Saturday, March 4, 2017

What are state and local governments doing to incentivize alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles?

Question of the Month: What are state and local governments doing to incentivize alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)?

There are many notable incentive activities at the state and local levels. Many states offer incentives for alternative fuels that advance specific environmental and energy security goals, while cities provide even more localized support.

States are targeting vehicles, infrastructure, and other means to encourage AFV adoption. Below are various types of incentives, as well as hyperlinked examples of each:
  • AFV Purchase Incentives: States offer grants, rebates, and tax credits for the purchase of AFVs. While some states may focus vehicle incentives on a particular fuel type, such as electric vehicles, others are more general in their support. States provide AFV purchase incentives to consumers, commercial fleets, and public fleets, such as schools and government agencies. Different incentive mechanisms tend to be more appropriate for different categories of vehicle purchasers; for example, grants are often limited to certain types of entities. Public fleets may not be liable for taxes, so they usually benefit more from grants than from tax credits. Private fleets can benefit from grants, rebates, and tax credits.
  • Fueling Infrastructure Purchase and Installation Incentives: Similar to AFV incentives, states provide grants, rebates, and tax credits for alternative fueling infrastructure. States usually create incentives for the physical fueling infrastructure, but many programs also support installation costs. Some states also offer a tax credit or tax reduction for the production or purchase of alternative fuel itself. Fueling infrastructure incentives may stipulate that the fueling or charging station must be available to the public, which helps to increase the availability of alternative fuels to a broader range of entities.
  • Other Incentives: In addition to financial support for the purchase of AFVs, states may give special benefits to AFV drivers. For example, some states allow high-occupancy vehicle lane access to AFVs, while others provide reduced registration fees, weight restriction exemptions, and emissions inspections exemptions.

Municipalities are also playing a role in supporting AFV deployment. Cities and counties incentivize AFVs in a number of ways, including by offering free or discounted parking, expediting permitting processes, and providing vehicle and infrastructure grants. For example, New Haven, CT, provides free parking on city streets for AFVs, while Los Angeles, CA, offers instant, online residential electric vehicle supply equipment permitting approval. The Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) Local Laws and Incentives page provides more information on these and a greater array of other local options; while the page regarding local laws and incentives is not meant to be comprehensive, it provides users an idea of the different municipal programs and policies that exist. If you are aware of an innovative way that municipalities are supporting alternative fuels and vehicle acquisition, please contact the Clean Cities Technical Response Service at to share the details.

For more information about state and local alternative fuel incentives, see the AFDC Laws and Incentives page.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ultra-Low Nox Natural Gas Vehicle Evaluation by UC Riverside

A report released by the University of California Riverside’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), found that new ultra-low NOx natural gas heavy-duty vehicles met and were cleaner than their
certification standards during a full range of duty cycles. This finding is in stark contrast to previously released CE-CERT data of
heavy-duty diesel trucks that emitted higher levels of NOx than their certification standards in the same duty cycles. With the
near-zero emission factors demonstrated for natural gas vehicles, it is expected that these vehicles could play an important
role in providing much needed emissions reductions required for the South Coast Air Basin and California to reach federal
air quality attainment standards.

Here is the report itself.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pickens' Advice For President Trump

There are two parts to his advice: 1. Don't screw up what we have going for us; and 2. Don't settle for what we've done so far.

He expands on "Don't Screw Up" with four points:
  1. Clarity in who makes energy decisions.
  2. Promote hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
  3. Work with industry, not against it.
  4. Meet our own energy needs before worrying about other countries.

And five points for "Don't Settle."
  1. Work with our allies Mexico and Canada to establish a North American Energy Alliance.
  2. Modernize government fleets.
  3. Build the electrical grid of the future.
  4. Continue to research and develop new sources of energy.
  5. Remember: Energy is not a free market.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

How is the propane industry improving the customer fueling experience through new technology?

Question of the Month: How is the propane industry improving the customer fueling experience through new technology?

As propane vehicle technology becomes more advanced, propane dispensing infrastructure has evolved along with it. In particular, the propane industry is focusing much of its attention on enhancing the customer fueling experience by installing propane dispensers that are dedicated for vehicle fueling, and by upgrading the propane nozzle technology. The increasingly popular European-style, quick-connect nozzle simplifies the customer fueling experience by connecting to the fuel tank through a snap or quick-connect attachment, rather than a conventional threaded connection. Only after the nozzle is safely connected to the fuel tank will it begin to dispense fuel. This attachment eliminates the threading connection necessary with the conventional Acme nozzle, making propane fueling as easy as conventional gasoline fueling.

With the new nozzle, fueling can be completed using only one hand and without wearing protective goggles and gloves. The quick-connect attachment also results in lower emissions, as it more effectively prevents the release of fuel vapor and fumes. Additionally, the nozzle's design minimizes the amount of fuel that escapes when the vehicle is done fueling and the connector is detached from the vehicle.

There are many affordable quick-connect nozzle options available on the United States market that meet UL 125 certification requirements. Manufacturers of these UL-certified nozzles include Stäubli and ELAFLEX. These European-style connectors are priced around $1,200, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The cost of the connection adapters, or fill valves, required for current fueling infrastructure to be compatible with the European-style nozzle, ranges from $50 to $60. Note that the installation of a new fueling nozzle should always be performed by a qualified technician in order to ensure that it is completed properly.

Many propane retailers are optimistic about the European-style, quick-connect nozzle. In fact, the Propane Education Research Council (PERC) highlights its benefits and encourages the use of this connector through its Quick-Connect Nozzle Incentive Program. Moving forward, the quick-connect nozzle is a significant step towards streamlining and improving the propane fueling experience.

For more information about propane and related fueling infrastructure, see the following resources:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Understanding NGV methane emissions

From US Gas Vehicles:

A newly published scientific study, led by researchers with West Virginia University at the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, measured methane emissions from heavy-duty natural gas-powered vehicles and refueling stations, and is greatly expanding what we know about emissions from natural gas-fueled vehicles. The study is the first project in Environmental Defense Fund’s coordinated methane research series to analyze where and by how much methane emissions occur during natural gas end uses.

The WVU study found that emissions from the vehicle tailpipe and engine crankcase were the highest methane sources, representing roughly 30 and 39% (respectively) of total pump to wheels (PTW) emissions. Fortunately, engines with closed crankcases have recently been certified by EPA, avoiding the single largest source of methane emissions from these vehicles.

Fueling station methane emissions were reported to be relatively low, representing about 12% of total PTW emissions. WVU researchers based the fueling station emission estimates on the assumption that liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations have sufficient sales volume to effectively manage boil off gases, or the fuel lost as vapors when the LNG heats above its boiling point. Without alternative methods to manage boil off gas, low sales volume risks large methane releases.

Eleven industry groups participated in the WVU study – The American Gas Association, Chart, Clean Energy, Cummins, Cummins Westport, International Council on Clean Transportation, PepsiCo, Shell, Volvo Group, Waste Management, and Westport Innovations – and provided researchers with important insights. Their active involvement and determination to go where the science led them in reducing truck methane emissions greatly strengthened the study.

Measurements from the WVU study are helping to further our understanding of the climate impact of natural gas vehicles. This paper, along with other analyses, provides both industry and policymakers new insights to target technology improvements, and identify best practices for minimizing emissions. But pairing vehicle data with lifecycle emissions of methane across the entire supply chain remains essential to fully assess how natural gas trucks perform, from a climate perspective, relative to diesel trucks.

While only about 3 percent of heavy duty trucks run on natural gas today, some analysts suggest their market share could reach as high as 50 percent over the next two decades if high oil and diesel prices return. Meanwhile, investments in natural gas-powered utility vehicles and transit buses are growing, with 11 percent of such vehicles already running on natural gas.