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Happy Holidays from Louisiana Clean Fuels!

We wish you a safe and happy holiday season.  Check out our holiday video featuring Louisiana Clean Fuels members! 

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TRS Question of the Month: Redesigned Clean Cities Website Offers Bold New Look, Enhanced User Experience

Question of the Month: I heard the Clean Cities website was recently revamped. What changed?

Answer: As the work of Clean Cities continues to grow, the Clean Cities team is committed to ongoing communication about the program’s resources and accomplishments. Last month, Clean Cities launched a new and improved version of its website (https://cleancities.energy.gov/), which aims to highlight the program and assist the public and stakeholders. 

The redesigned Clean Cities website has a fresh new look, is easy to navigate, and includes many new features to help users learn about and connect with the program.

Below are the top five changes you should know about the site: 

Reorganized Resources: Some resources have moved with the new design. Most notably, funding information (https://cleancities.energy.gov/funding-opportunities/) and publications (https://cleancities.energy.gov/publications/) are now located in the About section, which can be accessed from the top website banner. As before, funding opportunities are separated into current and related categories, and the easily searchable publications are listed by popularity and publish date. Information about Clean Cities partnerships, such as the National Clean Fleets Partnership and the National Parks Initiative, is now conveniently accessed from the Partnerships & Projects section, , which can also be accessed from the top website banner (https://cleancities.energy.gov/partnerships/).

Selective Communication Options: It’s easier than ever to stay up to date on Clean Cities. You can now subscribe to the newsletters and updates that you want – and choose to skip those you don’t! You can sign up to receive the Clean Cities Monthly Update, the Clean Cities Now Newsletter, or Webinar Alerts (https://cleancities.energy.gov/subscribe/). The “What’s Happening?” bar on the bottom of the homepage is another easy to way to catch up on the latest events, news, blog posts, and videos.

Searchable Clean Cities Projects: Under the Partnership & Projects section, which is accessed from the top website banner, users may now view and search Clean Cities funded transportation projects (https://cleancities.energy.gov/partnerships/search). You can search by keyword or filter by the initiative or award, such as projects under the National Parks Initiative, Electric Vehicle Community Readiness, or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Project Awards. Project descriptions include basic information, states impacted, partners involved, the Clean Cities award amount, and the amount of local matching funds.

Audience-Tailored Content: The new website design clearly separates information for different audiences. While the old website combined resources for the public and resources for Clean Cities coordinators, the new design restricts public access to the Coordinator Toolbox (located in the upper right corner of the header). The new arrangement allows coordinators to find tools and resources specific to their coalition in one place using one password, as well as ensures that all other website content is useful for and tailored to the general public. Coordinators with questions about accessing the Toolbox may refer to recent Clean Cities communication and webinars.

Clean Cities On-the-Go: Lastly, the new design has an updated, clean aesthetic. From the newly organized coalition pages (https://cleancities.energy.gov/coalitions/) to the streamlined Technical Assistance page (https://cleancities.energy.gov/technical-assistance/), the website is intuitive and easy to read. As an added bonus, the new website is mobile-friendly and responsive, so you can access Clean Cities information wherever you go.

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Legislative Update: Federal Transportation Bill

Summary of Relevant Provisions in the Latest Transportation Bill, Public Law 114-94

On Friday, December 4th, President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act (Public Law 114-94). Like prior surface transportation legislation, the FAST Act authorizes funds for highway construction, as well as highway safety and public transportation programs.

There are several FAST Act provisions with implications for Clean Cities portfolio items:

  • National Electric Vehicle Charging and Alternative Fuel Station Corridors. Section 1413 of the bill charges the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) with designating national plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors in strategic locations along major highways by December 2016. DOT will update and re-designate the corridors every five years. 

  • PEV Charging on Federal Property. Section 1413 also explicitly authorizes the U.S. General Services Administration or other federal agencies to install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) that may be used by federal employees and certain others to charge their privately-owned vehicles. Those who use the EVSE to charge vehicles must pay to reimburse the agencies for the EVSE procurement, installation, and maintenance. 

  • State High Occupancy Lane (HOV) Exemptions. Section 1411 extends the provisions related to HOV lane exemptions for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles. Only alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and PEVs, however, may access HOV lanes toll-free through September 30, 2025. States are allowed to implement toll-access HOV programs for other low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles through September 30, 2019.

  • Tire Fuel Efficiency Standards. Section 24331 states that DOT, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy will develop regulations for passenger car tire fuel efficiency standards by December 2017. Some exemptions apply, including light truck, snow, and spare tires. 

  • Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel Economy Calculation. Section 24341 moves up to 2017, from 2020, when natural gas vehicle fuel economy calculation methodology (see 40 Code of Federal Regulations 600.510) will change. Model year 2017 and later vehicles will use the new calculation methodology to better align with the conventional vehicle fuel economy methodology update schedule.

The changes outlined above are effective immediately. To view the full text of the FAST Act, visit https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr22/BILLS-114hr22enr.pdf.

As an additional federal legislation update, Congress is expected to vote on the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act very soon. The PATH Act, now House Amendment #2 to H.R. 2029, could extend AFV refueling property tax credits, cellulosic biofuels production tax credits, and biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives.  Stay tuned for more information!

As always, if you have questions about the FAST Act or other topics, please contact Louisiana Clean Fuels or the Technical Response Service.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

technicalresponse@icfi.com

800-254-6735

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Congress Passes Tax Extender Legislation that Positions Propane Industry to Grow and Compete

A letter sent from National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) President and Chief Executive Officer, Richard Roldan, announced that congressional leaders reached a major agreement on federal spending and tax extenders late on Dec. 15, 2015. Roldan described some of the major policy provisions that will help the propane industry grow and compete. The following are four of the major tax provisions included in the agreement:

  • A two-year extension of the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit.  This refundable credit remains at 50cpg for 2015, but then will be energy content adjusted to 36cpg for 2016, reflecting the changed energy content calculation of excise tax on autogas that was enacted earlier this year.
  • A two-year extension of the refueling property credit.  Allows a credit for 30% of costs associated with installation of refueling stations, up to $30,000
  • Permanent expansion of Section 179 expensing.  This provision increases the expensing limitation and phase-out amounts to $500,000 and $2 million, respectively, and these levels are indexed for inflation in the future.
  • A five-year extension of Bonus Depreciation.  This provision will phase-down over five years, but it will be 50% for 2015-2017; 40% for 2018; and 30% for 2019.

The NPGA succeeded in getting relief from the DOT regulation changing the 34-hour restart provision to require two 1:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m. periods. Under the agreement, the original 34-hour restart provision remains in effect, unless DOT can prove that drivers operating under the revised restart provision demonstrated "statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules," which Roldan doubts will happen.  
 
Roldan also highlighted the fact that NPGA succeeded in inserting two funding earmarks for important propane growth technologies. The language provides $5 million for DOE research on propane/LPG direct injection engines, and $6 million for DOE research on micro-CHP.  These provisions move the industry closer to its goal of parity with other alternative fuels and technologies being studied by DOE. 

via CleanFuelUSA

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Louisiana Clean Fuels teaches Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School Students about Energy Efficiency

Sarah Stafford and Lauren Lambert-Tompkins of Louisiana Clean Fuels (LCF) visited Kenilworth Science and Technology (KST) Charter School students at the school’s Annual Holiday Health Fair, sponsored by 100 Black Men and Amerigroup on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at KST. Through games, dancing and fun, the kids learned tips on energy efficiency and the effects of vehicle idling on the air we breathe. 

KST Charter School is the first school in the state to sign up for the Louisiana Clean Fuels and Capital Region Planning Commission’s (CRPC) newest project: Clean Air for Kids

Clean Air for Kids combines Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Flags and education resources with the Clean Cities anti-idling initiative.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to teach kids about the dangers of poor air quality and what they can do to reduce particulate matter,” said Lambert-Tompkins. 

During the fair, Stafford and Lambert-Tompkins encouraged the kids to teach their own parents and school bus drivers about the negative effects idling their vehicles can have on the air they breathe. 

CRPC donated five brightly colored air quality flags to KST; each flag color indicates the local air quality forecast based on the Air Quality Index. Students will raise the appropriate flag each day, guiding teachers on what days are appropriate for outdoor activity. 

The anti-idling and energy efficiency outreach component of Clean Air for Kids intends to motivate students to do what they can do to discourage hazardous “air days.” 

“Kenilworth’s STEM focus encourages a great deal of ingenuity in these kids,” Lambert-Tompkins said. “Reaching these young trailblazers with a message of the importance of clean air and fuels will help progress these ideals…the future President could be in this gym right now.” 

Kids surrounding an energy efficiency board game, dancing and cheering when they land on “carpool” and can move up 10 spaces is a big “win” for Louisiana Clean Fuels.

Interested in joining Clean Air for Kids? Contact us at llambert@louisianacleanfuels.org or 225.485.2522.

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Solar Alternatives Hosts Electric Vehicle Day

LCF member, Solar Alternatives, recently hosted Electric Vehicle Day in New Orleans, LA.  The event brought out electric vehicle enthusiasts, experts, and electric vehicle owners to demonstrate electric vehicles to the public.  Check out the video below from the 2015 EV Day! 

About Solar Alternatives | Solar Alternatives was founded in 2008 to provide affordable, productive, and durable clean energy solutions for the gulf south. Solar Alternatives is known for responsible and customer-centered design, attention to detail in every installation, and excellent post-sales service. Their staff’s design and installation experience includes Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Photovoltaics, Glycol Closed-Loop Solar Thermal, Passive Batch Solar Thermal, Thermoplastic Solar Pool Systems, Commercial Scale Solar Process Heat and Auxiliary Residential Solar Equipment.

Solar Alternatives employs and encourages clean technology wherever possible, from recycled paper in advertisements to a clean-energy hosted website. Solar Alternatives engages the construction and real estate industries with energy-efficiency options for clients, a construction materials recycling program, and preservation-minded development philosophy. Training sessions are also available for qualified groups to familiarize with the various technologies, installation methods, and financing options available with Solar Energy Systems.

With the complexity and diversity of available Solar products, it’s crucial to work with a company that can thoroughly assess your application and needs, and offer clear guidance and specific recommendations. Let Solar Alternative's experience and professionalism lead your development with confidence and help educate you about solar energy options.

 

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Question of the Month: What is renewable natural gas (RNG) and can it be used to fuel vehicles?

What is renewable natural gas (RNG) and can it be used to fuel vehicles? 

Answer: RNG is pipeline-quality natural gas made by collecting and purifying biogas, the methane produced from decomposing organic matter. Biogas can be collected from sources such as landfills, livestock operations, wastewater treatment plants, food manufacturing and wholesalers, supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals. Once purified to remove contaminants and increase its heat content, the gas is called RNG and is a “drop-in” fuel that can be transported with conventional natural gas in pipelines, dispensed at the same fueling stations, stored in the same storage tanks, and used in natural gas vehicles without any engine modifications.

Despite its advantages, there are only 60 operational RNG production facilities in the United States. Many more use the biogas to generate electricity. This is due to federal and state programs, such as the federal Investment Tax Credit and state renewable portfolio standards, which incentivize the use of biogas for power generation rather than for vehicle fuel. 

Production

The purification process for biogas is called conditioning or upgrading, and it involves removing water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and various contaminants and trace elements. From there, RNG can be compressed to make renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) or super-cooled to make renewable liquefied natural gas (R-LNG).

RNG is produced from feedstocks that come from a wide range of industrial sectors, many of which already collect and process biomass as part of their daily operations:

  •         Landfills: Landfill gas (LFG) is collected from decomposing waste in landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Landfills account for 70% of the operational RNG projects in the United States. One of the largest LFG-to-vehicle fuel projects is Waste Management's Altamont Landfill near Livermore, California. This project produces up to 13,000 gallons of R-LNG each day to fuel 300 refuse trucks.
  •         Livestock Operations: Animal manure can be collected and taken to an anaerobic digester for RNG production. A few farms across the country have started to use biogas to produce RNG vehicle fuel, including Hilarides Dairy in California and Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana.
  •         Wastewater Treatment Plants: Approximately 9% of the more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the United States use anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The Janesville Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wisconsin is an example of a plant that uses biogas to produce RNG for use in vehicles.
  •         Other Biomass Sources: RNG can also be produced from lignocellulosic material, such as crop residues and dedicated energy crops, through thermochemical conversion, co-digestion, and dry fermentation. These technologies are being used in Europe, but have limited applications in the United States. RNG also can be produced from food waste, either alone or in conjunction with biosolids from livestock operations or wastewater treatment plants. CleanWorld Partners’ Sacramento BioDigester and quasar’s Central Ohio BioEnergy project convert food waste to RNG for vehicle fueling.

                                                                                                                                              RFS2 Compliance

RNG qualifies as a cellulosic biofuel under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. In fact, RNG accounted for more than 50 million renewable identification numbers (RINs) in 2014 – 98% of all cellulosic biofuel RINs.  According to organizations that track biofuels market data, cellulosic biofuel RINs were valued at $0.70– 0.85 per diesel gallon equivalent in 2014; this value is expected to increase in the future. 

Other Benefits

Like conventional natural gas, RNG can be produced domestically and can displace the petroleum currently being imported for transportation use. However, RNG offers some additional benefits. RNG has practically a net zero carbon impact. On a lifecycle basis, RNG accounts for fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than most currently available motor fuels. RNG can reduce GHG emissions by 95% compared to conventional gasoline and diesel fuel. This is partially because capturing biogas from landfills and livestock operations can reduce GHG emissions by preventing methane releases that were occurring into the atmosphere. Additionally, RNG produced through anaerobic digestion eliminates odors and results in nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer as a by-product. Also, biogas feedstocks are plentiful, so RNG could make use of the 450 million pounds of municipal solid waste dumped in landfills, 160 billion pounds of food waste generated, or the 500 million tons of animal waste produced each year.

Barriers

Like conventional natural gas, the main barriers to RNG are lack of vehicle availability and fueling infrastructure, though efforts are underway to address both of these obstacles. However, RNG production costs exceed those for conventional natural gas, especially for small-scale operations. Small-scale RNG production can cost around $5.50–$9 per million British thermal units compared to $4.50 for conventional natural gas. Additional financing and incentive opportunities, as well as state renewable portfolio standards that encourage the investment in biogas for vehicle fuel production, may spur additional production.

More Information

For more information on RNG, please see the following additional resources:

o   Landfill Methane Outreach Program: http://www3.epa.gov/lmop/index.html

o   AgSTAR Program: http://www2.epa.gov/agstar

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Have you heard about EPA's final ruling for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program?

Do you keep hearing about a new renewable fuel standard? Not sure what it all means? Learn all about the new ruling, and what it means for the nation's fuel market. 

Below we have compiled a list of benefits and considerations regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final ruling for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program (http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-11/documents/rfs-2014-2015-2016-annual-rule-frm.pdf). Please note, that the pros and cons listed below do not necessarily reflect our opinions, but are the opinions expressed by those in the biofuels industry.

EPA recently announced the 2014, 2015, and 2016 final volume requirements and associated percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that must be blended into transportation fuel under RFS2. EPA also announced the final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. EPA did not release the final volume requirements for 2014 and 2015 until now, though they did release a proposed final ruling in May. The final ruling considered more than 670,000 public comments, and relied on the latest, most accurate data available. The final ruling announced higher volumetric requirements than the proposed ruling from May in order to overcome the so-called “blend wall,” provide more fueling options at the pump, boost renewable fuel production, and provide support for expanding the biofuels industry. For more information new RFS2 ruling, please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Recent Federal Actions page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/recent?key=federal). 

The final renewable fuel volumes are as follows:

Fuel

2014

2015

2016

2017

Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)

33

123

230

N/A

Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)

1.63

1.73

1.90

2.0

Advanced biofuel (billion gallons)

2.67

2.88

3.61

N/A

Renewable fuel (billion gallons)

16.28

16.93

18.11

N/A


The associated renewable fuel percentage standards are as follows:

Fuel

2014

2015

2016

Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)

0.019%

0.069%

0.128%

Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)

1.41%

1.49%

1.59%

Advanced biofuel (billion gallons)

1.51%

1.62%

2.01%

Renewable fuel (billion gallons)

9.19%

9.52%

10.10%


 Pros of the final ruling:

  • The final ruling increases the volume requirements for 2016, requiring obligated parties to blend higher amounts of renewable fuel into their transportation fuel.
  • The final volume requirements for 2016 (and 2017 for biomass-based diesel) represent significant growth over historical levels.
  • The increase in volume requirements from previous years means that we can displace billions of gallons of petroleum diesel with clean-burning biofuels over the next few years, resulting in fewer emissions, more jobs, and more competition in the fuels market.
  • EPA finalized the 2014 and 2015 volume requirements at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in those years.
  • Many are pleased that the volume requirements have been finalized after long delays and that requirement levels have increased from the original proposal. 
  • The volume requirements for 2016 (and 2017 for biomass-based diesel) are now available, allowing RFS2 implementation to get back on track and enable EPA to remain on schedule for future years.

Cons of the final ruling:

  • The final volume requirements differ from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. However, these changes took into account biofuel supply, the ethanol blend wall, current infrastructure, and market-based limitations.
  • EPA did not release the final volume requirements for 2014 and 2015 until now, causing those who have not met the final requirements to be at a disadvantage.
  • The increase in volume requirements may cause uncertainty in the marketplace, slowing investments in second-generation biofuels.
  • The final ruling continues to rely on the ‘distribution waiver,’ which “was rejected by Congress when the RFS was enacted into law. Of particular concern is that by using such a waiver, the oil industry is being rewarded for its unwillingness to follow the law and invest in infrastructure to move toward cleaner, renewable fuel, which sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the program.” 
  • The final ruling does not specify how or on what timeline EPA is expects to address waivers in the cellulosic biofuel pool, “which currently allow the oil industry to avoid buying cellulosic biofuel in favor of cellulosic waiver credits (CWCs) at the end of each compliance year.“
  • The final ruling reduced the corn-ethanol requirement for 2015 to 14.05 billion gallons, compared to the original 15 billion gallons prescribed in the RFS2.
  • The final ruling requires mixing 18.11 billion gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel market next year. “That figure, which includes corn ethanol, biodiesel and next-generation ‘cellulosic’ ethanol, is well below the 22.3 billion gallons required under a 2007 law.”??

For more information on the pros and cons of the new RFS2 ruling, we suggest you see the opinion pieces written by the biofuels industry:

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Geaux Ride is GEAUXING!

Remember Geaux Ride??
....It's Really Geauxing!


The Capital Region Planning Commission launched their carpooling match program in Downtown Baton Rouge on September 16th, and since then Geaux Ride users have helped to reduce 1,475 lbs of CO2, 68.1 gallons of gasoline, 60 trips, and have saved a total of $329.    

The program created quite a buzz in the Capital Region; gaining attention from Nola.com, The Baton Rouge Business Report, LSU's Reveille, The Advocate, WAFB Channel 9, and Dig Magazine.  

We are proud to be a part of this innovative program to reduce traffic in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.  We hope the gasoline reduction and monetary savings keep climbing in 2016! 

Still need to get your business set up with Geaux Ride or just want to know what the buzz is all about? Contact JT Sukits, CRPC's Transportation Alternatives Coordinator, at JTSukits@brgov.com or (225) 383-5203 EXT 203.  

 

 

 

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