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VICE Model 2.0 Released

The popular Vehicle and Infrastructure Cash-Flow Evaluation (VICE) Model has been updated, to allow fleets greater flexibility in determining payback periods for natural gas vehicles and fueling infrastructure. It also, helps fleet managers evaluate the financial soundness of investments in (CNG) vehicles and/or fueling infrastructure. The updated version is applicable to a wider variety of vehicles and can accommodate an incremental fueling station build out.

To use the VICE Model, users input fleet-specific data, including number of vehicles, vehicle types, fuel use, and planned vehicle-acquisition schedules. The tool then provides numerical and graphical presentations of return on investment, payback period, and annual GHG savings.

To simplify the estimates for users, the model contains a number of default values for parameters such as vehicle prices, fuel prices, fuel taxes, and maintenance costs. Users can also replace the default values with their own data to obtain more customized results.

You can find VICE 2.0 on D.O.E's Alternative Fuels Data Center

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Key Propane Vehicle and Fueling Infrastructure Terms

Question of the Month: What are the key terms to know when discussing propane vehicles and their fueling infrastructure?

Answer: It is important to know how to “talk the talk” when it comes to propane vehicles and infrastructure. Becoming familiar with the terms below will help you better understand these vehicles and the associated fueling infrastructure so you can ask the right questions and make informed decisions.

Fuel
Propane is a clean-burning, domestically produced alternative fuel that can power light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles. The fuel is a colorless, odorless liquid that is stored under pressure. An odorant, ethyl mercaptan, is added to the fuel for leak detection. Propane is also known as liquefied petroleum gas orliquefied propane gas (LPG), or propane autogas. In the United States, these terms are used interchangeably.

Vehicle Types
Propane vehicles work much like spark-ignited gasoline vehicles. The fuel is stored as a liquid in a relatively low-pressure tank (about 150 pounds per square inch). There are two types of propane fuel systems:

  • Vapor-Injected Systems: Liquid propane travels along a fuel line into the engine compartment. The supply of propane to the engine is controlled by a regulator or vaporizer, which converts the liquid propane to a vapor. The vapor is then fed to a mixer located near the intake manifold where it is metered and mixed with filtered air before being drawn into the combustion chamber and burned to produce power, similar to gasoline. An example is the Alliance AutoGas Prins bi-fuel system.
  • Liquid Propane Injection Systems: Propane is not vaporized. Instead, it is injected into the combustion chamber in liquid form. Examples are the CleanFUEL USA and Roush CleanTech technologies.

 

Propane vehicles are available in the following configurations:

  • Dedicated Vehicle: These vehicles are designed to run on only propane and are used in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications.
  • Bi-Fuel Vehicle: These vehicles are able to run on either propane or gasoline because they have two separate fueling systems. Bi-fuel vehicles include light-duty models and, more recently, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
    • Please note that some agencies may use the term dual-fuel to describe bi-fuel vehicles. However, Clean Cities uses dual-fuel to describe vehicles that have fuel systems that run on alternative fuel and use diesel fuel for ignition assistance. By this definition, there are not currently any dual-fuel propane systems available.


The power, acceleration, and cruising speed of propane vehicles, whether they are dedicated or bi-fuel, are comparable to those of gasoline vehicles.

Fueling Infrastructure Components
Propane fueling infrastructure is very similar to gasoline equipment, including:

  • Storage Tank: Propane is brought to the station via a transport truck and put into on-site storage—traditionally an aboveground storage tank on a concrete pad.
  • Pump and Fuel Dispenser: The main difference between a propane fueling dispenser and a gasoline dispenser is that propane is delivered to the vehicle under pressure so it remains a liquid. When the vehicle tank is full, the dispenser stops automatically just like a gasoline dispenser.
  • Credit Card Reader: A card reader is necessary for a public station accepting payment. Note that federal regulations require a “competent attendant” to fuel propane vehicles, so drivers may need to be trained before they can use an unmanned pump (Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 1910.110; National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 58 and 54).

 

Fueling stations may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Skid-Mounted: The storage tank, dispenser, pump, and any additional piping or controls are mounted to a portable concrete or steel frame that can be installed easily, removed, or relocated. Skid-mounted systems tend to be more affordable than stationary equipment.
  • Stationary: In a stationary system, the storage tank may be underground, and the station may include additional features not available on a skid-mounted system, including spill-proof pumps and additional metering capabilities.

More information on propane vehicles and infrastructure can be found on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Propane website (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/propane.html) and the Propane Education & Research Council website (http://www.autogasusa.org/).  

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Federal Tax Credit Update
On December 31, 2013, a number of federal tax incentives expired, including:

  • Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit
  • Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit
  • Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit
  • Biodiesel Income Tax Credit
  • Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit
  • Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credits
  • Second Generation Plant Depreciation Deduction Allowance

While tax incentives have been extended retroactively after their expiration date in the past, Congress has not passed legislation to do so.

Full descriptions of these incentives can be found on the AFDC Federal Laws and Incentives page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/laws/US). The descriptions will remain posted there until the federal tax filing deadline.

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

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2014 Vehicle Buyer's Guide Available

Annual guide makes it easy to find alternative fuel vehicle options

The Clean Cities 2014 Vehicle Buyer's GuidePDF is available now online and for order through the EERE Publication and Product Library. Fleet managers and consumers have come to rely on the annual buyer's guides to evaluate available alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), and the 2014 edition promises to be the most popular guide yet.

Historically, consumers and fleet managers looking for AFVs had just a few options available directly from manufacturers. Today, there are more than 17 million light-duty AFVs on the road,* and a buyer's options are numerous. For example, the 2014 model year features nearly 200 AVF and hybrid electric vehicle models, including more than 85 flex-fuel vehicles.

The buyer's guide helps consumers navigate these options. It features a comprehensive list of 2014 light-duty alternative fuel and advanced vehicles, grouped by fuel and technology. It also provides model-specific information, such as vehicle specifications, manufacturer suggested retail price, fuel economy, energy impact, and emissions. Drivers can use the information to identify options, compare vehicles, and make more informed purchase decisions.

Prefer to do your vehicle evaluations and comparisons online? See the Light-Duty Vehicle Search on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). This handy, interactive tool allows you to select multiple vehicles, across multiple model years, and compare them side by side. Select one or more vehicles, and the tool provides key information (e.g., fuel economy, engine size, and transmission type) for each model. The database is updated regularly as new vehicles are identified.

If it's a heavy-duty vehicle you're looking for, pick up the Clean Cities Guide to Alternative Fuel and Advanced Medium- and Heavy-Duty VehiclesPDF or browse the Heavy-Duty Vehicle and Engine Search on the AFDC.

Please note that, with new offerings continuously rolling out, neither the documents nor databases are absolutely inclusive. We welcome your help alerting us to new offerings or model changes.

* Source: R.L. Polk

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Join Louisiana Clean Fuels as a Stakeholder!

Louisiana Clean Fuels has new 2014
membership levels and benefits

Its time to renew your Louisiana Clean Fuels membership or join us as a new stakeholder for 2014! This year, LCF has new membership levels and incentives, ranging from the Platinum level at $5,000 to individual memberships for as little as $50. Membership dues go toward events, resources and workshops that aid in the diversification of transportation fuel in Louisiana. To look over the new levels and benefits visit: http://louisianacleanfuels.org/join.php.

You may sign up and pay online or you can mail a check payable to Louisiana Clean Fuels at PO Box 1771, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

Louisiana Clean Fuels is your link to technological expertise, government policy developments, and project facilitation assistance. We are connected to equipment manufacturers, fuel suppliers, fleet managers, planners, engineers, economists, and industry associations nation-wide. Join today!

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Federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit

As of December 31, 2013, federal tax incentives for installing fueling equipment for natural gas, LPG (propane), EV, and diesel fuel blends (greater than 20% biodiesel) have expired. Fueling equipment installed between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2013 are still eligible for the 30% tax credit of the cost, not to exceed $30,000.

  • Permitting and Inspection fees are not covered by the tax credit
  • Consumers who purchased qualified residential fueling equipment prior to December 31, 2013, may receive a tax credit of up to $1,000.

 

As of today, there has been no word on whether or not these credits will be retroactively extended. For more information please refer to the following sites:

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Proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard

Question of the Month: What is the current status of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and how do the new 2014 proposed requirements differ from previous years’?

Answer: The national RFS program was developed to increase the volume of renewable fuel blended into transportation fuels. As required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized RFS1 program regulations, which became effective on Sept. 1, 2007. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 increased and expanded this standard through RFS2, mandating that by 2022, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into transportation fuels. Though EISA set final volume requirements, EPA must determine renewable fuel percentage values annually to meet the requirements. Fuels are broken down as follows:

Total renewable fuel: The total amount of renewable fuel required to be blended into the fuel supply each year, which includes conventional and advanced biofuels (defined below). Conventional biofuel volume requirements are simply the total renewable fuel volume requirements minus the advanced biofuel volume requirements. While EISA specified volume requirements for most categories through 2022, the statute allows EPA to reduce these volumes under certain conditions (see below for further discussion).  Each renewable fuel category is described below.

  • Conventional biofuel: Any fuel derived from approved sources of renewable biomass that reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 20% from baseline petroleum GHG emissions. Conventional biofuels are generally produced from starch-based feedstocks (e.g., corn, sorghum, wheat).
  • Advanced biofuel: Any fuel derived from approved renewable biomass, excluding corn starch-based ethanol. Biomass-based diesel and cellulosic biofuel volume requirements fall under this overarching advanced biofuel category. Note that remaining advanced biofuel volume requirements not met by cellulosic and biomass-based diesel can be met with other advanced biofuels, and cellulosic biofuel and biomass-based diesel volumes that exceed their volume requirements also may be used to meet the advanced biofuel quota. Other advanced biofuels may include sugarcane-based fuels, renewable diesel co-processed with petroleum, and other biofuels that may exist in the future. Advanced biofuels must reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% from baseline petroleum GHG emissions.
  • Cellulosic biofuel: Any fuel derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin. These fuels must reduce GHG emissions by at least 60% from baseline petroleum GHG emissions.
  • Biomass-based diesel: A diesel fuel substitute made from renewable feedstocks, including biodiesel and nonester renewable diesel (diesel produced from animal- and plant-based fats, oils, and greases). It cannot be co-processed with petroleum; however, those fuels fall under the general advanced biofuels category. Biomass-based diesel must reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% from baseline petroleum GHG emissions.

 

For a list of fuel pathways that qualify under each renewable fuel category, see Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 80.1100-80.1167 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title40-vol16/pdf/CFR-2011-title40-vol16-sec80-1426.pdf).

Obligated Parties
Any party that produces gasoline or petroleum diesel for use as transportation fuel in the United States, including refiners, importers, and blenders (other than oxygenate blenders), is considered an obligated party under the RFS program. Each year, EPA determines the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for obligated parties. The RVO is calculated as a percentage, by dividing the amount of renewable fuel (gallons) required by the RFS2 for a given year by the amount of transportation fuel expected to be used during that year.

 

Volume Requirements and Percentage Standards
While EISA specified most volume requirements through 2022, the law did not address the biomass-based diesel requirement beyond 2012 and left some flexibility on the cellulosic biofuel requirement. The statute also allows EPA to change requirements under certain conditions, including when (1) the projected production ofcellulosic biofuel in any year is less than the volume specified in EISA or (2) conditions are met under the general waiver authority provided by the Clean Air Act.

 

In 2013, EPA requires obligated parties to meet the following volume requirements collectively. Also included are the associated RVO percentages.

 

Final Volume Requirements for 2013

Category

Volume

Percentage

Cellulosic biofuel

14 million gallons

0.008%

Biomass-based diesel

1.28 billion gallons

1.12%

Advanced biofuel

2.75 billion gallons

1.60%

Total renewable fuel

16.55 billion gallons

9.63%

 

On Nov. 15, 2013, EPA published a proposed rule to establish new volume requirements and associated percentage standards for 2014. For the first time, EPA is requesting comments on a range of volumes for each renewable fuel category to determine a final requirement (see table below). Also for the first time, the proposed total renewable fuel volume requirement is lower than statutory levels mandated in EISA to resolve compliance concerns related to the ethanol consumption "blend wall" (discussed below) and renewable fuel production constraints. The table below outlines the proposed new volume requirements and the associated RVO percentages.

 

Proposed Volume Requirements for 2014

Category

Volume

Percentage

Range

Cellulosic biofuel

17 million gallons

0.010%

8–30 million gallons

Biomass-based diesel

1.28 billion gallons

1.16%

1.28 billion gallons

Advanced biofuel

2.20 billion gallons

1.33%

2–2.51 billion gallons

Total renewable fuel

15.21 billion gallons

9.20%

15–15.52 billion gallons

 

Ethanol Blend Wall
The ethanol “blend wall” refers to the difficulty of incorporating an increasing amount of ethanol into the transportation fuel supply at percentages exceeding 10%. Almost all gasoline sold in the United States is E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline). While blends as high as E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) can be used in some conventional vehicles, these blends are difficult to market on a widespread basis because they can be used only in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) and model year 2001 and newer vehicles due to equipment compatibility issues. Additionally, “E85” (51%–83% ethanol blended with gasoline) and other mid-level ethanol blends can be used only in FFVs. EPA has proposed the lower advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volume requirements above for 2014 due to the anticipated inability of the market to supply the Congressionally mandated volume of renewable fuels to consumers in 2014.

In conjunction with the 2014 volume requirements and percentage standards, EPA is also considering a joint petition from the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, as well as individual petitions from several refining companies, requesting a partial waiver of the 2014 applicable volumes under RFS2. EPA is collecting comments on both issues through Jan. 28, 2014.

 

The proposed rule and EPA fact sheet can be accessed at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-29/pdf/2013-28155.pdf and http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/documents/420f13048.pdf, respectively.

 

Additional information can be found on the EPA RFS2 (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/index.htm) and Alternative Fuels Data Center RFS Program (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/RFS) websites.

 

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

technicalresponse@icfi.com

800-254-6735

 

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