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Question of the Month: How is the propane industry improving the customer fueling experience through new technology?

January 30, 2017 by Clean Cities

As propane vehicle technology becomes more advanced, propane dispensing infrastructure has evolved along with it. In particular, the propane industry is focusing much of its attention on enhancing the customer fueling experience by installing propane dispensers that are dedicated for vehicle fueling, and by upgrading the propane nozzle technology. The increasingly popular European-style, quick-connect nozzle simplifies the customer fueling experience by connecting to the fuel tank through a snap or quick-connect attachment, rather than a conventional threaded connection. Only after the nozzle is safely connected to the fuel tank will it begin to dispense fuel. This attachment eliminates the threading connection necessary with the conventional Acme nozzle, making propane fueling as easy as conventional gasoline fueling.

With the new nozzle, fueling can be completed using only one hand and without wearing protective goggles and gloves. The quick-connect attachment also results in lower emissions, as it more effectively prevents the release of fuel vapor and fumes. Additionally, the nozzle’s design minimizes the amount of fuel that escapes when the vehicle is done fueling and the connector is detached from the vehicle.

There are many affordable quick-connect nozzle options available on the United States market that meet UL 125 certification requirements (https://standardscatalog.ul.com/standards/en/standard_125). Manufacturers of these UL-certified nozzles include Stäubli and ELAFLEX. These European-style connectors are priced around $1,200, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (https://cleancities.energy.gov/files/u/news_events/document/document_url/96/2015_strategic_planning_propane.pdf). The cost of the connection adapters, or fill valves, required for current fueling infrastructure to be compatible with the European-style nozzle, ranges from $50 to $60. Note that the installation of a new fueling nozzle should always be performed by a qualified technician in order to ensure that it is completed properly.

Many propane retailers are optimistic about the European-style, quick-connect nozzle. In fact, the Propane Education Research Council (PERC) highlights its benefits and encourages the use of this connector through its Quick-Connect Nozzle Incentive Program (http://www.propanecouncil.org/Our-Work/Our-Work-With-Marketers/Incentive-Programs/Quick-Connect-Nozzle-Incentive-Program/). Moving forward, the quick-connect nozzle is a significant step towards streamlining and improving the propane fueling experience.

For more information about propane and related fueling infrastructure, see the following resources:

 

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

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:

 

 

Question of the Month: Are fuel taxes equal for all fuels?

September 22, 2015 by Clean Cities

In theory, if all motor fuels were taxed equitably it would ensure tax consistency among jurisdictions and reduce consumer burdens. In practice, motor fuel taxes vary widely between jurisdictions and across fuel types. This is largely because federal and some state highway excise taxes are based on volume, not on energy content, resulting in significant tax inequity among fuels. As discussed in the July and August Questions of the Month blogs, motor fuel taxes are used to fund transportation infrastructure. The number of vehicle miles traveled on a specific amount of fuel is linked to the amount of energy in the fuel. Therefore, energy content provides a more accurate measure of a vehicle’s impact on a roadway.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure you understand some basic keywords and phrases regarding energy content:

  • Btu: British thermal units, or the unit of measure to show an amount of energy.
  • Heating value: A measure of energy content in Btus, which represents the amount of heat released during combustion. Typically, we use the lower heating value when comparing fuels.
  • Gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE): The amount of fuel that has the equivalent energy to a gallon of gasoline. Similarly, diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) is the amount of fuel that has the equivalent energy to a gallon of diesel. GGE is used for alternative fuels that typically replace gasoline (e.g., ethanol), whereas DGE is used to measure fuels that replace diesel (e.g., liquefied natural gas, or LNG).

Federal Excise Taxes

Last month, the President signed H.R.3236 (Public Law 114-41), the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, which assesses the federal fuel excise tax levied against LNG and propane on a Btu basis relative to diesel and gasoline, respectively, beginning on January 1, 2016. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is already taxed based on an energy content basis relative to gasoline. Prior to Public Law 114-41, the federal excise taxes for LNG and propane were higher than the conventional fuel counterpart. This is still the case for biodiesel and ethanol, leaving these fuels at a tax disadvantage compared to diesel and gasoline, respectively.

State Excise Taxes

Motor fuel tax variations within and between states are even more complex. Many states have some of the same tax equity issues that we see at the federal level. Plus, there are many different fuel definitions and measures, which create an undue burden for interstate fleets that must comply with the International Fuel Tax Agreement. For example, only some states tax CNG and LNG on a GGE or DGE basis. Though a number of states are currently evaluating legislative proposals to tax fuels this way, others states are waiting for a decision by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM). And if NCWM does adopt a standard, states will still have to individually adopt the standard into their laws or regulations before it can be implemented.

Taxes on Electricity as a Transportation Fuel

Other motor fuels, such as electricity and hydrogen, do not have federal excise tax requirements. Although plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) currently represent a very small portion of the total vehicle population, it is likely PEV and FCEV registrations will continue to grow in coming years. Any effort to collect taxes on electricity to pay for highway infrastructure would need to account for the fact that PEVs are capable of fueling at home. In addition, some plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners pay taxes on their gasoline use. Making the situation even more complicated, electricity is already taxed in ways not tied to highway funding. Some states have implemented annual PEV fees through registration or vehicle decal programs to account for lost revenue from motor fuel taxes, which we discussed in the August Question of the Month blog.

Refer to the following for more information on motor fuel taxes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog post written by

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

TruStar Energy Lowers Commercial Fueling Cost in Orlando by Opening Its First Public CNG Fueling Station

July 21, 2015 by Clean Cities

Company Capitalizes on Market Shift to CNG Fuel

(ORLANDO, FL) July 21, 2015 – TruStar Energy, one of the nation’s leading developers of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling stations, announced today that it has opened its first TruStar Energy-branded public CNG fueling station in Orlando, Florida. Located in a heavy truck traffic corridor, the 24/7 CNG fast-fill station is capable of fueling several hundred vehicles a day and promises to deliver lower fueling cost and reduced transportation-related emissions to the
Orlando area.

“We continue to see a shift taking place in North America where more commercial vehicles are running on CNG—it’s cheaper, cleaner, quieter running, and domestically abundant and produced. As a result, the company has embarked on a strategic path to open dozens of TruStar Energy public CNG stations over the next several years—Orlando is our first,” said TruStar Energy President, Adam Comora. “Rest assured though, we will continue to provide the same outstanding design, construction, maintenance, and training services for private, public and government customers.”

From left to right:: Florida State Representative Victor Torres, Trustar President Adam Comora, US Congressman Daniel Webster, and TECO representative Keith Gruetzmacher. Backdrop is the City of Orlando CNG Refuse Truck.

From left to right:: Florida State Representative Victor Torres, Trustar President Adam Comora, US Congressman Daniel Webster, and TECO representative Keith Gruetzmacher. Backdrop is the City of Orlando CNG Refuse Truck.

“We identified Orlando as one of the best markets to build our first station, because it has a high volume of CNG vehicles and the potential to add many more,” remarked Scott Edelbach, General Manager of TruStar Energy. “Our state-of-the-art CNG station is perfectly located close to several major fleets as well as a heavy traffic corridor, making it a valuable, profitable and productive resource for businesses in the area.”

The new TruStar Energy CNG station at 8520 Exchange Drive, in the Orlando Central Park development, has four traffic lanes and two fueling islands, providing easy access for commercial vehicles and private CNG-powered consumer vehicles. Designed for future expansion, the station can accept two additional dispensers adding four more traffic lanes. The station is supplied by TECO Peoples Gas and accepts commercial fuel cards such as Comdata or Fuelman as well as all major credit cards.

“TruStar Energy’s team of experts were valuable partners in the construction of our Tampa and Ft. Meyers CNG fueling stations—those stations were built on time, on budget and there were no surprises,” said Jose Rivera, Vice President at J.J. Taylor, a Florida-based beer distributor. “The company’s investment in growing Florida’s CNG fueling infrastructure will provide fleets—like ours—the ability to extend our routes outside of our private station network—they should be applauded for undertaking this initiative.”

Fleets that run on CNG have lower exhaust and carbon emissions compared to diesel and gasoline. The average refuse truck uses 10,000 gallons of fuel each year, which is the carbon equivalent of burning 272 barrels of oil. By switching to natural gas, the carbon equivalent is cut to two barrels. Plus, natural gas engines have an average of 80 percent to 90 percent lower decibel level than diesel engines, and CNG is up to 50 percent less expensive than gasoline or diesel. CNG is also insulated from price volatility due to international conflicts and events, which in recent years has been responsible for dramatic price fluctuations for gasoline and diesel.

“By using domestically produced natural gas to fuel our transportation needs, we are not only creating and securing more American jobs, but also decreasing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Keith Gruetzmacher, Senior Manager of Alternative Fuel Vehicle Programs for TECO Peoples Gas. “TECO Peoples Gas is proud to partner with TruStar Energy to accelerate this clean, efficient and American fueling solution.”

To learn more about TruStar Energy’s CNG fueling station program, visit www.trustarenergy.com.

About TruStar Energy

TruStar Energy, a subsidiary of Fortistar, is the fastest growing compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station owner, constructor and service provider in North America. With decades of experience in trucking and fueling, the company’s professionals are experts at designing and building CNG fueling stations that are ready on time, on budget and are swiftly profitable for their owners. And with a rapidly growing network of public stations and 24/7 service and support, we’re always there when you need us.

TruStar Energy puts fleet owners in the driver’s seat by offering best-in-class, realistic and affordable options to meet a full range of fueling needs. For additional information, please visit www.trustarenergy.com and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

TruStar Energy: True Partnership. For a Change.
###
TruStar Energy Media Contact:
Andy Beck
Makovsky
abeck@makovsky.com
202-587-5634

 

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.

Tax Extenders Legislation Clears Congress: Key Tax Credits Reinstated Through 2014

December 18, 2014 by Clean Cities

IMG_4856-0.JPG

On Tuesday night, December 16, the Senate approved legislation sent from the House that extends the life of a number of tax breaks through tax year 2014. Included in the package are a number of credits important to fleets, of which are outlined below.

Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit – $.50 per gallon alternative fuel tax credit for compressed natural gas and propane when used as a vehicle fuel.
Biodiesel Production and Blending Tax Credit – Qualified biodiesel producers or blenders are eligible for an income tax credit of $1.00 per gallon of pure biodiesel or renewable diesel produced or used in the blending process.
Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit – A 30 percent credit for installing vehicle refueling property for alternative fuel, such as pumps for ethanol or liquefied natural gas.
Bonus Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), commonly referred to as Bonus Depreciation – allows extra depreciation to be taken for 50 percent of a truck’s purchase price, with an extra bonus depreciation deduction of up to $8,000 for automobiles, light trucks, vans, and SUVs.
President Obama is expected to sign the tax extenders legislation within days. As mentioned, the measure is only applicable to the 2014 tax year, which means the credits will not be renewed for tax year 2015 unless the new Congress takes the matter up again.

NAFA Fleet Management Association | 125 Village Boulevard, Suite 200 | Princeton, NJ 08540
609.720.0882 | info@nafa.org | www.nafa.org

U.S. House Extends Alternative-Fuel Tax Credits

December 9, 2014 by Clean Cities

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which includes an amendment extending the federal 50-cent per gallon alternative fuels excise tax credits through the remainder of 2014, even though the credits had previously expired at the end of 2013.

These tax credits were made available to individuals, businesses, and other entities that use transportation fuel products such as compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and propane autogas.

The alternative fuels excise tax credits are part of many business, individual, and energy tax incentives covered in H.R. 5771, which will next be reviewed by the Senate.

From Green Fleet Magazine

Odyssey Day: Nov 7th at Embry-Riddle, Daytona Beach, FL

October 31, 2014 by Clean Cities

Odyssey Day 2014 at Embry-RiddleOdyssey Day Slogan

Hosted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Eco Eagles LEco Eagles

&

Sponsored by the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition

Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition

10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Presentations

Lunch (on your own, on site)

Ride and Drive

Vehicle Expo, of which includes:

302 ECOPOWER CAR

Ecopower Technologies Inc.’s World Record Society’s 2013

Propane /Natural gas powered  car of the year.

The car holds seven world records,

three of which are on propane three on natural gas

and one on liquified natural gas.

 

 Located at:

Henderson Welcome Center

600 South Clyde Morris Blvd.

Daytona Beach, FL 32114-3900

 

 

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!

Webinar: Propane Education & Research Council

September 10, 2014 by Clean Cities

IMG_2807.JPGPERC Third Thursday Propane Webinar

When
Thursday, September 18th
at 11:00am EDT.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

A free monthly webinar hosted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). Each webinar offers the latest in propane technologies, products and trainings and takes place the third thursday of every month.

Guest speakers: representing Thomas Built Buses, CleanFUEL USA and Powertrain Integration will be discussing the expansion of Thomas Built Buses alternative fuel offering with the propane-fueled Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus.

During the webinar your members will learn:

– the details and benefits of the autogas C2 engine model

– how propane autogas meets environmental standards as well as governmental and public mandate

– how switching to alternative-fueled fleets has improved the company’s image and transportation budget

These monthly webinars are extremely beneficial to anyone in the industry.

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