Thursday, December 25, 2014

Senate Votes To Remove Credit Cap For Natural Gas Dual-fueled Vehicles

A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2015 that removes the cap has been approved by the Senate.
Current law allows automakers to earn credits for compliance with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program by producing alternative fuel dual-fueled vehicles, but these credits are subject to a cap. Today automakers earn the majority of their allowed credits by producing E85 Flex-Fuel vehicles, leaving none left for natural gas vehicles. The NDAA provision modifies the program by removing the credit cap for natural gas dual-fueled vehicles.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Networks

Question of the Month: What are the major electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) networks, and how can plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers access their stations? What are the costs associated with each network?

Answer:
Most PEV charging occurs at home, but for those who have a need to charge at a public location, it's important to understand available charging networks. While EVSE networks and charging infrastructure are frequently evolving, the major networks currently include AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, GE WattStation Connect, Greenlots SKY, NRG eVgo, SemaConnect, and Tesla. Each network has a unique model, with the most common approaches being monthly subscriptions, pay-as-you-go (i.e., pay per charge), and free (free to charge and no subscription fee required).

To determine which charging networks have EVSE along your regular routes and close to your frequent destinations, use the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator and the Plan a Route function. Select a station, click "more details," and refer to the "electric charging network" field. Please note that many public EVSE are not networked and do not require specific access cards.

EVSE Networks
For detailed information on each charging network, see below.

AeroVironment
  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. Unlimited monthly access is provided for a monthly rate, or you may pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, call the company or fill out a form online. You will receive a key fob in the mail, which is needed to initiate a charging session. A one-time activation fee of $15 is required for new subscribers.
  • Contact: 888-332-2148, evscs@avinc.com

Blink (Car Charging Group)
  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. Start by registering a credit card with a Blink account. There are no required annual or monthly membership fees, and no minimum credit card balance. Once registered, you will receive an "InCard" and can initiate a charge using the card. Guests can also initiate a charge with Blink's mobile application.
  • Contact: 888-998-2546, support@blinknetwork.com

ChargePoint
  • Access: Pay-as-you-go, free. Sign up for free by submitting your credit card information via the website. You will receive an access card in the mail. If you initiate a session at a networked station that requires a fee, ChargePoint will assess an initial deposit of $25. Stations can be activated by using the ChargePoint card or your registered credit card. Users who do not have a ChargePoint card can use the EVSE by calling the number provided below, which is also listed on the EVSE.
  • Contact: 888-758-4389, support@chargepoint.com

GE WattStation Connect
  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. To start charging with WattSation Connect, register and log in through the website. You will then be asked to link your account to PayPal for payment, and download the WattStation Connect mobile application.
  • Contact: 855-443-3873, wattstation.support@ge.com

Greenlots SKY
  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. To start charging with the Greenlots SKY network, download the Greenlots mobile application, which will allow you to search for stations, view real-time status and pricing, and choose between a prepaid monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go.
  • Contact: 888-751-8650, support@greenlots.com

NRG eVgo
  • Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. NRG eVgo provides multiple charging network plan options, including a monthly subscription and an option to pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, visit the website and sign up for a charging plan in your area.
  • Contact: 855-509-5581, support@evgonetwork.com

SemaConnect
  • Access: Pay-as-you-go. To sign up, log on to the SemaConnect website and open a new account with a $20 balance charged to a major credit card. You will receive a "SemaCharge Pass" radio-frequency identification (RFID) card that can be used to initiate charging at any SemaConnect location. SemaConnect also offers mobile payments via its smartphone application, toll-free number, or via a QR code scan.
  • Contact: 800-663-5633

Tesla
  • Access: Free.Tesla Superchargers do not require an access card; Tesla Model S owners can drive up and plug in. The chargers are compatible with Model S vehicles equipped with the 85 or 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that have been configured to use Superchargers. Note that other PEV models cannot access Tesla Superchargers.
  • Contact: 877-79-TESLA

The table below provides an overview of the access type and costs associated with each network.

 Network AccessCost
AeroVironmentMonthly subscription;
Pay-as-you-go
$19.99 per month
$4.00-$7.50 per charge
BlinkPay-as-you-go$0.39-$0.79 per kWh OR
$6.99-$9.99 per charge
ChargePointPay-as-you-go;
Free
$25 initial fee
Cost per charge varies
GE WattStation ConnectPay-as-you-goCost per charge varies
Greenlots SKYMonthly subscription;
Pay-as-you-go
Subscription costs and cost per charge vary
NRG eVgoMonthly subscription;
Pay-as-you-go
Cost per charge varies by region
SemaConnectPay-as-you-go$20 initial fee
Cost per charge varies
TeslaFreeN/A

Multi-Network Access
Some companies have teamed up to facilitate access to multiple charging networks with one access/payment card. Nissan LEAF drivers, for example, can enroll in the EZ-Charge program and use EVSE on the AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, Greenlots, and NRG eVgo networks in certain markets.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two Municipal Gas Utilities Compared

Both Philadelphia and Jacksonville have municipally-owned natural gas utilities. Daniel Gabaldon, co-founder of Enovation Partners encourages Philadelphia to use their gas utility "as a catalyst for an industrial renaissance" rather than sell it.
Philadelphia seems to be focused on using its gas utility, PGW, as a tempting solution to its immediate fiscal challenges, looking for a quick sale. Jacksonville has been much more focused on using its municipal gas utility and harbor as a platform for sustained growth. It has created partnerships with businesses, leveraging its port facility and utility by attracting capital and investments, bringing together labor, capital, customers, and businesses, and positioning Jacksonville to become a market leader on the East Coast in liquefied and compressed natural gas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Appropriate Certification Of Aftermarket Devices To Improve Fuel Economy

Question of the Month: How can I determine whether an alternative fuel conversion system or other aftermarket device claiming to improve fuel economy or reduce emissions has been appropriately certified or verified?

Answer: To ensure an aftermarket system or device is legitimate, you must first confirm that it has been properly vetted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and any applicable state authority, such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB). There are a number of ways to do this, as described below.

Certified Conversion Systems
Always request documentation! Conversion system manufacturers should be more than willing to provide a copy of their EPA-issued Certificate of Conformity (or CARB Executive Order) upon request. For vehicles falling into EPA's "intermediate age" and "outside useful life" categories, the manufacturer should be able to prove the company has satisfied demonstration and notification requirements.

You can consult EPA's Alternative Fuel Conversion website for files listing "EPA-Compliant Conversion Systems." All conversion systems listed on this website comply with EPA's conversion regulations (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 85, Subpart F). Keep in mind that each system is designed for a specific group of vehicles. Since conversion systems are only listed on this page at the request of system manufacturer, there may be other certified systems, so contact the EPA Compliance Information Hotline for more information (734-214-4343; complianceinfo@epa.gov).

California has its own compliance requirements for conversion systems sold within the state. For information about California's requirements, see the CARB Aftermarket, Performance, and Add-On Parts Regulations website, Note that several other states that have adopted the same regulations.

SmartWay and Other Emission Reduction Technologies
Ask manufacturers of other emissions- and fuel-saving devices whether their products have been reviewed by EPA.

EPA evaluates the fuel-saving benefits of devices such as idle reduction devices, aerodynamics technologies, and low rolling resistance tires. The SmartWay Verified Technologies website provides more information about specific products and models. EPA verifies and approves diesel retrofit technologies for use in its engine retrofit programs and provides information about emissions reductions. See the Verified Technologies List. It is important to note that EPA does not endorse these or any other commercial products.

EPA's Gas Saving and Aftermarket Retrofit Device Evaluation Program, also called the "511 Program", evaluates aftermarket retrofit devices that claim to improve automobile fuel economy and/or reduce exhaust emissions in cars and light trucks. The most recent test report from this voluntary evaluation program is dated 2005, indicating a lack of recent interest, but the program is still relevant.
Check with your state environmental or energy department to confirm whether they have similar programs.

For more information on aftermarket system and device evaluation, see the following websites:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Renewable Fuel Possibilities for Public Transit Agencies

Harrison Clay, president of Clean Energy's renewable fuels division, writes about "Redeem," a fuel derived entirely from organic waste such as captured methane emitted from landfills.
Redeem is derived from biogenic methane, or methane that is naturally generated by the decomposition of organic waste collected at landfills, waste water treatment plants and agricultural operations. When we capture and use this methane as a vehicle fuel rather than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere, it can actually result in a negative carbon footprint. As an example, a fleet that consumes 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 9,700 metric tons by switching to Redeem, which is the equivalent of taking 1,940 passenger cars off the road.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"A false sense of energy security"

By T. Boone Pickens in Politico.com:
I've been on both sides of a lot of oil and gas price swings. Every time, the first question people always ask is who wins and who loses.

The immediate answer is easy. When prices rise, consumers pay more, while the oil industry profits. When the market is flooded like it is now, low prices benefit consumers but hurt the oil and gas industry. For the country, there's good and bad on either side. Lower energy prices means consumers can spend more money elsewhere, and higher prices drive the energy industry to invest and create jobs. Over six decades, I've made a lot of bets on oil and gas. During price swings, I've seen a lot of money come and go fast. Thankfully, I've made more good bets than bad ones, but the most valuable thing I've learned about energy is that the long-term costs and long-term benefits matter a lot more than the swings.

The key for America is that we shouldn't let ourselves get distracted by falling oil prices when there is much more at stake. For decades, our dependence on OPEC oil has dictated our national security decisions and tied us up in the Middle East at an incredible price. We've spent more than $5 trillion and thousands of American soldiers have died securing Middle East oil. That long-term cost doesn't get factored in to the price at the pump, so it is critical that we not let ourselves lose sight of the problem and continue expanding American energy production.

We have OPEC on the run, but we are still dangerously dependent. We have the domestic resources, but we need to demand that Washington get serious about a national energy plan that takes the real costs of energy into account. We cannot get sidetracked by a false sense of enhanced energy security and lower gasoline prices. We need leadership in Washington on the future of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Keystone pipeline and the questions of whether to lift the ban on crude oil exports and whether to expedite natural gas exports. There will always be winners and losers. Let's make sure we're winners.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Webinar on AFDC Tools and Resources Updates

This webinar on AFDC Tools and Resources Updates was presented on September 25, 2014, by Andrew Hudgins and Trish Cozart, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Alexis Schayowitz and Stacy Noblet, ICF International.

Federal Plug-in Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Phase-out

Question of the Month: How does the federal plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) tax credit phase-out work, and has it begun for any vehicle manufacturers? What is the status of other federal alternative fuel tax credits?

Answer: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles produced by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States, based on sales after December 31, 2009. Many of the other federal tax credits, such as the Alternative Fuels Excise Tax Credit and the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, expired at the end of 2013 and have not been extended or renewed. Additional tax credits have or will expire this year.

Federal PEV Tax Credit Phase-Out
Each manufacturer must report quarterly to the IRS on their vehicle sales. According to the IRS Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit Quarterly Sales page, no manufacturers have reached the 200,000 cumulative PEV sales mark. This means all qualified vehicles are still eligible for their full credit amounts.

The phase-out period stretches over one year, beginning in the second calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer hits the 200,000 vehicle sales mark. From there, all qualifying vehicles sold by the manufacturer are eligible for 50% of their specified credit for the first two quarters and 25% of the credit for the next two quarters. For example if a manufacturer sells its 200,000th vehicle in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015, the credit amounts for all of that manufacturer’s eligible vehicles would phase out as shown in the table below.

QuarterCredit
Q1 2015Full amount
Q2 2015Full amount
Q3 201550% of full amount
Q4 201550% of full amount
Q1 201625% of full amount
Q2 201625% of full amount
Q3 2016No credit

Also see the phase-out example on FuelEconomy.gov.

Below are some other helpful facts about the federal PEV tax credit:
  • Tax credit amounts range from $2,500 to $7,500 based on the vehicle’s battery capacity and weight. Details can be found on the IRS Qualified Vehicles page.
  • To file for the credit, you must complete IRS form 8936 and attach it to your federal tax return.
  • To qualify for the credit, you must own the vehicle. This means that if you lease a vehicle, you are not eligible. That said, the lessor may decide to pass the discount along to you.
  • Only new vehicles are eligible; the vehicle may not have been titled before.

For more information, see the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit page.

Other Federal Tax Credits
Several tax credits expired after December 31, 2013, including:
  • Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credits
  • Biodiesel Income Tax Credit and Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit
  • Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit
  • Qualified Two- or Three-wheeled Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit

Even more recently, both the Hydrogen Fuel Excise Tax Credit and the Hydrogen Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit expired as of September 30, 2014. The Fuel Cell Motor Vehicle Tax Credit and Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit are set to expire on December 31, 2014.

There have been several bills introduced to extend these tax credits during the 113th Congress. For example, the EXPIRE Act of 2014 (S. 2260;) proposed to extend the tax credits for 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel mixtures, alternative fuels, hydrogen, fuel cell vehicles, and alternative fuel infrastructure through 2015. However, none of the bills have been enacted as of October 2014.

For more information on federal incentives for alternative fuels and vehicles, see the following websites:
Finally, please note that the Technical Response Service recommends consulting a qualified tax professional or the IRS before making any tax-related decisions.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One Billion Gallons Saved


Clean Cities Coachella Valley would like to share the Clean Cities programs accomplishments - a shared effort by the more than 100 Clean Cities Coalitions across America.
  • Specific accomplishments
    • In 2013, Clean Cities and its stakeholders avoided the use of 1 billion gallons of petroleum in a single year for the first time ever.
    • Clean Cities efforts in 2013 also helped prevent the production of 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of removing more than 1.5 million cars from U.S. roads.
    • In 2013, Clean Cities reported a total inventory of 475,000 alternative fuel vehicles that that coalitions and their stakeholders helped bring to the road.
    • The program is actually ahead of schedule to meet its goal of achieving 2.5 billion gallons annually by 2020.

  • Context
    • From 15 million gallons in its first year to a cumulative nearly 6.5 billion now, Clean Cities is helping shift transportation away from petroleum one fleet, community, and vehicle at a time.
    • None of this could be possible without the endless hard work of the nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions across the country and the 14,000 stakeholders they work with.
    • Coordinators spent more than 130,000 hours pursuing Clean Cities goals in 2013. They conducted more than 2,000 outreach, education, and training activities that reached about 120 million people.
    • The coalitions’ local knowledge combined with the objective, reliable technical expertise of the Energy Department and its national laboratories make Clean Cities unique in its ability to incite change.
Get all the facts here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Redesigning Society From Scratch

TEDxSoCal - Josh Tickell:

Growing up amongst the oil refineries in Louisiana, Josh Tickell experienced the impacts of dirty oil processing at a young age. After watching members of his family suffer from pollution related cancers, Tickell began a lifelong quest to find sustainable, clean energy sources.

In 1997, Tickell set out on the road with a biodiesel powered "Veggie Van" and a video camera to begin filming what would eventually become known as FUEL, the 2008 Sundance Audience Award winning documentary film that investigates the possible replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Over the course of his 11 year journey, Tickell traveled the world going to over 25 countries, authored two books, founded a nonprofit organization, and jumpstarted America's biodiesel movement.

Tickell's Veggie Van Organization was selected by President Bill Clinton as an inaugural part of his Global Initiative on Climate Change. The organization serves to educate people about sustainable energy and provide pathways for integrating sustainable energy into homes, communities, cities, states and ultimately nations.

He holds an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Living from the New College of South Florida and an MFA in Film from FSU's School of Motion Picture Television and Recording Arts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 88%

Joanna D. Underwood writes about Renewable Natural Gas which is produced by capturing biogases.
If we leave fossil fuel deposits in the ground, their hydrocarbons stay in the ground. But if we leave our organic wastes alone and don’t refine them into fuel, they release their hydrocarbons into the atmosphere anyway as they break down. Every day, in urban and rural landscapes across the U.S., over 78 million tons of food and yard wastes are thrown out by homes and businesses, plus much more organic waste from food processing plants, supermarkets, farms, sewage, etc., are decomposing and emitting GHG without producing usable energy.
Every fleet converted from diesel to RNG would cut its GHG emissions by 88 percent or higher. This exceeds U.S. goals of a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and and 80 percent reduction by 2050, as well as even tougher goals recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). RNG would cost about a third of diesel, and create tens of thousands of sustainable, place-based, unexportable jobs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Credit Allocations Under Alternative Fuel Transportation Program

Question of the Month: What are the new credit allocations that were established under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)'s Alternative Fuel Transportation Program (Program) earlier this year? How can I help spread the word on these new Energy Policy Act (EPAct) compliance pathways?

Answer: DOE issued a final rule on March 21, 2014, that establishes credit levels for additional means by which covered state and alternative fuel provider fleets operating under the Program's Standard Compliance option may earn credits. These credits may be used toward compliance with a fleet's alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) acquisition requirements. DOE promulgated the rule pursuant Congress' direction, set forth in Section 133 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Vehicles
The new credit allocations address the acquisition of various types of electric drive vehicles and allow covered fleets to earn credits under Standard Compliance for some vehicles that do not meet the EPAct 1992 definition of an AFV. Newly eligible vehicles include the following (with their credit allocations):
  • Certain hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) – one-half credit
  • Plug-in electric vehicles – one-half credit
  • Fuel cell electric vehicles – one-half credit
  • Neighborhood electric vehicles – one-fourth credit

Medium- and heavy-duty HEVs are also eligible for one-half credit after a fleet has met its light-duty AFV acquisition requirements.

Infrastructure
Acquiring the electric drive vehicles noted above is not the only new way to earn credits under EPAct Standard Compliance. Fleets may now earn credits for investments of their own funds (not grant funds or other monetary awards) in qualified alternative fuel infrastructure. For every $25,000 invested, a covered fleet may earn one credit, with a limit of five credits available per fleet per model year for private infrastructure investment, and ten credits per fleet per model year for public infrastructure investment.

Other Investments
Fleets may also earn credits for investments in alternative fuel non-road equipment and/or emerging technologies associated with the Section 133-identified vehicles. The credits for non-road equipment are similar to infrastructure – one credit for every $25,000 invested and a maximum of five credits may be earned per fleet per model year. Emerging technologies investments will earn a covered fleet two credits for the initial investment of $50,000 and one credit for every $25,000 invested thereafter, with a limit of five credits per fleet per model year.

Fleets may begin taking advantage of these new credit allocations for their efforts undertaken in model year 2014 and future model years.

How Can You Spread the Word?
Are you aware of any covered utility or state fleets that are building new fueling infrastructure?
  • Inform them they can earn EPAct credits.

Do you have an EPAct covered fleet stakeholder that needs an extra push to buy or lease HEVs?
  • Let them know that certain HEVs are now eligible for EPAct credits.

Do you or your stakeholders have questions regarding EPAct compliance?
  • Contact the Regulatory Information Hotline: regulatory.info@nrel.gov or 202-586-9171.

Note that covered fleets are currently compiling their Program reports for model year 2014 (September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014) activities, which are due by December 31, 2014.

For more information, refer to the following resources:

Pump In Theaters

Author Edwin Black provides a review of Pump along with some history of how we got to where we are today.
As I wrote in my book Internal Combustion and subsequent works, we never needed to be addicted to oil. Never. The electric car was invented in about 1835. Until the run-up to WW I, most of the motor vehicles in America were electric-powered, until Edison's plans were subverted by the car industry and the manufacturers switched to gas-burning internal combustion vehicles.


From the review of Pump in the L.A. Times:
As far as documentaries go, the film is exhaustively researched, interviewed and documented. Its disclosure that General Motors declined multiple interview requests earns the film some credibility where other advocacy docs fall short. It arms advocates with plenty of well-reasoned and compelling talking points, even if its final montage about consumer freedom feels like a quit-smoking aid commercial.

In California Pump can be seen at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles through September 25, 2014; at the Crest in Westwood, September 26-28; and at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena beginning on September 26.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Filling Up the Tank of a CNG Vehicle

From the Clean Cities Blog:
When pulling up to a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, you may see some distinct similarities to a traditional gasoline station—a nozzle, a dispenser, and maybe even a nearby convenience store selling snacks. At first glance, the act of pumping gas into a natural gas tank is quite similar to that of filling a conventional vehicle with gasoline.

However, there is one very big difference when it comes to the fuel—CNG is a gas, while gasoline is a liquid. This difference means that your tank will fill differently with CNG than it does with gasoline.

For example, when you fill up an empty 20-gallon gasoline tank, you drive away with 20 gallons of liquid fuel no matter what time of year it is or how quickly the pump dispensed your fuel. This is not the case when fueling natural gas vehicles. In contrast, the amount of CNG that ends up in the tank when the dispenser shuts off will vary depending on the outside temperature and the speed at which fuel goes into the tank, among other variables. Lower outside, or ambient, temperatures at the time of fueling combined with a slower fill rate, for example, will result in a higher volume of natural gas in the tank when compared with higher temperatures or a faster fill rate.

It is easy to be confused by the final fill volume in a natural gas tank, because what is happening inside the tank can't be seen and vehicle operators tend to think in terms of the behavior of a liquid fuel. To demonstrate this phenomenon and help drivers and fuel providers understand what is happening, the Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC) website has just launched an interactive animation that demonstrates at what temperature and fill speed a driver can safely get the "fullest" fill of compressed natural gas.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Responding to the Wall Street Journal

NGVAmerica writes:

On Monday, August 25, 2014, the Wall Street Journal ran a story titled "Slow Going for Natural-Gas Powered Trucks." We are in the process of coordinating 300 word responses to the Journal with a couple of our companies. In the meantime, we have prepared for your information and use with local media and customers a more detailed response, which is below. You may also want to send a Letter-to-the Editor to the Wall Street Journal.


In his Aug. 25, 2014, Wall Street Journal article, "Slow Going for Natural-Gas Powered Trucks," Bob Tita states that North American sales of natural-gas-powered trucks "are just crawling along." Then in the next paragraph, he reports that the market is expected to grow by 20 percent in 2014. That's hardly crawling. In fact, it is extraordinary in a market where change generally comes slowly and the vehicles have a long service life. Some analysts did forecast even faster growth, but their exuberance shouldn't detract from the real, solid expansion of natural gas trucking. It also is important to note that many of those more optimistic forecasts were done two or more years ago, at which time the natural gas engine that represents the vast majority of the heavy-duty market in 2014 (the Cummins Westport ISX12 G 11.9 liter engine) was expected to be introduced in 2012. In fact, trucks with the bigger version of that engine did not begin entering the market until the fall of 2013—less than one year ago.
  • The author's math also is confusing. He states, "A big roadblock remains the premium for a heavy-duty gas truck—$50,000 more than the about $150,000 for a new diesel-powered truck. In theory, the payback for that higher price is recovered from fuel savings of between $1.60 and $1.70 for the gas equivalent of a gallon of diesel. Paybacks can average four years considering the average truck travels 125,000 miles a year." Using seven miles per gallon (which is generous for heavy-duty trucks) and 125,000 miles a year, a truck would use roughly 17,800 gallons of fuel each year. At $1.60 savings per gallon, that's a savings of almost $28,500 per year, or a payback of the $50,000 added cost in less than two years. Truck duty-cycles vary, and not every truck will see this fast a payback, but where they do apply, natural gas vehicle market penetration is expanding rapidly. For example, about 55 percent of all trash trucks purchased in the U.S. last year were natural gas powered, and this year that number is expected to grow to 60 or 65 percent. Similarly, 25 to 30 percent of all public transportation buses on order today are natural gas powered.
  • The author also uses some questionable facts to make his case. For example, he says that natural gas trucks make up only 2 percent of UPS' 100,000 truck fleet. That 100,000 vehicles represents their worldwide fleet of all trucks. In the U.S., UPS has only 17,000 heavy-duty trucks (the focus of this article), of which 1,000 will be natural gas powered by the end of the year. That will be almost 6 percent of its fleet in 2014 – an extraordinary penetration in a few short years.
  • The author also states, "Mileage from a natural-gas-powered truck is about 20% less per energy equivalent than a diesel truck …" Spark-ignition natural gas trucks do experience efficiency losses compared to compression-ignition diesel trucks, but, from all reports we have seen, the efficiency loss is between 5 and 15 percent depending on a truck's duty cycle. In some heavy-duty applications, such as refuse, performance is on par with diesel. It also is important to remember that advances in natural gas engine technology lags slightly behind advances in diesel technology. As diesel engine advances are incorporated into natural gas engines, the efficiency gap will narrow.
  • The article closes with a quote from Freightliner: "Long-haul, over-the-road trucking is not going to adopt natural gas for a long time." Unless you are in the business, this statement is deceptive. "Long-haul, over-the-road trucking" does not mean all interstate, over-the-road trucks. The Freightliner representative was referring to those interstate sleeper trucks where the same driver may travel to a different city from one day to the next—even across the country. These vehicles, which may represent 50 percent of the heavy-duty interstate truck market, would need a national interstate highway natural gas fueling network to be comfortable shifting to natural gas. This network is currently being built by companies such as Blu., Clean Energy, Kwik Trip, Love's, Shell, TrilliumUSA, TruStar and others announcing new truck stations weekly. In the meantime, the natural gas vehicle industry is seeing significant interest from heavy-duty regional, super-regional and the other truck fleets representing the other half of the heavy-duty truck market.
The author states that 10,480 new heavy-duty natural-gas-powered trucks are expected to enter the U.S. market this year. Assuming each truck will use 15,000 diesel gallon equivalents of natural gas per year, this would represent over 157 million diesel gallon equivalents per year—for heavy-duty trucks alone. When you also consider the growing market for natural gas in medium- and light-duty trucks, light-duty vans, SUVs and cars, and now heavy-duty off-road equipment, rail, and marine applications, it may be more accurate to refer to the natural gas vehicle market as "galloping along."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fuel-specific Information On The AFDC Station Locator Website

Question of the Month: What fuel-specific information is available through the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) Station Locator website?

Answer: Most Clean Cities coordinators and stakeholders are familiar with the AFDC Station Locator website and the general station information listed there, such as the address, phone number, hours of operation, payments accepted, and who can access the station. You may not be aware of the fuel-specific information available. Below is a complete list.

Biodiesel
  • Blends available: The blends of biodiesel available at the station, including whether different blends are available seasonally and whether customers may select customized blends. Note that the Station Locator only lists stations that carry blends of B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) and higher.

E85
  • Mid-level blends: Whether or not the station carries mid-level blends (e.g., 30% ethanol blend, or E30) of ethanol via a blender pump or otherwise. Note that stations that carry mid-level blends, but not E85, are not included in the Station Locator.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
  • Electric charging network: The relevant charging network, if applicable. Examples of charging networks include ChargePoint, Blink, and SemaConnect.
  • Port level and count: A list of the number of each level of EVSE charging equipment available. Levels include Level 1, Level 2, or DC Fast Charge.
  • Connector types: The type of connector available, including:
    • Level 1: NEMA 5-15, NEMA 5-20, NEMA 14-50, and J1772
    • Level 2: J1772
    • DC Fast Charge: CHAdeMO, SAE J1772 Combo, and Tesla
  • Legacy chargers: The number and type of legacy chargers available.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also collects information on the EVSE manufacturer, power sources, pricing, and whether the equipment provides wireless charging. This data will be available in the Station Locator in the future. NREL is also coordinating with EVSE networks to provide real-time status availability in the Station Locator.

Hydrogen
  • Station status: A website link for detailed information regarding the status of the station.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas
  • Fill type (CNG only): Whether the station has fast- or time-fill capabilities, or both.
  • Compression (CNG only): The compression pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). The compression can be 2400, 3000, or 3600 psi.
  • Vehicle accessibility: The vehicle sizes that can physically access the fueling station.

NREL also collects information on the total compression and compressor types (CNG only), gas provider, and whether the station has a generator to operate equipment during a power outage. Some of this data will be available in the Station Locator in the future.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Propane)
  • Services: The type of propane services available. Each propane station is designated as a "primary" or "secondary" service type. Both types are able to fuel vehicles, but locations with a "primary" designation offer fuel priced specifically for use in vehicles.

Using the AFDC Station Locator Data Download feature, users can obtain a detailed spreadsheet with the above fuel-specific station information for stations currently in the database. We encourage you to stay tuned as NREL is working to add new fuel-specific data and search options to the Station Locator database in the near future.


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

"Air, Climate, Energy, Water & Security Well-to-Wheels Report"

Download California Fuel Cell Partnership' new well-to-wheels report which summarizes the environmental effects of the most common vehicle/fuel pathways in California using Argonne National Lab's newest GREET model.

"What is the energy efficiency of a fuel cell electric vehicle?"
"How much water does it take to make hydrogen?"
"Do FCEVs reduce greenhouse gases?"

CaFCP often hears these questions at events and through our online channels. The answers are in Argonne National Lab's GREET model, which uses 120 fuel pathways and 85 vehicle/fuel combinations to assess the impact of fuel from well to wheels. This week, we published our new well-to-wheels report which summarizes the most common vehicle/fuel pathways in California using ANL's newest GREET model, developed with support from U.S. Department of Energy's EERE program. We also used data from U.S. EPA, Embarq, MotorTrend and the National Academies to report on transit buses, energy security and cost of ownership for FCEVs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Potentially A Huge Advance In Nuclear Power

No, it's not another one of those cold fusion rumors. What would you think of fission power that was so clean it could be used to clean up the waste created by our current fission power systems...and what if it was also so efficient that it could provide 100% of the world's power through 2083 simply by burning the existing stockpiles of nuclear waste?

Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie who are nuclear engineering PhD students at MIT started working on their idea in 2010 and have formed Transatomic Power with an impressive team of scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs.

The product is an advanced molten salt reactor that consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely. Research on molten salt reactors goes back nearly to the beginning of the Nuclear Age, and Transatomic Power's designs use what was learned in that earlier research. "The main differences between Transatomic Power's molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are our metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow us to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs." The Transatomic Power reactor can use "fresh fuel enriched to a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste." An earlier design tested by Oak Ridge used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.

In addition to using a safer fuel, the reactor is far more efficient than reactors in use today. "Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% - 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. Our design captures 96% of this remaining energy." As a result, the waste from a Transatomic reactor will be reactive for only a few centuries which is a solvable problem, as opposed to several millennia for waste from conventional reactors.

You can read their technical white paper here.
Transatomic Power's design also enables extremely high burnups – up to 96% – over long time periods. The reactor can therefore run for decades and slowly consume both the actinide waste in its initial fuel load and the actinides that are continuously generated from power operation. Furthermore, our neutron spectrum remains primarily in the thermal range used by existing commercial reactors. We therefore avoid the more severe radiation damage effects faced by fast reactors, as thermal neutrons do comparatively less damage to structural materials.

In a molten salt reactor, a radioactive fuel such as uranium or thorium is dissolved into fluoride or chloride salts to form a solution that we call a "fuel salt." The fuel salt is normally an immobile solid material, but when heated above approximately 500°C, it becomes a liquid that flows. Thus it is the liquid fuel salt, rather than water, that carries the heat out of the reactor. The plant can operate near atmospheric pressure with a coolant that returns to a solid form at ambient temperatures. This feature simplifies the plant and enables safety systems that do not require external electric power to safely shutdown, thereby assuring greater safety for the public.

Molten salt reactors are quite different from sodium fast reactors, even though many people think of sodium when they hear of salt. The sodium metals used by those reactors can release a hydrogen byproduct that is combustible in the presence of air or water. Our fluoride salts remove this fire risk, while further simplifying and increasing the safety of the plant design.

What about thorium? A version of our reactor can also operate using thorium fuel. Thorium has special merit as a nuclear fuel because of its generally shorter-lived waste and higher potential burn-up. The TAP reactor can also achieve the same benefits from uranium, which has an existing industrial base. Using uranium also lets us create a reactor that can slowly consume the world's existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel thereby providing a great benefit to society.

"When running on fresh fuel, the TAP reactor is able to generate up to about 75 times more electricity than a light water reactor per kilogram of natural uranium ore."

On their website they have a long list of news articles in various media

Here's a TEDx talk where the the young inventors explain the whole concept.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CNG One Part Of Energy Solution

An editorial in the Southwest Times Record:
The American love affair with big, powerful, gasoline-powered vehicles has kept interest in cars powered by compressed natural gas tamped down, but there is evidence that we are changing.

Worldwide, there are tens of millions of CNG vehicles, but estimates place the number in the United States at just 185,000, we learned in a business report in Sunday’s edition. Of those 185,000, no more than 1,000 are in Arkansas with just 180 in the greater Fort Smith region, according to Tom Atchley, excise tax administrator for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, which tracks the number of CNG vehicles.

Despite the low numbers, or maybe because of them, Barry Rowton recently opened Falcon CNG, a natural gas vehicle conversion shop, on Wheeler Avenue in Fort Smith. Mr. Rowton believes that as CNG fuel becomes more readily available, people will be interested in making the switch. In Fort Smith, AOG operates a station at its office on Waldron Road, and it is building a high-flow capacity CNG station near the airport. It also supplies the OnCue station in Arkoma. Falcon CNG is the only conversion outlet in the northwest quadrant of the state.

Why the interest? CNG sells for about $1.63 to $1.99 per gallon equivalent. That’s a nice reduction from the $3.30 to $3.40 per gallon that gasoline vehicle users are seeing. The conversion isn’t cheap: $7,000 plus a $2,000 to $4,000 conversion kit. Arkansas expects to have a rebate program available in the next fiscal year that will refund about half the cost of conversion with EPA-certified kits. Oklahoma’s 50 percent refund will be available whether or not the kits are EPA-certified.

Gasoline engines that go through the conversion can run on just gas, just CNG or a combination. Usually the default is to run on CNG and switch automatically to gas if CNG runs out. Converted diesel motors run on a mixture of diesel and CNG.

Is CNG for you? Maybe not today unless you put 80,000 miles a year on your vehicles. But maybe someday.

It’s clear that there is no single answer to ending our dependence on foreign oil. More likely a combination of things — solar, wind, natural gas, tar sands oil, even coal — will provide the answers. We are going to need to find ways to make using all of these things cleaner, safer and more efficient. Right now, conversion to CNG power is one part of the answer, a part that’s being researched here in western Arkansas.

Ryder - Natural Gas Vehicles



You know natural gas is gaining traction as an alternative fuel. It makes sense. Natural gas is an abundant, domestic resource; it's cost effective; and it's better for the environment. But is it right for your company -- right now? Let the experts at Ryder analyze your specific situation to see if your fleet can benefit from the many advantages natural gas offers.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Changing Human Behavior


TRANSPORTATION: Changing human behavior is major factor in selling cleaner cars, curbing congestion (Friday, July 25, 2014)

Julia Pyper, E&E reporter

Henry Ford's vision to create cars "for the great multitude" has been far better received than anyone could have imagined.

More than a century since the Model T was introduced, global demand for personal vehicles is stronger than ever, particularly in the developing world, where people want cars for improved mobility and as status symbols. But as car culture spreads, vehicles are clogging up city streets and threatening the planet with harmful emissions.

Automakers have invested billions in lightweight materials and low-carbon fuels to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. But these technological advances will mean little if consumers' desire to own large, powerful vehicles continues to grow.

And even if people do choose to buy cleaner cars, cities have only so much space to put them in. Congestion in and around cities will continue to worsen unless populations support policies that curb vehicle usage.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Working Group III report, released in April, recognized the need: "Behavior, lifestyle and culture have a considerable influence on energy use and associated emissions, with high mitigation potential in some sectors, in particular when complementing technological and structural change."

But according to Felix Creutzig, a professor at Technical University of Berlin and group leader of the IPCC report's transportation section, the academic community has yet to fully assess how lifestyles and behavioral elements are driving car use and has yet to measure people's willingness to change.

Can commuters be persuaded to willingly give up the freedom of personal mobility? Can a growing middle class be persuaded to downsize its vehicle purchases? Can some drivers be persuaded to pay more for driving so that people will drive less overall?

"I think that this is a gap, also in the literature, to comprehensively assess the effects of human behavior and what can be done about it," Creutzig said.

Want to read more stories like this?

Click here to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DGE Fails to Get NCWM Approval

Fleets & Fuels writes about the failure to get a Diesel Gallon Equivalent adopted as a standard at the National Conference on Weights and Measures meeting in Detroit earlier this month. "Despite the efforts of industry and state regulators who supported our proposal, there continues to be a strong faction within NCWM that opposes the DGE approach and that also would like to see the gasoline gallon equivalent standard rolled back," warns NGVAmerica.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Clean Cities Question Of The Month For July

Question of the Month: During the winter of 2013-2014, propane shortages and price spikes were widely publicized by news media, and some fleets reported difficulty getting propane for their vehicles. What really happened and what steps can propane fleets take to protect themselves from similar issues in the future?

Answer: Several factors contributed to the recent winter supply constraints and increased propane prices, including record low temperatures around the country (the 2013-2014 winter was almost 30% colder than the previous winter), increased rain fall requiring additional propane supply for crop drying, pipeline outages (the Midwest Cochin pipeline shut down for three weeks in December 2013), Canadian supply constraints, and increased exports leading to reduced propane reserves. It is important to note, however, that while the demand for propane used to heat homes in colder months fluctuates, fleet demand for propane remains stable throughout the year. As a result, propane suppliers are generally willing to offer longer term fuel contracts to fleets at prices that do not vary during the winter. But fleet customers need to plan ahead and negotiate these agreements in advance. Don't wait until the coldest day of the year to start asking questions.

Fleets should develop and maintain a long-term fuel contract based on projected consumption with their local propane marketer or fueling station operator. These contracts can provide a reasonably steady price for propane year-round, regardless of temperature fluctuations and other issues. However, fleets that fuel their vehicles at retail locations where there is no contractual relationship can expect to pay the current market price, which may be equal to or higher than gasoline during peak use periods. As such, the propane price spikes reported in the winter of 2013-2014 primarily affected fleets and drivers without fuel contracts.

While some fleets with fuel contracts also faced supply limitations and price increases this winter, these incidences may have occurred as a result of other circumstances. For instance, some pricing contracts are set up to fluctuate based on a floating commodity price, or they might be indexed to automatically track gasoline or diesel prices. In addition, state fleets may be subject to certain fueling restrictions if the governor addresses energy supply issues through executive action. The prolonged severe weather this past winter resulted in several regions declaring official states of emergency. Similarly, fleets with bi-fuel vehicles, which provide the option to fuel with gasoline, may be subject to caveats during emergency periods that would not affect fleets with dedicated propane vehicles. To avoid unwanted disruptions in propane supply and price spikes, fleet administrators should closely review current and future fuel contracts and discuss various scenarios with their propane marketer to ensure that the contract terms match up with the fleet's needs and expectations.

Working with Propane Marketers
Local propane marketers are present in most communities across the United States and can provide expertise and assistance in building fueling stations and deploying vehicles. Additionally, many marketers offer attractive lease options for fuel storage tanks, pumps, and dispensing equipment in return for a multi-year fuel supply contract. The cost of this equipment can be paid back over time through a shared savings or performance contracting agreement, virtually eliminating up-front costs to the fleet operator.

The cost to purchase and install propane fueling infrastructure can be significant depending on the fleet's choice of refueling options; however, fuel contracts can greatly reduce the financial burden. In most cases, the fleet is only responsible for the cost of infrastructure that cannot be removed from the site when the fuel contract is over, such as the electricity line or the concrete pad for the storage tank.

Current and Future Propane Supply
While the issues last winter raised concerns, it is important to note that the supply of propane in the United States is on the rise. Propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. In recent years, as natural gas production levels in the United States have increased, so has the propane supply from these operations. Between 2007 and 2013, the percentage of the U.S. propane supply produced from North American resources increased from 76% to 92%. As such, propane is not subject to the same types of energy security risks as petroleum based fuels that depend on foreign oil supplies face.


For more information on propane production and distribution, pricing, supply, and infrastructure, you can visit the following websites:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Letter From Tim Carmichael About The DGE Vote

From: Tim Carmichael [mailto:tim@cngvc.org]
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:57 AM
Subject: National Conference of Weights and Measures Annual Meeting REPORT

Dear Board Members

As many of you know I spent the last 4 days participating in the National Conference of Weights and Measures Annual meeting in Detroit.

The disappointing news is that there were not enough votes to adopt a diesel gallon equivalent standard for LNG and CNG method of sale for natural gas in transportation.

The good news is there weren't enough votes to adopt a kilogram (or mass) standard as the method of sale either. [as feared this was presented as an alternative proposal at this meeting]

What Happened
  • Our industry was well represented at the meeting by NGV America, ANGA, Clean energy, Pivotal LNG, CHART, BLU LNG and CNGVC.
  • Collectively we covered the various committee meetings, answered questions, gave testimony, and urged the adoption of a diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) for LNG and CNG.
  • When it came to the final vote yesterday afternoon we had enough state representatives vote for the DGE proposal (29 including California and we needed 27) but we also needed 27 delegates and only 14 supported. The delegates are other weights and measures regulators mostly from the county level of government. There is no limit to how many delegates can participate from a single state. About 40 delegates were in the room for the final vote; most of them seemed to be from California and Michigan.
  • It is important to know that the proposal which was voted on called for natural gas to be measured and verified in a mass unit (pounds) but indicated in (what the consumer would see on the pump) in gallon equivalents.

Why I think the vote didn't go our way
  • The bottom line is that most of the weights and measures regulators strongly believe natural gas should be measured AND sold in a mass units. Several of the state representatives that voted for the DGE proposal commented during the week that they were only voting for the gallon equivalent proposal because their Governor or agency director told them they had to.

Other concerns raised included – appropriate pump labeling language, the number of decimal places needed for the mass measurement, a "slippery slope argument" that this will lead to everything being sold in equivalent units [to support this last concern some cited that the LPG industry recently inquired about changing their unit of measure to gallon equivalents]; complaints about the process being too political; complaints about industry applying too much pressure.

What happens now
  • For NCWM this issue goes back to the committee level; both to the Natural Gas Steering Committee and to regional meetings in the Fall
  • I believe it is important for our industry to continue to engage with NCWM's but based on our experience this week I am skeptical that more discussion will lead to a significant change of perspective among this body over the next year.
  • Several states are already working on and more indicated that they will now begin the process of developing regulations and/or legislation to create standards for DGE.
  • In California passage of AB 1907 becomes even more important now. I will connect with board members who have been engaging on this legislation and review the Administration's proposed amendments in the new light of no action at the national level.

I want to note that the state representatives from Colorado, Florida, and Arkansas were particularly supportive and helpful all week.


Tim Carmichael, President

Friday, July 11, 2014

Diesel Gallon Equivalent

From NGV Today
Read this and send an email to avoid chaos in the NGV marketplace:

In the week of July 13-17, 2014, the National Conference on Weights and Measures will vote on whether to establish a Diesel Gallon Equivalent (DGE) standard or a Kilogram standard for selling CNG and LNG in the U.S. If a kilogram standard is voted for, it will cause widespread disruption and chaos in the NGV marketplace.

This is your last chance to weigh in. Take five minutes to click here to obtain the email address for your state's weights and measures official, copy the below into an email and send it help make sure that a DGE standard is adopted and not a kilogram standard.

Matt Slavin
Editor, NGV Today


Copy and Paste the below:
Dear Weights and Measures Director,

In the week of July 13-17, 2014, the National Conference on Weights and Measures will consider a proposal to establish a standard for how compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are sold as transportation fuels in the U.S. I think is it imperative that NCWM adopt a standard for CNG and LNG to be sold in Diesel Gallon Equivalents (DGE) and not kilograms.

Adopting a national DGE standard will ensure that the market for using natural gas as a transportation fuel continues to grow and advances using alternative fuels to lower fuel costs for businesses and consumers, reduce emissions, and reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil.

Again, I think it is imperative that a DGE standard be adopted.

I don't know anyone who has fueled their vehicle in a U.S. state in kilograms. Everyone fuels in gallons. This is simply common sense.

Sincerely,

Your name, title, phone number and email address

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Five Pickens Principles of Energy

As we celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Pickens Plan, I’ve come up with a great way to summarize what we should focus on to ensure we continue to make progress in achieving the goal of greater energy security for our nation.

Remember, a key objective is eliminating once and for all the national security and economic threats posed by our dependence on OPEC oil.

I think it’s important to share these basic principles with you, so you can make your voice heard in the upcoming election. I call them “The Five Pickens Principles of Energy.”

The principles are:
  1. Clear responsibility and accountability for energy decisions.
  2. Inject real fuel competition into the transportation mix.
  3. Meet our own energy needs before we worry about other countries.
  4. Pursue a North American Energy Alliance.
  5. Remember: Energy is not a free market.

Educating our political leaders at all levels is important, and I’m hoping you will be a part of that. To help with that, I need you to watch this video as I briefly explain each of the principles to CBS News.

If you’re with me on securing North America’s energy future, these Five Pickens Principles of Energy can help your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors understand what we’ve been working so hard to accomplish. Please share this video with them.

NGV Industry To Rally in Detroit to Support the Adoption of the DGE Standard

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – NGVAmerica, the NGV industry and its advocates rally in support of the adoption of the diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) standard that will be voted on at the National Conference of Weights and Measures (NCWM) meeting to be held July 13–17 in Detroit, Michigan. The adoption of the DGE standard is a critical issue that will have lasting effects on the future of the industry.

To bring the DGE standard issue to Detroit, NGVAmerica was joined by natural gas industry leaders, including the American Gas Association, the American Public Gas Association and America's Natural Gas Alliance. Trade allies representing motor fuel retailers and users—the American Trucking Association, National Association for Convenience Stores, Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America and Truck Renting and Leasing Association—have expressed their support for the DGE approach as a sensible and necessary way to dispense, market and sell natural gas.

In addition, public policy makers from across the country support the DGE proposal. The Governors of Colorado and Oklahoma issued a joint letter expressing support. The Governors of Pennsylvania and Utah likewise issued individual letters supporting the continued use of the GGE standard and adoption of a DGE standard for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Finally, fifty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives have joined together to sign onto a letter expressing their support. "When people make business decisions, they want an easy way to make comparisons," said Amy Farrell, a vice president of America's Natural Gas Alliance. "This is a good, common-sense direction that is consistent and understandable." In 1994, the natural gas industry worked with NCWM to develop a standard that paved the way for compressed natural gas (CNG) to be sold in gasoline gallon equivalents. That standard has benefited consumers and industry alike because it provides a common unit for comparing the cost of CNG and gasoline. Now the natural gas industry has asked NCWM to work with it to develop a DGE standard. This new standard is needed because current rules do not address LNG, and increasingly CNG and LNG are being used in heavy-duty applications where diesel fuel is the dominant fuel. The DGE standard is universally supported by industry and would allow for the ready comparison of CNG and LNG with diesel.

In addition to providing a common-sense unit of sale for fuel retailers and users, the DGE standard provides the benchmark for consistency with taxation methods and creates efficiencies associated with accounting and record keeping requirements. Fourteen states have already adopted taxation changes so that LNG is taxed based on the DGE standard and more states are moving in this direction. "NGVAmerica thanks our members, industry allies and public officials for their tireless efforts that have resulted in getting the DGE standard to the point where it is a voting issue at the NCWM Annual Meeting," said NGVAmerica President Richard Kolodziej. "The adoption of the DGE standard would provide greater uniformity and clarity for the continued use of natural gas as a transportation fuel." For more information on this issue and the upcoming NCWM meeting, visit the NGVAmerica Call to Action at ngvamerica.org/gov_policy/fed_regs/fed_DGE_equivalent.html.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New, Improved Home Fueling Apparatus

New Gas Industries' new Home Refueling Apparatus "can deliver up to 80 gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) per week in the home utilizing only a 1 HP compressor that requires just a standard household power supply of 110 volts," said Harry Bruns, NGI’s Manager of Operations. They plan to scale up the technology so it can be used with small fleets of 5 to 15 vehicles.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pickens: "How Ukraine-Russia tensions could get the U.S. to rethink energy policy"

An opinion piece by T. Boone Pickens:
Once again, energy has vaulted to the top of the agenda in Washington, D.C. Too bad it has nothing to do with Congress or the administration showing any leadership on getting America an energy plan for the first time in 40 years. The reason energy is such a hot topic right now? Two words: Vladimir Putin.

Earlier this month, the Russian president inked a $400 billion natural-gas contract between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation. All eyes have been on Russia for closing this 30-year mega deal, but from my perspective, what matters most is that it demonstrates yet again that the Chinese have an energy plan that they are diligently pursuing, and we don't.

That's the geologist in me venting about America's lack of leadership on energy security. The conflicts between Russia and Ukraine has made everyone an expert in oil and gas production, oil and gas transmission, oil and gas refining, and oil and gas exports. The only problem with these self-appointed energy experts is that none of them have any idea what they're talking about.

What has happened with Putin and Ukraine is that they have focused attention on Europe, which is dependent – to a major degree – on natural gas produced in and shipped from Russia. Before we roll our collective eyes at how the Europeans could be so stupid as to put themselves in that situation, remember we've done the same thing ourselves.

Every day America imports about 50% of the oil it uses. A good deal of that comes from our major trading partners, Canada and Mexico, but about 36% of the oil we import comes from OPEC at a cost of over $11 billion per month. The truth is we are just as dependent on OPEC oil as Germany is on Russian natural gas. Germany imports 36% of its natural gas imports and 39% of its oil imports from Russian energy suppliers. Now what do you think?

But there's a key difference: America has the capacity to reduce its dependence on OPEC oil to about 25% of our current imports. That's because the United States is blessed with the largest oil and gas reserves in the world. Thanks to modern drilling techniques, the natural gas and oil in shale formations are now working their way into the nation's energy supply and powering state and local economies.

A lot of people have jumped onto the "export natural gas to Europe" bandwagon. Their goal is to destabilize the Russian economy by undercutting the European natural gas market. They say America's natural gas producers should have access to higher price markets overseas, but it's just not that simple.

First of all, I'm not sure we want Russia going from being a bully operating from economic stability to a bully operating from economic desperation. Second, permitting and actual exports are no quick fix. Export terminals need federal permits, and, even if they were fast-tracked, you are looking at late 2015 or even 2016 before full-scale exports are even feasible. Third, we should be looking for ways to use that oil and natural gas right here at home to help rebuild our economy on the back of cheap, domestic fuels, not rebuild the economies of Europe.

During their safety announcements you've heard flight attendants say, "Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping someone else with theirs." The same goes with energy. Let's figure out how to use it best here in America before we go helping someone else use our energy.

Here's a simple for instance. On Monday, the Obama administration is expected to unveil new climate change rules that looks to replace one domestic energy source – coal – with another energy source – natural gas. Wait a minute. Why aren't we replacing a foreign fuel source – imported diesel – with a domestic fuel source – natural gas? Not only would this help the administration achieve its goals of lowering emissions and cleaning up the environment but it would also go a long way toward zeroing out our trade deficit.

Instead of exporting our cleaner burning natural gas as all of these self-appointed energy experts are suggesting, we should be exporting our technology. The North American continent is not the only place in the world where shale oil and gas exist. It is estimated that by using hydro-fracking and horizontal drilling techniques, Ukraine could dramatically cut its dependence on foreign oil and gas. Same with the UK, Ireland, and a good deal of the European continent. We can sell them the technology, the workers, and the equipment to help them get off Russian oil and gas – or at least reduce the size of the club that Putin threatens them with – while utilizing the energy we're producing to power our way to prosperity.

Another effect of reducing our reliance on OPEC oil is reducing or removing our Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. One of the Fifth Fleet's principal roles is to protect OPEC oil that is shipped from the Persian Gulf, through the Strait of Hormuz, and on to its final destinations. Americans – you and I – pay 100% of those costs. Yet, 90% of OPEC oil ends up in China, India, Japan, and other countries. We pay all of the costs of protecting all of the oil, yet we get only 10 percent. So the next time someone brings up the Keystone XL pipeline, ask them how many of our aircraft carriers it would take to protect Canadian oil.

The quickest way to better our energy security is to help heavy-duty truckers and fleet owners switch from imported diesel and gasoline to domestic natural gas. Mind you – I'm not talking about your car or mine. It isn't feasible to shift a significant percentage of personal vehicles – cars and light trucks – to natural gas. By the time we made a dent in the 250 million vehicles on the road we'd be bumping up against a completely new fuel source – electricity or hydrogen.

But, there are only 8 million heavy-duty trucks – 18-wheelers, refuse and recycling trucks as examples – on our highways. Over-the-road trucks tend to travel the same routes on a regular schedule, so placing refueling facilities at appropriate places on our Interstates is a simple logistical problem that private industry is well on its way to solving.

Fleet vehicles like delivery and utility vans, taxis, municipal buses and government vehicles that go to a central parking facility every night can easily refuel with natural gas.

If we did those two things – shift heavy-duty trucks and fleet vehicles to natural gas – we would reduce our need for OPEC oil by 75% in about five years. If we also showed the Europeans how to use modern drilling techniques during that same period, we could reduce their dependence on Russian natural gas and oil in a well-ordered fashion and keep the Russians from panicking.

Making America's energy policy a top priority on our national agenda is a very good thing. Using the Russian/Ukraine situation to force us to think about how we should best use that energy would change the course of the American economy for the rest of the 21st century.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Supporting The DGE Unit Of Measure

Here's a letter addressed to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in support of establishing the diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) standard for dispensing liquified natural gas. Consideration is being given to requiring LNG dispensing to be measured in metric terms, which would make it a challenge for the consumer to compare the price of LNG to the price of diesel, gasoline or any other fuel. CNG is already measured in gasoline gallon equivalents at the pump. The letter is signed by representatives from the American Gas Association, America's Natural Gas Alliance, American Public Gas Association, American Trucking Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, NGVAmerica, Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, and the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

National Conference of Weights and Measures Hoping to Pass New Regs in July that Would Hamper Growth of Natural Gas Vehicle Industry

Saturday, June 21, 2014

National Conference of Weights and Measures Hoping to Pass New Regs in July that Would Hamper Growth of Natural Gas Vehicle Industry

Thanks in part to the efforts of Clean Cities Coalitions around the country, utilization of natural gas as a motor fuel has been steadily increasing since new domestic production of this natural resource began in the mid-2000s. It has provided fleet operators with a cheaper and cleaner way to operate their vehicles. Additionally, elected policymakers have supported adoption of natural gas motor fuel as a strategy to achieve energy independence.

Unfortunately, just as natural gas is starting to penetrate the commuter vehicle market, regulators are making a hard push to force consumers to purchase natural gas motor fuel in kilograms. The National Conference of Weights and Measures, which is comprised of state weights and measures officials, is attempting to pass this new regulation at its annual meeting in mid-July.

Forcing the metric system on natural gas motor fuel consumers is discriminatory because other motor fuels such as gasoline and diesel are sold in gallons and not kilograms. This regulation is also unnecessary since natural gas motor fuel is currently sold in gallon equivalents.

A gasoline gallon equivalent of natural gas has the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline; likewise, a diesel gallon equivalent has the same energy content as a gallon of diesel. These units allow the consumer to make an easy price comparison between natural gas and conventional fuels. It also allows consumers to purchase fuel in units in which they are familiar.

Consumers, elected officials, industry stakeholders and the marketplace have built a consensus around gas gallon equivalents as the method of sale. Many Clean Cities coalitions are asking stakeholders to let state governors and state weights and measures officials know they support gas gallon equivalents before chaos and confusion slows the growth of the emerging NGV market.

Fortunately, California is one of the states that has already indicated its support to keep gas gallon equivalents. So while the Clean Cities Coachella Valley Region isn’t asking stakeholders to write to ask for our leaders’ support, we encourage you to call or email Governor Brown and the California Department of Weights and Measures thanking them for their common sense leadership on this important issue.

Evolving Infrastructure For Alternative Fuels

Here's an article by Stephane Babcock that looks at the different aspects of the developing alternative fuel infrastructure.
"A national infrastructure is going to bubble up from a lot of local investment. There is not going to be a big, grand plan that is composed by the federal government, nor should there be," [Kathryn Clay, vice president of policy strategy at the American Gas Association] said. "But, what we can create, through regulatory policy, is the right environment to make it easy for investors to build those stations."

In addition to CNG the article addresses fuel cell technology, propane autogas, Dimethyl ether (DME), and electric vehicles.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Idle Reduction

Question of the Month: Why is idle reduction important? What are ways that I can prevent idling, and what are the benefits of doing so?

Answer: Idling, the time when a vehicle's engine is on but the vehicle is not moving, wastes over 6 billion gallons of fuel each year in the United States according to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). This adds up to more than $20 billion annually in fuel costs. For example, heavy-duty trucks frequently idle at rest stops; an estimated 650,000 long-haul trucks use more than 685 million gallons of fuel per year by unnecessary idling. Idle reduction technologies and practices can help lower fuel consumption and fuel costs, protect public health and the environment, and increase U.S. energy security. Reducing idle time can also help reduce engine wear and maintenance costs. Finally, idling for long periods is illegal in many states and jurisdictions.


Idle Reduction Technologies and Practices

Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Truck stop electrification and onboard equipment can help reduce idling at truck stops, roadsides, and delivery sites. It is important to note that the cost-effectiveness of the technologies below depend on the vehicle applications and climates in which they are used as well as the duration of the idling.

  • Truck Stop Electrification provides power from an external source for important systems such as air conditioning, heating, and appliances without needing to idle the engine during required stops at rest areas.
  • Auxiliary Power Units are portable units that are mounted to the vehicle, and provide power for climate control and electrical devices in trucks, locomotives, and marine vehicles without idling the primary vehicle engine.
  • Energy Recovery Systems use the vehicle's heat-transfer system to keep the truck's heater operating after the engine is turned off, using engine heat that would otherwise dissipate.
  • Automatic Engine Stop-Start Controls sense the temperature in the sleeper cabin and automatically turn the engine on if the sleeper is too hot or too cold.
  • Cab or Bunk Heaters supply warm air to the cab or bunk compartment using small diesel heaters. Heaters can be coupled with air conditioners if needed.


School Buses

School bus idling is particularly problematic because of the negative health impacts for children. School bus engines should be turned off while the engine is not needed, such as at loading and unloading areas, and should only be turned back on when the bus is ready to depart. Idle reduction technologies for school buses that operate in cold climates include small on-board diesel cabin heaters and electrical block heaters, which can provide warming for the passenger compartment and engine.


Light- and Medium-Duty Vehicles

For light-and medium-duty vehicles, the primary idle reduction strategy is to turn the engine off when the vehicle is parked or stopped for long periods of time. Drivers can also reduce petroleum consumption by avoiding the use of a remote vehicle starter and obeying no-idle zones. Fleets may implement policies to set minimum fuel-efficiency targets or require the use of idle reduction practices. In addition, fleet managers can train their drivers on the benefits of reduced idling and how to use idle reduction strategies.

For vehicles that must stop often or for extended periods of time, such as cabs, limousines, and utility trucks, the idle reduction technologies below can be implemented:

  • Air Heaters operate on engine fuel and are self-contained units that blow hot air directly into the vehicle's interior. These are similar to the heaters for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Coolant Heaters use the vehicle's heat-transfer system and are mounted in the engine compartment. This technology uses the vehicle's fuel to heat the coolant, and then pumps the heated coolant through the engine, radiator, and heater box. By keeping the engine warm, the coolant heater reduces the impact of cold starts. These are similar to the heaters for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Waste-Heat Recovery Systems are similar to the energy recovery systems mentioned above for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Auxiliary Power Systems are similar to the auxiliary power units mentioned above for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Automatic Power Management Systems allow a vehicle driver to turn off the engine and use battery power to run the accessories from the battery. When the power management system senses the battery getting low, it restarts the engine until battery levels regenerate.
  • Hybridization enables vehicles requiring power take-off equipment to perform work with the main engine off.


Idling Regulations

There are many state and local laws and incentives in place to reduce idling in specific jurisdictions. For information on current idling reduction incentives and regulations, see the Clean Cities IdleBase tool and the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Laws and Incentives database. While most current laws apply to diesel vehicles, increasingly laws are beginning to address gasoline vehicles as well.


Idle Reduction Tools

IdleBox Toolkit

The IdleBox toolkit includes resources such as print products, templates, presentations, and information resources that can assist in creating idle reduction projects for medium- and heavy-duty fleets. IdleBox can also be used to educate policymakers, fleet managers, drivers, and others about the benefits of idle reduction.


Idle Reduction Worksheets

ANL has light- and heavy-duty idle reduction worksheets for drivers and fleet managers on their Idle Reduction Tools and Outreach Materials page. The worksheets can help calculate the cost of avoidable idling, as well as potential savings from reducing idling time by implementing technologies and practices.


Additional Resources

For additional information about idling and idle reduction, please see the following resources:


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"The situation in Ukraine shouldn't be our fight"

The latest update from T. Boone Pickens:

You want to know how Russia and Ukraine fit into our energy picture? They don't.

Some people, particularly in Washington, say we should use natural gas exports to support U.S. foreign policy objectives. I disagree. That's not our fight. I believe we should use our natural gas to support Americans, not Ukrainians.

Let's get our country the energy plan it deserves. We've got the resources. The only thing we're lacking is the leadership.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

U.S. Slow To Adopt Natural Gas Vehicles

The title of the article by Michael Fitzsimmons is Natural Gas Transportation: What's Taking The U.S. So Long?. The U.S. still imports petroleum at the rate of 9.2 million barrels/day (in March 2014). Petroleum product exports have risen, but are still less than 4 million bpd. U.S. petroleum consumption averages 18.5 million bpd. "US politicians seem to prefer sending Americans' energy dollars out of the country for oil - primarily from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela." The vehicle that can "substantially reduce foreign oil imports and protect the US economy against events like those seen recently in Libya, Ukraine and Iraq" is a natural gas/electric hybrid engine architecture.

"Combined with the Cummins Inc new game-changing 12-liter ISX12-G engine, Clean Energy's natural gas refueling infrastructure is having a meaningful affect in the long-haul trucking sector."

"When will US energy policymakers stop depending on unwise military interventions and start depending on what we have right here at home: abundant reserves of cheap and clean natural gas?"