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Touting CNG in the Texas Triangle

February 2015, by Stephane Babcock

Natural gas proponents should look to the Texas Triangle for inspiration. This “megaregion” contains three of the Lone Star State’s largest cities — Houston, Dallas and San Antonio — which are connected by a highway system of Interstates 45, 10 and 35.

“It is a great network of shipping lanes that with the natural gas infrastructure has eliminated the fueling infrastructure concerns,” says Mike O’Connell, senior director, fleet supply chain, at Frito-Lay.

O’Connell, who currently runs a total of 51 CNG trucks in the region and plans on adding 22 more this year, says the Triangle owes this to the support of the natural gas and trucking industries, which have built out the necessary infrastructure and placed CNG and LNG trucks on the ground in Texas.

Giving CNG some Love

Love’s Travel Stops began offering CNG in 2010, with its first heavy-duty fueling station designed for Class 8 truck use popping up two years later. Since then, the company has continued to expand its CNG network in the state, including within the Texas Triangle.

“The Texas Triangle was a good area for Love’s to expand its CNG network because of the heavy truck traffic,” says Bill Cashmareck, Love’s general manager of natural gas. “The routes are heavily traveled, which also makes it a good place for fleets to take advantage of the CNG offerings and determine that CNG is a viable option for over the road applications.”

Fleets that use the Texas Triangle have responded positively, according to Cashmareck, which has helped his team determine future CNG locations, including three stations in Houston, three in Dallas/Fort Worth, and one in San Antonio. To celebrate, Love’s offered drivers CNG for 99 cents for the second half of February, starting on Valentine’s Day, at its Texas locations.

CNG’s success

The Texas Triangle is a natural gas fuel success story, according to Clean Energy spokesperson Patric Rayburn, “because of the investment Texas, Clean Energy and other industry players have made to bring America’s abundant natural gas to truckers as a vehicle fuel.”

Fleets such as Dart Transit, Dillon Transport, Swift Transportation and Seaboard Transportation have taken advantage of the growing CNG infrastructure within the area.
In 2011, the Texas State Senate established the Clean Transportation Triangle program, which provides grants for the creation of natural gas fueling stations in the 63 counties in the state. Last year, a total of more than $7.7 million was granted to 19 applicants.

“The success of natural gas fuel in meeting the demanding requirements of fleets such as UPS and EJ Madison operating throughout Texas and the region has showcased the tremendous potential natural gas fuel offers other freight corridors,” adds Rayburn.

Posted from Green Fleet, view original article

2014 State Alternative Fuels Law and Incentive Trends

In 2014, state legislatures and agencies developed a variety of incentives, laws, and regulations that support the use of alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and other strategies that align with Clean Cities’ mission to cut the amount of petroleum used in transportation. As compared to 2013, however, the number of newly adopted state laws and incentives decreased last year, possibly indicating the effectiveness of existing state programs and a maturing alternative fuels market. In addition, several states worked to fine-tune existing programs this past year, in an effort to find the best market penetration strategy.

The majority of state actions across all alternative fuel types in 2014 involved new tax-related incentives and fuel tax regulations. Specific alternative fuels displayed their own trends as well. Laws and incentives related to the following vehicle categories showed particularly notable trends:

  • Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including both all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and the associated charging infrastructure were the most popular alternative fuel technologies to receive attention in the form of new state laws and incentives in 2014. States worked to streamline many aspects of PEV ownership, including allowing direct purchase of PEVs from a manufacturer, modifying rebates and incentives for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and allowing EVSE at previously restricted locations, such as state facilities and leased properties. A few states initiated studies to determine how to assess PEV owners a supplemental fee in lieu of the gasoline tax they would no longer be paying. Utilities continued to provide new incentives in 2014, including electricity rate discounts for customers using EVSE.
  • Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) continued to draw significant consideration in 2014, particularly in those states following the national trend of basing a compressed natural gas motor fuel tax on the favorable gasoline gallon equivalent conversion. The NGV market and consumers will also benefit from grants, weight exemptions, fuel-training programs, and fleet requirements enacted in the last year.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) State Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Laws and Incentives: 2014 Year in Review provides a further synopsis of incentives and laws enacted in 2014.

In addition, the AFDC Laws & Incentives website provides a searchable database to identify and view relevant state laws and incentives by fuel type, as well as by variety of incentive or regulation. As legislative and gubernatorial actions occur, follow the AFDC website for updates. This database may be particularly useful in states in where the 2014 elections changed control of the legislative or executive branches. In addition, as the 2014 tax filing deadline approaches, the Laws & Incentives website is a valuable resource for basic information regarding new or expiring state and federal tax credits.

As new trends and issues emerge from legislation, policy bulletins are posted to the AFDC Technology and Policy Bulletinspage.

Texas State University to add alternative fuel vehicles to campus fleet


From the University Star
by Rebecca Banks

Texas State officials will add five Compressed Natural Gas vehicles (CNG) to the university’s fleet following a requirement from a state mandate.

Facility department officials purchase new vehicles every year to replace older ones. The state requires public universities to have 80 percent of their vehicles on alternative fuel sources, said Bill Nance, vice president for finance and support services.

“We aren’t going to convert any that we presently own, but what we’re going to do is start buying vehicles that are prepped for conversion,” said Gordon Green, director of facilities management.

Green said university officials are working with a Ford dealership in New Braunfels and will not get the CNG vehicles until May.

The university will pay about $30,000 for the vehicles and the CNG conversion components. Green said the university will qualify for a $2,500 rebate from the Ford dealership.

Nance said the payback from the CNG vehicles may not happen for 2-5 years. The payback time will depend on the cost of the vehicles, the conversion fee and the difference in fuel price.

“The recent couple of months have given us a good example (that) with the drop in gasoline prices the payback is not as quick,” Nance said. “As the prices between all those three (products) narrows, it will take you longer to get back cost of outfitting, converting the vehicle to CNG.”

The CNG vehicles to be purchased are called Transit Connects and look like “box vans” equipped with natural gas conversion kits. The vehicles will be compatible with gasoline, said Juan Guerra, associate vice president of facilities.

“There are a lot of agencies looking for CNG as an alternate fuel for our vehicles,” Green said. “The problem for us was there wasn’t going to be a station in town. Well, there is a new company bringing a station to San Marcos.”

Green said the CNG location will be at the Shell station next to Pluckers. The station will be a high-pressured fueling area. Filling up a vehicle will take three minutes.

“When we buy the gas, typically what you see, like at a house, you may see 50 PSI (pounds per square inch),” Green said. “This (station) will take it up to 200 PSI natural gas. It compresses it so you can get more of the product into a tank, kind of like divers that take regular air and compress it.”

Green said purchasing CNG vehicles is “the right thing to do” from an environmental standpoint.

“Compressed natural gas is a clean-burning fuel, so it’s just natural gas,” Guerra said. “You’re pretty much using natural gas to fuel your vehicle.”

Guerra said natural gas reduces of emissions of different nitrogen oxides.

“In other words, it’s a clean-burning fuel, 93 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions as compared to gasoline,” Guerra said. “The air quality associated with (a) natural compressed gas fuel vehicle is much better than that for a typical gasoline fueled vehicle.”

Guerra said CNG fuel is cheaper than gasoline.

“One thing that we’re going to keep an eye on is how much it is costing us for the natural gas to fuel the vehicles and how many miles are we getting (per) gallon of natural gas as compared to gasoline,” Guerra said.

Green said university officials are unable to purchase small vehicles that use alternative fuel.

“(Transit Connect) works out well for us because one of the problems we have is there are no small vehicles available with alternative fuel except for compressed natural gas,” Green said.

Green said the university currently uses E85 and electric vehicles. The E85 vehicles are have V8 engines and a lower energy output than gasoline models.

“Our fuel economy isn’t where we want it to be, so we wanted to look at something in compressed natural gas,” Green said. “Now it’s going to be available, and it will probably be a better option for us.”

See original article.

Rebate Grants Program

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The TCEQ has announced that up to $10 million in grants is being made available for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Rebate Grants program. The Rebate Grants Program is a statewide program to provide financial incentives for on-road and select non-road repower and replacement projects.  Eligible reimbursement amounts are predetermined based on default usage rates (miles/hours). Small businesses are encouraged to apply, as this program is non-competitive.  Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until June 26, 2015, at 5:00 pm, or until all funding is awarded, whichever occurs first. Learn more at the TCEQ website.


New House Bill: Collecting the Number of Alt. Vehicles in Texas

Senator Israel has introduced a bill intended to track information about the number of alternatively-fueled vehicles registered in Texas.  H.B. 735, Subchapter A, Chapter 504 of the Transportation Code is being amended by adding Sec. 502.004.  This bill will require TxDOT to collect info on alternative fueled vehicles registered in the state.

Read the Bill.
Follow the Bill.

Vehicle Buyer’s Guide Available

Annual guide helps you compare and evaluate alternative fuel vehicles to make sound purchasing decisions

The Clean Cities 2015 Vehicle Buyer’s Guide is now available online and for order at no charge through the EERE Publication and Product Library. Consumers and fleet managers have relied on the annual guide for years as a comprehensive and unbiased source of information for evaluating alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) options. The 2015 version promises to meet, if not exceed, that tradition.

Read more.