Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com December 21, 2011 at 8:34 am 3,502 60 Comments

Shirlington, Pentagon Row to Get Electric Car Chargers — Federal Realty Investment Trust is installing electric vehicle charging stations at five of its D.C. area shopping centers, including The Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row. [Washington Business Journal]

Daggers Found in Book at DCA — Two throwing daggers were found in a hollowed-out book in a passenger’s carry-on baggage at Reagan National Airport on Monday. The knives and the book were confiscated by authorities. [NBC Washington]

ART Canned Food Drive Ends — ART bus passengers donated a total of 376 canned food items from Nov. 14 to Dec. 16, during the transit service’s food drive. The canned items are being donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. [CommuterPage Blog]

  • JamesE

    Why do you have a photo of my living room?

  • G Clifford Prout

    Man on man. If that couch could talk.

    • Richard Cranium

      Interesting typo there. Just sayin’.

      • G Clifford Prout

        maybe it wasn’t a typo wink wink nudge nudge

        • Josh S

          Say no more
          say no more

  • Swag

    I like how the first thing you see after the picture is “Shirlington”

  • JamesE

    How many people in this area have electric cars? I believe I have seen one Volt on the road, no Nissan Leafs sighted yet. I did see a Tesla roadster but that was out in McLean.

    • Not many. Waste of money.

      • Josh S

        Probably that’s what they said when the first gas stations were installed.

        I say kudos to Federal Realty Investment Trust for going out on a limb and putting their money where their mouth is. (I say that assuming that the Trust is owned/operated by people who believe in electric cars/reducing dependence on foreign oil/etc. But even if they think it’s a purely a marketing strategy and could care less what people drive, I’m still excited because perhaps it will encourage more people to buy electric cars, which I believe would lead to many positive externalities for society.)

        • Josh, they may have. But maybe not because their option was a horse and buggy which was so much more limited.

          Until electricity can be generated almost exclusively by something cleaner than coal then electric cars are just a facade for the environmental movement. Now, you can make the argument that they can help us remove ourself from foreign oil, and I would agree with that. However, I’d also point out that we have a huge supply of natural gas which could also do that.

          The electrical grid in this country can not support mass amounts of car charging on top of the existing use. That is a huge problem. But, there is a vast natural gas pipeline infrastructure already installed.

          I may sound like Boone Pickens, but NGV over EV seems like the way to go to me.

          • JamesE

            We should go back to the 1950s dream of nuclear powered cars.

          • drax

            Electric cars arent’ perfect, but nobody said they were. They can be more efficient overall in terms of both cost and emissions, and of course they reduce local air pollution, since the coal usually gets burned far from the city. Urban air pollution is a serious health concern.

            And natural gas can also fire our power plants to provide electricity for electric cars. That’s easier than loading up tanks of gas in your car.

          • So it’s ok with you to spread all the pollution, more of it, in somebody else’s back yard?

            Yes, NG does fire some power plants. But why not just fire it in a proven internal combustion engine and not pay probably tens of billions to upgrade the electric transmission infrastructure?

            Aside from the localized urban pollution argument, there is little benfit to all electric vehicles. And that argument is one with blinders on.

          • Josh S

            Actually, it’s less pollution overall and far easier to control when it comes out of one smokestack versus many tailpipes. (Not to mention the smokestacks at the oil refinery.)

            The pollution from a power plant tends to be a regional issue, while the pollution from individual cars is a local thing. The benefits from reducing tailpipe emissions are real and quantifiable. This is why we have things like catalytic converters, unleaded gasoline, etc.

            Upgrading and modernizing the electric transmission infrastructure is already needed. It would not be done simply to allow electric vehicle charging stations. Besides, the use of cogeneration facilities would be a far more efficient way to provide the electricity. The benefits are there.

          • Josh, if you could economically provide power and power infrastructure for the cars I’d be with you. It is not there, and may never be able to compete economically with an internal combusion engine. Cogen, solar, wind, or other clean methods of energy generation are great. Yet they are certainly not the norm yet. Produce an all electric car with a solar roof and a 200 mile range and I’d consider buying it IF the economics of ownership are equal or less than another energy source. Otherwise, sorry, I won’t buy it and neither will most of the people.

            By the way, the emission controls you mention on current internal combustion automobiles make those vehicle run very clean compared to historical vehicles. Yes, they pollute, but it isn’t like there has been no progress either. Comparisons to stack cleansing should be on par as far as the ability to control the emissions. In fact, regulations have probably done a better job with personal automobile emissions then they have with industrial emissions.

          • Josh S

            Never is a long time.

            Actually, if it really is never, I pity our grandchildren.

            Rocky Mountain Institute is currently promoting the interesting idea of feebates as a way to overcome the initial cost premiums associated with new high-efficiency car technologies. Basically, the idea is that you charge a fee on low-efficiency vehicles and provide a rebate on high-efficiency vehicles. It’s revenue neutral from the government’s point of view but encourages the adoptation of more efficient cars, which in turn allows for the efficiencies of scale to bring down the cost of those vehicles. Right now, the market sends signals to consumers that essentially promote exactly the opposite of what society as a whole benefits from.

          • Josh, don’t we really have that now? Gasoline tax: lower MPG means higher taxes paid. Gas guzzler tax: Lower MPG, higher tax at purchase. Property Tax: higher vehicle value (typically lower MPG), higher tax paid.

            You see, there is a system in place to tax less efficient energy use. Making it any more will artificially force the market into something it does not want. I cited a quotation from an article posted in this thread. I’ll repeat it here.

            “It just goes to show there are certain folks that will spend anything to get their vision of what people should do,” said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. “It’s a glaring example of the failure of central planning trying to force citizens to purchase something they may not want. … They should let the free market make those decisions.”

          • Zoning Victim

            “That’s easier than loading up tanks of gas in your car.”

            No it’s not, and you don’t load up tanks of CNG in your car. You fill the onboard tank just like you do with a gasoline engine. There are CNG devices that you can put in your garage to plug you car/truck into and fill up right there. Additionally, most CNG cars are dual fuel and can convert on the fly to gasoline/diesel when they run out of CNG.

            The bottom line is that it takes too long to charge an electric car for it to be a reasonable purchase. That is not true of CNG. Electric vehicles are certainly the future of clean transportation (unless there is a major technology shift in some other form of transportation), but we have energy problems now; we can solve them right now with CNG. It’s not a matter of CNG or electric cars, it’s a matter of CNG now, electric (or hopefully, something even better) in the future.

          • OMG OMG OMG

            Bush, I’m afraid you are factually wrong on many counts. Electric vehicles are not a facade, because even with coal generating the electricity, the environmental impact of electric vehicles is considerably lower than gasoline or NGV vehicles because of the ridiculous inefficiency of the internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles are highly efficient, which more than makes up for the dirt at the power plants. Add to that the fact that our electricity comes from a mix of fuels, including nuclear, and EVs are even brighter. Add to that the ability to control charging in such a way (primarily off-peak) that the grid won’t be stressed, and your argument about stressing the grid fails. Add to that the zero emission at the tailpipe, and local air pollution continues to decline.
            Boone Pickens is correct that compressed natural gas makes sense in some bus & heavy truck applications, where electric vehicles don’t scale well yet. That eliminates a good chunk of diesel. But no, let’s not go all-in on CNG/NGV.

          • So, you are saying the electric chargers at shopping centers will be used off-peak? Highly unlikely. The same would be true for chargers installed in office complexes.

            In fact, you are wrong on many counts. Have you even considered the environmental impacts of strip mining BEYOND the emissions created from burning the coal? Please…..

            More than 50% of the electricity is generated from coal. Clean here, a huge mess elsewhere.

            By the way, electricity generated with natural gas is done so in an internal combusion engine, which spins a generator. The inefficiency of the combustion process still exists, but more inefficiency is then introduced in the electrical generation, tranmission, and conversion in the electric car. While the car itself may be more efficient, the whole process is not.

          • OMG OMG OMG

            Hey, I hate coal, strip mining, and mountaintop removal as much as the next guy.
            But having studied the issue, and the gradual introduction of EVs into the market (with a very small market share even a decade in the future), the impact on the grid will be small. Charging at offices and shopping malls will be ‘topping off’, with the bulk of charging done at homes overnight.
            Meanwhile the overall emissions at electric generating stations (nationwide) is getting cleaner, thanks to regulation and market-induced events like wind (which tends to be stronger at night, thereby helping the off-peak emissions profile).
            World economies are on a path of electrification. The saving grace is the increasing efficiency and cleanliness of electric generation, and increasing distributed generation.

          • Zoning Victim

            I agree with a lot of what you say, but electric vehicles are still cheaper than gasoline or CNG vehicles to operate and they do pollute less. FRT is a private company trying to profit off of people who are willing to deal with the shortcomings of electric vehicles (range, charging times, initial expense, etc.). If they make some money while helping the environment a little, then good for them.

          • Agree totally re: NGV…

        • charlie

          or maybe because the County is requiring them of developers.
          who pass on the costs to their tenants
          who pass on the costs to their customers
          who complain about $10 drinks.

    • drax

      Why no electric cars? No charging stations.

      Why no charging stations? No electric cars.

      • Why no NGVs? No fueling stations.

        Why no fueling stations? No NGVs.

      • JamesE

        if you don’t drive it out to the countryside you can be fine just charging it at home. I think the nissan leaf requires some stupid converter though, the volt will plug into a standard outlet.

        • JamesE

          update, just looked it up, Leaf will slowly charge off a 120V outlet, but needs a 200V 40A line for the complete charge.

    • CrystalMikey

      I’ve actually seen 3 different Volts and 1 Leaf in the county. I want to say 2 of those Volts even had the ARL decal.

      • JamesE

        The one Volt I saw had Michigan tags on it, but that was a while ago.

        • charlie

          There are several syndicated auto columnists, including WashPo’s Warren Brown who call Arlington home and are often driving MANUFACUTRER-plated cars to do their reviews.

      • Wayne Kubicki

        Interesting story this morning on just how much the Volt may be subidized:


        • Wow. That’s a fortune.

          “It just goes to show there are certain folks that will spend anything to get their vision of what people should do,” said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. “It’s a glaring example of the failure of central planning trying to force citizens to purchase something they may not want. … They should let the free market make those decisions.”

        • OMG OMG OMG

          The ‘free market’ is a polite fiction. All energy sources are subsidized, none more than oil, gas, and nuclear.

          The auto industry in all forms is heavily subsidized, from land use planning to interstate highways to the vehicles themselves.

          For every worst-case example (your Trabant), there is a competitive success: i.e., Japan’s industrial policy that aided its auto manufacturers to great success. The investment in GM, and the Volt, is a true investment to move the U.S. auto industry forward. Had GM failed to exist, the great hollowing-out of this country would have accelerated.

    • MC

      My colleague has a new Nissan Leaf, that he parks in our office building in Court House, and plugs it in there. He says the cost to operate is phenomenally low. The future is coming, all the cranky deniers need to head to hills if they don’t want to see it happen.

      • Cranky Denier

        Ha ha ha ha! You are living in la la land!

        Just wait until your friend realizes the costs of maintaining that scham. The “cost to operate” includes maintenance costs, and internal combusion vehicles pretty much need NOTHING for 100,000 miles except brakes and fluid changes. You can’t say that about any electric vehicle. Just the cost of a battery change….oi vey!

  • Only 376 canned food items were donated in more than one month. Either this drive was poorly promoted and executed, or we have don’t have very charitable bus patrons.

    • SomeGuy

      Or… some of the people most likely to NEED donated food are many of the same people ride the ART bus?

      • That is likely true also.

        • drax

          You apparently haven’t ridden a bus lately.

          • SomeGuy

            I was simply throwing that out as a possibility, but not necessarily commentary. Can you offer comment on the bus experience? I have never ridden ART.

          • Grognak

            I have only ridden one route, I think it is 52 or 53, when I meet my lady friend in Ballston and we retire to her abode. It goes up Military to Glebe. Everybody on there seems to be business types. Not a lot of poor ghetto thugs hopping the bus to the country club area.

          • I’ve tried, but I can drive so much faster.

    • drax

      Every time I got on the bus, I thought “hey, I should bring a can tomorrow.” Every time I left the house, I forgot.

    • John Fontain

      It was simply a matter of being a dumb idea. Why someone would think a bus would be a good place to generate food donations is beyond me.

      I hear they are going to remove the food collection boxes on the buses and replace them with bins filled with leaf mulch so riders can get leaf mulch on their way home from work. You have to bring your own shovel and container, though.

  • John Fontain

    Why isn’t anyone talking about modern diesel engines? The new VW Passat diesel gets 43 miles a gallon.

    • JamesE

      diesels are making a come back some what, more and more are being made available in the states.

    • charlie

      because VW and Audi should be bring in the BOAT TDI vehicles — the big wagon. the big SUV —
      the people who are buying diesel are the big cats.

    • Ben

      I really liked the diesel Skoda I was driving around on my trip this summer that would shut off at every light when idle.

    • VW also makes a diesel hybrid in Europe that gets like 80 mpg.


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