U.S. House Passes Highway Bill with Alt-Fuel Tax Parity Provision
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a highway and transportation funding bill that includes a provision meant to help level the playing field for how certain alternative fuels are taxed in relation to conventional fuels. H.R.3038, legislation to fund and extend the authorization for the country's highway and transit programs through the end of 2015, passed the House in a 312-119 vote.
To read the full story, click here.
Find information about laws and incentives, fueling stations, vehicles, fuel prices, and more.
Have you ever pored over Internet search results on a quest to find information about alternative fuels and advanced vehicles in your state—only to end up frustrated or confused?
Now you can kiss those futile hours spent goodbye, thanks to the revamped State Information pages on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). Simply select which state you would like to find transportation data for, and you will be presented with information about laws and incentives, fueling stations, vehicles, fuel prices, and more—all in one easily accessible place.
The AFDC's State pages aggregate many different sources of credible data (including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and R. L. Polk & Co.), and are a launching point for state-specific success stories presented through short videos and online case studies. The pages also allow you to quickly identify alternative transportation projects happening around the state, locate your nearest Clean Cities coalition, and find other reliable resources.
Try it for yourself and get the scoop on your state now!
Question of the Month: What are the lates updates on hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicle deployment?
Answer: Fuel cell electric vehicles have been around for a while, mostly in limited quantities and locations through demonstration projects. But these vehicles, with thier 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 FCEWs 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 salfe alternative vehicle fuel.
Below are some of the recent activities related to FCEV commercialization:
FCEVs are beginning to enter the consumer market in certain regions in the United States and around the world. Hyundai introduced the 2015 Tuscon 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 BMQ, 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 demonstratoin 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 (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html), 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 (http://cafcp.org/), 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 (http://www.energy.ca.gov/drive/) 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 (http://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project). 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 (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/accomplishments-and-progress). Through their Fuel Cell Technologies Office (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/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.
- AFDC’s Hydrogen page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen.html) provides basic information on hydrogen, FCEVs, and the associated infrastructure.
- AFDC’s Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Search (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/search/) allows users to look for available FCEVs.
- H2USA, a public-private partnership to promote hydrogen and FCEV commercialization and adoption, maintains a FCEV page (http://h2usa.org/fuel-cell-electric-vehicles).
- NREL’s Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology Validation page (http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/proj_tech_validation.html) includes evaluation and performance review data on various FCEVs in a real-world setting, as well as hydrogen station performance, maintenance, cost, and safety data.
- NREL’s report, Hydrogen Station Cost Estimates (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/56412.pdf) outlines the costs associated with hydrogen fueling stations.
- Argonne National Laboratory’s Hydrogen Refueling Station Analysis Model (HRSAM; http://hydrogen.energy.gov/h2a_delivery.html) can be used to calculate the cost of hydrogen stations.
- NREL’s Hydrogen Financial Analysis Scenario Tool (H2FAST; http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/h2fast/) can also provide useful information on the cost of hydrogen stations.
- DOE’s website (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/safety-codes-and-standards) covers relevant safety, codes, and standards.
- AFDC’s Hydrogen Laws and Incentives page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/HY) is a searchable tool with information on state regulations and incentives pertaining to hydrogen.
Agility Fuel Systems, in it's partnership with Freightliner Trucks, recently announced the opening of a new manufacturing plant in Salisbuy, NC, which is in close proximity to the Freightliner manufacturing facilities in Cleveland, NC, and Mt. Holly, NC, where the Freightliner Cascadia 113, M2 112, and 114SD natural gas trucks are produced. The new Agility plant is expected to commence production later this year.
Click here to read the full article.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under President Obama, reduced the required levels of ethanol that must be blednded into gasoline. Members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have also introduced separate bills in order to end the federal ethanol blending mandate. Despite the Obama adminstration's reduction in ethanol blending requirements, the EPA raised future biofuel totals.
Click here to read more.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to spend $100 million on an initiative to double the number of higher-ethanol blend fuel pumps in the U.S. The Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership would provide grants to boost states' research into renewable fuel, including E15 and E85. However, economist Scott Irwin said the program may have little impact because the Environmental Protection Agency's recently announced ethanol mandates are too low to prompt changes from refiners and service stations.
To read the full article, click here.
In 2007, Mecklenburg County Air Quality initiated an air pollution control program called Grants to Replace Aging Diesel Engines or GRADE. GRADE is designed to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx), an ozone forming air pollutant, by providing businesses and organizations funding incentives to replace or repower heavy-duty non-road equipment with newer, cleaner, less polluting engines. Since 2007, GRADE has funded 283 projects and awarded $5.13 million. These projects have reduced 432 tons of ozone-forming NOx in the Charlotte region.
$500,000 is now available in reimbursements! This round of funding is specifically for publicaly and privately owned facilities that accept solid waste like:
- municipal solid waste
- construction and demolition debris
- land clearing and inert debris
- yard waste
Due Date: June 30, 2015
Eligible Projects: Equipment replacement or Equipment repower
Evaluation Based on:
- Amount of nitrogen oxido pollution reduced
- Cost per pound of nitrogen oxide pollution reduced
- Amount of time spent in eligible region
- Equipment Replacement- Up to 25% of cost
- Equipment Repower- Up to 40% of cost
For more information, click HERE.
Please be in touch with CCFC staff:
- Jason Wager 704.348.2707 jwager [at] centralina [dot] org;
- Jessica Hill 704.3474710 jhill [at] centralina [dot] org;
- Erika Ruane 704.688.6508 eruane [at] centralina [dot] org
if you have ideas related to this opportunity for projects in the Greater Charlotte Region.
Question of the Month: How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this summer?
Answer: Whether you are taking a summer road trip or just running errands around town, there are things you can do to improve your fuel economy and save money on fuel in the summertime.
You may notice an increase in your fuel economy as the weather gets warmer. This is because vehicle engines, transmissions and other components take less time to warm up and summer gasoline blends can have slightly more energy per gallon than winter blends. However, if you use your air conditioning (AC) a lot or drive with the windows down, you might actually see your fuel economy drop.
AC is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in the summertime. In fact, using the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by as much as 25%, or even more if you are driving a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). Driving with the windows down can also reduce fuel economy due to greater aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) on the vehicle. Though this has a small effect on fuel economy, aerodynamic drag is more apparent when driving at the highway speeds typical for road trips.
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 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.
The following tips should be used year-round to improve fuel economy:
- Use cruise control while driving on highways to maintain a consistent speed and conserve fuel.
- Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Vehicles with heavier loads tend to have reduced fuel economy. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce fuel economy by 1%.
- Avoid transporting cargo on the rooftop of the vehicle. Traveling with cargo on the roof increases wind resistance and can significantly lower your fuel economy. Rear-mounted cargo has a much smaller effect on fuel economy than rooftop cargo.
- Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and heavy braking) can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. This informational video shows real-world effects of aggressive driving on fuel economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zWXwqqqHm0.
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Tires that are not inflated to the proper pressure can reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every one pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure in all of the tires. Having your tires inflated to the proper pressure is also safer and can help tires last longer.
- Pay attention to the speed limit. Not only is this a safe practice, but gas mileage tends to decrease when driving at speeds above 50 miles per hour.
For more information on how to improve your fuel economy, please refer to the following FuelEconomy.gov websites:
- Fuel Economy in Hot Weather - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hotweather.shtml
- Gas Mileage Tips - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml
- Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.jsp.
Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse [at] icfi [dot] com
The 2015 Clean Cities Region of Excellence Award is presented to the City of Concord for demonstrating leadership and excellence in clean transportation and fuel activities. Concord has recognized the environmental, economic, and national security benefits of reducing consumption of fossil fuels and has implemented programs and initiatives to lower their use of traditional transportation fuels. Through the Clean Fuels Advanced Technology (CFAT) grant, the City of Concord installed six publicly accessible Electric Vehicle charging stations throughout the City and two Ford Focus all-electric vehicles to replace older gasoline powered cars for City employee use. They also purchased a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) called the Firefly for their downtown parking enforcement officer to use.
Concord’s desire to decrease their dependence on petroleum goes beyond alternative fuels. They have decreased their fuel usage for the past five consecutive years, even though they have increased miles-traveled due to growth. This is due to right-sizing their fleet, keeping the vehicles young and fuel efficient, and other out-of-the-box techniques. One such technique is using smaller scout vehicles to locate yard waste and bulky pick-up materials at the curb and track the locations using a GPS. This allows the larger, less fuel-efficient trucks to go directly to these pick-up locations without wasting fuel traveling around the entire city. Concord has also implemented a customer service center in the Police Department to take routine police reports over the phone, negating the need to dispatch an officer to take them.
A congratulations and a thank you goes out to long time active Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition stakeholder, the City of Concord, for taking big steps forward in reducing petroleum dependence in unique ways that reduce costs and improve quality of life for their community.
A separate committee reviewed and selected the winner of the 2015 Clean Cities Region of Excellence Award. This committee included: Marcie Smith, CCFC Stakeholder (Gaston County Public Works), Megan Green, CCFC Stakeholder (Mecklenburg County Air Quality), and Dave Navey, CCFC Chair (Duke Energy). The Clean Fuels Coalition appreciates the work of this committee and thanks them for their time and participation in the awards program.
The CCFC would also like to recognize the runners-up, ReVenture Park and the Town of Matthews for the great work they're doing to reduce pertoleum dependence in the region!
In a recent article, "Big Oil is About to Lose Control of the Auto Industry," Bloomberg L.P. predicts the rise of electric vehicles and the decline of oil consumption. Here are some highlights of the article:
- Oil consumption has been flat for a decade – demand peaked in 2004 and has been falling ever since.
- Plug-in sales have quintupled in the last four years – global sales were 288,500 units in 2014 – and manufacturers are steadily introducing new models.
- EV battery costs have fallen 60 percent since 2010, and analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expect them to keep declining at the same pace, bringing plug-in prices in line with those of legacy vehicles within a decade.
- Investment in biofuels, Big Oil’s preferred “clean” solution, has plunged 90 percent since peaking at $29.8 billion in 2007.
To read the full article, click HERE.