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LCF on the Go!

Last week, Louisiana Clean Fuels and Energy Vision, a New York-based nonprofit advocating for renewable energy, took a trip to Shreveport, LA.  Along the way, staff stopped at St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District.  The site provides residential and commercial solid waste collection and disposal, and oversees the operation of the St. Landry parish Landfill and recycling centers. 

The disposal district has an innovative BioCNG system that converts the waste generated at the site into compressed natural gas.  The vehicles at the site run off of their renewable fuel; which is generated at less than half of the cost of traditional gasoline.  LCF awarded St. Landry Solid Waste with the Innovative Project of the Year in 2014, and since then St. Landry has made plans to expand the use of their BioCNG.  The project will expand for another BioCNG system and a remote CNG fueling station.  St. Landry Solid Waste has partnered with Progressive Waste for the additional system.  In exchange for the continuation of its existing waste hauling contract with St. Landry Solid Waste, Progressive Waste has agreed to purchase new CNG-powered trucks, and will have access to the increased BioCNG generated from the expanded system.  The BioCNG fuel will also be available to other St. Landry Parish clients.

St. Landry Solid Waste’s BioCNG station

LCF and Energy Vision got a private tour of the site; led by St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Executive Director, Katry Martin.  We gathered footage of the site and how the process works, and LCF is creating a feature video about the project.  Be on the lookout for that on our blog SOON! 

LCF Communications Coordinator, Lauren Lambert-Tompkins, getting footage for a feature story on St. Landry!

Following the trip to St. Landry Parish, LCF and Energy Vision met with stakeholders in Shreveport.  Trey Smith with Ivan Smith Furniture showed staff around his facilities.  The furniture store converted its delivery fleet to CNG.  In addition, Smith owns and operates public and private CNG stations in the area.  Following the meeting with Ivan Smith Furniture, LCF met with the Shreveport Energy Efficiency Division or SEED, to learn about their efforts.  The division’s mission is to support conservation and sustainability within the city. 

                
Pictured L to R: Ivan Smith Furniture’s Private CNG Station and Freedom Fuel, Trey Smith’s Public CNG Station

From SEED’s location at Shreveport’s City Hall, LCF and Energy Vision hosted a webinar about the possibilities of renewable natural gas for fleets.  We hope that through our travels, we can become more available to our stakeholders around the state.  If you would like LCF to come check out your project for a feature, please let us know at info@louisianacleanfuels.org!

   SEED, LCF, and Energy Vision together to host a renewable natural gas webinar

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Louisiana's trash just got cleaner! Waste Management opens new CNG facility, adds 22 CNG trucks

Louisiana's trash just got cleaner!
Waste Management opens new CNG facility, adds 22 CNG trucks

Waste Management and Livingston Parish officials formally marked the opening of the company’s new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet facility at 11:00 am on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The ribbon cutting took place at the facility on 15505 Industry Way Drive, in Walker.

Ann Shaneyfelt, Louisiana Clean Fuels Executive Director, spoke at the ceremony. "Waste Management is a great leader in embracing alternative fuels," Shaneyfelt said. "This beautiful new center and the company's fleet conversion exemplify the success fleets can attain by utilizing CNG and other alternative fuels."

The new center is part of Waste Management’s effort to convert 80% of its fleet to alternative fuels by 2020. In this roll out, Waste Management added 22 new clean-burning CNG trucks and 42 slow fill bays. The company plans to convert 20 more CNG trucks in 2016.

This conversion to will deliver significant environmental benefits to the communities that Waste Management serves.

Waste Management's promotions state that each truck that is fueled by CNG reduces diesel usage by 8,000 gallons each year. That is over a 350,000 total gallon reduction from this site alone, along with 1,000 ton reduction of greenhouse gases.

For more information about CNG, visit: http://louisianacleanfuels.org/content.php?page=Natural_Gas

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School Bus Rebate Program Now Open

2015 School Bus Replacement and Retrofit Funding Opportunity

EPA is now accepting applications from school bus fleet owners for rebates on school bus replacements and/or retrofits with Diesel Oxidation Catalysts plus Closed Crankcase Ventilation.  EPA has approximately $7 million available for this rebate program.  Applications will be accepted from public and private fleet owners.  Private fleet owners must have an existing contract with an eligible public entity, as defined in the Program Guide.

Applicants may list up to ten buses for replacements on each application.  These buses must be powered by a model year 2006 or older engine.  EPA will pay between $15,000 and $25,000 per bus, depending on vehicle size. 

Applicants may also list up to ten buses to retrofit with Diesel Oxidation Catalysts plus Closed Crankcase Ventilation.  EPA will provide up to $3,000 per retrofitted bus. 

Applicants with fleets of 101 or more buses currently in use may submit two applications.

EPA will accept applications until Friday, October 30th, 2015, at 4 pm Eastern Time.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire Program Guide prior to submitting their application(s).

 Timeline
Rebate application period opens September 28, 2015
Webinar for applicants October 6, 2015
Rebates application period closes October 30, 2015 at 4 pm Eastern Time

 

For more information: Visit EPA's Website

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

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

Answer: 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, 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 (http://www.iftach.org/). 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.  

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

 

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Didn't Catch Geaux Ride's Launch Party Today?

Didn't make it for Geaux Ride's Launch Party today? That's ok! Check out the video below.  Want to get your employer's portal set up to start carpooling? Contact JT Sukits at JTSukits@brgov.com for more information. 

 

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TRS Question of the Month: What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?

Question of the Month: What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?

Answer: Nearly all of us regularly use and access public roads, infrastructure, or transit services. As you may have read in the July Question of the Month, it’s common practice for federal, state, and local governments to tax motor fuels on a per gallon basis to fund transportation infrastructure and increase revenue. Returns from gasoline and diesel taxes are on the decline due to a number of factors, including rising construction costs, general inflation, and greater vehicle efficiency, which reduces fuel use per mile. To make up for this deficit, a number of states are evaluating and implementing alternatives to traditional motor fuel tax models through the use of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, annual fees for vehicles that use certain fuels, such as electricity, or adjusting or establishing fuel taxes for certain alternative fuels.

VMT Fees

VMT fees are designed to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive, rather than the fuel they consume. The concept seeks to base taxes on use rather than fuel consumption, which provides a fuel neutral approach and offsets decreasing revenue from increased vehicle efficiency. Concerns have, however, been raised over program administration and individual privacy. Several states, including Vermont and Oregon, have studied or implemented VMT fee pilot programs. In July of 2015, Oregon began a road usage charge program for 5,000 volunteers and is encouraging participation by plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers (http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/Pages/index.aspx). The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) collects $0.015 per mile and issues gas tax refunds to participants. Vehicle miles will be monitored through a vehicle transponder.

Annual Fees

As alternative fuel use has grown, a number of states have established annual fees or decals to recover revenue that would have normally come from motor fuel taxes. These programs also provide a mechanism to collect revenue from those that charge or fuel at home and, in some cases, are used to incentivize alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Fees have traditionally been imposed on fuels such as natural gas and propane, but are now being considered and implemented for PEVs. Establishing the appropriate level for such fees can be tricky as different vehicle classes use very different amounts of fuel. In addition, some AFVs, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and bi-fuel natural gas vehicles, may already pay motor fuel taxes for their gasoline or diesel use. Examples of fees in place include:

  •          Colorado requires a $50 annual fee for a PEV decal.
  •          Georgia requires a $200 annual fee for non-commercial PEVs and $300       annual fee for commercial PEVs.
  •          Louisiana requires an annual fee of $120 or a percentage of the current special fuels tax rate for compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane vehicles.
  •          Nebraska requires a $75 annual fee for PEVs and other AFVs not covered under state motor fuel tax regulations.
  •          North Carolina requires a $100 annual fee for all-electric vehicles.

 
Alternative Fuel Taxes

Many states have passed regulations to either tax certain alternative fuels for the first time or to structure motor fuel taxes to account for energy content variations between alternative fuels and gasoline or diesel. For example, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah are among the states that have enacted legislation or regulations in 2015 to define the energy content of CNG and liquefied natural gas on a gasoline gallon equivalent or diesel gallon equivalent basis. Wyoming updated regulations related to alternative fuel excise taxes and dealer license fees for natural gas, propane, electricity, and renewable diesel. Kentucky and Utah enacted excise tax requirements for hydrogen and South Dakota increased excise taxes for certain fuels, including ethanol. Look out for the September Question of the Month for further information on efforts to equalize federal fuel taxes across fuels.

Until motor fuel tax revenue shortfalls can be adequately addressed, states risk underfunding our roads and infrastructure. While no single approach has emerged as the preferred choice, creative solutions, such as those discussed above, may help states adequately adjust for continued sales of AFVs and other fuel-efficient vehicles.  With the exception of VMT fees, these approaches, however, only address a small portion of the nation’s fleet and are not likely to resolve broader funding issues in the near-term. 

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

 

Also watch for an upcoming paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on motor fuel excise taxes

 

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LCF Gains National Attention at Clean Cities Coordinator Workshop

Louisiana Clean Fuels Recognized for "Most Diverse Growth"
LCF Ranks Among Top Coalitions in the Nation for RNG and Renewable Diesel Use

On September 3, 2015, LCF’s Executive Director attended the National Clean Cities Coordinator Workshop in Chicago, IL.  The purpose of the workshop is for coordinators to come together to get updated on the alternative fuels industry, new projects, and to recognize the work of the coalitions to reduce petroleum consumption.  LCF was awarded three awards based off of our 2014 annual report.  The awards the coalition received were: the Most Diverse Growth, Most Petroleum GGE’s Reduced for RNG Projects, and Emerging Technology Specialists in Renewable Diesel Use.  We’re proud to be nationally recognized for our efforts in 2014, and we plan to keep the momentum going for 2015! 

Pictured Left to Right: Dennis Smith - National Clean Cities Director, Ann Shaneyfelt, LCF Executive Director and Linda Bluestein, National Clean Cities Co-Director

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