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Central Florida Clean Cities September Re-Cap

October 5, 2015 by Clean Cities

Ford Smart Mobility_2September may be over soon, but we’d like to re-cap all of the exciting events Central Florida Clean Cities was able to be a part of this month.

Starting on Wed. Sept. 9, Central Florida Clean Cities representatives were invited to attend the Ford Smart Mobility Experience at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.  A traveling presentation, Ford’s Smart Mobility Experience provides a sneak peak at Ford’s transportation designs that revolutionize the way we move ourselves in the future.  Our favorite was a look at the electric bike concept which combined some of our best-loved features:  alternative fuels, multi-modal transport, and a new way for us to travel sustainably.

NDEW_Sept. 12_1

On Saturday, Sept. 12, we kicked off National Drive Electric Week at Valencia College in downtown Orlando.  Attendees at this event were able to check out a variety of electric vehicles and speak with the car owners to learn more about electric driving.  The event also featured a presentation period during which speakers elaborated on the distinctions of the PEV, how this alternative fuel contributes to a healthier community and environment, and what attendees can do to embrace this fun, green, and exciting vehicle market.

NDEW_Sept. 18_2On Friday, Sept. 18, Central Florida Clean Cities representatives were able to attend a Drive Electric Orlando event at the Dr. P. Phillips Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando.  The event kicked off Enterprise’s commitment to providing electric rental cars for the nation’s number one tourist destination here in Central Florida.  Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared the day to be the first ever Drive Electric Orlando Day—before he was able to cruise off in a rented Chevy Volt!

 

NDEW_Sept. 19_2The Space Coast Electric Vehicle Drivers Club capped off Drive Electric Week by hosting an EV event at Satellite Beach on Saturday, Sept. 19.  35 EVs attended the event, and upwards of 120 total test rides we given to prospective EV buyers.  Of the registered attendees, EV owners collaboratively reported more than 650,000 miles between them on pure electric drive.

Finally this month, we were able to welcome a new hire, Shauna Basques, to the Central Florida Clean Cities fold.  Having worked previously on workplace charging (WPC) for the Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, she is excited to begin working with the Central Florida EV community to help advance adoption of alternative fuels and spread the word on workplace charging.  If you have any questions for her (or just want to say hi), contact her at sbasques@fsec.ucf.edu.

And don’t forget—Central Florida Clean Cities will be participating in more upcoming events!

On October 2, 2015, we will be celebrating the tail end of Team Sanford’s Fireball Run stint from 3-6 PM on 1st St. in Sanford, FL.  We will provide a small electric vehicle display and cheer on the team to the finish line the following day on the Florida Space Coast.

From October 14-16, the 2015 Florida Energy Summit will be held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida.  Presentations at the summit will focus on alternative fuels, CNG and LNG in particular.  For information and registration, please visit FloridaEnergySummit.com.

We will also assist in hosting the 2015 EV Transportation and Technology Summit at our Florida Solar Energy Center campus from Oct. 20-22 in Cocoa, FL.  For information and registration, please visit EVSummit.org.

Thank you for all of your interest and support.  We look forward to reporting back soon!

National Drive Electric Week is Here! September 12-20, 2015

September 10, 2015 by Clean Cities

National Drive Electric Week, September 12-20, 2015, is a nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of today’s widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and highlight the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more. They are fun to drive, are less expensive and more convenient to fuel than gasoline vehicles, are better for the environment, promote local jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Are you considering going electric? Come talk to owners who have successfully done so.

The Florida dates are as follows:

Valencia NDEW Event

Satellite Beach NDEW Event

 

Destin Florida USA Sep 15, 2015
Fort Lauderdale Florida USA Sep 19, 2015
Fort Lauderdale Florida USA Sep 12, 2015
Fort Myers Florida USA Sep 19, 2015
Jacksonville Florida USA Sep 17, 2015
Oldsmar Florida USA Sep 12, 2015
Orlando Florida USA Sep 12, 2015
Orlando Florida USA Sep 18, 2015
Pensacola Florida USA Sep 19, 2015
Pinecrest Florida USA Sep 19, 2015
Sarasota Florida USA Sep 12, 2015
Satellite Beach Florida USA Sep 19, 2015
St. Petersburg Florida USA Sep 12, 2015
Tallahassee Florida USA Sep 17, 2015

 

For more information about National Drive Electric Week, please visit the event website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question of the month: What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?

August 24, 2015 by Clean Cities

As Returns from Gas and Diesel Taxes Decline, States Look to Alternative Models

Nearly all of us regularly use and access public roads, infrastructure, or transit services. As you may have read in the July blog post, Feeling Pain at the Pump? Factors That Affect Fuel Prices, it’s common practice for federal, state, and local governments to tax motor fuels on a per gallon basis to fund transportation infrastructure and increase revenue. Returns from gasoline and diesel taxes are on the decline due to a number of factors, including rising construction costs, general inflation, and greater vehicle efficiency, which reduces fuel use per mile. To make up for this deficit, a number of states are evaluating and implementing alternatives to traditional motor fuel tax models through the use of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, annual fees for vehicles that use certain fuels, such as electricity, or adjusting or establishing fuel taxes for certain alternative fuels.

VMT Fees

VMT fees are designed to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive, rather than the fuel they consume. The concept seeks to base taxes on use rather than fuel consumption, which provides a fuel neutral approach and offsets decreasing revenue from increased vehicle efficiency. Concerns have, however, been raised over program administration and individual privacy. Several states, including Vermont and Oregon, have studied or implemented VMT fee pilot programs. In July of 2015, Oregon began a road usage charge program for 5,000 volunteers and is encouraging participation by plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) collects $0.015 per mile and issues gas tax refunds to participants. Vehicle miles will be monitored through a vehicle transponder.

Annual Fees

As alternative fuel use has grown, a number of states have established annual fees or decals to recover revenue that would have normally come from motor fuel taxes. These programs also provide a mechanism to collect revenue from those that charge or fuel at home and, in some cases, are used to incentivize alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Fees have traditionally been imposed on fuels such as natural gas and propane, but are now being considered and implemented for PEVs. Establishing the appropriate level for such fees can be tricky, as different vehicle classes use very different amounts of fuel. In addition, some AFVs, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and bi-fuel natural gas vehicles, may already pay motor fuel taxes for their gasoline or diesel use. Examples of fees in place include:

  • Colorado requires a $50 annual fee for a PEV decal.
  • Georgia requires a $200 annual fee for non-commercial PEVs and $300 annual fee for commercial PEVs.
  • Louisiana requires an annual fee of $120 or a percentage of the current special fuels tax rate for compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane vehicles.
  • Nebraska requires a $75 annual fee for PEVs and other AFVs not covered under state motor fuel tax regulations.
  • North Carolina requires a $100 annual fee for all-electric vehicles.

Alternative Fuel Taxes

Many states have passed regulations to either tax certain alternative fuels for the first time or to structure motor fuel taxes to account for energy content variations between alternative fuels and gasoline or diesel. For example, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah are among the states that have enacted legislation or regulations in 2015 to define the energy content of CNG and liquefied natural gas on a gasoline gallon equivalent or diesel gallon equivalent basis. Wyoming updated regulations related to alternative fuel excise taxes and dealer license fees for natural gas, propane, electricity, and renewable diesel. Kentucky and Utah enacted excise tax requirements for hydrogen and South Dakota increased excise taxes for certain fuels, including ethanol. Look out for the September Question of the Month blog for further information on efforts to equalize federal fuel taxes across fuels.

Until motor fuel tax revenue shortfalls can be adequately addressed, states risk underfunding our roads and infrastructure. While no single approach has emerged as the preferred choice, creative solutions, such as those discussed above, may help states adequately adjust for continued sales of AFVs and other fuel-efficient vehicles. With the exception of VMT fees, these approaches, however, only address a small portion of the nation’s fleet and are not likely to resolve broader funding issues in the near-term.

Refer to the following Alternative Fuels Data Center websites for more information on alternatives to traditional state motor fuel taxes:

Also watch for an upcoming paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on motor fuel excise taxes.

blog post written by

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

Question of the Month: What factors affect fuel prices?

July 20, 2015 by Clean Cities

 
 
 

Feeling Pain at the Pump? Factors That Affect Fuel Prices

Source: EIA, Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update, July 13, 2015

Source: EIA, Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update, July 13, 2015

Source: EIA, Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update, July 13, 2015
Click to view larger

When gasoline and diesel prices spike, we often want to blame someone for our pain at the pump. The reality is that the oil industry is a complex market. Though there are numerous factors that could ultimately influence the price of fuel, such as weather, government policies, and international relations, there are four factors that have the most significant influence. These factors include the cost of crude oil, refining costs and profits, distribution and marketing costs, and fuel taxes. Alternative fuels, such as natural gas, propane, electricity, and biofuels, can mitigate some price fluctuations attributable to short-term events, like natural disasters, because they diversify the fuel supply. However, some alternative fuel prices are also dependent on similar factors.

In May 2015, the average retail price of regular grade gasoline was $2.72, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Below is a summary of the factors that affect gasoline prices, and the relative percentage of each component. We have also described how each of these factors may affect alternative fuel prices.

Crude Oil

As of May, approximately 51% of the cost of gasoline was related to the price of crude oil. The fluctuation in crude oil price is the biggest factor in the volatility of the price of gasoline, as the other costs (described below) are relatively static.

Crude oil prices are largely a product of supply and demand. Global demand has grown in recent years due to world economic growth and increased access to vehicles, particularly in developing nations. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which produced about 40% of the world’s crude oil between 2000 and 2014, also has significant influence on oil prices by setting production limits among members. Part of the reason oil prices have declined significantly since July 2014 is that OPEC nations are not limiting production, resulting in a global ‘glut’ of crude oil. Much of this glut stems from a surge in oil production in the United States and Canada over the last few years from unconventional sources, like shale. This price could change dramatically, however, if there is a major global supply disruption.

With the exception of electricity and natural gas, alternative fuel prices can also be impacted by the price of crude oil and the price and demand for petroleum products. Higher or lower demand for gasoline also influences ethanol demand, for example, and ethanol is closely linked to the price of gasoline, as shown in the Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report. Biodiesel wholesale costs are largely influenced by the price of diesel. Propane costs historically tend to follow crude oil prices, though not to the same extent as other fuels, and change seasonally because of the demand for propane as heating fuel in the winter.

Alternative fuel prices are also affected by the applicable commodity price, though the impact varies by fuel. For example, the price of natural gas only comprises 20% of the compressed natural gas (CNG) price at the pump, according to the American Gas Association. Because natural gas is a relatively small percentage of the overall fuel price, a swing in the natural gas commodity prices has less of an effect on the CNG price at the pump. In addition, natural gas costs are typically regulated and less expensive than petroleum (on a gasoline gallon equivalent—or GGE—basis) and the infrastructure is independent of oil infrastructure.

Refining Costs and Profits

Crude oil must be refined into gasoline and diesel so it is compatible with vehicles. Refining oil takes energy and costs may vary based on the type and origin of the crude oil used in the process. In May, refinery costs and profits represented about 22% of the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

Alternative fuels, such as propane, natural gas, and biofuels, are also “refined” or otherwise altered before they can be used in vehicles. Propane is a by-product of crude oil refining and is also produced as a liquid from natural gas and oil wells. Propane from natural gas liquids does not require refining; however, it must go through a scrubbing process to remove contaminants, as well as a separation process. Natural gas is produced from natural gas and oil wells, and is also subject to a separation and treatment process to remove contaminants. It must also be compressed in order to be transported in major distribution pipelines. Biofuel production facilities are often called ‘biorefineries’ because they produce and refine crude biofuels at the same location.

Distribution and Marketing

Since many of us do not live next to oil refineries, gasoline and diesel must be transported to local fueling stations. This occurs through a sophisticated system of pipelines, trucks, or barges to a network of fuel terminals, which can also be referred to as a distribution rack. The distributors, also called jobbers, load and blend the gasoline and diesel with other products (e.g., ethanol, biodiesel) in tanker trucks, which is driven to your local retail outlets and placed in underground storage tanks. In every part of the supply chain there are costs associated with employee salaries and benefits, equipment, taxes, insurance, and other types of overhead. In May, these resulting costs equaled about 10% of the price of a gallon of gasoline.

Taxes

Finally, motor fuel taxes contribute to the construction and maintenance of the roads we use on a regular basis. In the early 1900s, state governments devised ways to collect taxes on each gallon of fuel to help cover these costs and increase revenue. In May, federal, state, and local taxes accounted for 17% of the average retail price of a gallon of gasoline. Federal excise taxes are currently $0.184 per gallon of gasoline or ethanol, and $0.244 per gallon of diesel or biodiesel. Propane and CNG are taxed at $0.183 per gallon of propane or GGE of CNG, and liquefied natural gas is taxed at $0.243 per gallon. The September Question of the Month blog will delve into this topic in more detail.

State and local fuel taxes vary widely by jurisdiction. Though motor fuel taxes are applied to each gallon of gasoline or diesel sold, alternative fuels can also be taxed on an energy equivalent basis with gasoline and/or diesel. Some states use alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes, such as annual fees for alternative fuel vehicles or taxes based on the number of miles traveled. Watch for the August Question of the Month blog for more information on these alternatives.

Though the alternative fuel supply chain differs slightly from conventional fuels, many of the same factors influencing oil prices also impact alternative fuels. Now when you fill up your vehicle, take a moment to think about all the infrastructure and people required to process and deliver fuel from the field to the pump.

UCF’s FSEC to Establish Statewide Alternative Fuel Vehicle Training for First Responders

April 8, 2015 by Clean Cities

The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), host of the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, was selected to establish an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) training network for the state of Florida that adapts safety and technical training based on existing curricula for local needs. This project will establish training on electric drive, compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane vehicles for first responders, college instructors, tow-truck operators, and salvage/recycling operators.

The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program at $600,000 over a two-year period and starting later this month, will bring together Florida’s Clean Cities Coalitions and their stakeholders to increase the acceptance and deployment of AFVs.

The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, in partnership with CareerSource Brevard, has demonstrated both the need and demand for this type of training as they have supported classroom, online, and hands-on instruction for nearly 200 local public safety officers.

“Dealing with alternative fuel vehicles in an emergency situation is new to many first responders. Our training provides assurance that our public safety officers are prepared to deal with alternative fuel vehicles when responding to traffic incidents, protecting both the public and the officers from harm.” says Colleen Kettles, coordinator of the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition.

According to Battalion Chief and EMS Training Officer Greg Sutton of the Titusville Fire and Emergency Services Department, the first responder training “makes you realize how little you really know about [AFV] vehicles even though we in the fire service have a basic knowledge of them. The technology and mechanics involved are ever changing and I know our crews have a greater confidence in how they will approach these types of vehicles from now on.  Making a vehicle “safe” prior to operating in and around it is priority in our field when dealing with vehicle accidents, fires and other emergencies.”

Working with the National Alternative Fuel Training Consortium, the training will be offered statewide.

This project is one of 11 announced by the U.S. Department of Energy last month, aimed at improving potential AFV buyers’ experiences through on-the-road demonstrations of alternative fuel and plug-in electric vehicles, supporting safety-related training, and integrating alternative fuels into emergency planning.

About Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition
The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition is a non-profit corporation administered by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) at the Cocoa campus. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Coalition supports sustainable transportation practices, through efforts to advance deployment of alternative fuel technologies, mass transit projects, and fleet optimization measures. The Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition territory encompasses a ten-county area consisting of Brevard, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia Counties. For more information about the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, visit http://centralfloridacleancities.com/ or contact Colleen Kettles at ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu, 321-638-1004.

About FSEC
The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation fuels, batteries, hydrogen and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, photovoltaic (solar electric) systems, testing, and certification. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

America’s Partnership University
The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with nearly 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.

Question of the Month: What were the trends related to state laws and incentives enacted in 2014?

March 3, 2015 by Clean Cities

Answer: 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, 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 that received 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 (CNG) 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.

Clean car exhaustThe 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 and is available at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/bulletins/2014_01_15_Year_In_Review.html.

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 at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws. This database may be particularly useful in the states in which 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 Bulletins page at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/technology_bulletins.html. You may submit new or updated state laws and incentives, and suggestions for policy bulletin topics, by emailing the TRS directly at technicalresponse@icfi.com.

 

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

Should you charge customers for EV charging stations?

November 20, 2014 by Clean Cities

IMG_4751.JPG
Courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation

Is it a prohibited gift of public funds if the agency allows public employees and members of the public to charge their personal vehicle at an agency charging station without imposing a fee?

Can employees be provided with free charging as an employee benefit?
Should an agency require that employees enter into an employee agreement for use of the EV charging stations?

The gift of public funds consideration seems to be the biggest legal concern among government agencies, and there are two ways to analyze the issue. As a reminder, the gift of public funds prohibition in the Washington State Constitution (article 8, section 7) is mandatory and must be strictly observed. It prohibits a local government from giving “any money, or property, or loan[ing] its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm.”

The threshold question under the gift of public funds analysis is whether providing EV charging for personal vehicles is a “fundamental governmental purpose?” If yes, no gift of public funds occurs. If no, then the question turns to whether there is consideration and donative intent.

Nov 12th WORKSHOP: Central FL Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEFA)

November 10, 2014 by Clean Cities

CEEFA Workshop November 2014

CEEFA Workshop November 2014

Fuels Fix Fall 2014 Edition

October 30, 2014 by Clean Cities

 

Fuels Fix Fall 2014 Edition

Fuels Fix Fall 2014 Edition

Inside the Fall 2014 edition of the Fix:

  • Carolina Blue Skies Initiative expands Asheville’s Alt Fuel Use

  • Alabama Says, “It Starts with Us!”

  • Oregon Celebrates First DC Fast Charger at Mt. Hood

  • Plus much more!

Albany firefighters train on hybrid cars

October 27, 2014 by Clean Cities

IMG_4138.JPGBrent Belcher, Toyota of Albany , left, instructs Jason Ribolla (white shirt) and other firefighters on Toyota hybrid cars. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

ALBANY — In the event of a vehicle emergency, firefighters are trained on how to safely enter a disabled vehicle and free its occupants. But times are changing and not all vehicles operate with standard internal combustion engines. Responders could face unfamiliar dangers in the form of extremely high voltage.

That’s why a dozen or so members of the Albany Fire Department were at Toyota of Albany on Ledo Road this past week, poking around the innards of some high-tech hybrid cars. “It a whole different thing with a hybrid,” said Jason Ribolla, training officer at the AFD. “These cars are silent when they’re running on electricity and if you don’t know what you’re doing, power goes to the wheels and the vehicle starts to move.”

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