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:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Temperature Compensation & CNG Vehicle Safety

The Clean Vehicle Education Foundation (CVEF) has issued a technical bulletin, Reliable Temperature Compensation Is Critical to CNG Vehicle Safety, which addresses the potential hazards created by the failure of compressed natural gas (CNG) dispensers to accurately compensate for temperature. Proper temperature compensation is essential to safely fuel CNG vehicles, regardless of station type, as serious incidents have resulted from the overfilling of CNG containers at both fast-fill and time-fill facilities.
 
The bulletin makes three recommendations:
1. Station operators should contact their fast- and time-fill dispenser suppliers to make sure they have—and are using—the latest set of written instructions and maintenance schedules as required in NFPA 52-2013.
2. Station operators should schedule annual temperature and pressure calibrations and function checks in early fall to allow time for any needed corrective action before winter temperatures.
3. Station operators should also ask their dispenser suppliers whether existing dispensers comply with the requirements of NFPA 52-2013.
 
The bulletin explains that limiting the maximum pressure in the cylinder is not as simple as limiting the pressure dispensed to the vehicle. The temperature of the gas in a CNG container may increase after fueling if the temperature of the environment increases before the fuel is used. This may occur with warming outdoor temperatures or when parking indoors. In these situations, there is the possibility of the pressure actuated PRD used on some vehicles to rupture and vent down the cylinder if temperature was not properly compensated for during fueling. This issue is especially important to address prior to the cold temperatures many parts of the country experience during winter months.
 
The bulletin is available on the AFDC Technology Bulletins website: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/bulletins/2014_09_18_CNG_Temp.html 
  
The AFDC has a new interactive animation developed to help you learn more about how outside temperature and fill speeds affect the final fill volume in CNG vehicle tanks. The animation can be found at the following link: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/cng_tank_animation.html

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August Question of the Month

Question of the Month: What fuel-specific information is available through the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Station Locator website?
 
Answer: Most Clean Cities coordinators and stakeholders are familiar with the AFDC Station Locator website (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) and the general station information listed there, such as the address, phone number, hours of operation, payments accepted, and who can access the station. You may not be aware of the fuel-specific information available. Below is a complete list.
 
Biodiesel
  • Blends available: The blends of biodiesel available at the station, including whether different blends are available seasonally and whether customers may select customized blends. Note that the Station Locator only lists stations that carry blends of B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) and higher.
 
E85
  • Mid-level blends: Whether or not the station carries mid-level blends (e.g., 30% ethanol blend, or E30) of ethanol via a blender pump or otherwise. Note that stations that carry mid-level blends, but not E85, are not included in the Station Locator.
 
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
  • Electric charging network: The relevant charging network, if applicable. Examples of charging networks include ChargePoint, Blink, and SemaConnect.
  • Port level and count: A list of the number of each level of EVSE charging equipment available. Levels include Level 1, Level 2, or DC Fast Charge.
  • Connector types: The type of connector available, including:
    • Level 1: NEMA 5-15, NEMA 5-20, NEMA 14-50, and J1772
    • Level 2: J1772
    • DC Fast Charge: CHAdeMO, SAE J1772 Combo, and Tesla
  • Legacy chargers: The number and type of legacy chargers available.
 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also collects information on the EVSE manufacturer, power sources, pricing, and whether the equipment provides wireless charging. This data will be available in the Station Locator in the future. NREL is also coordinating with EVSE networks to provide real-time status availability in the Station Locator.
 
Hydrogen
·         Station status: A website link for detailed information regarding the status of the station. 
 
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas
  • Fill type (CNG only): Whether the station has fast- or time-fill capabilities, or both.
  • Compression (CNG only): The compression pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). The compression can be 2400, 3000, or 3600 psi. 
  • Vehicle accessibility: The vehicle sizes that can physically access the fueling station.
 
NREL also collects information on the total compression and compressor types (CNG only), gas provider, and whether the station has a generator to operate equipment during a power outage. Some of this data will be available in the Station Locator in the future.
 
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Propane)
  • Services: The type of propane services available. Each propane station is designated as a "primary" or "secondary" service type. Both types are able to fuel vehicles, but locations with a "primary" designation offer fuel priced specifically for use in vehicles.
 
Using the AFDC Station Locator Data Download feature (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data_download/), users can obtain a detailed spreadsheet with the above fuel-specific station information for stations currently in the database. We encourage you to stay tuned as NREL is working to add new fuel-specific data and search options to the Station Locator database in the near future.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

NEW Westport EPA & CARB Certified CNG Transit Van & Cutaway


Westport WiNG™ Power System

News Update

Westport Expands 2015 Vehicle Line-Up with All-New Transit Van and Cutaway

2015 Ford Transit Van
Westport is expanding its 2015 vehicle lineup with natural gas fueling options for companies who are adding the all-new Ford Transit Van and Cutaway to their fleet.
As Ford’s largest qualified vehicle modifier, Westport is offering the 2015 Ford Transit Van and Cutaway as a dedicated natural gas (CNG) Westport WiNG™ Power System vehicle. The Transit Cutaway will be offered at 10,000 GVW and below. Both versions of the Transit Van and Cutaway will be EPA and CARB certified.
Westport's Transit Van and Cutaway will be compliant with Clean Port Act emissions standards, ensuring that fleets and small businesses who service airports can take advantage of natural gas.
Used to transport passengers and cargo, the 2015 Ford Transit Van and Cutaway models offers a 3.7L gaseous prep engine. 
Visit www.westport.com for more information about our bi-fuel and dedicated CNG Ford vehicles, including our FREE CNG fuel card offer for qualifying Westport vehicles, until supplies last: www.westport.com/wing.
For media inquiries contact: media@westport.com
For sales inquiries contact: fordsales@westport.com

Copyright © 2014 Westport Innovations Inc., All rights reserved.

Westport mailing address:
Westport Innovations Inc.
101-1750 West 75th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6P 6G2
Canada


Monday, July 21, 2014

July Question of the Month

Question of the Month: During the winter of 2013-2014, propane shortages and price spikes were widely publicized by news media, and some fleets reported difficulty getting propane for their vehicles. What really happened and what steps can propane fleets take to protect themselves from similar issues in the future?
Answer: Several factors contributed to the recent winter supply constraints and increased propane prices, including record low temperatures around the country (the 2013-2014 winter was almost 30% colder than the previous winter), increased rain fall requiring additional propane supply for crop drying, pipeline outages (the Midwest Cochin pipeline shut down for three weeks in December 2013), Canadian supply constraints, and increased exports leading to reduced propane reserves. It is important to note, however, that while the demand for propane used to heat homes in colder months fluctuates, fleet demand for propane remains stable throughout the year. As a result, propane suppliers are generally willing to offer longer term fuel contracts to fleets at prices that do not vary during the winter. But fleet customers need to plan ahead and negotiate these agreements in advance. Don’t wait until the coldest day of the year to start asking questions. 
Fleets should develop and maintain a long-term fuel contract based on projected consumption with their local propane marketer or fueling station operator. These contracts can provide a reasonably steady price for propane year-round, regardless of temperature fluctuations and other issues. However, fleets that fuel their vehicles at retail locations where there is no contractual relationship can expect to pay the current market price, which may be equal to or higher than gasoline during peak use periods. As such, the propane price spikes reported in the winter of 2013-2014 primarily affected fleets and drivers without fuel contracts.
While some fleets with fuel contracts also faced supply limitations and price increases this winter, these incidences may have occurred as a result of other circumstances. For instance, some pricing contracts are set up to fluctuate based on a floating commodity price, or they might be indexed to automatically track gasoline or diesel prices. In addition, state fleets may be subject to certain fueling restrictions if the governor addresses energy supply issues through executive action. The prolonged severe weather this past winter resulted in several regions declaring official states of emergency. Similarly, fleets with bi-fuel vehicles, which provide the option to fuel with gasoline, may be subject to caveats during emergency periods that would not affect fleets with dedicated propane vehicles. To avoid unwanted disruptions in propane supply and price spikes, fleet administrators should closely review current and future fuel contracts and discuss various scenarios with their propane marketer to ensure that the contract terms match up with the fleet’s needs and expectations. 
Working with Propane Marketers
Local propane marketers are present in most communities across the United States and can provide expertise and assistance in building fueling stations and deploying vehicles. Additionally, many marketers offer attractive lease options for fuel storage tanks, pumps, and dispensing equipment in return for a multi-year fuel supply contract. The cost of this equipment can be paid back over time through a shared savings or performance contracting agreement, virtually eliminating up-front costs to the fleet operator.
The cost to purchase and install propane fueling infrastructure can be significant depending on the fleet’s choice of refueling options; however, fuel contracts can greatly reduce the financial burden. In most cases, the fleet is only responsible for the cost of infrastructure that cannot be removed from the site when the fuel contract is over, such as the electricity line or the concrete pad for the storage tank.
Current and Future Propane Supply
While the issues last winter raised concerns, it is important to note that the supply of propane in the United States is on the rise. Propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. In recent years, as natural gas production levels in the United States have increased, so has the propane supply from these operations. Between 2007 and 2013, the percentage of the U.S. propane supply produced from North American resources increased from 76% to 92%. As such, propane is not subject to the same types of energy security risks as petroleum based fuels that depend on foreign oil supplies face.
For more information on propane production and distribution, pricing, supply, and infrastructure, you can visit the following websites:

Friday, July 18, 2014

CNG Expiring Tanks and Safety

The mission of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition is to advance the energy, economic and environmental security of the United States by supporting local decisions to adopt practices that reduce the use of petroleum in the transportation sector.

With the mission statement in mind, Utah Clean Cities strives to promote and educate the public and transportation sectors on petroleum reduction. Using alternative fuels for vehicles is excellent, but the coalition would like to further educate those with CNG vehicles.

Every CNG tank has a label that states “DO NOT USE AFTER (expiration date).” Owners of CNG vehicles must keep the expiration date in mind as it is their responsibility to have the cylinder replaced at the end of its life. If the tank is not replaced after its expiration date, there is a high risk of ruptures. CNG tanks’ pressure ranges from 3,000 to 3,600 psi. With such a high pressure, any damage is highly unsafe. 


There are several vehicles with CNG tanks that are expired. Below is a list of vehicles that have expired tanks and should be replaced.

Dodge
Dodge full-sized vans started as CNG in 1992 and mini-vans began in 1994. The production of these CNG vehicles was terminated in 1997 and 1998.
All Dodge vans that were factory equipped have tanks that have passed the expiration date.

Ford
Ford CNG passenger cars came to market in 1993 and continued through 2002. At this time, all Ford CNG Crown Victoria, Contour and pickup trucks that were factory equipped prior to 1999 have expired CNG cylinders.

Honda
All CNG Honda Civics manufactured in 1998 and early 1999 are also on the expired CNG tank list.

If your vehicle is listed above, you need to see a certified tank inspector immediately. Certified tank inspectors will be able to inspect your CNG tank and properly drill holes for end of life treatment. Certified tank inspectors will also be able to replace your expired CNG tank with a new one.

Below are certified tank inspectors Utah Clean Cities recommends:


To contact an inspector, click on their name.


Additionally, it is easy to forget about the basics and it is always important to remember safety. Click here for a quick video to refresh on safety precautions for manufacturing, installation, inspection, and end of life treatment for natural gas cylinders.