Powering Chicago

Powering Chicago

Episode 4134 , Episode 4148
Lucas Oil "Keep That Engine Alive"Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The demand for electric vehicle infrastructure is growing nationwide. But meeting that demand will require more than just equipment to deploy and funding to install it. We’ll need qualified contractors and electricians to do the actual work. 

We met up with an organization that is powering Chicago’s EV charging future and setting an example for cities across the country.

Illinois is going all-in on promoting electric vehicles, with a goal to increase EV registrations from 37,000 currently, to over a million electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030. To help achieve this goal, the state is providing a $4,000 rebate for select EV’s on top of existing federal incentives, along with a rebate of up to 80% for the cost of installing a charging station. Federal funding is expected to add 500,000 new chargers nationwide over the next few years.

In addition, a 2020 Chicago city ordinance requires all new residential buildings with five or more units, and commercial properties with 30 or more parking spaces, to have 20 percent of onsite parking be electric vehicle ready.

With thousands of charging outlets to be installed over the next decade, where now you typically see clusters of two to four chargers in a store parking lot, there might be dozens of units lined up in the not-so-distant future. That creates a daunting task for electrical contractors, who will need  a larger skilled workforce to install them all. 

Powering Chicago is the entity that bridges the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134, with the Electrical Contractors Association, through classroom and on-the-job training and community outreach.

ELBERT WALTERS III: The contractors serve as management, so they do the hiring of electricians and managing electricians on the jobsites. The relationship is that powering Chicago and the IBEW Local 134, the labor portion, actually provides the manpower-- the qualified workforce.

JOHN DAVIS: The IBEW/NECA Technical Institute, in the Chicago suburb of Alsip, is already one of the most forward-thinking and well-regarded electrical training centers in the country, with a history going back more than 100 years. And there is no shortage of applicants testing for admission to the union’s 5-year paid apprenticeship training program.

GENE KENT: Our current enrollment of apprentices in the entire apprenticeship is about 1300. Right now, in school, we have about 200 apprentices every quarter, come through for their quarterly education.

JOHN DAVIS: In 2015, In-Tech debuted this renewable energy training field: a fully-functional microgrid with a wind turbine, solar arrays, a bi-directional 100-kilowatt power inverter and a battery energy storage system. These are active training aids for the students that also harness and use renewable energy within the school building.

GENE KENT: What we like to do is make sure that our apprentices are taught foundational knowledge. And then we build knowledge of the industry throughout their entire apprenticeship, so that when those new cutting-edge things come into play, they only have to learn the very end-user component.

JOHN DAVIS: Reaching beyond the in-tech campus, this demonstration trailer travels to area schools and events, serving as a mobile classroom and EV ambassador. At the recent Chicago Auto Show, thousands of show visitors stepped up to ask the experts about adding EV charging equipment to their own homes or businesses. 

Powering Chicago has also produced this downloadable e-book, full of information on how to plan, install and maintain electric vehicle service equipment. Car dealerships are among the many types of businesses expanding their EV charger inventories, anticipating the influx of new electrified models soon to be hitting their showrooms and service areas.

GINA DOLLEY: The typical layout is that there’s several in service, three to four, in service. Um, one in the back for delivery of the vehicles, and then eventually you’re going to see them coming out front for customer-facing, customer use.

I only see it growing from this point on. Right now, it’s-- I’m doing one to two a month. I think it’s going to be more. I have a feeling that we’re going to open up an EV division, and I just have guys dedicated to the installation for these units.

JOHN DAVIS: The winds of change are a’ coming, and forward thinking, like that shown here in the Windy City, is what it will take to keep us all charged up for the road ahead.


1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750

Tire Tracks: 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750

by Roger Mecca
Episode 4235
Lucas Oil "Keep That Engine Alive"Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

In the 137-year history of the automobile, there have been many that both captured our attention, and progressed to legendary status. But then there are others that, while coveted when new, are less well known to collectors of today. Now, one such car recently caught the eye of our own Roger Mecca, who decided this particular Italian coupe deserved a return to the spotlight.

ROGER MECCA: For many devoted gearheads, there’s that one car classic car they yearn for, endlessly scouring websites, auction catalogues and local car shows looking to find that pristine example or restorable project– that Holy Grail to make their car dreams a reality.

For these fanatics, just mentioning that particular make and model can induce regret-filled stories of missed opportunities or a longwinded discussion on why it’s the ultimate in driving excellence.

Once such example is the Alfa Romeo GTV, produced between 1965 and 1974. It was a designed to be the great balance between a family car and something you could rip down any tight Italian road. And while it’s flown under the radar for many car fans, most Alfa enthusiasts will tell you this is what made the brand so iconic.

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Richard Garre owns this 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750, a car he’s loved for 50 years. In 1973, a college roommate who owned a GTV tossed Richard the keys and they went for a drive. Within moments, he had an epiphany.

RICHARD GARRE: I was in the car for about 10 minutes and I go, ‘I need to own this car!’

It had everything. It had the looks, it had the sound, it just– it, it had just such a great visceral experience. I go, ‘this is it- I gotta own this car!’”

The GTV, after driving it and owning it, it really did kind of change my life, especially towards being in the car business. I realized after working on cars for a while, that, uh, I think this is a good business I’m gonna be in. So, the start of my senior year, I was looking for employment either, you know, twisting wrenches or working for a car company or a dealership.

ROGER MECCA: Which he did from then on, including once having his own shop that specialized in, you guessed it, Alfa Romeos, and other high-end European brands.

There were four main variations of the GTV, based on the displacement of the 4-cylinder twin cam aluminum engine. The 1300, the 1600, the 1750, and the 2000. Now, while each has their own followers, most Alfa fans, including Richard, will tell you the 1750 is the sweet spot. It gives you the best balance of power and finesse.

Delivering 130 horsepower and 125 pounds of torque, the 1750 redlines at 7000 RPM. And when you get there, the little 1.8 liter starts to sing. Downshifting and throttling into a corner, it sounds and feels like you must be going 80, though you’re barely doing 30. In fact, it takes almost 10 seconds to reach 60. But trust me, when everything feels and sounds this good, you don’t care.

The five-speed doesn’t like to be rushed, but it’s velvety smooth. The feather-light steering provides intuitive feedback and the cornering grip and stability encourage you to go harder and faster.

1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750 Interior1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750 Interior

The GTV is so much fun to drive, you almost forget just how great it looks- even 45 years later. It was the first model designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, created when he was just 22 years old. Known for such icons as the Lotus Esprit and BMW M1, he never liked the GTV. Though it’s hard to understand why. Simultaneously masculine and elegant, one look and there is no mistake what the GTV was designed for: driving fast and having fun, but still being refined and exotic.

Now, if you’d like to own a GTV, you are in luck because they made more than 40,000 of these over the years. The challenge, however, is finding one that’s in really good shape.

These were notorious rust buckets, and a lot of people didn’t treat them very well, so finding one that’s in excellent condition- that can be a hassle. Finding one that’s in perfect condition? That can cost you $100,000.

But if you do find one to make your own, please do yourself and every GTV lover like Richard a favor: don’t keep it safely tucked away like a museum showpiece. Drive it as often as you can, just like Alfa Romeo intended. But I have a feeling that once you get behind the wheel, that won’t be a problem.