Monday, November 24, 2014

November Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I determine whether an alternative fuel conversion system or other aftermarket device claiming to improve fuel economy or reduce emissions has been appropriately certified or verified?

Answer: To ensure an aftermarket system or device is legitimate, you must first confirm that it has been properly vetted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and any applicable state authority, such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB). There are a number of ways to do this, as described below.

Certified Conversion Systems
Always request documentation! Conversion system manufacturers should be more than willing to provide a copy of their EPA-issued Certificate of Conformity (or CARB Executive Order) upon request. For vehicles falling into EPA’s “intermediate age” and “outside useful life” categories, the manufacturer should be able to prove the company has satisfied demonstration and notification requirements.

You can consult EPA’s Alternative Fuel Conversion website (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/fuels/altfuels/altfuels.htm) for files listing “EPA-Compliant Conversion Systems.” All conversion systems listed on this website comply with EPA’s conversion regulations (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 85, Subpart F). Keep in mind that each system is designed for a specific group of vehicles. Since conversion systems are only listed on this page at the request of system manufacturer, there may be other certified systems, so contact the EPA Compliance Information Hotline for more information (734-214-4343; complianceinfo@epa.gov).

California has its own compliance requirements for conversion systems sold within the state.  For information about California’s requirements, see the CARB Aftermarket, Performance, and Add-On Parts Regulations website (http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/aftermkt/altfuel/altfuel.htm), Note that several other states that have adopted the same regulations.

SmartWay and Other Emission Reduction Technologies
Ask manufacturers of other emissions- and fuel-saving devices whether their products have been reviewed by EPA.

EPA evaluates the fuel-saving benefits of devices such as idle reduction devices, aerodynamics technologies, and low rolling resistance tires. The SmartWay Verified Technologies website (http://epa.gov/smartway/forpartners/technology.htm) provides more information about specific products and models. EPA verifies and approves diesel retrofit technologies for use in its engine retrofit programs and provides information about emissions reductions. See the Verified Technologies List (http://epa.gov/cleandiesel/verification/verif-list.htm). It is important to note that EPA does not endorse these or any other commercial products.

EPA’s Gas Saving and Aftermarket Retrofit Device Evaluation Program, also called the “511 Program” (http://www.epa.gov/oms/consumer/reports.htm), evaluates aftermarket retrofit devices that claim to improve automobile fuel economy and/or reduce exhaust emissions in cars and light trucks. The most recent test report from this voluntary evaluation program is dated 2005, indicating a lack of recent interest, but the program is still relevant.
Check with your state environmental or energy department to confirm whether they have similar programs.


For more information on aftermarket system and device evaluation, see the following websites:
·         AFDC Vehicle Conversions (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/conversions.html)
·         Fact Sheet: Devices and Additives to Improve Fuel Economy and Reduce Pollution - Do They Really Work? (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f11036.pdf)
·         Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: “Gas-Saving” Products (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0057-gas-saving-products)

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
800-254-6735

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Odyssey Day


Wednesday October 22, 2014
Utah State University Eastern











Thanks again to all of those who participated and joined us in celebrating Alternative Fuel Vehicles! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How does the federal plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) tax credit phase-out work, and has it begun for any vehicle manufacturers? What is the status of other federal alternative fuel tax credits?

Answer: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles produced by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States, based on sales after December 31, 2009. Many of the other federal tax credits, such as the Alternative Fuels Excise Tax Credit and the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, expired at the end of 2013 and have not been extended or renewed. Additional tax credits have or will expire this year.

Federal PEV Tax Credit Phase-Out

Each manufacturer must report quarterly to the IRS on their vehicle sales. According to the IRS Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit Quarterly Sales page (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/IRC-30D-Plug-In-Electric-Drive-Motor-Vehicle-Credit-Quarterly-Sales), no manufacturers have reached the 200,000 cumulative PEV sales mark. This means all qualified vehicles are still eligible for their full credit amounts.

The phase-out period stretches over one year, beginning in the second calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer hits the 200,000 vehicle sales mark. From there, all qualifying vehicles sold by the manufacturer are eligible for 50% of their specified credit for the first two quarters and 25% of the credit for the next two quarters. For example if a manufacturer sells its 200,000th vehicle in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015, the credit amounts for all of that manufacturer’s eligible vehicles would phase out as shown in the table below.

Quarter
Credit
Q1 2015
Full amount
Q2 2015
Full amount
Q3 2015
50% of full amount
Q4 2015
50% of full amount
Q1 2016
25% of full amount
Q2 2016
25% of full amount
Q3 2016
No credit

Also see the phase-out example on FuelEconomy.gov (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxphevb.shtml).
Below are some other helpful facts about the federal PEV tax credit:
  • Tax credit amounts range from $2,500 to $7,500 based on the vehicle’s battery capacity and weight. Details can be found on the IRS Qualified Vehicles page (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Qualified-Vehicles-Acquired-after-12-31-2009).
  • To file for the credit, you must complete IRS form 8936 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8936.pdf) and attach it to your federal tax return.
  • To qualify for the credit, you must own the vehicle. This means that if you lease a vehicle, you are not eligible. That said, the lessor may decide to pass the discount along to you.
  • Only new vehicles are eligible; the vehicle may not have been titled before.

For more information, see the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit page (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Plug-In-Electric-Vehicle-Credit-(IRC-30-and-IRC-30D).

Other Federal Tax Credits
Several tax credits expired after December 31, 2013, including:
  • Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credits
  • Biodiesel Income Tax Credit and Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit
  • Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit
  • Qualified Two- or Three-wheeled Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit

Even more recently, both the Hydrogen Fuel Excise Tax Credit and the Hydrogen Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit expired as of September 30, 2014. The Fuel Cell Motor Vehicle Tax Credit and Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit are set to expire on December 31, 2014.

There have been several bills introduced to extend these tax credits during the 113th Congress. For example, the EXPIRE Act of 2014 (S. 2260; http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.113s2260) proposed to extend the tax credits for 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel mixtures, alternative fuels, hydrogen, fuel cell vehicles, and alternative fuel infrastructure through 2015. However, none of the bills have been enacted as of October 2014.

For more information on federal incentives for alternative fuels and vehicles, see the following websites:
Finally, please note that the Technical Response Service recommends consulting a qualified tax professional or the IRS before making any tax-related decisions.

You can contact the Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team by emailing technicalresponse@icfi.com or calling 800-254-6735.

Questar Fueling Announces Opening of CNG-Fueling Station in Dallas

DALLAS – Questar Fueling Company, a subsidiary of Questar Corporation (NYSE:STR), opened its newest compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at 4243 Duncanville Road in Dallas, Texas. The public-access station will provide fast-fill CNG fueling for Frito-Lay and other fleet operators with medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
“We are pleased to be a part of Frito-Lay’s goal to be the most fuel-efficient fleet in the country,” said Craig Wagstaff, Questar Fueling executive vice president and COO. “Our transportation customers want clean fuels like reliable, low-cost natural gas for their fleets and they don’t have time for delays. That’s why our high-speed, high-volume CNG-fueling stations have captured their attention. Some of the nation’s largest fleet operators like Frito-Lay are transitioning to clean-burning natural gas, and we’re committed to developing the CNG-fueling infrastructure that keeps them on the road at lower cost.”
This is Questar Fueling’s third CNG station in Texas, with other stations in Houston and DeSoto. The company recently opened two stations in Kansas and, over the next 12 months, expects to open other stations along major U.S. transportation corridors in California, Connecticut, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and GeorgiaCompanies such as Frito-Lay, Swift Transportation, Central Freight Lines, Dart Transit and many others operating medium- and heavy-duty trucks are finding it easier to fill up with clean-burning natural gas. The new Dallas CNG station offers six high-speed fueling lanes for large trucks. The station will also be open to members of the general public who drive natural gas-powered vehicles. The price for CNG is currently about $2 per equivalent gallon compared to about $3.65 per gallon of diesel fuel.
There are over 15 million natural gas vehicles on the road worldwide – but only 140,000 are in the United States. Now that the U.S. has become the world’s largest natural gas producer, the transportation industry is accelerating its integration of natural gas-powered trucks.
Questar (NYSE: STR) is a Rockies-based integrated natural gas company with an enterprise value of about $5.5 billion and three complementary lines of business: retail natural gas distribution, interstate natural gas transportation and natural gas and oil development and production www.Questar.com

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September Question of the Month

Question of the Month: What are the new credit allocations that were established under the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)’s Alternative Fuel Transportation Program (Program) earlier this year? How can I help spread the word on these new Energy Policy Act (EPAct) compliance pathways?

Answer: DOE issued a final rule on March 21, 2014, that establishes credit levels for additional means by which covered state and alternative fuel provider fleets operating under the Program’s StandardCompliance (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/epact/state_standard_compliance.html) option may earn credits. These credits may be used toward compliance with a fleet’s alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) acquisition requirements. DOE promulgated the rule pursuant Congress’ direction, set forth in Section 133 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Vehicles
The new credit allocations address the acquisition of various types of electric drive vehicles and allow covered fleets to earn credits under Standard Compliance for some vehicles that do not meet the EPAct 1992 definition of an AFV. Newly eligible vehicles include the following (with their credit allocations):
  • Certain hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) – one-half credit
  • Plug-in electric vehicles – one-half credit
  • Fuel cell electric vehicles – one-half credit
  • Neighborhood electric vehicles – one-fourth credit
Medium- and heavy-duty HEVs are also eligible for one-half credit after a fleet has met its light-duty AFV acquisition requirements.

Infrastructure
Acquiring the electric drive vehicles noted above is not the only new way to earn credits under EPAct Standard Compliance. Fleets may now earn credits for investments of their own funds (not grant funds or other monetary awards) in qualified alternative fuel infrastructure. For every $25,000 invested, a covered fleet may earn one credit, with a limit of five credits available per fleet per model year for private infrastructure investment, and ten credits per fleet per model year for public infrastructure investment.

Other Investments
Fleets may also earn credits for investments in alternative fuel non-road equipment and/or emerging technologies associated with the Section 133-identified vehicles. The credits for non-road equipment are similar to infrastructure – one credit for every $25,000 invested and a maximum of five credits may be earned per fleet per model year. Emerging technologies investments will earn a covered fleet two credits for the initial investment of $50,000 and one credit for every $25,000 invested thereafter, with a limit of five credits per fleet per model year.

Fleets may begin taking advantage of these new credit allocations for their efforts undertaken in model year 2014 and future model years.

How Can You Spread the Word?
Are you aware of any covered utility or state fleets that are building new fueling infrastructure?
  • Inform them they can earn EPAct credits.
Do you have an EPAct covered fleet stakeholder that needs an extra push to buy or lease HEVs?
  • Let them know that certain HEVs are now eligible for EPAct credits.
Do you or your stakeholders have questions regarding EPAct compliance?
Note that covered fleets are currently compiling their Program reports for model year 2014 (September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014) activities, which are due by December 31, 2014.

For more information, refer to the following resources: