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What are the current and future light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards

October 3, 2016 by Clean Cities

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), light-duty vehicles (LDVs) emit nearly 60% of transportation-related GHG emissions and use more than half of all petroleum transportation fuel in the United States. In 1975, Congress enacted the Energy Conservation and Policy Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. The goal of the CAFE program is to reduce national energy consumption through fuel economy improvements. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of DOT, develops annual fuel economy requirements for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Fuel economy is measured based on the average mileage a vehicle travels per gallon of gasoline, or gallon of gasoline equivalent for other fuels.

In 2009, President Obama announced a new national program to harmonize fuel economy standards with GHG emissions standards for all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in the United States. Under this program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops GHG emissions standards that correspond with NHTSA CAFE standards for each model year (MY). Thus far, the EPA and NHTSA have implemented the program in two parts, beginning with MYs 2012 to 2016 and followed by MYs 2017 to 2025. GHG emissions and CAFE standards have become increasingly stringent from one MY to the next.

In the final rule that established the coordinated standards for MYs 2017 to 2025, the EPA and NHTSA committed to perform a midterm evaluation (MTE) to (i) determine whether any changes should be made to the GHG emissions standards for MY 2022 to 2025, and (ii) set final CAFE standards for those MYs. This past July, the EPA and NHTSA completed the first step of the MTE with their issuance of a draft technical assessment report. For more information on the MTE, please see the EPA Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards page (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/mte.htm) and the NHTSA Midterm Evaluation for Light-Duty CAFE page (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/CAFE+-+Fuel+Economy/ld-cafe-midterm-evaluation-2022-25).

NHTSA CAFE Standards

NHTSA determines CAFE standards based on each vehicle’s size, or its footprint, which is essentially the distance between where each of its tires touches the ground. In general, the larger the vehicle is, the less stringent the fuel economy target will be. NHTSA then calculates each manufacturer’s fleet-wide compliance obligation, which is weighted based on vehicle sales (e.g., if 15% of a manufacturer’s sales are one model, that model gets a “weight” of 0.15 in average fuel economy calculation), each vehicle’s footprint, and the volume of vehicles the manufacturer actually produces.

Based on previous MY sales, NHTSA estimates that by MY 2025, passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks will need to meet an estimated combined average fuel economy of at least 48.7 to 49.7 miles per gallon. This estimate is subject to change based on the actual individual manufacturer fleet composition and production volumes. To view the annual standards, please refer to page 4 of the NHTSA CAFE Regulations for MY 2017 and Beyond fact sheet (http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/cafe/CAFE_2017-25_Fact_Sheet.pdf).

EPA GHG Emissions Standards

Similar to the NHTSA CAFE standards, the EPA also uses the footprint-based approach to determine carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards in grams per mile (g/mi) for each vehicle manufacturer. The EPA GHG emissions requirements are linked to the CAFE standards, and are also based on individual manufacturer fleet and production volumes. The EPA’s passenger car standards call for CO2 emissions reductions of 5% per year from MY 2017 to 2025. Light-duty trucks will have a bit more time to adjust to the standards, beginning with a 3.5% reduction per year from MY 2017 to MY 2021, then ramping up to a 5% reduction per year from MY 2022 to MY 2025. Refer to page 4 of the EPA GHG Emissions Standards for MY 2017-2025 fact sheet (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f12051.pdf) to see the projected CO2 emissions targets.

Compliance

Manufacturers can meet these standards in a variety of ways. In addition to making direct improvements to vehicle components (e.g., engines and transmission efficiency, light-weighting), manufacturers may also achieve compliance by generating credits. First, manufacturers are required to calculate average fleet-wide tailpipe CO2 emissions and average fleet-wide fuel economy. These values serve as the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

These credits and incentives include:

  • Air Conditioning and Off-Cycle Improvements (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers can earn credits from efforts such as air conditioning efficiency improvements, as well as from off-cycle technologies that result in real-world benefits, like engine start-stop or solar panels on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
  • Advanced Technology Vehicles (EPA Only): The EPA regulation also includes incentives to encourage the production of advanced technology vehicles. For MYs 2017 to 2021, manufacturers that produce all-electric vehicles, PHEVs, compressed natural gas vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles may “count” these vehicles as more than one vehicle in their emissions compliance calculations.
  • Hybrid Electric Full-Size Pickups (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers are encouraged to produce a certain percentage of full-size pickup trucks that are hybrid electric vehicles, as they will receive compliance credits for doing so.

For more information on LDV GHG emissions and CAFE standards, please refer to the following resources:

Stay tuned for next month’s Question of the Month, where we will delve into the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle standards.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

EV Transportation and Technology Summit 2016

September 30, 2016 by Clean Cities

Hosted annually by the Electric Vehicle Transportation Center (EVTC) at UCF’s regional campus at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Fla., this year’s national Summit is focused on the transportation planning and infrastructure requirements accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles. Sixteen speakers will address current topics, including electric transit buses, wireless electric vehicle charging and the economics of electric vehicles. The speakers will also be looking to the future of transportation with presentations on planning for the next generation of innovative transportation and mobility. Speaker panel discussions, technical workshops and a poster session are also planned.

Registration, schedules, hotels and other information can be found at evsummit.org. The last day for early registration and a special hotel rate is September 30th.

Summit sponsors include TECO Energy, Navigant Research, Proterra, OUC, Clipper Creek, NovaCharge, AutoPort, JEA, FPL, Drive Electric Florida and Central Florida Clean Cities.

EVSummit

About EVTC

The Electric Vehicle Transportation Center (EVTC) is a University Transportation Center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and is the only center focused on electric vehicles. This research and education effort to help create the nation’s electric-vehicle transportation network is operated by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) with partner universities, the University of Hawaii and Tuskegee University. The EVTC is bridging the gap between deployment of electric vehicles and the traditional transportation system. The EVTC researches and develops technologies, standards, planning and policies to ensure seamless integration of electric vehicles into a complex transportation network and supporting electricity grid. For more information, visit evtc.fsec.ucf.edu/.

About FSEC

The Florida Solar Energy Center, UCF’s energy research and education institute, was established in 1975. Located on the Cocoa campus of UCF and Eastern Florida State College, FSEC has gained national and international respect for its public and private partnerships, focusing on: solar energy, energy-efficient buildings, hydrogen and fuel cells, electric vehicles, smart-grid research, and testing and certification of solar equipment. The Center conducts continuing education and training programs for professionals, government and industry leaders around the world, in addition to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities for the future energy workforce. For more information, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu.

America’s Partnership University

The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with more than 60,000 students, has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation in its first 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s future while providing students with real-world experiences that help them succeed after graduation. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu

What are the key considerations when installing ethanol equipment at a fueling station?

September 27, 2016 by Clean Cities

For those new to ethanol fueling, installing the necessary infrastructure may be unchartered territory. From fuel specifications to dispensing regulations, the recently updated Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 and Other Ethanol-Gasoline Blends (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/uploads/publication/ethanol_handbook.pdf) is the go-to source for all your ethanol station installation needs. The Handbook is designed for those who blend, distribute, store, sell, or use ethanol blends above E10 (90% gasoline blended with 10% ethanol). Below is a summary of some of the top infrastructure considerations:

Blend Level

If you are considering an ethanol fueling station, one of the first decisions to be made is the blend level. Specifically:

  • Low-level blend: E10

o   Regulations and Specifications: E10 is subject to the same regulations and specifications as regular gasoline.

o   Equipment: E10 can be stored and dispensed in existing gasoline fueling equipment.

o   Vehicle Applications: Any gasoline-powered vehicle

  • Mid-level blend: E15 (10.5% to 15% ethanol); other common offerings include E25 (25% ethanol) and E30 (30% ethanol)

o   Regulations and Specifications: ASTM International (ASTM) D4806 -Standard Specification for Denatured Fuel Ethanol for Blending with Gasoline for Use as Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel

o   Equipment: For underground equipment, stations must adhere to federal code, which requires compatibility. The majority of tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. For above-ground equipment, stations must use equipment listed for the fuel being sold. A list of compatible equipment is available in the Handbook.

o   Vehicle Applications:

§  E15: Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), model year 2001 and newer conventional light-duty cars and trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles

§  E25 and E30: FFVs

§  Note: FFVs can operate on any blend of gasoline and ethanol, up to 83% ethanol.

  • High-level blend: E85 (51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season), also called ethanol “flex fuel”

o   Regulations and Specifications: ASTM D5798 – Standard Specification for Ethanol Fuel Blends for Flexible-Fuel Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines

o   Equipment: E85 fueling equipment is subject to the same requirements as mid-level blend equipment.

o   Vehicle Applications: FFVs

Fuel Quality

Most transportation fuel sold in the United States is blended to ASTM specifications, the fuel quality standard. These standards are recognized by federal and most state government agencies as the primary means of ensuring fuel quality. Fleets and retailers should work with their fuel suppliers to confirm that the fuel provided meets these requirements. After the installation of ethanol fueling equipment, operational precautions, such as periodic checks (e.g., once every one to two months) of fuel properties, should be performed to help assure fuel quality.

Infrastructure Requirements

An ethanol station consists of approximately 60 interconnected pieces of fueling equipment necessary to deliver fuel to vehicles, including tanks, pipes, pump, dispenser, and hanging hardware. UL (www.ul.com) is the primary third-party safety certification labora­tory that has developed standards for listing fueling equipment.

As stated above, stations must meet federal compatibility requirements for underground equipment, which includes a letter stating compatibility from a manufacturer with specific biofuel blends or listing from a third party laboratory, such as UL. The majority of existing tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. Some associated underground storage equipment, such as leak detection and prevention or fill equipment, may need to be replaced.

Above-ground equipment must be listed for the fuel blend being dispensed. UL listed above-ground equipment is available for E10, E25, and E85 blends. A complete list of compatible equipment is available in the appendices of the Handbook.

Note that some stations have UL-listed E85 blender pumps capable of legally dispensing ethanol blends between E0 and E85, including mid-level blends like E25 or E30, for FFV owners.

Labeling

Federal law requires dispenser labels for ethanol blends above E10 to follow Federal Trade Commission specifications (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/8060). Labels must be placed on the front panel of the dispenser in a position that is clearly visible. Approved labels are available free of charge from the Blend Your Own website (http://byoethanol.com/dispenser-labels-available.html). Some states have additional labeling requirements; check here to see if your state does: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/state.

Safety

When handling ethanol, it is important to keep safety procedures in mind. Like gasoline, ethanol is flammable, poisonous, and may contain addi­tives that can be harmful even with casual contact. To avoid risk, personal exposure to ethanol should be minimized. To fight an ethanol fire, specific equipment, materials, and training is required. Before offering blends above E10, consult your local fire marshal to determine regula­tions governing safe ethanol handling procedures. It is also important to be familiar with specifications detailed in the E85 material safety data sheet (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/uploads/publication/SSA_MSDS.pdf).

For additional information on installing ethanol equipment at a station, such as a full list of codes and regulations, as well as a checklist for installing and dispensing ethanol blends, refer to the Handbook.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) ethanol pages for general information, on ethanol fueling stations:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

 

Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition 2016 Spring Recap

September 26, 2016 by Clean Cities

The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition has been keeping busy, working to maintain its status as Central Florida’s leading alternative fuel technologies and vehicle advocates.  In February, Central Florida Clean Cities met virtually before a board at DOE headquarters comprised of Clean Cities Regional Managers, DOE labs personnel, and other program participants.  During this meeting, the coalition presented on its various alternative fuel and emissions reductions programs and partners, reaffirming its commitment to the Central Florida region with its many sustainability projects.  The Department of Energy has once again accepted our pledge, officially redesignating the coalition as a Clean Cities Coalition for the next three years.

The 2015 Clean Cities Annual Report was submitted in March and reflected the cumulative efforts of our Central Florida region, calculating the emissions reductions of Central Florida Clean Cities’ partner fleets.  In 2015, regional fleet managers report a cumulative 4,641,614 gallons of gasoline equivalent reductions, which means a GHG emissions reduction of almost 26,000 tons (a record high for Central Florida).  The majority of these reductions were achieved by local fleets adopting alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure.  Congratulations, Clean Cities partners, and thank you for doing your part in enhancing transportation in our region.

Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition also did its part in attending various energy and alternative fuel vehicle conferences since the start of the year.  For instance, coalition representatives participated in the 2016 Energy Solutions Conference.  Held March 23-24, it was a sequel to the highly successful Virtual Conferences held in 2013 and 2012.  It was a Simulcast—a virtual event accessed by any computer or mobile device as well as in person at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, FL.  The event featured presentations on energy options and choices, both now and in the future, with recognized experts from across the country speaking on topics such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation planning, and more.  On Thursday, March 24, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition Coordinator Colleen Kettles moderated a panel on Clean Cities and Alternative Fuel Vehicles, attended by representatives from various vehicle manufacturers, utilities, and clean cities stakeholders.  To learn more about this event, please visit the Energy Solutions Conference website at http://conference.energysmartplanning.org/home.html.

Next, Drive Electric Florida (DEF) hosted its first 2016 meeting in Jacksonville on Monday, April 4 at the newly constructed North Florida Regional Transportation Management Center.  This state-of-the-art center opened last November, culminating a 12 year partnership between the North Florida TPO, the Florida Dept. of Transportation, and the Florida Highway Patrol to work towards safe and efficient travel in the Northeast Florida area.  The meeting featured speakers on industry updates, utility PEV updates, EV outreach events, and DEF committee reports.  This included a report on the newly formed Drive Electric Florida Workplace Charging (WPC) Committee, which first started meeting in early 2016.  Chaired by Peter King of Jacksonville Electric Authority and staffed by the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, the committee is in the process of pledging to be a Workplace Charging Challenge Ambassador, working on behalf of DOE to assist local businesses with WPC adoption.  To learn more about Drive Electric Florida or the Workplace Charging Challenge, please visit the DEF website:  http://driveelectricflorida.org/.

Melbourne-Train-the-Trainer-2Central Florida Clean Cities then kicked off its First Responders Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Safety Training program in Melbourne on April 19.  This was the first of many “train the trainers” sessions, during which local first responder trainers are taught how to conduct workshops with their teams on approaching AFV collisions, particularly for propane, CNG/LNG, and electric vehicles.  This program will continue throughout the year with scheduled trainings pending in Tampa, Ocala, Broward County, and Jacksonville.

On April 20, intern Shauna Basques spoke on her year’s work with the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition in the Clean Cities University Workforce Development Program’s end of semester presentation.  Busy staffing the Drive Electric Florida Workplace Charging Committee and assisting Coordinator Colleen Kettles with program projects and events, Shauna continued her work throughout the summer, advancing alternative fuel vehicle adoption.

2016-NASA_KSC-Earth-Day-EventCentral Florida Clean Cities also partnered with the Florida Solar Energy Center to present on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuel vehicle solutions at the Kennedy Space Center/NASA’s Earth Day celebration, April 21 – 22.  On the event’s first day, presenters met with KSC/NASA personnel, displaying a Chevy Volt, a Nissan LEAF, and two solar ovens.  On the second day, these displays were moved into the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex, near the Rocket Garden, where presenters were able to meet with KSC visitors and staff alike, speaking on the benefits of AFVs and alternative energy sources.

EnergyWhiz took over the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, FL on Saturday, May 14.  Hundreds of students participated in renewable energy events, including a solar car sprint, an energy transfer machine competition, a solar energy cook-off, a display of EVs and the Electrathon.  For more information on the event, please visit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/energywhiz_olympics/index.htm.

2016-Energy-Whiz-ElectrathonFinally, we attended the US DOE Clean Cities Southeast Regional Meeting in Jacksonville, May 18-20, 2016, where CFCCC Coordinator Colleen Kettles made a presentation on the FAST Act and its EV Corridor implications. On May 24, she traveled to NREL in Golden Colorado for a Clean Cities meeting on advanced technology vehicles and their impact on Clean Cities activities.

Although we’re done with spring, we’ll be reporting back on our summer events soon.  In the meantime, check out the upcoming 2016 EV Transportation and Technology Summit at http://www.EVsummit.org.  Hosted at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, FL over October 17-20, the summit will feature presentations and industry panels on electric vehicle transportation planning, policy building, and future technologies designed to promote electric vehicle advancement.  Register now!

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Tire Strategies to Save Fuel

June 21, 2016 by Clean Cities
What vehicle tire strategies and technologies are available to save fuel?

It’s easy to understand why tires are essential to a vehicle, but tires also play an important role in your vehicle’s fuel economy. Tires affect resistance on the road and, therefore, how hard the engine needs to work to move the vehicle. By maintaining proper tire inflation or investing in low rolling resistance or super-single tires, you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Whether you drive a light-duty (LDV) or heavy-duty vehicle (HDV), there is a tire strategy or technology to help you increase your miles per gallon (mpg).

Proper Tire Inflation

Properly inflated tires increase fuel economy, last longer, and are safer. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. In fact, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by up to 0.3% for every one pound per square inch drop in pressure in all four tires. It is especially important to keep an eye on tire pressure in cold weather because when the air in the tire becomes cold, the tire pressure decreases.

You can find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the owner’s manual. Also, check to see if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which will illuminate a dashboard light when the tire inflation in one, multiple, or all tires reaches a certain pressure threshold. Fleet managers, in particular, may consider using telematics with a TPMS to assist their drivers with maintenance. Even if a vehicle has a TPMS, however, it is still good practice to manually check your vehicle’s tire pressure in order to ensure all of your tires are properly inflated.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Rolling resistance is the energy lost from drag and friction of a tire as it rolls over a surface. This phenomenon is complex, and nearly all operating conditions can affect how much energy is lost. For conventional and hybrid electric passenger vehicles, it is estimated that about 3%-11% of their fuel is used just to overcome tire rolling resistance, whereas all-electric passenger vehicles can use around 22%-25% of their fuel for this purpose. For heavy trucks, this fuel consumption can be around 15%-30%.

Installing low rolling resistance tires can improve vehicle fuel economy by about 3% for LDVs and more than 10% for HDVs. In LDVs, a 10% decrease in rolling resistance can increase fuel efficiency by 1%-2%. Investing in low rolling resistance tires makes economic sense, as the fuel savings from the use of these tires over the life of the vehicle can pay for the additional cost of the fuel-efficient tires. Most new passenger vehicles are equipped with low rolling resistance tires, but make sure you keep rolling resistance in mind when shopping for replacement tires.

Super-Single Tires

Reducing vehicle drag can provide significant fuel economy improvements. One way HDVs can reduce drag is by replacing traditional dual tires with one super-single tire—also called a wide-base or single-wide. In Class-8 heavy-duty vehicles, this can save fuel by reducing vehicle weight and rolling resistance. A super-single tire is not as wide as two tires, so there is a slight aerodynamic benefit as well, further improving vehicle efficiency.

More Information

For more information, see the following pages:

For more information, contact:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com800-254-6735

 

 

New and Improved! AFLEET Tool 2016

May 31, 2016 by Clean Cities

What is the AFLEET Tool, how can I use it to make decisions about alternative fuels, and what are the recent improvements?

Argonne National Laboratory’s Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environment and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool allows you to examine both the environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuel and advanced vehicles. By entering data about your light- or heavy-duty vehicle(s), you can estimate petroleum use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutant emissions, and cost of ownership.

AFLEET uses data from Argonne’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model to estimate life cycle (well-to-wheel) GHG and tailpipe air pollutant emissions. Users can either use the model’s default values or get even more accurate results by customizing the tool with their real life vehicle or fleet data. By using AFLEET’s simple input mechanism, users can answer questions such as:

  • What are the emissions savings of replacing a conventionally fueled fleet with alternative fuel vehicles?
  • What is the incremental cost, and potential return on investment, of buying a flexible fuel vehicle?
  • How many passenger vehicles will be “taken off the road” by using natural gas refuse trucks?

Fleets and others that have been using AFLEET since its original release in 2013 will be pleased to hear that AFLEET has been updated to reflect more recent emissions data. In addition, Argonne added new features to help users formulate a more complete picture of the costs and benefits of alternative fuels.

Updates include:

  • Fuel Prices: AFLEET uses public and private station pricing based on the 2015 average Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report data. In addition, fuel pricing is now state-based rather than based on a national average. Users may also input a range of fuel prices to determine effects on simple payback models.
  • Infrastructure Costs: The updated version of AFLEET features data on fueling station and electric vehicle supply equipment infrastructure construction, operation, and maintenance costs. Users may also calculate other infrastructure-related costs, such as public station out-of-route mileage and fueling labor costs.
  • Latest Vehicle and Emission Data: AFLEET uses the latest GREET 2015 air pollutant emissions data, which includes updated heavy-duty fuel economy and emissions data, data for fuel cell electric vehicles, and updated life cycle data for renewable natural gas. AFLEET has also been updated to use the most recent version of EPA’s MOVES data, 2014a.
  • Externality Costs: AFLEET output data now includes externality costs of national petroleum use and GHG emissions. Externality costs are the indirect damages associated with fuels that are not explicitly captured by the marketplace (e.g., property damages from increased flood risk as a result of climate change). Externality cost estimates will be useful in putting local vehicle and fleet decisions in a national perspective.

For information about and instructions for using AFLEET, refer to Argonne’s AFLEET User Guide.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) fuel-specific emissions pages for general information on the emissions impacts of the various alternative fuels:

For more information, contact:

 

 

Florida Power & Light Achieves Key Emissions Reductions with Biodiesel

May 12, 2016 by Clean Cities

“Powered by Biodiesel” decals adorn Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) diesel vehicles as they traverse Florida and beyond. The signage highlights the key role this advanced biofuel is playing in the company’s sustainability strategy.

“FPL operates one of the largest “green fleets” in the country, with approximately 1,840 biodiesel-powered vehicles and 570 electric and hybrid electric vehicles – allowing us to reduce emissions and pass on fuel savings to our customers,” said Patti Earley, FPL Fleet Fueling Operations Specialist and the newest member of the Biodiesel Ambassadors program supported by the National Biodiesel Board. “In 2015 alone, our fleet saved 684,000 gallons of petroleum fuel and prevented more than 6,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

FPL’s journey to revolutionize its fleet started in 2006 when it became the first energy company to place into service a medium-duty hybrid-electric bucket truck. Today the company’s fleet includes both electric and hybrid trucks that use up to 60 percent less fuel and reduce exhaust emissions up to 90 percent.

fpl_biodiesel“At FPL, we pride ourselves on being good stewards of the environment and have developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy,” she said. “Biodiesel is the perfect fit because it’s renewable, sustainable and cleaner burning – there is no downside,” she said.

Earley explained that FPL vehicles need reliable fuel because they are constantly put to the test by working in extremely challenging environments. FPL crews drive the trucks all over the Sunshine State, on-road and off-road, often traveling up to 300 miles a day in extreme heat. They also plow through swampy terrain in the Florida Everglades or bull across inaccessible roads to restore power.

“Our 1,840 biodiesel vehicles have accumulated more than 100 million miles using B20 without encountering any biodiesel-related issues,” said Earley. FPL’s vehicle evaluations have demonstrated no appreciable change in fuel economy, engine wear, or driver acceptance with biodiesel.

FPL purchases more than 500,000 gallons of B100 annually. While the company primarily powers its fleet with B20, it’s also used blends of up to B35. “Because biodiesel is a drop-in fuel, there is no infrastructure issues involved, making it very easy to use,” Earley added.

Biodiesel on the Road

When Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the East Coast in 2012, FPL crews headed north to help restore power. With fuel in short supply, FPL crews took transport trailers full of B20 on the road with them. They not only fueled their own vehicles with B20, but pumped it into a variety other utility vehicles that needed fuel.

“No one really knew the difference,” said Earley. “But we knew that we had fuel we could count on that also happens to be better for the environment.”

About FPL

FPL provides energy to more than 4.8 million customers in Florida, with its fleet of 3,800 vehicles covering 27,000 square miles of service territory. In 1999, the company began experimenting with B20 in diesel vehicles in two locations. Since then, the biodiesel program has achieved much success, surpassing expectations.

In 2010, Ford Motor Company asked FPL to participate in an unprecedented “extreme-duty” B20 testing program with 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty® diesels. Positive results help spur the decision to make all 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty® diesel pickups fully compatible with B20.

In 2008, FPL earned the National Biodiesel Board’s annual Eye on Biodiesel Award for its leadership as a biodiesel champion. FPL fields about a dozen calls a month from others interested in transitioning to biodiesel, and educates them about use of the fuel.


 

The National Biodiesel Board is funded in part by the United Soybean Board and state soybean board checkoff programs.

For more information about biodiesel visit www.biodiesel.org.

Question of the Month: What are the various vehicle weight classes and why do they matter?

April 22, 2016 by Clean Cities

How do I know which Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard applies to my vehicle? What are the state emissions testing requirements for my vehicle? Would a medium-duty vehicle qualify for the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit? To answer these questions, you must first understand the specifics of the vehicle weight classifications to determine which laws, regulations, and incentives may apply to your vehicle or fleet.

You may recall learning about federal agencies and vehicle classes from our February Question of the Month. However, each agency defines vehicle classes differently. So this month, we will dig deeper into the specific vehicle weight classes set by three federal agencies. This guide will help you identify a Class 1 vehicle to a Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b, and everything in between.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

imageThe FHWA defines vehicles as Class 1 through 8, the most common categorization used in the fleet industry. The classes are based on a vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle, measured in pounds (lbs.). GVWR is set by the manufacturer and includes the total vehicle weight plus fluids, passengers, and cargo. The FHWA’s vehicle classes (listed below) are used in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (e.g., as it relates to the National Highway Freight Program). The vehicle classes are also used by certain states to determine vehicle road and fuel taxes, access to roadways, and idle reduction and emissions reduction requirements.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: less than (<) 10,000 lbs.
    • Class 1: <6,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Sedan or sport-utility vehicle (SUV)
    • Class 2: 6,001 – 10,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Utility van
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,001 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Mini bus
    • Class 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Step van
    • Class 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Bucket truck
    • Class 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: School bus
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: greater than (>) 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: City transit bus
    • Class 8: >33,000 lbs.
      • Example vehicle: Refuse truck

For more vehicle examples, see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Types of Vehicles by Weight Class chart.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA uses the following categories to certify vehicles based on emissions standards, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s CAFE standards to regulate fuel economy. The light-duty vehicle category is also used in the Energy Policy Act vehicle aquisition requirements. Note that there is a distinction between vehicles and engines in the EPA’s classification because there are separate emissions standards for each.

Passenger Vehicles

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <8,500 lbs.
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.

Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Engines

  • General Trucks:
    • Light-Duty Trucks: <8,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle Heavy-Duty Engine: >8,500 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Trucks:
    • Light-Duty Truck 1 and 2: <6,000 lbs.
      • Split is based on loaded vehicle weight (LVW), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 1: <3,750 lbs. LVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 2: 3,751 – 6,000 lbs. LVW
    • Light-Duty Truck 3 and 4: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
      • Split is based on adjusted loaded vehicle weight (ALVW, the average of the GVWR and the curb weight, which is the weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 3: <5,750 lbs. ALVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 4: >5,750 lbs. adjusted ALVW
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 2b: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8a: 33,001 – 60,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b: >60,000 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Engines:
    • Light Light-Duty Truck: <6,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Light-Duty Truck: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
    • Light Heavy-Duty Engine: 8,501 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Medium Heavy-Duty Engine: 19,501 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Heavy-Duty Engine Urban Bus: >33,000 lbs.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the following Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey classes to measure how many private and commercial trucks operate within the United States.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <10,000 lbs.
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,000 – 19,500 lbs.
  • Light Heavy-Duty Vehicle: 19,001 – 26,000 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: >26,000 lbs.

Looking for a more visual comparison of the various classifications? Check out the AFDC Vehicle Weight Classes and Categories chart.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com
800-254-6735

Question of the Month: It’s tax time! What are some common questions related to the federal tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure?

March 21, 2016 by Clean Cities

Tax season is upon us, and the recent federal tax incentive extensions and changes impact the alternative fuel and infrastructure tax credits.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029) retroactively extended several tax credits, including the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit. It also included updates to the calculation method for Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit amounts, specifically for propane and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Below we discuss three frequently asked questions about these credits.

How have the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit amounts changed for propane and LNG in 2016 and beyond?

The Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit applies to alternative fuel sold or used to operate a motor vehicle. Previously, the excise tax credit amount for propane and LNG was based on a volumetric basis ($0.50 per gallon). For fuel sold or used starting January 1, 2016, however, the excise tax credit amount for propane and LNG is based on an energy equivalent basis. This means the credit for propane is now measured per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) and LNG is measured per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). Specifically, the updated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8849, Schedule 3 defines 2016 tax credit rates for propane and LNG as follows:

  • Propane: One GGE is equal to 5.75 pounds (lbs.) or 1.353 gallons of propane.
  • LNG: One DGE is equal to 6.06 lbs. or 1.71 gallons of LNG.

What does this mean for propane and natural gas retailers and fleets? In short, the tax credit for the same amount of fuel is now less:

  • The propane tax credit was previously $0.50 per gallon and is now $0.50 per GGE (1.353 gallons of propane), which equates to $0.37 per gallon.
  • The LNG tax credit was previously $0.50 per gallon and is now $0.50 per DGE (1.71 gallons of LNG), which equates to $0.29 per gallon.

The tax credit amount for compressed natural gas (CNG) is still based on the GGE, where one GGE is equal to 121 cubic feet.

Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica) provides additional information on federal tax incentives for LNG and CNG, and highlights the impacts of the recent tax credit changes in the article, New Year Rings in Changes for CNG and LNG in 2016. The National Propane Gas Association explains the excise tax equalization for propane.

So, you said the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit was retroactively extended. Does that mean I can claim it for fuels sold or used in 2015?

Yes! Both the federal Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit and Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit were extended to cover 2015, meaning that propane, CNG, LNG, hydrogen, and biodiesel sold or used in 2015 are eligible for the federal tax credit. To file for the tax credit, registered claimants must submit a single one-time 2015 claim with IRS Form 8849, as well as the accompanying Schedule 3. The deadline to submit a claim for fuels sold or used in 2015 is August 8, 2016.

Please note that the tax credit amount for propane and LNG sold or used in 2015 is based on the previous, volumetric rate of $0.50 per gallon.

For additional information on claiming the tax credit for fuels sold or used in 2015, please see IRS Notice 2016-05.

Are tax-exempt entities eligible for the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit?

While a tax-exempt entity, such as a school or state government fleet, may not be eligible to claim the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit directly, the entity selling the fueling infrastructure to the tax-exempt entity can claim the credit and pass the “discount” along to the fleet. According to Title 26 of the United States Code, Section 30C(e)(3), the entity selling the fueling equipment to the tax-exempt entity can be treated as the taxpayer and claim the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, but only if the seller discloses the amount of the credit allowable to the tax-exempt purchaser in writing. In practice, this means the tax-exempt fleet would have the opportunity to use this information to request a discount. However, the infrastructure seller is not required to pass along any savings associated with the tax credit.

For more information on how tax-exempt entities may be eligible for the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, please see the IRS Instructions for Form 8911.

Please note that the Technical Response Service recommends consulting a qualified tax professional or the IRS before making any tax-related decisions.

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Showcasing National Leadership, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer Joins Seven Other Mayors to Launch Energy Secure Cities Coalition and Highlight the City’s Transition of its Municipal Fleet to Alternative Fuel Vehicles

March 3, 2016 by Clean Cities

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joins coalition seeking to retire 50,000 petroleum-powered vehicles, saving tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and improving U.S. national and economic security.

ORLANDO, FL – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joined seven other mayors Thursday in launching the Energy Secure Cities Coalition (ESCC), a group of cities dedicated to transitioning their municipal fleets from petroleum-fueled vehicles to vehicles powered by alternative fuels, like electricity and natural gas.

The City of Orlando has been migrating its fleet to advanced fuel vehicles since 2010 as part of its efforts to be one of the most sustainable cities in the country.  Moving toward the use of advanced fuels benefits both Orlando residents and the environment by reducing the dependence on and use of more expensive fuels, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving taxpayers money by reducing fuel and maintenance costs.

“The City of Orlando is committed to taking the steps necessary to preserve our natural resources for our children and future generations to come,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  “That’s why we pledged to run City fleet vehicles on 100 percent renewable resources by 2030 as part of our Green Works Orlando sustainability initiative and we are proud to join with other cities in this effort as part of the national Energy Secure Cities Coalition.”

The City of Orlando boasts 1,689 advanced fuel vehicles currently in its fleet and plans to grow this number to a total of 2,389 by 2030.  This year alone, the City of Orlando will deploy a total of 72 new advanced fuel vehicles including 29 CNG and hydraulic-hybrid trucks, 25 Via Motors Plug-in Hybrid-Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and 18 hybrid vehicles.  The City’s first CNG fueling station also began operation this year.

By joining the Energy Secure Cities Coalition, Orlando joins a network of cities that will share best practices and learn from each other before, during and after the fleet conversion process.  In addition to Orlando, the Energy Secure Cities Coalition includes:

  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Rochester, N.Y.
  • Sacramento Calif.
  • San Diego, Calif.
  • West Palm Beach, Fla.

“With 92 percent of our transportation sector powered by a single fuel—oil—our local economies are dangerously exposed to a volatile, unpredictable global oil market,” said SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond. “Cities are America’s centers for innovation, and it is absolutely essential we put that talent to good use protecting us from oil supply disruptions and economically devastating price spikes. And the more we do here at home to lessen our reliance on oil, the more we help our soldiers abroad, who are all too often forced to intervene to protect supply infrastructure in unstable parts of the world.”

Together, the Energy Secure Cities Coalition will grow to 25 cities by 2025 with the goal of taking 50,000 petroleum-powered vehicles off the road, saving 500,000 barrels of oil every year and protecting city budgets from volatile and unpredictable global oil prices.

The ESCC is a project of its member cities in collaboration with Securing America’s Future Energy and the Electrification Coalition. Learn more at www.energysecurecities.org.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

Cassandra Lafser, City of Orlando Press Secretary, Cassandra.Lafser@CityofOrlando.net, 407.246.2182

​​​​​Ellen Carey, Securing America’s Future Energy Vice President of Communications, ​​​​​​​ecarey@secureenergy.org​​​​, 202.461.2382

Heather Fagan

Deputy Chief of Staff
City of Orlando, Office of the Mayor
400 S. Orange Ave, 3rd Floor
Orlando, FL 32802

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