Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Renewable Fuel Possibilities for Public Transit Agencies

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

"A false sense of energy security"

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Webinar on AFDC Tools and Resources Updates

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

Federal Plug-in Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Phase-out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One Billion Gallons Saved


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

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

Monday, October 13, 2014