Two quick hits on the current state of and future prospects for electric car adoption: First, Brad Tuttle at Time says the rollout of new models by Chevrolet and Fiat as well as the increased production of batteries should help lower prices and bring more consumers in the market. But, he adds, that won't create a legion of evangelists; too many people are still not looking past the pitfalls of electric-car technology. Secondly, Steve LeVine at Quartz points out that energy giant ExxonMobil is projecting that electric cars will account for a tenth of all sales in 2040.
This year's drought-affected corn harvest is expected to be the smallest in six years but the Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to waive the requirement that gasoline marketers blend ethanol into their products — even though that will account for 42 percent of the entire harvest. That has a lot of people miffed because of the possible effects it could have on the prices of other goods. Count large restaurant chains among them.
The National Council of Chain Restaurants said that under the Renewable Fuels Standard, ethanol is forced to “commandeer a shrunken pool of available corn for food and livestock feed.” In an e-mailed statement, Rob Green, the executive director of the the group, said the law “unfairly distorts the market at the expense of chain restaurants, our consumers and everyone else involved in the food supply chain.”
There, he said it.
Brad Tuttle at Time says the Nissan Leaf all-electric car is "increasingly looking like a flop" as it becomes clear consumers can't get past the car's limited range. Sales are way off last year's pace and trail those of competitors' high-profile hybrid models. Those trends are unlikely to force Nissan execs to make any drastic moves in the near term — too much pride and public money (in the form of a massive Energy Department loan) is on the line — but the long-term future of the Leaf matters big time to Middle Tennessee, and not just because Nissan Americas is headquartered here.
Starting late this year, the company's Smyrna factory will begin cranking out thousands of Leafs and battery packs — up to 150,000 per year if necessary. Those divisions of the factory complex will employ 1,300 people.
Ironically, shortly after we saw Tuttle's report, we received an email from a Nissan PR rep saying the company is "seeking to fill maintenance technician openings at its vehicle assembly and battery plants in Smyrna, Tenn., and at its vehicle assembly plant in Decherd, Tenn." Interested? Go here.
Franklin-based Eco-Energy announced an agreement with NuStar Energy to jointly build an ethanol train and storage facility in Dumfries, Va., south of Washington, D.C. and a few miles north of the Quantico Marine Corps base. The project will have the ability to house 155,000 barrels of ethanol at one time. Construction is expected to start in about a year.
Franklin-based Eco-Energy has renewed its ethanol marketing agreements with ethanol producers in South Dakota and near Buffalo, N.Y. The contract extensions with Redfield Energy and Wester New York are for three years and one year, respectively.
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