AUSTIN, Texas — The 85th Legislature gave all Texans a surprising bit of good news when they extended the programs for the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP), which was set to expire in 2019.
TERP is the second largest air pollution reduction program in Texas, and since its inception in 2001 it has become the most cost-effective way to reduce air pollution in the state.
Only hours before the final deadline to pass a “Conference Committee Report,” the Texas Legislature approved SB 1731, which included an amendment to reform and expand TERP. In response, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and Environmental Defense Fund — who have supported and worked with legislators and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since 2001 on TERP implementation — praised lawmakers for their efforts, but issued a warning: the Legislature must actually appropriate the money now.
“We salute the Texas Legislature for extending and expanding TERP programs so that Texas actually complies with EPA’s health-based standards for ozone pollution in our major cities,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “However, the Legislature failed to extend the fees that pay for the program, and the budget bill actually cut appropriations for TERP by some $80 million over two years, subject to a possible adjustment by the Legislative Budget Board. This will need to be fixed for the program to work as it should.”
Recent polling has found that TERP has strong support in Houston, where air pollution is a constant problem. “We’re glad that the Legislature responded to the concerns of Houstonians,” said Adrian Shelley, director of the Public Citizen Texas office. “One of the major improvements for TERP under SB 1731 is the provision to allow more money to be spent in rail yards and port yards, where we have the greatest air pollution concentrations,” he added.
“We’re pleased that TERP has been extended and now includes modifications that will allow more cost-effective projects at ports,” said Christina Wolfe, Manager, Air Quality, Port and Freight Facilities at the Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund. “There is plenty of work ahead of us to ensure that all Texans breathe healthy air, so we appreciate the Texas Legislature taking this first step in recognizing the importance of TERP. Now we need them to ensure the programs are funded.”
The bill to extend and expand the program had a somewhat tortured history. After passing the Senate early in the session, SB 26 by Craig Estes (R- Wichita Falls) was then referred to the House Committee on Environmental Regulation. There, clean air advocates — which included environmental groups like EDF, Sierra Club and Public Citizen, and industry groups like the Texas Chemical Council, the Texas Association of Business and electric utilities — worked with Chairman Joe Pickett (D – El Paso), Rep. Brooks Landgraf (D-Odessa), Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Houston) and Rep. Tony Dale (R- Round Rock) to craft a revised version of SB 26, which put more emphasis on the most cost-effective programs, including the revised Seaport and Rail Yards program to clean up pollution from equipment at our ports and railyards.
However, the House version of SB 26 was put late on the calendar and the House of Representatives did not get to the bill when the deadine of midnight occurred on May 23rd. Then, versions of SB 26 were added to three other bills as amendments, though two of them were not taken up. Finally, on May 29th, at approximately 9:30 PM, both houses passed the TERP bill as part of SB 1731 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas).
While the groups behind the TERP legislation were happy with the passage SB 1731, some last-minute confusion on the budget made it unclear how much TERP is actually funded for the next two years. During last-minute budget negotiations, TERP funding was cut from approximately $118 million per year to $78 million per year, and a contingency rider that was supposed to restore funding if a TERP bill passed was not in the final version of the budget.
In addition, separate legislation to extend the six fees that actually fund TERP did not pass, meaning the Legislature will need to come back in 2019 to extend them if the programs are to continue.
“We call on Governor Abbot to not only sign SB 1731 into law, but call back the Legislative Budget Board to adjust the budget to reflect its passage and return the nearly $40 million a year that was cut to fund these new programs,” added Reed. “Ultimately, the Legislature is going to have to decide how important it is to get the dirty air in our cities cleaned up and extend the fees — and spend the revenues — to help our children, the elderly and those with asthma to be able to breathe clean air.”
What factors do employers need to consider when establishing a workplace charging program?
While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for workplace charging, there are a number of resources available to help employers design, implement, and manage the right program for their organization.
Employers considering whether workplace charging is right for their organization will want to start by assessing employee demand with an employee survey. Once this assessment is complete, employers may set goals for meeting workplace charging demand, either by planning to meet the entire need (i.e., all drivers that have expressed or will express interest in PEV charging) or by dedicating a percentage of parking spaces to PEV charging. For example, Google has a goal to dedicate 5% of all parking spaces to workplace charging.
Employers should determine what types of charging stations to purchase. There are a few decisions to make, including the following:
Employers should also be sure to get quotes from a number of charging station providers. For more guidance, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Sample Request for Proposal document. Employers will work with their electrical contractor to determine charging station placement; station installation can be an expensive process, but employers can minimize costs by siting stations in locations that require minimal trenching, boring, and electrical panel upgrades. For more information about siting and installation, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Equipment and Installation Costs page.
A well-managed, well-planned workplace charging program can ensure station access to all employees, promote strong communication between employers and station users, and encourage responsible station use.
There are many notable incentive activities at the state and local levels. Many states offer incentives for alternative fuels that advance specific environmental and energy security goals, while cities provide even more localized support.
States are targeting vehicles, infrastructure, and other means to encourage AFV adoption. Below are various types of incentives, as well as hyperlinked examples of each:
Municipalities are also playing a role in supporting AFV deployment. Cities and counties incentivize AFVs in a number of ways, including by offering free or discounted parking, expediting permitting processes, and providing vehicle and infrastructure grants. For example, New Haven, CT, provides free parking on city streets for AFVs, while Los Angeles, CA, offers instant, online residential electric vehicle supply equipment permitting approval. The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Local Laws and Incentives page provides more information on these and a greater array of other local options; while the page regarding local laws and incentives is not meant to be comprehensive, it provides users an idea of the different municipal programs and policies that exist (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/local_examples). If you are aware of an innovative way that municipalities are supporting alternative fuels and vehicle acquisition, please contact the Clean Cities Technical Response Service firstname.lastname@example.org to share the details.
For more information about state and local alternative fuel incentives, see the AFDC Laws and Incentives page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws).
Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
As propane vehicle technology becomes more advanced, propane dispensing infrastructure has evolved along with it. In particular, the propane industry is focusing much of its attention on enhancing the customer fueling experience by installing propane dispensers that are dedicated for vehicle fueling, and by upgrading the propane nozzle technology. The increasingly popular European-style, quick-connect nozzle simplifies the customer fueling experience by connecting to the fuel tank through a snap or quick-connect attachment, rather than a conventional threaded connection. Only after the nozzle is safely connected to the fuel tank will it begin to dispense fuel. This attachment eliminates the threading connection necessary with the conventional Acme nozzle, making propane fueling as easy as conventional gasoline fueling.
With the new nozzle, fueling can be completed using only one hand and without wearing protective goggles and gloves. The quick-connect attachment also results in lower emissions, as it more effectively prevents the release of fuel vapor and fumes. Additionally, the nozzle’s design minimizes the amount of fuel that escapes when the vehicle is done fueling and the connector is detached from the vehicle.
There are many affordable quick-connect nozzle options available on the United States market that meet UL 125 certification requirements (https://standardscatalog.ul.com/standards/en/standard_125). Manufacturers of these UL-certified nozzles include Stäubli and ELAFLEX. These European-style connectors are priced around $1,200, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (https://cleancities.energy.gov/files/u/news_events/document/document_url/96/2015_strategic_planning_propane.pdf). The cost of the connection adapters, or fill valves, required for current fueling infrastructure to be compatible with the European-style nozzle, ranges from $50 to $60. Note that the installation of a new fueling nozzle should always be performed by a qualified technician in order to ensure that it is completed properly.
Many propane retailers are optimistic about the European-style, quick-connect nozzle. In fact, the Propane Education Research Council (PERC) highlights its benefits and encourages the use of this connector through its Quick-Connect Nozzle Incentive Program (http://www.propanecouncil.org/Our-Work/Our-Work-With-Marketers/Incentive-Programs/Quick-Connect-Nozzle-Incentive-Program/). Moving forward, the quick-connect nozzle is a significant step towards streamlining and improving the propane fueling experience.
For more information about propane and related fueling infrastructure, see the following resources:
Feb. 1, 2017
LSCFA recently partnered with West Virginia Clean Cities to hold one of numerous National Fire Preparedness Association (NFPA) taught First Responder alt fuel classes across the United States, 55 persons from as far away as Abilene registered for the Train the Trainer class on alt fuel vehicles held in Temple, Tx. Taught by James Plaster and Justin Emory with the National Fire Protection Association, the day long class safety training class presented information on how to identify alt fuel vehicle types, fuel qualities, cylinder specs and safety features, how to identify the different alt fuel vehicles according to manufacturer, as well as general procedures and considerations for alt fuel vehicles crash response and extrication . As Hybrids, electric vehicles ad plug in vehicles are a large component of our on road traffic, emphasis was given to extractions and crashes involving Hybrids and electric vehicles, damaged high voltage batteries, the various types of batteries found in these vehicles and how to identify.
The information and manual provided vehicle specific information drawn from manufacturer Emergency Response guides, and guidance on initial response procedures and situations such as vehicle fire, submersion and spills.
A natural gas overview was provided by Dmitri Tisnoi – TDIndustires, our lunch sponsor. Demonstration vehicles included a Nissan LEAF from nearby BATES Nissan, dedicated LPG ½ ton trucks from CleanFuel USA and the City of Temple, a CNG refuse truck from the City of Temple, and a bi-fuel CNG truck provided by CNG4America.
Stacy Neef, Exec. Dir.
Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance