Most OEMs believe it will require the use of a diversity of fuels to meet the 2016 and 2025 CAFE requirements. As a result, OEMs will need to develop a broader portfolio of vehicles, powered by a diversity of fuels. Will this fuel diversity necessitate the creation of an energy professional position? One person who thinks so is Bob Stanton, CPM, CPFP, assistant director of the Building & Equipment Services Division for the City of San Antonio.
“With the advent of the myriad of electric vehicle choices, the complexity of CNG, propane autogas, and the continued volatility of petroleum-based fuels, I’m beginning to see a need for a position akin to an energy professional,” said Stanton. He envisions this function operating under the job title of “Energy Manager” or “Vehicle Energy Professional.”
“It's not enough to have fuel coordinators or fuel system professionals, because their experience and careers lie within the fossil fuel areas of unleaded gasoline and diesel,” said Stanton. “Who has the expertise to sort through the various electric vehicle selections to flesh out which electric vehicles best meet a certain mission criteria? Who can assure, if CNG is introduced, that the shop facility meets the requisite safety and operational necessities required by CNG (a step often considered last, if at all)? Who will pursue, write, and follow up on grants? When considering all the various aspects surrounding this increasingly complex topic, a whole new career path may be emerging that no one is seeing, let alone preparing for.”
Stanton posed the following rhetorical question: “Can we afford to entrust our energy investment, a very high percentage of our fleet costs, to individuals whose skills are now so very limited and whose expertise is becoming outdated?”
For the State of Colorado, the answer is no. Art Hale was Colorado’s state fleet manager, but his job title was recently updated to Colorado State Fleet Manager of Energy & Environmental Sustainability. “I created the new job description, and it was added to the state personnel system as a new job position in May 2012,” said Hale. “The state approved the need to dedicate a priority of my time and effort, due to the growing importance and urgency of the issues involved in greening the fleet.”
Defining the Responsibilities of an Energy Manager
The position of Colorado state fleet manager was refocused to become the statewide authority for all energy and technology initiatives involving the state fleet and has the primary responsibility in the State for achieving statewide fleet energy and environmental sustainability objectives. Hale initiates and oversees projects to either implement advanced vehicle technologies or assess the feasibility of such technologies. The position requires Hale to be the statewide expert in fuel technologies and the characteristics, advantages, and composition of the numerous alternative-fuel options available now or as emerging technologies. He will take the lead in developing partnerships with state agencies, local governments, trade groups, and other potential stakeholders to further the state’s greening objectives.
In addition, Hale is responsible for identifying and leveraging the fleet business initiatives to increase opportunities for jobs and economic development in the State’s new energy economy. This includes researching grant opportunities, along with writing and submitting grant applications to generate funds to offset the financial impacts of applying new technology and R&D to the fleet. Similarly, Hale is tasked to identify metrics and implement data tracking and reporting mechanisms to monitor progress toward the State’s sustainability goals. Hale also develops training materials and reaches out to constituencies throughout the State through formal presentations and onsite training. He leads or participates in critical meetings, conference calls, webinars, task forces, and trade organizations to influence the direction and commitment of key participants to achieve the State’s goals. He works with the private and public sector to increase the infrastructure and expand the availability of biofuels, E-85, CNG, battery-electric vehicles (BEV), hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and other advanced vehicle technologies. The position also requires that Hale writes, plans, and implements policies for the State concerning advanced-vehicle technologies. Hale works closely with Governor John Hickenlooper and state energy offices, including the legislature, and various agency decision makers to implement these policies. He is also responsible for developing the Colorado state carbon management plan, and the greenhouse gas reduction plan, as they relate to state-owned mobile sources.
This position calls for Hale to directly influence management decisions within the department, other state agencies, the Governor’s Office, as well as other governmental entities and non-government organizations. The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA) and the State will rely on Hale to provide direction and council when establishing policy or developing programs that support the goals of the State’s fleet energy and environmental sustainability initiatives. In the final analysis, Hale is understood to be the State expert, and guidance and advice are routinely sought from him before making any critical decisions regarding the future direction of State or department fleet impacting energy initiatives. These are impressive new responsibilities and I offer my congratulations to Art Hale in helping pioneer this emerging fleet management specialization.
Following the Lead of the State of Colorado
As history has shown, public sector fleets are the first fleets required to adopt new alternative-fuel options by politicians and legislatures, and pressured to do so by citizen advocacy groups. In the coming years and decades, fuel management promises to become increasingly more complex. This complexity will necessitate the need to have someone on staff who has broad-based subject-matter expertise in all aspects of conventional and alternative-fuels. Increasingly, such a position will become crucial to the effective management of the diverse equipment and fueling needs of public sector fleets. My prediction is that in the near future, additional political subdivisions will follow the lead of the State of Colorado.
Let me know what you think.