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The FAST Act

Summary of Relevant Provisions in the Latest Transportation Bill, Public Law 114-94

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 Lone Star Clean Fuels or the Technical Response Service.

 

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

technicalresponse@icfi.com

800-254-6735

Innovative Finance Strategies Summarized in Two New Guides

Switching to natural gas for fleets and taking advantage of favorable conditions for installing EV charging are the topics of two new guides.

Two new publications, released by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) with support from the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, detail the findings of a two-year research initiative to develop innovative finance mechanisms aimed at accelerating the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure.

Researchers found that public and private fleet operators could save money by switching to natural gas vehicles if they adopted the same business model that energy service companies apply to energy efficiency projects. One of the new publications,Strategic Planning to Enable ESCOs to Accelerate NGV Fleet Deployment: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers, can help investors and state and local policymakers make decisions about deploying natural gas vehicles in public and private fleets. The guide is an important tool to help investors and policymakers reduce reliance on imported oil, improve air quality, and stimulate economic growth.

The initiative also found that while new business models can make publicly available electric vehicle (EV) charging projects profitable for private businesses, public support is important. Support in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and vehicle purchase incentives is still needed in the near-term to make public charging projects an attractive investment. The comprehensive report, Strategic Planning to Implement Publicly Available EV Charging Stations: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers, answers questions that private investors and state and local agencies, such as state energy offices, may have when deciding whether—and to what extent—they should invest in publicly available charging infrastructure.

Learn more about the initiative on the C2ES Alternative Fuel Vehicle Finance Initiative page.

  • Kathryn Ruckman, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

PERC: Quick Connect Nozzle Incentive

Refueling propane autogas vehicles is now easier than ever. Filling up a vehicle with new, quick connect nozzle technology is a very similar experience to refueling with gasoline and diesel – reducing the learning curve for fleets when transitioning to propane autogas. The nozzles:

  • May be operated with one hand.
  • May not require the user to wear protective eyewear or gloves.
  • Are unable to be cross-threaded.
  • Release fewer emissions per connection.

The quick connect nozzle incentive program from the Propane Education & Research Council provides $50 per tank-side connector and $500 per hose-end connector, with a limit of 25 tank-side connectors and two hose-end connectors per fleet.

Click here to view/download the Quick-Connect Nozzle Program Q&A.

Click here to begin the application process. Just for applying, all applicants will receive free propane autogas vehicle decals. For questions, email us atautogasincentive@propane.com or call (202) 452-8975.

See original article.

FTA Offering More Grants for Alt-Fuel Transit Buses

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the latest round of funding under its Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo). The agency is making $22.5 million in new grants available to help deploy transit buses powered by alternative fuel technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells and electric and hybrid engines.

“The LoNo program has helped deploy environmentally sound, technologically advanced vehicles across the country, providing a better riding experience for passengers and improving public health,” says Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan. “By reducing fuel and maintenance costs, these modern vehicles are a great public investment – saving taxpayer money in the long run while powering innovative American enterprises.”

The FTA says it will award the LoNo funds on a competitive basis to transit agencies and state transportation departments working either independently or jointly with bus manufacturers already making low- and zero-emission buses. Priority will be given to applicants that do the following:

– Use tested bus models with proven effectiveness, especially zero-emission models;

– Exhibit strong transit agency and community commitment, including technical and project management skills; and

– Demonstrate understanding of and accommodation for public safety.

In addition, all LoNo procurements will have to follow FTA Buy America regulations and undergo bus testing at the FTA’s facility in Altoona, Pa.

Of the $22.5 million available in LoNo grant funds, a minimum of $3 million is available to support facilities and related equipment. Transit agencies may also use a portion of their annual FTA formula funds to purchase additional vehicles.

The LoNo program was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The previous round of LoNo funding, announced in February 2015, awarded $55 million in grants to 10 organizations nationwide.

More information about the funding opportunity is available here.

U.S. DOE Funding Opportunity

Lone Star Clean fuels Alliance would like to encourage all of our interested stakeholders to apply for the following funding opportunity. We are happy to provide a letter of support for your application and provide any additional assistance that might be required for your application. Please ACT FAST, the deadline for Concept Papers is October 8th, 2015.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has recently issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)!  Up to $11 million are being made available in grant funding to support development and demonstration of innovative alternative technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, designed to help reduce U.S. reliance on gasoline, diesel and oil imports.

The FOA includes two areas of interest –

  1. Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle Powertrain Electrification: Up to $10M available for research, development, and demonstration of electric-drive powertrain technologies for medium and heavy duty Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Electric Vehicles (EV) that reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% when compared to an equivalent vehicle.
  2. Dual Fuel Fleet Demonstration: Up to $1M of funding for projects that demonstrate and evaluate the performance and emissions systems of dual fuel heavy-duty vehicles equipped with engines capable of operation using a mixture of diesel fuel and gaseous fuels (natural gas, propane or natural gas derived fuels such as DME).
    1. The vehicles to be demonstrated must be subjected to typical engine operation such as that encountered by public transit buses, fire trucks, heavy-duty on-road commercial work trucks, vocational construction trucks, class 8 long-haul trucks, etc.

Complete FOA details, including the application packet and instructions can be accessed through: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaId3c3ef476-ab3f-499e-ab13-d218b9c0043f.

The deadline for submission of a Concept Paper is October 8, 2015, at 8:00 pm ET (7:00 pm CT). A webinar for potential applicants will be held on September 23, 2015 from 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT.  All interested parties may register for the webinar via: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4920947122476310529

Texas is a State Finalists for the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership Award

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to add infrastructure needed to supply more renewable fuel to America’s drivers. Since announcing the program in May 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) received applications requesting over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With a more than 1:1 match from private and state resources, USDA estimates that the BIP grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations across the country.

“The quality and geographic diversity of the applications, backed by supportive state and private partners, demonstrate the strong demand across the country for cleaner, more affordable fuel,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one approach USDA is using to aggressively pursue investments in American-grown renewable energy to create new markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, help Americans save money on their energy bills, support America’s clean energy economy, cut carbon pollution and reduce dependence on foreign oil and costly fossil fuels.”

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy most consumers can purchase at the pump. USDA estimates that this investment will more than double the number of stations that offer intermediate blends of ethanol, mainly E15 fuel levels, nationwide.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of ethanol. BIP funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for related costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs. This partnership will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more choices at the pump.

For a preliminary list of state finalists and estimated pumps view the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership – State Table.

Funding amounts for each state will be announced at a later date. For more information about BIP, visit the Energy Programs website.