Story By Chelsea Martin
Photo by Billy Hardiman
In today’s society, there are many who express
concerns about global warming and the up-and-down
cost of gasoline. Not only are individual consumers
catching on to the electric-car buzz, but major
companies are finding themselves embracing the
concept of green, environmentally friendly vehicles.
Although Salt River Project certainly is not
new to the electricity scene, it’s recently found itself
moving enthusiastically toward a movement whose
goal is to minimize the growth of energy costs:
electric plug-in vehicles.
SRP introduced Chevy Volt electric cars to its
fleet back in March.
The initial five Volts were added to SRP’s fleet
as part of a demonstration project with the Electric
Research Institute to help determine the impact
of electric vehicles on the Valley grid,” said Jim
Wood, SRP’s director of transportation.
Although the electric cars are still in a research
stage of being integrated efficiently and broadly into
the company’s daily operations, there is plenty of
optimism and excitement circulating.
“We think it’s a really great technology,” said
Kathy Knoop, senior policy analyst. “SRP has always
been interested in new technology, especially new
technology that involves electricity. These electric
cars consume electricity as their fuel and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Especially the Chevy Volt
because it can go about 36 to 40 miles on a charge,
and it plugs into a standard household 120-volt
The Volt is part of an alternative effort in
the electric car industry where it acts as a hybrid,
seriously minimizing the range anxiety often felt by
owners of vehicles that are strictly electric.
“This kind of car is very versatile because it
has an electric hybrid engine similar to the Prius,”
Knoop said. “Once you consume all the battery power
it switches over to hybrid mode, which allows the
regenerative braking to continue to feed into the
battery power, resulting in great gas mileage.”
Currently, the hybrid Volts are being rotated
throughout the company’s departments to get a
variety of driving distances and habits. As part of
the system, data such as drive time, state of charge,
charging details, trip routes and charging locations
will be collected.
SRP also is increasing its line of new-technology
vehicles with the addition of five new Ford plug-in
hybrid vehicles, three Fusion Energi and two C-MAX
Energi sometime this month. The hybrid Ford’s
battery power range is a little over 20 miles and 450
miles on gasoline.
By 2014, 15 green vehicles are expected to be
SRP invited its employees to engage in the
experiment by allowing them to vote for their favorite
design wrap for the new Ford hybrids. The top five
employee-voted designs will be announced Nov. 7.
While the hybrid cars seem to be gladly
accepted within the SRP community, ongoing
research and review are being conducted on the
other end. Not only is there a team of representatives
from departments throughout SRP collecting and
analyzing data collected from the performance of
the technology; Ford’s Myford mobile app will be
simultaneously collecting rich data for the company
on employee driving and charging habits.
The Myford mobile app also provides drivers
and fleet managers with real time battery charge
status, a vehicle locator and value charging, a process
that allows a car to automatically recharge during
lower cost off peak electricity rates when there is less
strain on the electrical grid.
The goal is to improve electric driving and
charging stations and to advance steadily into the
future of electric hybrid vehicles.
“We approached this to learn more about
the technology and to see that as more and more
people acquire these, how it will possibly impact our
operation,” said John Hetrick, SRP’s manager of
sustainability policy and programs.
“By having both variations of the electric
hybrid cars, it gives us a chance to determine which
driving behaviors will work best with which type of
hybrid car. We want to know how the cars behave
and impact our system by us having a first-hand
experience. We want to be prepared.”