Thursday, January 21, 2016

Incentives And Laws Enacted By State Legislatures In 2015

Question of the Month: What types of incentives and laws did state legislators and others enact in 2015?

Answer: State legislators, as well as governors and utilities, were busy in 2015 introducing and enacting new incentives, laws, and regulations related to alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and other petroleum reduction strategies. Programs related to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and natural gas vehicles (NGVs), along with the associated fueling infrastructure, were most common at the state level.

State Incentives
The most common types of incentives established in 2015 were grants and rebates. States leading the way in these areas include Delaware, most notably for its Clean Transportation Program rebates for vehicles and infrastructure. On the other hand, the number of tax incentives introduced at the state level decreased. In fact, Georgia repealed its successful tax incentive program. Aside from political and budgetary drivers, the decrease in new tax incentives may be the result of a call from industry to enact programs that will allow fleets and consumers to see their savings more immediately (e.g., rebates, vouchers). This would take the place of waiting until tax season when the financial benefit may get lost in the other expenses and returns from the previous year.

Utility Incentives
Utilities also continue to innovate and establish incentives that go beyond the typical residential charging infrastructure rebate and electricity rate discount programs. For example, Alabama Power offers an incentive to dealerships for each new PEV sale or lease within its service territory. Public Service Electric & Gas in New Jersey provides free electric vehicle supply equipment to qualified companies in its service territory for the purpose of workplace charging.

Laws and Regulations
Registration and licensing was the most common law and regulation topic, in part due to several states introducing fees for PEV registration to account for lost revenue from fuel taxes. Several states also continued to build on a movement that began in 2014 and changes that took place at the federal level by enacting legislation to tax natural gas and other fuels on an energy (i.e., gasoline-gallon or diesel-gallon) equivalent basis. States also continued to set targets and requirements for their own fleets, many of which go above and beyond federal requirements for alternative fuel vehicle acquisition. For example, Colorado Executive Order 2015-013 established fleet purchase and pricing requirements that prioritize NGVs, annual fuel use reduction targets on a vehicle-specific basis, goals for inter-agency coordination on petroleum reduction strategies, and commitments to workplace charging.

For the most up-to-date information on incentives, laws, and regulations, the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides a searchable database of state and federal incentives, laws, and regulations related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, vehicle efficiency, and other transportation-related topics. You can find information relevant to your state, and all others at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws.

For more information on the legislative trends discussed above, as well as a summary of utility incentives and initiatives, visit the AFDC Technology and Policy Bulletins page at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/technology_bulletins.html.



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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Russia is developing a rocket engine powered by natural gas

From GNV Magazine:
January 15, 2016. The Russian space agency Roscosmos is preparing to develop a new rocket engine powered by methane to remain in international competition.

Roscosmos requests a grant of 25,000 million rubles (USD 326 million) from the federal budget to develop the basic elements of cruise engines that operate on the basis of methane.

With this amount, the agency will also develop engine prototypes for new generation liquid powered rockets, equipped with diagnostic system and emergency protection as well as the basics of engines based on composite materials.

"We intend to create a methane-driven, although there are still no plans to build rockets with those equipments, because we want to make technological progress and not fall behind foreign competitors," the agency said.

Meanwhile, the US aerospace SpaceX is developing a rocket propellant called Raptor which also works with methane.

This fuel provides advantages in the longest space missions as it is less bulky than hydrogen and their storage is easier. In addition, methane tanks do not need as much insulation, making the rockets can be lighter and cheaper costs. Finally, this gas could be found and collected on other planets, like Mars, Jupiter or Titan.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

T. Boone Pickens' Hope for the State of the Union

I hope President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address, announces an energy plan that will help restart the world's economies in 2016.

I don't have much confidence that will happen - every president since Nixon has promised an energy plan and not delivered one - and, because for the past year, President Obama has single-handedly led the charge to restrain worldwide economic growth by demanding that fossil fuels are, in essence, declared illegal.

The Industrial Revolution began in approximately 1760 and was fueled in large part by coal. It allowed average families to move beyond a life of subsistence farming, with tools and clothing that were largely made in their homes. Only the wealthiest (the "One Percenters" of the day) could afford to purchase anything approaching a luxury item.

Coal providing the power to run steam engines proved far more efficient than water wheels (or wood) allowing towns and cities to flourish near water used primarily for shipping, not primarily for power. Wood is coal 300 million years before its time.

The first commercial mining of coal occurred near Richmond, Virginia in 1748, helping to import the Industrial Revolution to the New World.

President Barack Obama's single-minded focus on global warming aims to reverse the past 268 years of human history and, in the developing world, will mean that economic development will be delayed for generations, if not halted altogether.

The population of the world at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was about 791 million. The total population of the earth is today 7.2 billion (India and China alone account for 2.66 billion of them).

It is clear to anyone who considers the problem of feeding, housing, providing transportation and communications, heating, cooling, and purifying water for a population that is more than 900% larger than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution requires more forms of energy, not fewer.

Since I began the Pickens Plan in the summer of 2008, I have said we should use any form of fuel available to provide for our economic growth. That includes not just natural gas, coal and oil; but also hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar.

Anything American.

Natural gas has become cheap enough to be able to replace coal in many power plants - dramatically reducing greenhouse gas and particulate emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, in 2014 coal accounted for 39 percent of electricity production; natural gas 27 percent, nuclear 19 percent. Wind accounted for 4.4 percent and solar 0.4 percent. All others made up the rest.

What the President should call for in his last State of the Union Address is a comprehensive energy plan that includes allowing the United States to continue to lead the world by both the free import and export of all sources of energy.

If he wants to demonstrate real concern for the developing world, a major part of his energy plan should look for ways to export our technology - in addition to our resources - to teach the developing world how to make the best use of the resources they have, and how to be good custodians of the air and water while doing it.

That's my hope for the President's speech.

-Boone

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fuels Fix Winter 2016

Read it here. Inside this issue:
  • "Utah's National Parks Maintain Iconic Scenery with Alternative Fuels"
  • "Waste to fuel in Louisiana" about the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste BioCNG station which produces BioCNG at less than half the cost of gasoline.
  • "Lightning Hybrids: Braking for Energy" about an award-winning hydraulic hybrid system that uses no batteries.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Dirty Truth About 'Clean Diesel'

A New York Times opinion piece explains the problems with diesel fuel.
The diesel engine is inherently efficient: Even a heavy sedan can get as much as 50 miles per gallon, while producing fewer carbon dioxide emissions per mile. The relatively light carbon footprint of Diesel’s invention meant that in the late 1990s, policy makers in Europe, eager to meet Kyoto Protocol goals, initiated a “dash for diesel.” Consumers got a push from sharply reduced taxes on diesel fuel.
Industry soon took the hint: Diesel could be marketed as green. The Diesel Technology Forum’s website proclaims that “Today’s ultralow sulfur diesel, advanced engines and effective emissions control combine to achieve near zero emissions.”
Diesel exhaust is laden with insidious soot particles, the so-called PM 2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or one-thirtieth the width of a human hair), which allow carcinogens to penetrate deep into tissues and organs. In other words, a driver who steps on the accelerator of a diesel car may be filling the lungs of nearby pedestrians, cyclists, infants in strollers and other drivers with potentially deadly particulate matter.

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 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr2029enr/pdf/BILLS-114hr2029enr.pdf. 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
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

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 https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr22/BILLS-114hr22enr.pdf.

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
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735