Saturday, June 27, 2015

June Question of the Month

Question of the Month: What are the latest updates on hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicle deployment?

Answer: Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have been around for a while, mostly in limited quantities and locations through demonstration projects. But these vehicles, with their potential to significantly cut petroleum consumption and reduce emissions, are starting to make their way into dealerships and onto roads across the country. Though the market for FCEVs is still in its infancy, many government organizations and private companies are working on research and deployment efforts to make hydrogen a widespread, viable, affordable, and safe alternative vehicle fuel.

Below are some of the recent activities related to FCEV commercialization:

Vehicle Availability
FCEVs are beginning to enter the consumer market in certain regions in the United States and around the world. Hyundai introduced the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell in California last year for lease, and Toyota Motor Company announced they will release the 2016 Mirai for sale this October at eight California dealerships that were specially selected for their experience with alternative fuels and their proximity to existing hydrogen fueling stations. Vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes/Daimler, Nissan, and Volkswagen are expecting to launch FCEV production vehicles in select regions of the country in the coming years. Other automakers continue to introduce their FCEVs through demonstration projects. The FCEV market is also growing for buses, ground support equipment, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, back-up power, prime power applications, and continues to be strong for forklifts.

While OEMs are offering affordable lease options, some of which include the cost of fuel, FCEVs are still expensive. However, production costs have decreased significantly in recent years and FCEVs are expected to be cost-competitive with conventional vehicles in the coming years.

Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure
As the FCEV market expands, hydrogen fueling infrastructure will need to grow to match demand. Most of the hydrogen stations available today have been built to support OEM FCEV demonstration projects. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Alternative Fueling Station Locator (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html), there are 12 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in the United States, with many more in the planning stages. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership (http://cafcp.org/), there are 49 more stations in development in California that will be publically available. Development efforts are also underway in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Like the vehicles, the high cost of fueling equipment remains a key challenge. Hydrogen station costs can vary significantly based on hydrogen feedstock, station capacity, utilization, proximity to production, and available incentives. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Hydrogen Station Cost Calculator estimates that stations can cost between $2 and $5 million. However, like FCEVs, as the demand grows, the cost of hydrogen fueling equipment will decrease and the number of stations will increase.

Codes, Standards, and Incentives
The widespread deployment of FCEVs and the associated network of hydrogen fueling stations requires the development, maintenance, and harmonization of codes, standards, and regulations to keep up with the technology. These efforts are ongoing and are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as well as domestic and international organizations.

Incentives will also continue to be important to promote and maintain a market for hydrogen and FCEVs. California is leading in the number of relevant state incentives. For instance, to meet the objectives of California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (http://www.energy.ca.gov/drive/) is allocating $20 million annually for the construction of at least 100 public hydrogen stations in California by January 1, 2024. In addition, California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of approved FCEVs (http://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project). Nine other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have also adopted California’s ZEV mandate to increase the number of ZEVs, including FCEVs, on the roads.

Ongoing Research and Development
Significant research and development efforts by DOE, the national laboratories, and other H2USA partners have brought the hydrogen industry to where it is today (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/accomplishments-and-progress). Through their Fuel Cell Technologies Office (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/fuel-cell-technologies-office), DOE continues to support research in the areas of hydrogen production, delivery, and storage, as well as technology validation, manufacturing, and market transformation.

Additional Resources
·         AFDC’s Hydrogen page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen.html) provides basic information on hydrogen, FCEVs, and the associated infrastructure.
·         AFDC’s Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Search (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/search/) allows users to look for available FCEVs.
·         DOE’s website (http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/safety-codes-and-standards) covers relevant safety, codes, and standards.
·         AFDC’s Hydrogen Laws and Incentives page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/HY) is a searchable tool with information on state regulations and incentives pertaining to hydrogen.


Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
800-254-6735

Dedicated-CNG Civic Still Available in Utah

Honda Discontinues dedicated-CNG Civic & Civic Hybrid models

June 15th, American Honda North America announced that they will be discontinuing its dedicated-CNG Civic Natural Gas and Civic Hybrid models. Challenges with refueling infrastructure and consumer demand where the major drivers of this decision according to Honda VP John Mendel. This change is part of Honda's shift towards a new generation of advanced technology vehicles for the 2016 model year, including a new fuel cell vehicle. Official Release

Currently, there are over 250 dedicated-CNG Civics (model year 2014 and model year 2015) in stock at Honda Dealerships across the country. Honda has committed to provide  the same high level of service and warranty support for all natural gas civic clients in the future. Below is a list of all Utah dealers that have dedicated-CNG vehicles in stock. As of today, there are only eight 2014 Civic Natural Gas units remaining in the state of Utah. American Honda has offered to bring additional vehicles in from out-of-state for business and fleet customers if there is demand. However, if these vehicles are not purchased in the near term, they will be used for fill out-of-state orders. 

 If you are interested, as a fleet or consumer, please contact the dealers listed or Elizabeth Munger a Honda Field Sales Consultant (512-694-1004 or emunger@earthlink.net).



Natural gas industry partner letter issued on June 15th:




In the News:

NGI THE WEEKLY GAS MARKET REPORT: Honda Drops Production of NGVs; Moves to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
FLEETS & FUELS: Honda Drops CNG After 15 Years
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Honda to Discontinue CNG and Hybrid Civic Models
AUTOMOTIVE NEWS: Honda will drop CNG vehicles to focus on hybrids, EVs
NGT NEWS: Honda Scraps the CNG Civic

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this summer?

Answer: Whether you are taking a summer road trip or just running errands around town, there are things you can do to improve your fuel economy and save money on fuel in the summertime.

You may notice an increase in your fuel economy as the weather gets warmer. This is because vehicle engines, transmissions and other components take less time to warm up and summer gasoline blends can have slightly more energy per gallon than winter blends. However, if you use your air conditioning (AC) a lot or drive with the windows down, you might actually see your fuel economy drop.

AC is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in the summertime. In fact, using the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by as much as 25%, or even more if you are driving a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). Driving with the windows down can also reduce fuel economy due to greater aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) on the vehicle. Though this has a small effect on fuel economy, aerodynamic drag is more apparent when driving at the highway speeds typical for road trips.

The following tips can help you use the AC more efficiently and therefore improve fuel economy in the summer:
·         Read the owner’s manual for detailed information on how your vehicle’s AC system works and how to use it efficiently.
·         Park your vehicle in shady areas or use a sunshade to keep the interior from getting too hot.
·         Do not use the AC more than needed. If you need to use the AC, avoid using the “max” setting for extended periods.
·         If you are driving at high speeds, use the AC instead of rolling down the windows. If the vehicle is too hot, you may lower the car windows to expel hot air for the first few minutes. Once the hot air has left the vehicle, switch to using the AC.
·         Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and more if the AC is on. Do not idle the vehicle to cool it down before a trip; most AC systems actually cool the vehicle faster while driving.
·         PEV owners, pre-cool your vehicle with the AC while still plugged in.Since PEVs use battery power to provide AC, it can drain the vehicle’s batteries and reduce the vehicle’s overall range. If you need to use the AC to cool down your PEV, try to do so while the vehicle is still charging.

The following tips should be used year-round to improve fuel economy:
·         Use cruise control while driving on highways to maintain a consistent speed and conserve fuel.
·         Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Vehicles with heavier loads tend to have reduced fuel economy. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce fuel economy by 1%.  
·         Avoid transporting cargo on the rooftop of the vehicle. Traveling with cargo on the roof increases wind resistance and can significantly lower your fuel economy. Rear-mounted cargo has a much smaller effect on fuel economy than rooftop cargo.
·         Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and heavy braking) can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. This informational video shows real-world effects of aggressive driving on fuel economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zWXwqqqHm0.
·         Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Tires that are not inflated to the proper pressure can reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every one pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure in all of the tires. Having your tires inflated to the proper pressure is also safer and can help tires last longer.
·         Pay attention to the speed limit. Not only is this a safe practice, but gas mileage tends to decrease when driving at speeds above 50 miles per hour.

For more information on how to improve your fuel economy, please refer to the following FuelEconomy.gov websites:
·         Fuel Economy in Hot Weather - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hotweather.shtml
·         Gas Mileage Tips - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml
·         Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.jsp.



Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
800-254-6735

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April Question of the Month

Question of the Month: 

What are the weight limits for heavy-duty vehicles on interstate highways? What weight limit exemptions exist for vehicles equipped with idle reduction technology?

Answer: Under federal law, no vehicle weighing more than 20,000 pounds (lbs) on one axle, 34,000 lbs on a tandem axle, or 80,000 lbs overall may access federal interstate highways (e.g., Interstate 70, which runs across the country from Maryland to Utah), regardless of where they get on the highway.[1] States must enforce these requirements, or they may not be eligible for federal highway funding. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allows states to offer weight-limit exemptions for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) with on-board idle reduction technology.

Please note that states may set their own weight restrictions for roads that start and end within their boundaries, but we will focus on interstate highway requirements here.

Idle Reduction Technologies
Federal regulations allow states to adopt weight exemptions for auxiliary power units (APUs) or other qualified technologies that reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from engine idling. APUs are portable, vehicle-mounted systems that provide power for climate control and electrical devices without idling. For long-haul trucks, these systems typically have a small internal combustion engine (usually diesel) equipped with a generator to provide electricity and heat. Other on-board idle reduction technologies include automatic start-stop controls, energy recovery systems, fuel-operated heaters, coolant heaters, and battery-electric and thermal-storage air conditioners.

State Weight Exemptions
States may permit HDVs equipped with idle reduction technology to exceed the specified weight limit by up to 550 lbs to compensate for the additional weight of the equipment. The allowance was previously 400 lbs, but the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation, enacted in 2012, increased it to 550 lbs. States must enact a law or institute an enforcement policy with their own exemptions to reflect this increased weight allowance. A map of APU weight exemptions by state is available on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) State Recognition of the Auxiliary Power Weight Exemption to Gross Vehicle Weight website (http://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/map-state-recognition-auxiliary-power-weight-exemption). Vehicle weight limit exemptions for APUs are also displayed in the table below. As the map and table show, many states have not updated their laws and enforcement policies to reflect the increase in the federal allowance to 550 lbs, which means the exemption is still limited to 400 lbs. There are also six states where the exemption is not permitted at all.

APU Weight Exemption
Authority
State Implementation
550 lbs
State Legislation
CO, CT, FL, MD, MN, MO, NH, TN, VA, WV*
400 lbs
State Enforcement Policy
AR, IA, ID, LA, MI, MS, MT, ND, NJ, NV, OH, SD, UT, VT, WY
State Legislation
AK, AL, AZ, DE, GA, IL, IN, KS, MA, ME, NE, NM, NY, OK, OR, PA, SC, TX, WA, WI
None
State Legislation
CA, DC, HI, KY, NC, RI
* West Virginia Code 17C-13A-4 refers to the U.S. Code directly for the exact weight.

States must require HDV drivers to demonstrate eligibility for vehicle weight limit exemptions. For example, drivers may need to have paperwork on hand that verifies the weight of the idle reduction equipment and be able to demonstrate that it is functional. Requirements are different from state to state.

More information on these state weight limit exemptions is also available on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Laws and Incentives database (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws). The Advanced Search options (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/laws/search) allow you to identify specific exemptions by location, technology/fuel type (idle reduction), incentive/regulation type (exemption), and user-type (vehicle owner or driver). Each description of a state idle reduction weight exemption includes a reference to the applicable legislation or policy.

Refer to the following for more information on idle reduction technologies and state vehicle weight limit exemptions for this equipment:
·         EERE National Idling Reduction Network News (http://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office-national-idling-reduction-network-news)
·         AFDC’s Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment for Heavy-Duty Trucks page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/conserve/idle_reduction_onboard.html)
·         Argonne National Laboratory’s Idle Reduction Tools and Outreach Materials (http://www.anl.gov/energy-systems/project/idle-reduction-tools-and-outreach-materials).

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
800-254-6735

March Question of the Month

Question of the Month:  

Question of the Month: What are the key terms and considerations I should remember when discussing emissions?

Answer: When discussing emissions, it is important to use the appropriate terms, know the context, and present a complete picture. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has a number of tools and resources available to understand and calculate the emissions benefits of alternative fuels and vehicles (see below). But first, let's get back to the basics.

Criteria Pollutants versus Non-Criteria Pollutants
Vehicles emit both criteria pollutants and non-criteria pollutants. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies six common pollutants as criteria pollutants based on certain health and environmental standards:
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Ozone
  • Oxides of sulfur (SOx)
  • Lead
For more information about criteria pollutant emissions:(http://www.epa.gov/oaqps001/urbanair/).

Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide,are considered non-criteria pollutants. The following also fall into this category:
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Total hydrocarbons (HCs)
  • Methane
  • Air toxics
  • Other organic gases

For more information about GHG emissions: ( http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases.html).

Measuring Emissions
You can evaluate vehicle emissions through a number of lenses. Considering emissions in different contexts can present a more impactful picture, depending on the stakeholder.
  • Life cycle emissions:Emissions generated through all stages of a fuel's life, including raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal or recycling. Life cycle emissions are typically considered when evaluating "global pollutants," or pollutants that have an impact regardless of where they are emitted.  For example, GHGs are usually measured on a life cycle basis.
  • Tailpipe emissions: Emissions directly from the exhaust of the vehicle. Tailpipe emissions are considered when looking at "local pollutants," or pollutants that impact air quality directly where they are emitted. For example, criteria pollutants, such as PM, are typically measured as tailpipe emissions.
  • Evaporative emissions: Emissions from the vehicle's fuel system and during the fueling process, not including the combustion of the fuel. Evaporative emissions are also considered when evaluating "local pollutants."
When quantifying or presenting emissions benefits for a particular project, make sure to ask yourself which type of information would have the most impact. For example, an air quality organization (e.g., your local American Lung Association chapter) would like to hear about tailpipe and evaporative emissions. A national company focused on their footprint and impact on climate change would want to hear about life cycle emissions.

Emissions Standards
EPA sets tailpipe and evaporative emissions standards for new vehicles.
  • For information on federal non-GHG emissions standards, including CO, NOx, PM, and organic gases, visit the EPA's Emission Standards Reference Guide: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/standards/. EPA's Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program page (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/tier3.htm) covers the regulations for light-duty, medium-duty, and some heavy-duty vehicles that will be phased in beginning in 2017.
  • For information about federal GHG emissions standards, which are implemented in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's fuel economy standards, visit EPA's Regulations & Standards page:http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) enforces vehicle emissions standards for California that are more stringent than federal EPA standards. Vehicles may be certified as compliant with federal standards, CARB standards, or both. For information on CARB's emissions standards, visit the Mobile Source Program Portal (http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/msprog.htm). Several other states have chosen to comply with certain CARB standards as well, so read up on the requirements in your state. See the AFDC Laws & Incentives website for more information (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws).

Other Considerations
It is important to take into account the "full package" when looking at alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) emissions; again, try to anticipate questions from the audience to tease out the most relevant information. For example, keep the following in mind:
  • While a fuel may not offer large reductions in one pollutant, it may offer significant benefits in other pollutants.
  • Emissions information should also be presented in the larger context of federal and state regulations.
  • Be sure you are comparing "apples to apples" when looking at AFV and conventional vehicle emissions. For instance, look at which pollutants are covered, and whether tailpipe, life cycle, and/or evaporative emissions are being measured. Every study is different, so it can be very difficult to compare outcomes of one to outcomes of another.

Emissions Analysis Tools
With all of that in mind, the following tools can be used to calculate fleet emissions and plan for overall emission reductions:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
technicalresponse@icfi.com

800-254-6735

Monday, February 23, 2015

February Question of the Month

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

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.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) State Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Laws and Incentives: 2014 Year in Review provides a further synopsis of incentives and laws enacted in 2014 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.htmlYou 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
800-254-6735

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Legislative Session: Bills to Watch

The 2015 Legislative session is underway and UCCC is in full support of legislation that cleans up our air, while at the same time reducing our dependency on foreign oil. The following numbered bills are pieces of legislation UCCC is currently following:

HB 15: Clean Fuel Amendments & Rebates
Sponsor: Representative Stephen Handy

This bill creates the Conversion to Alernative Fuel Grant Program and  extends tax credits for energy efficient vehicles. It seeks to accelerate the conversion rate to alternative fuels and authorizes the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to make grants from the Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technology Fund to a person who installs conversion equipment on a motor vehicle. 

HB 17: Motor Vehicle Emissions
Sponsor: Representative Lee Perry

This bill would amend the visible contaminant emission standards for certain diesel engines, amend the penalty for violating the motor vehicle visible emissions limits and make technical corrections. 

HB 49: Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure
Sponsor: Representative Stephen Handy

Would allow the State Board of Education to award a grant to replace old school buses manufactured before 2002 with new, clean fueled buses that use alternative fuels or clean diesel fuel, install an alternative fueling infrastructure that may be accessible to the public, and/or retrofit bus maintenance shops to maintain the alternative fueled buses. This bill would act as a one-time program appropriation. 

HB 110: Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments
Sponsor: Representative Patrice Arent

This bill modifies provisions related to motor vehicle emissions. It would give the Division of Motor Vehicles the authority to suspend a vehicle's registration if the vehicle does not meet air emission standards.