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Texas Lawmakers Authorize Legislation To Keep Emissions Reduction Plan Alive

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.”

Texas Clean Cities Energy Independence Day at the Capital

The Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance Clean Cities Coalition of Central Texas hosted the Texas Clean Cities Energy Independence Legislative Luncheon on March 2, Texas Independence Day.

Key Texas Legislators were invited to meet their local Clean Cities Coordinators Pamela Burns from DFW, Nick Jones from Alamo Area, and Stacy Neef of Lone Star Clean Cities Coalition’s.  Designed strictly to educate, Coordinators presented on their coalition’s, activities and accomplishments, and how air quality is achieved through the use of alternative fuels and vehicles.

Additionally, Curtis Donaldson, CFUSA, Bill Williams of Telefonix, and Heather Ball with the Natural Gas Foundation also presented on their respective alternative fuels,  beneficial environmental and economic qualities, and how Clean Cities has been a partner for over 20 years.

Our guest speaker was Williamson County State Rep Tony Dale,  a friend  to all Texas Clean Cities coalitions. Tony provided an update on legislative activities as they relate to the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and  Legislation to  engage the State of Texas in the  use of electric, propane and  natural gas fleet fuels.

Over forty (40) invited legislative and Clean Cities stakeholder guests attended the  very successful fajita luncheon sponsored by LSCFA.

Leading the Charge: Resources to Support Workplace Charging

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.

Assess Demand

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.

Procure and Install

Employers should determine what types of charging stations to purchase. There are a few decisions to make, including the following:

  • Charging Level: There are benefits and drawbacks to both Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations in the workplace. Employers must evaluate which option is best for their facilities. For more information about the differences between charging levels and their merits for workplace charging, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Workplace Charging Station Basics page.
  • Networking: Charging station networks provide maintenance, customer service, and energy monitoring capabilities, and collect payment on behalf of the station owner. However, networks require a fee, and employers will need to consider whether the convenience of charging networks outweighs the financial cost. For more information, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Level 2 page.

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.

Manage

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.

  • Registration and Liability: Many employers require employees to register their PEV, which allows the employer to identify the number of vehicles using their charging stations. For example, employers can give registered vehicles a mirror hangtag or window sticker that identifies the vehicle as having permission to use the charging stations. A registration form may also include language that requires vehicle owners to agree not to hold the employer responsible for any damage to the vehicle that occurs while it is parked at the charging station. For more information, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Registration and Liability page.
  • Station Sharing: It is important to emphasize that workplace charging is a privilege, not a right. Employees may be obligated to share stations with their colleagues and comply with established charging time limits. While an employer can set up systems for sharing stations, such as reserving the station (similar to how an employee would reserve a conference room) or establishing a set schedule for use, most employers allow users to resolve station-sharing conflicts themselves. However, it is important to establish consequences for violating station policies, such as using a station for less than four hours. By framing workplace charging as a privilege, an employer reserves the right to restrict access for employees that routinely violate company policy. For more information about how to establish workplace charging policies and encourage station sharing, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Station Sharing page.
  • Pricing: While most employers offer workplace charging for free, charging for station use can be a good way to manage demand. Employers may charge for electricity (e.g., per kilowatt hour) or for time (e.g., per hour), depending on preference and applicable regulations. Employers can motivate employees to move their vehicles and share the stations by charging a nominal fee (or no fee) for the first set number of hours (e.g., four hours) and then raise the fee for subsequent time that the vehicle is parked in the space. For more information, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging Pricing page.

For more resources about workplace charging, see the DOE’s Workplace Charging website or explore the Clean Cities’ Workplace Charging Toolkit.

What are state and local governments doing to incentivize alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)?

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:

  • AFV Purchase Incentives: States offer grants, rebates, and tax credits for the purchase of AFVs. While some states may focus vehicle incentives on a particular fuel type, such as electric vehicles, others are more general in their support. States provide AFV purchase incentives to consumers, commercial fleets, and public fleets, such as schools and government agencies. Different incentive mechanisms tend to be more appropriate for different categories of vehicle purchasers; for example, grants are often limited to certain types of entities. Public fleets may not be liable for taxes, so they usually benefit more from grants than from tax credits. Private fleets can benefit from grants, rebates, and tax credits.
  • Fueling Infrastructure Purchase and Installation Incentives: Similar to AFV incentives, states provide grants,rebates, and tax credits for alternative fueling infrastructure. States usually create incentives for the physical fueling infrastructure, but many programs also support installation costs. Some states also offer a tax creditor tax reduction for the production or purchase of alternative fuel itself. Fueling infrastructure incentives may stipulate that the fueling or charging station must be available to the public, which helps to increase the availability of alternative fuels to a broader range of entities.
  • Other Incentives: In addition to financial support for the purchase of AFVs, states may give special benefits to AFV drivers. For example, some states allow high-occupancy vehicle lane access to AFVs, while others provide reduced registration fees, weight restriction exemptions, and emissions inspections exemptions.

 

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 attechnicalresponse@icf.com 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

technicalresponse@icf.com

800-254-6735

All In: Ford Launches Plug-In Hybrid Van Transit Project

Ford Motor Co. is launching a major project designed to help improve air quality as the automaker accelerates its electrification plans with 13 new global electrified vehicles (EVs) scheduled for introduction in the next five years.

The project, supported by Transport for London, features a 12-month trial of 20 new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Transit Custom vans that reduce local emissions by running solely on electric power for the majority of city trips, such as deliveries or maintenance work.

Commercial vehicles in London make 280,000 journeys on a typical weekday, traveling a total distance of 8 million miles. Vans represent 75% of peak freight traffic, with over 7,000 vehicles per hour driving at peak times in central London alone.

Ford will provide the 20 PHEV Transits to a range of commercial fleets across London, including Transport for London’s fleet, to explore how such vans can contribute to cleaner air targets, while also boosting productivity for operators in urban conditions, the toughest working environment for vehicles. As reported, the project is supported financially by the U.K. government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre.

“Ford is the No. 1 commercial vehicle brand in Europe, and it’s now going electric. Teaming up with our London partners, we will also be able to trial software and telematics with enormous potential to reduce emissions and costs in the city,” says Jim Farley, chairman and CEO for Ford of Europe. “This new type of partnership demonstrates our evolution to both an auto and mobility company. We have lots of work to do, but everyone is so energized by this breakthrough opportunity.”

Ford says it is focusing its EV plan on its areas of strength – electrifying its most popular, high-volume commercial vehicles, trucks, SUVs and performance vehicles to make them even more capable, productive and fun to drive, plus more fuel efficient.

Scheduled to launch in autumn this year, the fleet trial is part of Ford’s commitment to working with major cities around the world to tackle their local transport challenges and help people and goods move more easily.

“The freight sector’s transition to ultra-low-emission vehicles is central to cleaning up London’s toxic air,” says Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. “Transport for London continues to lead by example by increasing the number of its own vehicles that are electric and will find the data from these trials an invaluable resource for the LoCITY program, which encourages the uptake of low-emission commercial transport.”

According to the automaker, the Transit Custom PHEV vans in the London trial are an advanced design that allows them to be charged with mains electricity for zero-emission journeys, while featuring an efficient onboard combustion engine for extended range when longer trips are required. Ford says it is the first volume manufacturer to offer PHEV technology in this segment of the van market.

The trial fleet will operate in everyday use across a cross-section of city-based businesses, using a Ford telematics system to collect data on the vehicles’ financial, operational and environmental performance to help understand how the benefits of electrified vehicles can be maximized.

Development of the 20 Transit Custom PHEV fleet trial vehicles has been supported by a grant from the Advanced Propulsion Centre for 4.7 million British pounds. The vans are being designed and engineered at Ford’s Dunton, U.K., technical center and at Prodrive Advanced Technology in Banbury, U.K., with program support from Revolve Technologies.

“This new project, with nearly 5 million [British pounds] of government money, has secured work here in the U.K. and demonstrates our commitment to not only reducing carbon emissions, but to work with industry on developing next-generation technology that will make a real difference to people’s lives,” says Nick Hurd, Climate Change and Industry Minister. “This government will continue to work with the auto sector as we develop a comprehensive Industrial Strategy that will increase productivity, create high-skilled jobs and ensure sustainable economic growth.”

The Transit Custom PHEV van is planned for commercial introduction in 2019 – part of the automaker’s $4.5 billion investment in EVs by 2020 as it expands to be an auto and a mobility company, including leading in electrified and autonomous vehicles and providing new mobility solutions.

As reported, the Transit Custom PHEV is just one of 13 new global electrified vehicles Ford is launching in the next five years. This total includes a fully electric SUV with an estimated range of at least 300 miles, a high-volume autonomous hybrid vehicle designed for commercial ride hailing or ride sharing to debut in North America in 2021, and a hybrid version of the iconic Mustang sports car. Ford also has a memorandum of understanding with several other automakers to create the highest-powered charging network for EVs in Europe.

New Legislation to Renew, Expand Texas Emissions Reduction Plan

Texas Sen. Craig Estes, R-District 30, recently filed legislation that would renew and expand the Texas Emission Reduction Plan (TERP), continuing the plan’s natural gas vehicle and station funding.

As reported, TERP is the state’s flagship program for lowering ozone emissions to bring Texas into compliance with the national ambient air quality standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA recently tightened these standards, so the state will use its available tools, including TERP, to achieve compliance.

“Texas has significantly improved air quality over the last 30 years, and this bill will continue that progress without damaging our economy,” says Estes.

Established in 2001, TERP contains 14 different programs: Eight offer incentives to convert or replace dirty engines with cleaner ones, three promote energy efficiency, and three fund air quality research and monitoring. Five of the incentive grant programs are designed to encourage the use of vehicles fueled by alternative fuels that generally have fewer tailpipe emissions than gasoline and diesel.

One such program is the Governmental Alternative Fuel Fleet Grant Program, which encourages state fleets with more than 15 vehicles to purchase new alternative fuel vehicles.

These alternative fuel programs will expire in 2017 and 2018 if they are not renewed this session. The remainder of TERP will expire in 2019 if not extended.

Estes continues, “I appreciate Lt. Governor Patrick prioritizing Senate Bill 26. We, as legislators, have a duty to ensure that our children, grandchildren and future generations have both clean air and a strong economy. This bill keeps Texas on track to have both.”

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