Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Summary of Alternative Fuel Tax Credit Extensions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2029

On Friday, December 18th, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029). Division Q, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act), retroactively extends many tax credits.

There are several PATH Act provisions with implications for Clean Cities portfolio items:

  • Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit. Section 182 extends the tax credit for alternative fuel infrastructure through December 31, 2016. Fueling equipment for natural gas, propane, liquefied hydrogen, electricity, E85, and biodiesel are eligible for a tax credit of 30%, up to $30,000. Residential fueling equipment may receive a tax credit up to $1,000.

  • Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit. Section 192 extends the $0.50 per gallon tax credit for alternative fuels, including liquefied hydrogen, through December 31, 2016.

  • Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Section 192 also extends the $0.50 per gallon tax credit for alternative fuel used to produce a mixture containing at least 0.1% gasoline, diesel, or kerosene through December 31, 2016. Alternative fuel blenders must be registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

  • Qualified Two-wheeled Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit. Section 183 extends the two-wheeled plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit through December 31, 2017. Qualified vehicles are eligible of a tax credit for 10% of the cost of the vehicle, up to $2,500.

  • Fuel Cell Motor Vehicle Tax Credit. Section 193 extends the $4,000 tax credit for the purchase of qualified light-duty fuel cell vehicles through December 31, 2016.

  • Biodiesel Income Tax Credit. Section 185 extends the biodiesel income tax credit through December 31, 2016. A taxpayer that delivers unblended biodiesel (B100) into the tank of a vehicle may be eligible for a $1.00 per gallon of biodiesel, agri-biodiesel, or renewable diesel tax credit.

  • Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Section 185 also extends the $0.50 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel, agri-biodiesel, or renewable diesel used to produce a mixture containing at least 0.1% gasoline, diesel, or kerosene through December 31, 2016. Alternative fuel blenders must be registered with the IRS.

  • Second Generation Biofuel Production Property Depreciation Allowance. Section 189 extends the 50% special depreciation allowance for second generation biofuel production plants through January 1, 2017.

  • Second Generation Producer Tax Credit. Section 184 extends the tax credit for second generation biofuel producers through December 31, 2016. Second generation biofuel producers registered with the IRS may be eligible for a $1.01 per gallon of biodiesel tax credit.

The changes outlined above are effective immediately. To view the full text of the PATH Act, visit See the Alternative Fuels Data Center Federal Laws and Incentives page for descriptions of each incentive.

As always, if you have questions about the PATH Act or other topics, please contact the Technical Response Service.

Happy Holidays!

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act

On Friday, December 4th, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act (Public Law 114-94). Like prior surface transportation legislation, the FAST Act authorizes funds for highway construction, as well as highway safety and public transportation programs.

There are several FAST Act provisions with implications for Clean Cities portfolio items:
  • National Electric Vehicle Charging and Alternative Fuel Station Corridors. Section 1413 of the bill charges the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) with designating national plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors in strategic locations along major highways by December 2016. DOT will update and re-designate the corridors every five years.
  • PEV Charging on Federal Property. Section 1413 also explicitly authorizes the U.S. General Services Administration or other federal agencies to install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) that may be used by federal employees and certain others to charge their privately-owned vehicles. Those who use the EVSE to charge vehicles must pay to reimburse the agencies for the EVSE procurement, installation, and maintenance.
  • State High Occupancy Lane (HOV) Exemptions. Section 1411 extends the provisions related to HOV lane exemptions for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles. Only alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and PEVs, however, may access HOV lanes toll-free through September 30, 2025. States are allowed to implement toll-access HOV programs for other low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles through September 30, 2019.
  • Tire Fuel Efficiency Standards. Section 24331 states that DOT, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy will develop regulations for passenger car tire fuel efficiency standards by December 2017. Some exemptions apply, including light truck, snow, and spare tires.
  • Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel Economy Calculation. Section 24341 moves up to 2017, from 2020, when natural gas vehicle fuel economy calculation methodology (see 40 Code of Federal Regulations 600.510) will change. Model year 2017 and later vehicles will use the new calculation methodology to better align with the conventional vehicle fuel economy methodology update schedule.

The changes outlined above are effective immediately. To view the full text of the FAST Act, visit

As an additional federal legislation update, Congress is expected to vote on the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act very soon. The PATH Act, now House Amendment #2 to H.R. 2029, could extend AFV refueling property tax credits, cellulosic biofuels production tax credits, and biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives. Stay tuned for more information!

As always, if you have questions about the FAST Act or other topics, please contact the Technical Response Service.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Six Tips for a Successful Transition to Natural Gas

From Ryder Exchange:

It's a persistent challenge for food and beverage transportation managers: How to squeeze the last drop of fuel efficiency from each mile traveled, while also avoiding fuel price volatility and complying with changing government regulations. Through its partnership with Ryder, Eagle Distributing found the answer in a well-planned transition to natural gas vehicles.

During a recent Food Logistics webinar entitled, "Natural Gas Fleets: the secret ingredient for stable fuel costs and compliant emissions," Eagle and Ryder executives discussed the steps taken and lessons learned from their fleet conversion from diesel to natural gas.

Natural gas has become a "best of all worlds" business strategy for organizations seeking fuel price stability, increased efficiency, and sustainable stewardship – especially amid increasing governmental regulations. But how can a company long tied to diesel best transition to natural gas?

For Eagle Distributing, which delivers alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to 1,100 accounts weekly along 6,500 miles of local and over-the-road routes throughout Louisiana, the move to a sustainable resource was no surprise. The company began recycling decades ago and continues to see itself as a leader in sustainability.

"We are constantly looking for green initiatives for conserving energy, reusing items, or recycling," says Robert A. "Bobby" Nichols, Chairman of Eagle Distributing of Shreveport. "So compressed natural gas (CNG) was an obvious advantage for us to leverage as a green initiative."

What did Eagle learn from its move to CNG vehicles?
  1. Start small. Eagle began by bringing on four CNG-powered sales vehicles to better understand what the transition would entail. Once employees embraced the move, the company took delivery of more vehicles. Over the next several months, Eagle transitioned out older diesel vehicles and took delivery of 24 natural gas vehicles. Eagle still uses several diesel units for remote markets where natural gas fueling stations are not yet available.

  2. Be part of a bigger effort. It helped that the cities of Shreveport and Bossier, which were involved in natural gas conversions of their own, built four natural gas stations for community use. Eagle eventually partnered with another local company to build their own fueling stations.

  3. Educate those who'll be affected. Eagle's drivers were skeptical at first. They feared loss of power or limited refueling capacity. So Eagle educated its drivers to boost acceptance. Drivers eventually appreciated being at the wheel of state-of-the-art technology that was quieter and cleaner, and whose fuel was domestically sourced. In fact, a large natural gas reserve exists in North Louisiana's Haynesville shale region. Drivers soon saw themselves as environmental stewards using a locally-sourced product.

  4. Look for incentives. Louisiana offers various grants and incentives for converting fleets to natural gas. So do California, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New York. These can help offset the costs of acquiring and operating such vehicles. Eagle also tapped Ryder's Flex-to-Green program, which allows the company to swap out diesel for natural gas units without penalty when the situation or timing is right.

  5. Calculate the costs. Eagle executives realized upfront costs are offset by environmental benefits in the near term, and any eventual rise in diesel costs in the long term. Moreover, as natural gas fuel tank technology increases the diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) – one configuration can deliver 1,100 miles on a single fill up – more OEMs and truck manufacturers will collaborate to deliver units with even greater range.

  6. Study the factors that make natural gas work. Whether converting all or part of a fleet, make an informed decision. Spec the right vehicle type and application, including expected hours of service, cost of fuel, duty cycle (whether local or over the road), and frequency or availability of refueling stations on the projected route.

Eagle today enjoys decreased exposure to fuel price volatility, a reduced carbon footprint, and a positive halo in the community, especially as its efforts have been profiled by local newspapers and TV stations. Eagle credits a well-planned transition and its various allies who helped ease the move.

"Our partnerships were the most important part of converting to CNG," Trey Rives, Eagle's Operations Manager, told attendees. Added Nichols, "More people in our area are aware of CNG advantages and appreciate Eagle moving that way."

To listen to the recorded webinar, hosted by Food Logistics magazine and sponsored by Ryder, in its entirety, click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Four Senators Form Energy And Environment Group

Four Republican Senators, Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Mark Kirk (Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), have formed the Energy and Environment Working Group. The group will focus on ways to protect our environment and climate while also bolstering clean energy innovation that helps drive job creation.
"I'm tired of sending hundreds of billions of dollars to buy oil from people who hate us. We must have energy independence. And in the process, I believe it is possible to produce a safe, clean environment, and create new well-paying jobs for Americans of all generations," said Senator Graham.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Clean Energy Fuels Heavy Duty Trucks from Coast to Coast

Clean Energy's nationwide network of truck-friendly CNG and LNG stations fuel fleets from coast-to-coast. We will keep your trucks on the road, making money for your business while you save money on fuel.
A question to the Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team: We have several power plants here in the Coachella Valley and one proposed to the east of us in an old iron mine. We're hearing concerns that using natural gas in gas-fired power plants contributes to climate change. Could you shed some light on this?

Answer: As you know, the goal of Clean Cities is to help reduce U.S. reliance on petroleum in transportation. As the mission of Clean Cities is to reduce petroleum consumption in on-road vehicles, natural gas power plants are outside of our scope of work. That said, we have provided some information and resources below that might be helpful for you.

As you are likely aware, while natural gas emits fewer carbon emissions than gasoline or coal, it does still emit carbon dioxide (CO2), which in turn contributes to climate change. For information on the breakdown of natural gas CO2 emissions compared to coal, diesel, gasoline, and propane, see the U.S Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Frequently Asked Questions page. As you can see, natural gas emits 117 pounds of CO2 per million British thermal units (BTUs) of energy. Natural gas is primarily methane (CH4), which has a higher energy content relative to other fuels. Therefore, it has a relatively lower CO2 to energy content.

In addition, you may be interested in several reports and articles which discuss emissions of natural gas power plants. Please see below for more information:
  • Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) report "Leveraging Natural Gas to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions": According to the Executive Summary, this report examines the implications of expanded natural gas use in key sectors of the economy, and recommends policies and actions needed to maximize climate benefits of natural gas in power generation, buildings, manufacturing, and transportation. In particular, you may be interested in the Power Sector section, which states that "for each unit of energy produced, a megawatt-hour (MWh) of natural gas-fired generation contributes around half the amount of CO2 emissions as coal-fired generation and about 68 percent of the amount of CO2 emissions from oil-fired generation".
  • C2ES page "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Power Plants": This page discusses EPA's new standard for new coal and natural gas fired power plants, which was issued on August 3, 2015. The new rule for natural gas power plants states that "new natural gas power plants can emit no more than 1,000 pounds (lbs) of carbon dioxide per MWh of electricity produced." Natural gas power plants can reach the standard by implementing efficient generation technology, which is discussed in more detail on that page. The page also discusses the future of natural gas power generation and CO2 emissions.
  • Scientific American article "A Natural Gas Power Plant with Carbon Constraints – and an Expiration Date": This article discusses the process to approval for a natural gas power plant in Massachusetts. As is stated in the article, "although its carbon footprint at the smokestack may be only 50 to 60 percent that of coal, a gas-fired power plant still puts hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide into the air every hour".
  • National Geographic article "Switch to Natural Gas Won't Reduce Carbon Emissions Much, Study Finds": As the article discusses, a study from 2014 in the journal Environmental Research Letters finds that "between 2013 and 2055 the use of natural gas could reduce cumulative emissions from the electricity sector by no more than 9 percent, a reduction the authors say will have an insignificant impact on climate." The article also discusses how switching to natural gas may discourage the use of carbon-free renewable energy.

We hope this information is helpful! Please let us know if we can provide any additional information.


Abby Brown, ICF International
Supporting the U.S. Department of Energy
and National Renewable Energy Laboratory -
Clean Cities Technical Response Service

How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this winter?

Question of the Month: How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this winter?

Answer: Whether taking that long-awaited ski trip or just commuting to work in the frigid weather, there are several things you can do to improve your fuel economy and save money in the wintertime.

Why You Get Worse Gas Mileage When It's Cold

Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly. On particularly chilly days, when temperatures drop to 20°F or lower, you can expect to see up to a 12% hit on your fuel economy for short city trips. During very quick trips—traveling only three to four miles—your fuel economy could dip even lower (as much as 22%)!

This reduction in fuel economy is due to several factors. First of all, cold temperatures increase the time it takes your vehicle to warm the cabin, engine, drive-line fluids, and other components up to fuel-efficient operating temperatures. Cold fluids increase the friction on your engine and transmission, which can reduce fuel economy.

Let's take a moment to address one of the main myths about driving in cold weather:

Myth: To warm up your engine and vehicle cabin in the wintertime, you should let the engine run for several minutes before driving.

Truth: Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds of idling. In fact, the engine will warm up faster when driving. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and even more fuel if the engine is cold or accessories like seat heaters are on.

Also keep in mind that winter gasoline blends in cold climates have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends. This is because refineries alter the chemical makeup of gasoline to allow it to evaporate more easily in low temperatures, ensuring proper engine operation.

Aerodynamic drag is another consideration. In simple terms, cold air is denser than warm air, so when temperatures drop, wind resistance increases slightly. This requires a little more power from your engine to drive at a given speed. The effects of aerodynamic drag on fuel economy are most significant at highway speeds.

Winter Fuel-Saving Tips

The following tips can help you warm your car (and fingers!) more efficiently and improve your fuel economy in the winter:
  • Park in a warmer place like a garage that traps heat to keep the initial temperature of your engine and cabin higher than it would be outside in the elements.
  • Avoid idling to warm up the engine and cabin. See more information above.
  • Avoid using seat warmers more than necessary, as they require additional power.
  • Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners: Pre-heat your vehicle while still plugged in. Since PEVs use battery power to provide heat to the cabin, cabin and seat heaters can drain the vehicle's battery and reduce the overall range. If you need to warm up quickly, warm the vehicle while it's still charging.
  • PEV owners: Use seat heaters instead of the cabin heater when able. Using seat heaters instead of the cabin heater can save energy. Seat heaters use less energy than cabin heaters and can often be more efficient at warming you up quickly in the winter.
  • Read the owner's manual for detailed information on how your vehicle's cabin and seat heaters work and how to use them efficiently.

Do you live in a place where snow and ice isn't an issue? Check out the May Question of the Month for year-round warm weather driving tips.

More Information

For more information on how to improve your fuel economy, please refer to the following tips:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Desert Hot Springs rolls out fleet of nine natural gas vehicles

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled in Desert Hot Springs, California, to mark the addition of nine compressed natural gas vehicles to the city's fleet under a grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The vehicles were purchased through a more than $1 million grant from the Sentinel Mitigation Fund, which is administered by the Southern California Air Quality Management District. The fund was created as part of an agreement to help offset the impact of emissions from the Sentinel Plant in north Palm Springs.

"We are very pleased to be able to participate in local efforts to keep our air clean," Mayor Adam Sanchez said. "And very importantly, this grant allowed us to do so at no cost to the city."

The various vehicles, 21 in total, will be used by the city, Mission Springs Water District, Family Services of the Desert, Food Now and St. Elizabeth's Food Pantry.

Some of the grant funds also paid for upgrades to a compressed natural gas station near the water district headquarters.

EV Recharging Stations In California

A NY Times article about the shortage of recharging spots for electric vehicles in California due to the increasing number of EVs on the road.
About half of the 330,000 electric vehicles in this country are registered in California, and Gov. Jerry Brown wants to increase that number to 1.5 million by 2025. He has pledged a sharp increase in charging stations.

Right now, there is roughly one public charger for every 10 electric vehicles — about 15,000 in California and 33,000 across the country, according to ChargePoint, one of the biggest charging-station companies.

Here in the Coachella Valley we have public CNG stations at:
  • Desert Hot Springs - just off Park Lane
  • Palm Springs Airport
  • Arco Station - Cathedral City
  • SunLine Transit Agency - 1000 Palms
  • Palm Desert at the Burrtec Facility (west end of the property)
  • SunLine Transit Agency - Indio

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Are fuel taxes equal for all fuels?

Question of the Month: Are fuel taxes equal for all fuels?

Answer: In theory, if all motor fuels were taxed equitably it would ensure tax consistency among jurisdictions and reduce consumer burdens. In practice, motor fuel taxes vary widely between jurisdictions and across fuel types. This is largely because federal and some state highway excise taxes are based on volume, not on energy content, resulting in significant tax inequity among fuels. As discussed in the July and August Questions of the Month, motor fuel taxes are used to fund transportation infrastructure. The number of vehicle miles traveled on a specific amount of fuel is linked to the amount of energy in the fuel. Therefore, energy content provides a more accurate measure of a vehicle’s impact on a roadway.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure you understand some basic keywords and phrases regarding energy content:
  • BTU: British thermal units, or the unit of measure to show an amount of energy.
  • Heating value: A measure of energy content in BTUs, which represents the amount of heat released during combustion. Typically, we use the lower heating value when comparing fuels.
  • Gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE): The amount of fuel that has the equivalent energy to a gallon of gasoline. Similarly, diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) is the amount of fuel that has the equivalent energy to a gallon of diesel. GGE is used for alternative fuels that typically replace gasoline (e.g., ethanol), whereas DGE is used to measure fuels that replace diesel (e.g., liquefied natural gas, or LNG).

Federal Excise Taxes
Last month, the President signed H.R.3236 (Public Law 114-41), the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, which assesses the federal fuel excise tax levied against LNG and propane on a Btu basis relative to diesel and gasoline, respectively, beginning on January 1, 2016. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is already taxed based on an energy content basis relative to gasoline. Prior to Public Law 114-41, the federal excise taxes for LNG and propane were higher than the conventional fuel counterpart. This is still the case for biodiesel and ethanol, leaving these fuels at a tax disadvantage compared to diesel and gasoline, respectively.

State Excise Taxes
Motor fuel tax variations within and between states are even more complex. Many states have some of the same tax equity issues that we see at the federal level. Plus, there are many different fuel definitions and measures, which create an undue burden for interstate fleets that must comply with the International Fuel Tax Agreement. For example, only some states tax CNG and LNG on a GGE or DGE basis. Though a number of states are currently evaluating legislative proposals to tax fuels this way, others states are waiting for a decision by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM). And if NCWM does adopt a standard, states will still have to individually adopt the standard into their laws or regulations before it can be implemented.

Taxes on Electricity as a Transportation Fuel
Other motor fuels, such as electricity and hydrogen, do not have federal excise tax requirements. Although plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) currently represent a very small portion of the total vehicle population, it is likely PEV and FCEV registrations will continue to grow in coming years. Any effort to collect taxes on electricity to pay for highway infrastructure would need to account for the fact that PEVs are capable of fueling at home. In addition, some plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners pay taxes on their gasoline use. Making the situation even more complicated, electricity is already taxed in ways not tied to highway funding. Some states have implemented annual PEV fees through registration or vehicle decal programs to account for lost revenue from motor fuel taxes, which we discussed in the August Question of the Month.

Refer to the following for more information on motor fuel taxes:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, September 11, 2015

Idling Reduction

Are you looking for resources to start an anti-idling program at your child's school? Now that school is back in session, parents concerned about emissions from idling school buses and the associated cost of wasted fuel have many places to find materials to launch a campaign.

A good place to start is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8's website, "Idle Free Schools." This site explains what goes into a well thought-out program and where to find materials. In addition, it includes links to other successful programs. In designing a program, be aware of any state or local restrictions on school-bus idling. (Clean Cities' IdleBase spreadsheet is a valuable resource on idling laws and ordinances.)

The cost of fuel wasted by idling school buses is another reason to reduce idling. The chart below shows the savings possible with the reduced idling of just one bus. (The chart reflects fuel savings alone; it does not include savings on maintenance costs due to reduced engine-on time.)

Annual Savings From Idling Reduction For One School Bus

If your time and financial resources don't allow you to undertake a full-blown idling-reduction program, you can find a whole host of idling reduction signs by searching "school bus idling reduction."

Finally, keep in mind that it's not just idling school buses that affect air quality near schools. Those dropping off and picking up students can help keep the air clean by not idling while stationary.

Please let us know about any efforts you undertake.

Terry M. Levinson, Editor
Allegheny Science & Technology

"The Economics of Natural Gas Vehicles"

"Natural gas prices, while historically volatile, have become a bit more predictable since the shale gas revolution took hold. These prices are expected to remain relatively stable for years to come, while oil prices constantly go up and down." "The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that natural gas will cost $1 to $2 less than diesel and gasoline for many years to come."

Factors to consider when choosing natural gas vehicles:
  • Higher Acquisition Costs
  • Reduced Spending on Fuel
  • Similar Maintenance Spending
  • Effective Depreciation Costs
  • Leasing Costs

Monday, August 17, 2015

What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?

Question of the Month: What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?

Answer: Nearly all of us regularly use and access public roads, infrastructure, or transit services. As you may have read in the July Question of the Month, it's common practice for federal, state, and local governments to tax motor fuels on a per gallon basis to fund transportation infrastructure and increase revenue. Returns from gasoline and diesel taxes are on the decline due to a number of factors, including rising construction costs, general inflation, and greater vehicle efficiency, which reduces fuel use per mile. To make up for this deficit, a number of states are evaluating and implementing alternatives to traditional motor fuel tax models through the use of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, annual fees for vehicles that use certain fuels, such as electricity, or adjusting or establishing fuel taxes for certain alternative fuels.

VMT Fees
VMT fees are designed to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive, rather than the fuel they consume. The concept seeks to base taxes on use rather than fuel consumption, which provides a fuel neutral approach and offsets decreasing revenue from increased vehicle efficiency. Concerns have, however, been raised over program administration and individual privacy. Several states, including Vermont and Oregon, have studied or implemented VMT fee pilot programs. In July of 2015, Oregon began a road usage charge program for 5,000 volunteers and is encouraging participation by plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers ( The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) collects $0.015 per mile and issues gas tax refunds to participants. Vehicle miles will be monitored through a vehicle transponder.

Annual Fees
As alternative fuel use has grown, a number of states have established annual fees or decals to recover revenue that would have normally come from motor fuel taxes. These programs also provide a mechanism to collect revenue from those that charge or fuel at home and, in some cases, are used to incentivize alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Fees have traditionally been imposed on fuels such as natural gas and propane, but are now being considered and implemented for PEVs. Establishing the appropriate level for such fees can be tricky as different vehicle classes use very different amounts of fuel. In addition, some AFVs, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and bi-fuel natural gas vehicles, may already pay motor fuel taxes for their gasoline or diesel use. Examples of fees in place include:
  • Colorado requires a $50 annual fee for a PEV decal.
  • Georgia requires a $200 annual fee for non-commercial PEVs and $300 annual fee for commercial PEVs.
  • Louisiana requires an annual fee of $120 or a percentage of the current special fuels tax rate for compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane vehicles.
  • Nebraska requires a $75 annual fee for PEVs and other AFVs not covered under state motor fuel tax regulations.
  • North Carolina requires a $100 annual fee for all-electric vehicles.

Alternative Fuel Taxes
Many states have passed regulations to either tax certain alternative fuels for the first time or to structure motor fuel taxes to account for energy content variations between alternative fuels and gasoline or diesel. For example, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah are among the states that have enacted legislation or regulations in 2015 to define the energy content of CNG and liquefied natural gas on a gasoline gallon equivalent or diesel gallon equivalent basis. Wyoming updated regulations related to alternative fuel excise taxes and dealer license fees for natural gas, propane, electricity, and renewable diesel. Kentucky and Utah enacted excise tax requirements for hydrogen and South Dakota increased excise taxes for certain fuels, including ethanol. Look out for the September Question of the Month for further information on efforts to equalize federal fuel taxes across fuels.

Until motor fuel tax revenue shortfalls can be adequately addressed, states risk underfunding our roads and infrastructure. While no single approach has emerged as the preferred choice, creative solutions, such as those discussed above, may help states adequately adjust for continued sales of AFVs and other fuel-efficient vehicles. With the exception of VMT fees, these approaches, however, only address a small portion of the nation's fleet and are not likely to resolve broader funding issues in the near-term.

Refer to the following for more information on alternatives to traditional state motor fuel taxes:

Also watch for an upcoming paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on motor fuel excise taxes

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, August 14, 2015

U.S. Surpasses "Major Milestone" for Alternative Fueling Stations

"With little fanfare, the U.S. reached the 20,000 mark for the number of alternative fueling stations operating throughout the nation back in May."
There are about 21,300 fueling stations in the country offering electricity, propane autogas, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, biodiesel (B20 and above) or E85 (up to 85% ethanol). That total includes around 17,500 public stations and almost 3,800 private ones.
The Station Locator indicates there are the following number of public and private stations for each fuel type when most search criteria are applied: Electricity: 12,334; Propane: 3,292; E85: 2,956; CNG: 1,549; Biodiesel: 729; LNG: 115; and Hydrogen: 41.

There are about 153,000 gasoline service stations in the U.S.

These numbers come from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator tool.

Webinar 2: Integrating ZEVs Into Your Fleet - August 27

West Coast Electric Fleets Peer-to-Peer Network
Join us for a webinar on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Register now!
Have you been looking for ways to reduce your fleet’s impact on the environment and improve air quality where you operate? Are you interested in saving money on fuel? Do you need help determining how you can best integrate clean transportation into your operations?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should attend the second West Coast Electric Fleets Peer-to-Peer Webinar. The theme will be Best Practices for Integrating ZEVs Into Your Fleet and will address:
  • How to best match different ZEVs to different duty cycles
  • How to encourage operator acceptance
  • Strategies to incorporate charging into the work schedule
Throughout the webinar series, you will learn more about the initiative and hear case studies from West Coast Electric Fleets partners - your peer fleets that can share their valuable Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) adoption experiences.

WHO: Fleet leaders of all sizes and backgrounds in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia can participate and join the West Coast Electric Fleets Initiative. The case studies to be presented are TBD. Stay tuned!

WHAT: Joining West Coast Electric fleets is free and gives you access to many valuable resources. Check out the West Coast Electric Fleets website to view press releases, see our webinar schedule, and make your commitment. It’s fast, easy, and free!

The purpose of these interactive and informative events is peer-to-peer education, so if you’d like to share your own story, please let us know.

If you missed the first webinar, the recording can be found here:

See you at the webinar on August 27!

Learn more online at

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

View System Requirements

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summary of Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Changes in Public Law 114-41

Dear Coordinators,

As you may have seen in trade press, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Obama signed, legislation that adjusts the federal excise tax on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane used in vehicles. These changes are effective January 1, 2016. For the full text of Public Law 114-41, enacted July 31, 2015, see

The following summary highlights the key aspects of the legislation that relate to alternative fuel excise tax changes to help you and your stakeholders understand the implications of this legislation. We have also updated the Alternative Fuels Data Center Laws & Incentives website to reflect the changes. Feel free to share this information as you see fit, and contact the Clean Cities Technical Response Service with any questions.

H.R. 3236, Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015
  • Enacted date: July 31, 2015; Public Law 114-41
  • Relevant provision: Section 2008
  • Notable changes:
    • Adjusts the federal excise tax rates for propane and LNG used in vehicles so that, like compressed natural gas (CNG), the fuels are taxed on an energy equivalent basis rather than a volumetric basis.
    • Establishes clear energy equivalencies for each fuel, as follows:
      • One diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) is equal to 6.06 pounds of LNG
      • One gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) is equal to 5.75 pounds of propane and 5.66 pounds of CNG
  • Effective date: January 1, 2016 (i.e., the amendments apply to any sale or use of these fuel types after December 31, 2015)

Summary of Current and Adjusted Excise Tax Rates
Fuel TypeCurrent Excise Tax Rate (through Dec. 31, 2015)New Tax Rate (effective Jan. 1, 2016)Impact of Amendment
Propane$0.183 per liquid gallon$0.183 per GGEPropane is taxed on an energy content basis that is equal to gasoline, rather than a volumetric gallon
LNG$0.243 per liquid gallon$0.243 per DGELNG is taxed on an energy content basis that is equal to diesel, rather than a volumetric gallon
CNG$0.183 per GGE$0.183 per GGENo change from current tax rates


The Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, July 24, 2015

Question Of The Month: What Factors Affect Fuel Prices?

There are four factors that have the most significance influence: the cost of crude oil, refining costs and profits, distribution and marketing costs, and fuel taxes.

"As of May, approximately 51% of the cost of gasoline was related to the price of crude oil. The fluctuation in crude oil price is the biggest factor in the volatility of the price of gasoline."

"With the exception of electricity and natural gas, alternative fuel prices can also be impacted by the price of crude oil and the price and demand for petroleum products."

"In May, federal, state, and local taxes accounted for 17% of the average retail price of a gallon of gasoline."

"In May, refinery costs and profits represented about 22% of the cost of a gallon of gasoline."

"Middle East Oil – Terrorism’s Fuel of Choice"

T. Boone Pickens recently spoke with Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America. You can listen to the podcast here.

The five takeaways:
  1. Middle East oil funds terrorism. It's that simple.
    No one denies that ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and other terrorist organizations sell oil, steal oil, and get paid off in petrodollars. The only question is how many millions they take in each month.
  2. Today's War on Terrorism is a much different battle.
    Terrorist organizations such as ISIS produce TV shows. They use social media to lure recruits. They've even hacked into the Pentagon. This requires time, training, and a lot of money. Want to guess where they get it?
  3. America's dependence on OPEC oil is part of the problem.
    The CIA has long known that OPEC producers buy off terrorists by funneling money to terrorist organizations. Think about that the next time you fill up your tank.
  4. Americans can't change the Middle East.
    U.S. troops spent a decade fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. What did we get? Thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars added to the national debt. And they're still fighting each other just as they were before we arrived.
  5. But we can change ourselves.
    Over the last decade, we've cut our dependency on Middle East oil in half. Let's end this dangerous addiction by converting the remaining 50 percent to American fuels such as domestic natural gas.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Energy Sector Shifting To New Natural Gas Projects

"[The] global energy sector is in the midst of a [tectonic] plate shift, a change in emphasis from oil to natural gas and alternative power." For example, in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, a 1,000 MW natural gas fueled power project. "In the 2014 fourth quarter, market data firm SNL Financial announced 29 coal plants in 10 states had switched to natural gas or biomass over the past four years" while 54 more are expected to convert in the next nine years.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Southern California Gas and California Trucking Association Team Up For NG

"Southern California Gas Co., the USA's largest natural gas distribution utility, is teaming up with the California Trucking Association to help expand awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas and alternative fuels for heavy-duty trucking and goods movement." "

"SoCalGas is hosting a series of free natural gas trucking workshops through November at locations inLos Angeles and San Diego. Fleet operators who have already transitioned to natural gas-powered trucks will be at the workshops to share their first-hand experiences."

Information on specific workshops can be found here. The first workshop is on July 14. Another will be in September, followed by one in October.

Fuels Fix - Summer 2015 Edition

In this edition:
  • Big Cypress National Preserve Could Have Been an International Airport, but...
  • Buying a Car? This Free Webinar Could Help
  • Want to Save $$ While Driving This Summer?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Natural Gas is the Key to Winning the War on Terror

Pickens Plan Army:

It's past time for America to diversify its transportation demand beyond oil. That's my message to TIME magazine readers on the seventh anniversary of the Pickens Plan. The truth is we're funding both sides in the War Against Terrorism, and ISIS is taking full advantage of this.

ISIS is now funding a considerable amount of its activities - perhaps as much as $3 million per day - by illegally selling oil captured in Iraq and Syria on the world markets.

I've always said I'm for everything American, and America has made some big gains since I launched the Pickens Plan in 2008. Our production of oil and gas in the U.S. has skyrocketed. So has the efficiency of our vehicles. And if we can expand the market for affordable battery-powered cars, I think we should do that, too.

But our elected officials have yet to take advantage of our trump card: moving our heavy-duty trucks from diesel to natural gas. As the 2016 election approaches, that needs to be our top priority.

We need national leadership, and every candidate for federal office - from Congress to the U.S. Senate and certainly for the presidency - should be prepared to offer a clear, complete, and workable national energy plan. This has to be a key element of the 2016 election cycle. Americans can ill afford being lulled into a false sense of energy security because of temporarily cheaper gasoline prices at the pump.

- Boone

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Updates On Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment

Question of the Month: What are the latest updates on hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicle deployment?

Answer: Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have been around for a while, mostly in limited quantities and locations through demonstration projects. But these vehicles, with their potential to significantly cut petroleum consumption and reduce emissions, are starting to make their way into dealerships and onto roads across the country. Though the market for FCEVs is still in its infancy, many government organizations and private companies are working on research and deployment efforts to make hydrogen a widespread, viable, affordable, and safe alternative vehicle fuel.

Below are some of the recent activities related to FCEV commercialization:

Vehicle Availability
FCEVs are beginning to enter the consumer market in certain regions in the United States and around the world. Hyundai introduced the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell in California last year for lease, and Toyota Motor Company announced they will release the 2016 Mirai for sale this October at eight California dealerships that were specially selected for their experience with alternative fuels and their proximity to existing hydrogen fueling stations. Vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes/Daimler, Nissan, and Volkswagen are expecting to launch FCEV production vehicles in select regions of the country in the coming years. Other automakers continue to introduce their FCEVs through demonstration projects. The FCEV market is also growing for buses, ground support equipment, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, back-up power, prime power applications, and continues to be strong for forklifts.

While OEMs are offering affordable lease options, some of which include the cost of fuel, FCEVs are still expensive. However, production costs have decreased significantly in recent years and FCEVs are expected to be cost-competitive with conventional vehicles in the coming years.

Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure
As the FCEV market expands, hydrogen fueling infrastructure will need to grow to match demand. Most of the hydrogen stations available today have been built to support OEM FCEV demonstration projects. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) Alternative Fueling Station Locator, there are 12 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in the United States, with many more in the planning stages. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, there are 49 more stations in development in California that will be publically available. Development efforts are also underway in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Like the vehicles, the high cost of fueling equipment remains a key challenge. Hydrogen station costs can vary significantly based on hydrogen feedstock, station capacity, utilization, proximity to production, and available incentives. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Hydrogen Station Cost Calculator estimates that stations can cost between $2 and $5 million. However, like FCEVs, as the demand grows, the cost of hydrogen fueling equipment will decrease and the number of stations will increase.

Codes, Standards, and Incentives
The widespread deployment of FCEVs and the associated network of hydrogen fueling stations requires the development, maintenance, and harmonization of codes, standards, and regulations to keep up with the technology. These efforts are ongoing and are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as well as domestic and international organizations.

Incentives will also continue to be important to promote and maintain a market for hydrogen and FCEVs. California is leading in the number of relevant state incentives. For instance, to meet the objectives of California's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, the California Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program is allocating $20 million annually for the construction of at least 100 public hydrogen stations in California by January 1, 2024. In addition, California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of approved FCEVs. Nine other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have also adopted California's ZEV mandate to increase the number of ZEVs, including FCEVs, on the roads.

Ongoing Research and Development
Significant research and development efforts by DOE, the national laboratories, and other H2USA partners have brought the hydrogen industry to where it is today ( Through their Fuel Cell Technologies Office, DOE continues to support research in the areas of hydrogen production, delivery, and storage, as well as technology validation, manufacturing, and market transformation.

Additional Resources

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this summer?

That's the question of the month for May.
The following tips can help you use the AC more efficiently and therefore improve fuel economy in the summer:
  • Read the owner's manual for detailed information on how your vehicle's AC system works and how to use it efficiently.
  • Park your vehicle in shady areas or use a sunshade to keep the interior from getting too hot.
  • Do not use the AC more than needed. If you need to use the AC, avoid using the "max" setting for extended periods.
  • If you are driving at high speeds, use the AC instead of rolling down the windows. If the vehicle is too hot, you may lower the car windows to expel hot air for the first few minutes. Once the hot air has left the vehicle, switch to using the AC.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and even more if the AC is on. Do not idle the vehicle to cool it down before a trip; most AC systems actually cool the vehicle faster while driving.
  • PEV owners, pre-cool your vehicle with the AC while still plugged in. Since PEVs use battery power to provide AC, it can drain the vehicle's batteries and reduce the vehicle's overall range. If you need to use the AC to cool down your PEV, try to do so while the vehicle is still charging.


Friday, May 1, 2015

John Bolton Talks Energy and the Election

A discussion (audio only) between T. Boone Pickens and John Bolton on the subjects of "energy prices, Iran's current and future role as an oil producer and the prospects for Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Heavy is Too Heavy? Idle Reduction Equipment Impacts Weight Limit Restrictions

Question of the Month: What are the state weight limits for heavy-duty vehicles on interstate highways? What weight limit exemptions exist for vehicles equipped with idle reduction technology?

Answer: Under federal law, no vehicle weighing more than 20,000 pounds (lbs) on one axle, 34,000 lbs on a tandem axle, or 80,000 lbs overall may access federal interstate highways (e.g., Interstate 70, which runs across the country from Maryland to Utah), regardless of where they get on the highway. States must enforce these requirements, or they may not be eligible for federal highway funding. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allows states to offer weight-limit exemptions for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) with on-board idle reduction technology.

Please note that states may set their own weight restrictions for roads that start and end within their boundaries, but we will focus on interstate highway requirements here.

Idle Reduction Technologies
Federal regulations allow states to adopt weight exemptions for auxiliary power units (APUs) or other qualified technologies that reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from engine idling. APUs are portable, vehicle-mounted systems that provide power for climate control and electrical devices without idling. For long-haul trucks, these systems typically have a small internal combustion engine (usually diesel) equipped with a generator to provide electricity and heat. Other on-board idle reduction technologies include automatic start-stop controls, energy recovery systems, fuel-operated heaters, coolant heaters, and battery-electric and thermal-storage air conditioners.

State Weight Exemptions
States may permit HDVs equipped with idle reduction technology to exceed the specified weight limit by up to 550 lbs to compensate for the additional weight of the equipment. The allowance was previously 400 lbs, but the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation, enacted in 2012, increased it to 550 lbs.

States must enact a law or institute an enforcement policy with their own exemptions to reflect this increased weight allowance. A map of State Recognition of the Auxiliary Power Weight Exemption to Gross Vehicle Weight is available from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). As the map shows, many states have not updated their laws and enforcement policies to reflect the increase in the federal allowance to 550 lbs, which means the exemption is still limited to 400 lbs. There are also six states where the exemption is not permitted at all.

States must require HDV drivers to demonstrate eligibility for vehicle weight limit exemptions. For example, drivers may need to have paperwork on hand that verifies the weight of the idle reduction equipment and be able to demonstrate that it is functional. Requirements are different from state to state.

More information on these state weight limit exemptions is also available on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Laws and Incentives database. The Advanced Search options allow you to identify specific exemptions by location, technology/fuel type (idle reduction), incentive/regulation type (exemption), and user-type (vehicle owner or driver). Each description of a state idle reduction weight exemption includes a reference to the applicable legislation or policy.

Refer to EERE's National Idling Reduction Network News and Argonne National Laboratory's Idle Reduction Tools and Outreach Materials for more information on idle reduction technologies and state vehicle weight limit exemptions for this equipment.

Friday, April 17, 2015

41% of U.S. public transit buses use alt fuels, hybrid technology

SunLine launched its 100% CNG (Natural Gas Fleet including all support vehicles) in May 2004 by converting from diesel! It was reported to be the first in the nation and has been leading the way ever since.

"APTA's latest research shows that 41.3% of U.S. public transportation buses were using alternative fuels or hybrid technology as of January 1, 2014."

Fueled By Oil And Natural Gas – Now And In The Future

Ron Nickelson
Managing Partner at EPL Global

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 contains a number of stats and projections, but you could boil them down to a couple of important points.

  • Oil and natural gas are and will continue to be the foundation of an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s key to continued U.S. economic growth, energy security and overall security.
  • Domestic output is and will continue to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy. EIA says strong growth in domestic oil and natural gas production from shale and other tight rock formations, coupled with modest demand growth after 2020, will result in declining imports.

The revolution in U.S. oil and natural gas production has provided an incredible boost to workers and consumers here in America. The latest federal forecast shows that U.S. production can remain strong, despite the downturn in prices, but an all-of-the-above energy policy will be critical to our competitive edge in the decades to come. We need more energy – not less – especially as natural gas plays a rapidly growing role in America’s energy mix and domestic oil production continues to replace imports.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Yale Climate Opinion Maps

Go here to see the results of a survey of public opinion on climate change. The responses are mapped out by state, congressional district and county. They questioned beliefs, risk perceptions and policy support.

They found that 63% of the respondents believe that global warming is happening. At the other end of the scale, 57% do not believe that global warming is harming people in the U.S. now, and 55% believe that global warming will cause them little to no personal harm.

On the positive side, 77% support funding research into renewable energy sources.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Question Of The Month - March

Question of the Month: What are the key terms and considerations I should remember when discussing emissions?

Answer: When discussing emissions, it is important to use the appropriate terms, know the context, and present a complete picture. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has a number of tools and resources available to understand and calculate the emissions benefits of alternative fuels and vehicles (see below). But first, let's get back to the basics.

Criteria Pollutants versus Non-Criteria Pollutants
Vehicles emit both criteria pollutants and non-criteria pollutants. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies six common pollutants as criteria pollutants based on certain health and environmental standards:
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Ozone
  • Oxides of sulfur (SOx)
  • Lead

For more information about criteria pollutant emissions, refer to the EPA Six Common Air Pollutants page.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, are considered non-criteria pollutants. The following also fall into this category:
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Total hydrocarbons (HCs)
  • Methane
  • Air toxics
  • Other organic gases

For more information about GHG emissions, refer to the EPA Overview of GHGs page.

Measuring Emissions
You can evaluate vehicle emissions through a number of lenses. Considering emissions in different contexts can present a more impactful picture, depending on the stakeholder.
  • Life cycle emissions: Emissions generated through all stages of a fuel's life, including raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal or recycling. Life cycle emissions are typically considered when evaluating "global pollutants," or pollutants that have an impact regardless of where they are emitted. For example, GHGs are usually measured on a life cycle basis.
  • Tailpipe emissions: Emissions directly from the exhaust of the vehicle. Tailpipe emissions are considered when looking at "local pollutants," or pollutants that impact air quality directly where they are emitted. For example, criteria pollutants, such as PM, are typically measured as tailpipe emissions.
  • Evaporative emissions: Emissions from the vehicle's fuel system and during the fueling process, not including the combustion of the fuel. Evaporative emissions are also considered when evaluating "local pollutants."

When quantifying or presenting emissions benefits for a particular project, make sure to ask yourself which type of information would have the most impact. For example, an air quality organization (e.g., your local American Lung Association chapter) would like to hear about tailpipe and evaporative emissions. A national company focused on their footprint and impact on climate change would want to hear about life cycle emissions.

Emissions Standards
EPA sets tailpipe and evaporative emissions standards for new vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) enforces vehicle emissions standards for California that are more stringent than federal EPA standards. Vehicles may be certified as compliant with federal standards, CARB standards, or both. For information on CARB's emissions standards, visit the Mobile Source Program Portal. Several other states have chosen to comply with certain CARB standards as well, so read up on the requirements in your state. See the AFDC Laws & Incentives website for more information.

Other Considerations
It is important to take into account the "full package" when looking at alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) emissions; again, try to anticipate questions from the audience to tease out the most relevant information. For example, keep the following in mind:
  • While a fuel may not offer large reductions in one pollutant, it may offer significant benefits in other pollutants.
  • Emissions information should also be presented in the larger context of federal and state regulations.
  • Be sure you are comparing "apples to apples" when looking at AFV and conventional vehicle emissions. For instance, look at which pollutants are covered, and whether tailpipe, life cycle, and/or evaporative emissions are being measured. Every study is different, so it can be very difficult to compare outcomes of one to outcomes of another.

Emissions Analysis Tools
With all of that in mind, the following tools can be used to calculate fleet emissions and plan for overall emission reductions:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Effect Of Energy Prices

As diesel prices drop, fleet managers think twice about converting to CNG or LNG.
In fact, diesel and natural gas should both be part of a longer view of a policy of fuel diversification.

Many companies committed to natural gas vehicle deployment realize long-term economic and environmental benefits. U.S. production of natural gas is rising, as new sources are discovered and recovered nationwide. It’s widely available in both local and over the road markets. Product innovation means alternative fuel sources for commercial transportation, from the light- to medium-duty market or an entire portfolio, including passenger, light, medium and heavy commercial use, are finding their place beside traditional fuel sources.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Vehicle Emissions Connected To Impaired Learning Skills

A year-long study of 3,000 children, ages 7 to 10, in Barcelona showed a correlation between high levels of elemental carbon, nitrogen dioxide, and particulates and a lag in three areas of cognitive development. The study suggests "'that the developing brain may be vulnerable to traffic-related air pollution well into middle childhood,' not just before birth or during the infant years." Elemental carbon, nitrogen dioxide, and particulates are extremely small bits of burned hydrocarbons created by burning oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel.

The article in which they published their findings (in English) can be found here.

Oklahoma Regulation Of Oil And Gas Wells

Monica Trauzzi of The Cutting Edge interviews EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan on the subject of the increased number of earthquakes in Oklahoma. The state is taking a closer look at regulating disposal wells, which are not hydraulic fracturing wells. A video of the interview can be found here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fueling the Future with Natural Gas

Natural gas as a transportation fuel is not a new story. While it is often the energy source for generating electricity and heating homes, vehicles have been operating on this fuel for quite some time too. Did you know one of every five transit buses in America is fueled by natural gas? It's no wonder more and more fleets are discovering the advantages of going green with this advanced, cost-effective, sustainable solution. With over 14.8 million natural gas vehicles on the roads worldwide, its growing acceptance is rapidly changing perceptions. See the infographic below to explore the benefits of a cleaner, more efficient means of powering North America's commercial transportation.

Natural Gas Infographic

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

State Laws and Incentives Trends of 2014

Question of the Month: What were the trends related to state laws and incentives enacted in 2014?

Answer: In 2014, state legislatures and agencies developed a variety of incentives, laws, and regulations that support the use of alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and other strategies that align with Clean Cities' mission to cut the amount of petroleum used in transportation. As compared to 2013, however, the number of newly adopted state laws and incentives decreased, possibly indicating the effectiveness of existing state programs and a maturing alternative fuels market. In addition, several states worked to fine-tune existing programs this past year, in an effort to find the best market penetration strategy.

The majority of state actions across all alternative fuel types in 2014 involved new tax-related incentives and fuel tax regulations. Specific alternative fuels displayed their own trends as well. Laws and incentives related to the following vehicle categories showed particularly notable trends:

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including both all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and the associated charging infrastructure were the most popular alternative fuel technologies that received attention in the form of new state laws and incentives in 2014. States worked to streamline many aspects of PEV ownership, including allowing direct purchase of PEVs from a manufacturer, modifying rebates and incentives for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and allowing EVSE at previously restricted locations, such as state facilities and leased properties. A few states initiated studies to determine how to assess PEV owners a supplemental fee in lieu of the gasoline tax they would no longer be paying. Utilities continued to provide new incentives in 2014, including electricity rate discounts for customers using EVSE.

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) continued to draw significant consideration in 2014, particularly in those states following the national trend of basing a compressed natural gas (CNG) motor fuel tax on the favorable gasoline gallon equivalent conversion. The NGV market and consumers will also benefit from grants, weight exemptions, fuel-training programs, and fleet requirements enacted in the last year.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) State Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Laws and Incentives: 2014 Year in Review provides a further synopsis of incentives and laws enacted in 2014 and is available at

In addition, the AFDC Laws & Incentives website provides a searchable database to identify and view relevant state laws and incentives by fuel type, as well as by variety of incentive or regulation. As legislative and gubernatorial actions occur, follow the AFDC website for updates at This database may be particularly useful in the states in which the 2014 elections changed control of the legislative or executive branches. In addition, as the 2014 tax filing deadline approaches, the Laws & Incentives website is a valuable resource for basic information regarding new or expiring state and federal tax credits.

As new trends and issues emerge from legislation, policy bulletins are posted to the AFDC Technology and Policy Bulletins page. You may submit new or updated state laws and incentives, and suggestions for policy bulletin topics, by emailing the TRS directly at

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Benefits And Challenges Of Natural Gas Conversion

Here's an interview with Erik Neandross who "has constructed conversion programs for some of the nation's largest private fleets, as well as for the city of Los Angeles."
Q: What do private fleets need to understand about the economics of conversion before exploring such a move? Are there metrics or benchmarks they need to meet before determining this is right for them?

A: Regardless of which fuel you choose, NGVs (natural gas vehicles) have a significant capital cost compared with diesel-powered vehicles. The incremental cost needs to be paid back through lower fuel costs. Each fleet must look at how much fuel it burns per vehicle to determine if the savings will cover the incremental cost of the vehicles in an acceptable timeframe. Some heavy-duty fleets simply don't use enough fuel per vehicle to meet their own investment hurdle rates. They will have a difficult time making the switch.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

LNG Taxed 70% More Per Diesel Gallon Equivalent Than Diesel

Mike Whitlatch, VP of Global Energy and Procurement at UPS, points out the inequity of the LNG federal tax rate.
The federal excise tax on both diesel fuel and LNG – which is determined by volume – is 24.3 cents per gallon. Yet, a gallon of LNG produces only 58% of the energy produced from a gallon of diesel.

In short, LNG is effectively taxed at 170% of the rate of diesel fuel on an energy-equivalent basis. That means LNG is being taxed an additional 17 cents per equivalent gallon more than diesel fuel.
In addition to the higher original cost of natural gas-powered alternative fuel vehicles when compared to a conventional diesel truck, a 12% Federal Excise Tax for heavy-duty trucks is applied to the total purchase price of the vehicle.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Question Of The Month

Question of the Month: How can I search for, update, and add new alternative fueling station information using the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator?

Answer: The Alternative Fueling Station Locator is the most used tool on the AFDC and was recently improved to include new options that may change the way users search for and update station information. You can now filter search results by several fuel-specific fields, such as connector type for electric vehicle charging and fill pressure for natural gas fueling. Read on for more details and information on how to update an existing station or add a new station to the Station Locator.

Searching for Alternative Fueling Stations
Previously, Station Locator users could select "more search options" to look for stations with a certain status/access type (e.g., existing, planned, or private), owner type, payment methods, and electric charger types (e.g., Level 2, DC fast charge). The Station Locator now allows users to search filter by fuel-specific fields corresponding to each alternative fuel. First, select a specific fuel type from the "All Fuels" drop-down menu, and then click on "more search options" to choose from the following filters:
  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
    • Fill type – the type of dispensing capability available at the station (e.g., fast-fill, time-fill)
    • Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the CNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)
  • Fill pressure – the pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure available at the station (e.g., 2400, 3000, 3600)
    • Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
    • Charger type – the type of electric chargers available at the station (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast, Legacy chargers)
    • Connectors and outlets – the type of outlets (e.g., NEMA 14-50, NEMA 5-15, NEMA 5-20) and connectors (e.g., J1772, CHAdeMO, J1772 Combo, Tesla) available for charging
    • Networks – the name of the EVSE network
  • Ethanol (E85)
    • Mid-level blend availability – stations that provide mid-level ethanol blends, such as E30
  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
    • Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the LNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)
  • Propane (LPG)
    • Vehicle-specific service – stations that cater to propane vehicles by offering a vehicle fuel-specific price and accept credit cards

Updating Station Information
Once you have located a station of interest, click on the station pinpoint on the map and select "More details" for even more information about the station. If you would like to report updates to the station, such as additional fuel types available, click on "Report a change" in the top right corner of the station details page. Users will receive an email confirmation after reporting updates, and the submission goes directly to the Clean Cities Technical Response Service (TRS) for review and verification. Anyone reporting an update should expect the TRS to contact you or a station point of contact before the changes will appear on the Station Locator.

Adding New Fueling Stations
If you have searched the Station Locator, including private and planned stations, and would like to report one that is not listed, use the New Station Submission form. You can navigate to this form by clicking "Submit New Station" in the top right corner of the Station Locator map. Please provide as much detail as possible in the submission form, and use the "Comments" section as needed to include additional information. As with the station update process mentioned above, you will receive an automated email confirmation and the TRS will likely contact you to verify information before adding the station to the Station Locator.

Alternatively, you may submit new or updated station information by emailing the TRS directly at If you have several new stations or updates to submit, this method is preferred, as the TRS can provide you with an Excel spreadsheet template.

For more information on how fueling stations are maintained and updated in the Station Locator, see the AFDC About the Alternative Fueling Station Data page.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Question Of The Month: What are some of the major electric vehicle supply equipment networks?

Question of the Month: What are some of 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, a sampling of the major networks currently includes 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. Other networks currently represented in the Station Locator include EV Connect, EVSE LLC WebNet, GRIDbot, OpConnect, RechargeAccess, and Shorepower. Please note that many public EVSE are not networked and do not require specific access cards.

EVSE Networks
For detailed information on a range of charging networks, see below. As mentioned above, this is meant to show the diversity among EVSE networks, particularly those represented in the Station Locator, and is not a comprehensive listing.

  • 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,

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,

  • 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,

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,

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,

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,

  • 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 Supercharger
  • 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.
Greenlots SKY
 Network AccessCost
AeroVironmentMonthly subscription;
$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
$25 initial fee
Cost per charge varies
GE WattStation ConnectPay-as-you-goCost per charge varies
Monthly subscription;
Subscription costs and cost per charge vary
NRG eVgoMonthly subscription;
Cost per charge varies by region
$20 initial fee
Cost per charge varies

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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Waste Haulers Continue To Use CNG and LNG

Waste360 reports that fleets are still saving $1/diesel gallon equivalent by using natural gas.

Fuels Fix Winter Edition

The winter edition of Fuels Fix is available now. Articles:
  • City of Louisville's Electric downtown buses
  • Adsorption is Future for NGVs
  • Daycare Fleets Run Hybrid Electric
  • Du Mond Ag Commits to Alt Fuels
  • Alabama's Largest, Public CNG Station Opens
  • Blue Star Gas Helps Utah Fleet Go Propane
  • Wisconsin's Smart Fleet Program
  • Ozinga awarded Clean Cities Clean Fuels Champion
  • Republic Services Turns to CNG
  • PA NG Resources Get a Boost