quality. Even if things are a little tight in transportation one year there is always the next year and the year after that and in the long run it will be better to have air to breathe and water to drink than money to save. With a slow but steady form of change we can count on having an Alexandria to be proud of in our city's energy future.
Today Alexandria city is a fairly large city, home to over 147,000 people and built on 15 square miles. Within it we have river shores, a down town area, historical sites and suburban neighborhoods. It is our city and we are proud of it. however, since we have a large city, especially one so close to a river with it comes challenges and responsibility. The way we use resources and get our electricity so it doesn't directly affect the environment is a challenge. Our choices about how and where to get our energy could end up polluting the Potomac river or the air around us. We are extremely close to many other cities and our choices affect them as well. Knowing how to draw the line between what's good for our budget and what's good for the environment is important. Our future is something else that we always need to think about. Now, we need to make a plan so that, years later, we can still be proud of our city. We can make a plan that will bring a greener, wiser and more prepared Alexandria so that we can be ready for what the future holds.
Greener Public Transportation
Our Conservation Strategy
Why Solar Power
How does your own energy use affect your decisions?
Our conservation strategy is about public transport and how we can encourage people to ride the DASH buses which will lower the amount of cars people drive giving us better air quality. Every year someone boards the DASH bus and pays a fair almost four million times.There are 74 DASH buses owned by the city and they're picking up over ten thousand passengers a day. That's a lot and it shows that our city already has a great mode of public transportation in place, but we need to make that transportation used even more often and we want to make it greener transportation as well.
The DASH bus system takes in $6,080,000 in fares every year. We want to give people plastic cards for the bus. We would put a little scanner in the front of the bus and every time you wanted to ride you could scan your card and the bus would take the money. It's like the metro cards we already have except it would last a pretty long time and for every five times you used your card you would get one free ride on the bus. That would cost the city $1,216,000 per year in a loss of fares, but more people would ride the bus that way because it would be a better deal. We could also charge thirty dollars to buy the card in the first place. If the card lasted a couple of years people would realize that it is worth it. If half the people in Alexandria bought one of the cards the government would earn $2,205,000 which would be enough money to make up for the loss. We could make cards that would need to be renewed every two years so that we would still make plenty of money. You would have to put money on the card to pay for the other bus rides, but that is just like any other metro card. Another downside is that it will lower the amount of fare sales however it will encourage more people to ride so will even itself out in the long run.
Historic Old Town Alexandria
Northern Virginia Area
http://www.ballard.com/fuel-cell-applications/bus.aspx - Fuel Cell Buses
4%20Approved%20-%20Sec.%2018%20-%20Public%20Works.pdf- Alexandria's Budget
Eco punch cards-http://secureidnews.com/news-item/smart-cards-replace-bus-passes-and-punch-cards-denver/
This link has some basic things about how much energy solar panels can produce.
There is a scanner like this in every bus that DASH has. All we would need to do to start using the new cards so we would be able to pay someone to reprogram the scanners a little. That wouldn't cost too much and it would last as long as people were still using the cards. This new bus card would benefit DASH because more people would ride and the local air quality wouldn't get as bad which would make health administrators happy. The only other problem that could arise would be if nobody buys the cards, but we could advertise in metro stations and on buses and it seems like a good deal to have a fifth of your rides for free for a full two years. Next we will discuss how DASH buses themselves could be made more efficient while we stay within our budget.
Metro Bus Route
Hybrid buses are energy saving and air quality improving. Their exhaust fumes are 50% less then other buses and they are silent and peaceful on the road. What is a hybrid bus?
Hybrid means that the buses run on electric power and when that power runs out they run on gas. They are easy to charge overnight and as a backup they can run on gasoline. Hybrid buses can also produce electricity for themselves using friction from the brakes. New policies demand that we need a new choice to decrease environmental impact. Hybrid buses fit these needs. Hybrid buses are the right choice for our city because they are easily maintained and silent on the road.
Our Alternate Energy Plan
Hybrid Electric Bus
There are several different ways to produce electricity from renewable resources. There are wind turbines, hydroelectric turbines, geothermal power plants and even nuclear power plants, so why solar panels?
Our main reason that we chose solar panels is because of how unobtrusive they are. Solar panels on roofs take very little space and roofs are generally out of the way. Wind turbines and hydroelectric plants need space that is sometimes hard to find enough of.
Solar panels also cause practically no pollution. If you have the money to install them, once they're up that's it. They don't tap into resources in a way that would damage the resources at all.
Solar panels cost very little to operate. Again, once they are installed the only cost that might start a show up would be to have someone check on them to make sure they're working or paying citizens to put them on their roofs (more on that later.)
Our last point is that Alexandria is a good place for solar panels. We get a reasonable amount of sun at any given time of year. We won't brake any records for most sunlight,, but most solar panels only need about five hours of light a day which we have, even in the winter. Other means of making power might not be so definitely plausible. For example, to build a hydroelectric plant you need a significant change in water elevation to run the turbines. The closest thing we have to that is great falls, which isn't even owned by our city and is a protected natural resource.
The Impact of Hybrid Electric buses on stakeholders
The impact of hybrid electric buses on stakeholders would vary. On one hand change, especially big change like a new kind of bus , will be hard to handle and to pay for the new buses we may have to raise bus fares by about ten cents or so, but on the other hand, hybrid buses are quieter so they would cause less of a disruption to people's day to day lives. They are very environmentally friendly so cleaner air and a quieter street would probably be worth the trade off. I think residents would be all right with paying just a little extra to get a cleaner bus.
*that is the most recent time that you can find information for most government related things
In 2013 we had a budget of 9,821,468 for DASH. In that year we used 89% of that budget, $8,734,780 in all. That gives us loosely 1,086,000 to work with. We want to buy enough hybrid buses for Alexandria so that we can turn the entire fleet of DASH buses into hybrid buses. This will not be done in a year. There are 74 DASH buses and we want to replace all of them so it will take many years to pay for the buses. The hybrid buses we want to buy are $540,000 a piece. This is in contrast to our $300,000 buses we have now. The only way we will be able to pay for the hybrid buses is if we sell the buses we want to replace and if we raise the bus fare $0.10. By selling the buses we would generate $50,000 per bus and if we replace 3 buses every year that's $150,000. We can use that money to buy three buses. And, if we also raise the bus fare $0.10 we will make about $340,000 dollars every year that can be put towards new hybrid buses. Once we get the $150,000 and $340,000 dollars from one year we can start to buy our buses. All together the cost of the buses would be $1,620,000 from the DASH budget. This is without the extra money from the raised fare and the selling of used buses. Now if we take out the money we made from the raised fare and the used buses we would have to get 1,130,000 of of the DASH budget to pay for the hybrid buses. This is approximately the amount of money we have to spend and will fit into our budget fine. It will take about 25 years to transform our DASH buses into hybrid buses and if we end up not having enough money in our budget as it may change we can take the money out of the environmental budget because hybrid buses are environmental.
The DASH Bus Budget
The average hybrid electric bus costs $540,000 and we have 74 buses in the Alexandria DASH fleet. If we were to buy enough Hybridrive hybrid electric buses (Hybridrive is the brand we decided on) the cost would cost $39,960,000. As you know we don't have that kind of money, but lets consider what we could do to get it. The Hybridrive bus uses up to 50% less gas than the average diesel bus and have half as much air pollution as the average diesel bus. It would be worth it to get to least half of our DASH buses to be hybrid ones. If we were going to buy a new bus we would have to sell the old one. To buy hybrid buses it would be a lot of pinching and stretching to get enough money, but over a long term hybrid buses start giving back. In their lifetime they can make up about $200,000 because you have to buy less gas for them so budget sacrifices would be worth it if we could get cleaner, quieter and gas saving hybrid buses.
As you can see, buses emit a lot less gas than taxis and taxis would be the same as most regular cars.
The solar panels system we want to use.
This is a diagram explaining a solar panel system.
Example of solar panels on large building
This graph shows electricity and natural gas costs for the city of Alexandria. Right now Alexandria's city buildings are primarily run on Natural Gas though the amount is being lowered each year due to energy savings, our energy program review etc. By switching our city buildings to primarily solar power we can have Natural Gas as it is a nonrenewable resource.
Budget for Rooftop Solar Panels
The model of solar panel we would like to buy is item 1890405. This model is a grid tied solar panel that can connect to other solar panels across the city and fuel different buildings. These solar panels are made up of 20 smaller solar panels. This model generates 670 kWh per month per solar unit if it gets five hours of sunlight a day. One unit costs $8,030 but after it's been installed it takes no time to operate for the next 25 years. We need 42,921,629 kWh of energy to fuel city buildings and street and traffic lights so that means we need 5,338 solar units. Together all of those units will cost $42,864,140. We have to keep in mind that we will need to pay people to install these solar panels on the rooftops of Alexandria's city buildings. The environmental budget for Alexandria that the solar panels fall into is 97 million dollars per year. Theoretically we could buy all of the solar panel units we need in the first year. But, it's a lot safer to spread out our purchases. We can buy all of the solar panels over 4 years by paying $10,716,035 per year. We have to keep in mind that we will need to pay people to install these solar panels on the rooftops of Alexandria's city buildings. We are able to pay someone a million dollars a year to install one round of solar panels. This plan fits in with the budget and is reasonable.
Remember that the solar panels can last for 25 years with barely any maintenance? Well if we stick to the energy plan we are using presently it will cost $94,118,150 for electricity to fuel public buildings. 42 million for solar panels and 94 million for our present plan. That's a big difference! Solar panels will help us financially in the long run.
Solar Panels Affecting Stakeholders
Potential Problems with Rooftop Solar Panels
The two main problems that could come from installing a large number of rooftop solar panels are these. If solar panels started to break and needed maintenance or if there were not enough government buildings to put enough solar panels on the roofs. Providing maintenance for the solar panels wouldn't be very hard. All that we would need to do would be to hire an electrician for ten or fifteen thousand dollars and have them fix what needed to be fixed. We would be saving enough money from the change to solar power that paying for occasional maintenance wouldn't be a big deal.
Although fitting all the solar panels on government buildings shouldn't be a problem because we can use any building owned by the building including schools, city hall and rec centers, it is always good to have a backup plan. If we needed a little extra space for those 5,338 panels we could offer home owners an local businesses a deal If they would allow the city to install a couple of panels on their roofs, all expenses payed. Then that home or business would receive $60 a month and any left over energy the government didn't need for free. This isn't the best deal, but there are probably some people who would take it. This way the city would still save $2.81 per month electricity from that house or business. That isn't much, but the energy would still be totally emissions free and keeping local air and environmental quality high is worth it.
As students we are stakeholders and I think we would all be proud to have a city whose government is run entirely off solar panels. Residents would probably think that installing solar panels would be a good use of their tax dollars because in the long run it would keep their air clean. If stakeholders could chose to make a small profit off solar panels the city had installed on their roofs would be a good thing for residents and business people to have. I think people would glad that they wouldn't have to install solar panels themselves or change the appearance of their own homes, but they could still have a greener city. Maybe even, if stakeholders saw the benefits of efficient solar panels they would install some for themselves, making our city even greener.
This shows the amount of money we spend on electricity every year for Alexandria's city buildings.
As citizens of Alexandria we definitely think about how we use energy when we think about how the city uses energy. As students we travel a lot, getting to school and after school activities. It would be nice to have a more environmental and easy way to do that so that is part of the reason why we're interested in making it easier and cleaner to ride the bus. We also use a lot of electricity at home. We turn on lights and watch TV and play video games every day. Our energy use effects our decisions by enabling us to think about what we contribute to the environment and how we can make a difference. We know that if we leave the lights on in the house our energy bill is going to go up and it will be a waste of electricity. This project has made us even more aware of that because now we really know how much electricity we use. We can make an effort to reduce how much extra energy we use and we want our city to also. That is why we wanted to buy solar panels to power government buildings. If we make an effort to make our city greener and the government makes an effort to make the city greener than together we can really accomplish something.
By Janelle, Karina, Lydia and Kelly