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.