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    Fourteen States combine efforts to “DRIVE Electric USA”

    Accelerating the Adoption of Electric Vehicles

    DRIVE Electric USA will fully develop 14 state-based “Drive Electric” programs that will engage individuals, utilities, legislators, dealerships and others towards removing adoption barriers and accelerating plug-in electric vehicle use in our states.

    Louisiana Clean Fuels is proud to be a part of the DRIVE Electric USA project funded by the US Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. The project is running from October 2020 through December 2023 and is comprised of a group of diverse stakeholders, including Clean Cities Coalitions from fourteen states, electric vehicle and EVSE OEMs, and other committed partners who are dedicated to raising awareness and adoption of EVs across the United States. We will use our states as great and dissimilar examples of how to successfully build statewide, successful EV efforts to drive the purchase and use of EVs of all sizes and by general citizens and fleets.

    DRIVE Electric Participating States

    In order to accomplish this goal, project leaders and implementers will educate consumers, utilities, utility regulators, and government officials while engaging auto dealers and fleet leaders, conducting EV infrastructure planning, and developing local EV chapters. All of this will occur under the banner of each branded, statewide EV initiative which will be guided by that state’s stakeholders; Louisiana's branch of this project is called DRIVE Electric Louisiana. The project will create a replication playbook based on outputs and lessons learned and build successful long-term continuation through funding and partnerships. Additionally, a 28-member Project Advisory Committee (PAC) will provide input and guide the coalitions and their statewide efforts to break down barriers as quickly as we can towards accelerating EV adoption in our states.

    In order to accomplish this goal, project leaders and implementers will educate consumers, utilities, utility regulators, and government officials while engaging auto dealers and fleet leaders, conducting EV infrastructure planning, and developing local EV chapters. All of this will occur under the banner of each branded, statewide EV initiative which will be guided by that state’s stakeholders. The project will create a replication playbook based on outputs and lessons learned and build successful long-term continuation through funding and partnerships. Additionally, a 28-member Project Advisory Committee (PAC) will provide input and guide the coalitions and their statewide efforts to break down barriers as quickly as we can towards accelerating EV adoption in our states.

    In addition to accelerating EV adoption, the project will advance state-of-the-art, innovative approaches to reduce interrelated EV market barriers and plans to create a “Replication Playbook” that other states can utilize to further their own initiatives. The activities, outputs and outcomes in the project are built on seven “Priority Areas” of focused work:

    1. Create and strengthen branded, statewide “Drive Electric” programs in each state, and build capacity into those programs through funded time
    2. Educate consumers by developing multiple, local EV “chapters” in all states
    3. Directly engage and educate all of our utilities and regulators
    4. Advance infrastructure in all states via statewide corridor, regional and community EVSE planning, including a focus on limited-income communities
    5. Educate state and local government officials about EV policy best practices
    6. Engage dealerships & OEMS to develop state-based, preferred EV dealer programs including light-duty and medium/heavy-duty OEMs
    7. Significantly increase fleet EV adoption across many types of fleets and sizes of vehicles

    The team’s goals are anchored in creating or strengthening state-based EV initiatives in the following 14 states (after each state, the Clean Cities Program that is leading that state’s efforts are listed):

    1. AlabamaAlabama Clean Fuels Coalition
    2. ColoradoDenver Metro Clean Cities Coalition
    3. FloridaCentral Florida Clean Cities Coalition
    4. GeorgiaClean Cities-Georgia
    5. KansasKansas City Regional Clean Cities
    6. LouisianaLouisiana Clean Fuels
    7. MissouriSt. Louis Clean Cities
    8. North CarolinaTriangle Clean Cities
    9. OhioClean Fuels Ohio
    10. PennsylvaniaEastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation
    11. TennesseeEast Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition
    12. UtahUtah Clean Cities
    13. VirginiaVirginia Clean Cities
    14. WisconsinWisconsin Clean Cities

    Learn more at www.driveelectricusa.org. More information about DRIVE Electric Louisiana is coming soon.


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    Clean, Green and Quiet: Baton Rouge's Newest Transit Buses are Electric!

    By LCF Intern, Olivia Montgomery & Executive Director, Ann Vail

    Have you seen the smart looking green and yellow CATS buses driving around Baton Rouge? These “green” new buses are so quiet that many Baton Rouge residents may not have noticed them yet. In 2019, Capital Area Transit System (CATS), the transit authority in Baton Rouge, added three new electric buses to its fleet, with hopes to continue the transition to electric in years to come. CATS currently has three 35-foot electric BYD buses in operation and three more were ordered in December. The agency will be ordering an additional  three electric BYD buses by October 2020.  

    While it is not uncommon to see electric buses in the fleets of larger cities, they are more of a rarity in mid-sized Southern cities like Baton Rouge. So what prompted CATS to make this addition to their fleet? In 2014, CATS commissioned a study by the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute in order to review alternative fuel options for its fleet. At the time, CATS knew that some of its fleet would reach its useful age and need to be replaced. This set the stage to commission a study to assist with determining whether alternatively fueled buses could reduce costs and promote environmental sustainability. 

    At the time the study was commissioned, CATS buses burned through about 2,000 gallons of fuel per day. The CATS fleet currently has 57 conventional diesel buses, 3 trolleys, and 16 cutaway vans. A variety of alternative fuel options are available for public transit fleets, including compressed natural gas, liquified petroleum gas, biodiesel, and electric or hybrid-electric, but the UNO study specifically recommended the switch to electric. After weighing specifics like feasibility and climate conditions specific to Baton Rouge, CATS decided to follow UNO’s recommendation to go electric. 

    Procuring buses with new technologies is not always easy. CATS was charged with quickly finding funding sources and a manufacturer that could meet deadlines on deliverables. Around this time, Louisiana Clean Fuels hosted an electric bus demonstration at the transit shelter in town square and invited local decision makers, CATS staff, and board members along for the ride. On this ride, LCF and their stakeholders were able to inform CATS of an upcoming FTA grant opportunity and offered to provide assistance with their grant application. The demo was a success and solidified local leadership’s support for CATS’s decision to procure electric buses. 

    CATS applied for the competitive grant funding – with assistance from Capital Region Planning Commission, Louisiana Department of Transportation – from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low to No- Emissions Program and received $2.5 million in 2019, in combination with other Federal funds, to purchase their first three buses.

    In April 2020, CATS announced it received an additional $3.8 million FTA grant to procure additional buses. CATS also received some local matching funds for the project. The FTA Low to No Emissions program is the same grant that in 2016 awarded $3.9 million to Sportran in Shreveport LA to purchase its first five electric buses, three depot chargers and an on-route fast charger. The Shreveport transit agency also received $1.5 million in August of 2018 for additional electric buses. 

    If one could offer advice to another fleet looking to procure electric buses, CATS Communications Director, Amie McNaylor, says she suggests engaging the experts. McNaylor credits the help of industry experts in navigating the process of procuring buses with unfamiliar technology. McNaylor described that, during the ordering process, electric bus batteries improved from first generation to second generation batteries with longer ranges, and having an expert around smoothed out these bumps in the process. Louisiana Clean Fuels connected CATS staff with industry experts and experienced EV transit bus fleet managers who acted as a liaison of sorts between CATS and the manufacturer, asking the right questions and finding the right specifications for CATS’ unique needs. 

    After hammering out the details, CATS ultimately purchased three 35-foot electric buses manufactured in California by BYD. These buses can reach 62 miles per hour speeds and seat 32 passengers, with additional capacity for standing passengers. BYD estimates its buses cost about $1 less per mile to operate when compared to diesel buses. CATS will also save on maintenance costs as electric vehicles do not require oil changes. 

    Aside from cost savings and emissions reduction, McNaylor says the public has responded favorably to the new electric buses. Some riders have tweeted that the buses are much quieter, and people tend to be drawn to the electric buses at press events. CATS operators seem to enjoy driving the new buses as well. 

    So what’s next for CATS? CATS is continuing to work on expanding the electric vehicles in the agency’s fleet. Additional electric buses will be purchased that will serve as the flagship of the Plank/Nicholson Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor, a collaboration with the City-Parish and Build Baton Rouge  These buses will make possible the 15-20 frequency of the morning and afternoon peak hours on the BRT corridor; there will be 30 minute frequency during the basetime of the route. However, CATS does plan to continue to procure more electric buses in the future, and it is expected that the CATS Board of Commissioners will approve the purchase of the final three buses on the agency’s contract with BYD, bringing an eventual total of nine electric buses in the fleet. In the meantime, the three recently-ordered buses are in the manufacturing process and will be incorporated into the fleet soon, and CATS also hopes to install more electric bus charging stations at its maintenance facility. 


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    Alternative Fuel Tax Incentives Update

    Key alternative fuel incentives retroactively extended in Final FY 2020 Spending Bill

    NOTE: This incentive originally expired on December 31, 2017, but was retroactively extended through December 31, 2020, by Public Law 116-94.

    Alternative fuel excise credits extended

    The excise tax credit covers fuels including compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas (both naturally occurring CNG and LNG, and that derived from biomass), propane autogas, and liquefied hydrogen when used as a motor fuel. A tax credit in the amount of $0.50 per gallon* is available for the following alternative fuels:

    • natural gas (CNG& LNG)
    • liquefied hydrogen,
    • propane,
    • and compressed or liquefied gas derived from biomass

    *For propane and natural gas sold after December 31, 2015, the tax credit is based on the gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) or diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). For taxation purposes, one GGE is equal to 5.75 pounds (lbs.) of propane and 5.66 lbs. of compressed natural gas. One DGE is equal to 6.06 lbs. of liquefied natural gas. Example: the propane tax credit ends up being about 37 cents a GGE.

    For an entity to be eligible to claim the credit they must be liable for reporting and paying the federal excise tax on the sale or use of the fuel in a motor vehicle. Tax exempt entities such as state and local governments that dispense qualified fuel from an on-site fueling station for use in vehicles qualify for the incentive. Eligible entities must be registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The incentive must first be taken as a credit against the entity's alternative fuel tax liability; any excess over this fuel tax liability may be claimed as a direct payment from the IRS. The tax credit is not allowed if an incentive for the same alternative fuel is also determined under the rules for the ethanol or biodiesel tax credits.

    For more information about claiming the credit, see IRS Form 4136, which is available on the IRS Forms and Publications website. (Reference Public Law 116-94, Public Law 115-123, Public Law 114-113, and 26 U.S. Code 6426)

    Point of Contact
    Excise Tax Branch
    U.S. Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel
    Phone: (202) 317-6855
    http://www.irs.gov/

    Sourcehttps://afdc.energy.gov/laws/319


    infrastructure tax credits also extended

    Fueling equipment for natural gas, propane, liquefied hydrogen, electricity, E85, or diesel fuel blends containing a minimum of 20% biodiesel installed through December 31, 2020, is eligible for a tax credit of 30% of the cost, not to exceed $30,000. Permitting and inspection fees are not included in covered expenses. Fueling station owners who install qualified equipment at multiple sites are allowed to use the credit towards each location. Consumers who purchased qualified residential fueling equipment (such as EV Charging equipement) prior to December 31, 2020, may receive a tax credit of up to $1,000. (Source: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/10513 )

    IRS Forms and Links

    How do you file for credits? The Alternative Fuels Data Center says the Treasury Department will provide more details on the process on March 11. Claims may be submitted after Treasury issues guidance. Claims will be paid within 60 days after receipt.

     

    Other retroactively extended tax credis in HR 1865:

    • the $1.00-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel and biodiesel mixtures, and the small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon, retroactively for 2018 and 2019 and prospectively through 2022 (for more information: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/395 ) ;
    • the alternative fuel excise credit retroactively for 2018 and 2019 and through 2020;
    • the alternative fuel infrastructure credit retroactively for 2018 and 2019 and through 2020; and
    • the credit for qualified fuel cell vehicles retroactively for 2018 and 2019 and through 2020 (for more information: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/350 ).

    The bill also:

    • includes $40 million for the DOE Clean Cities program – a nearly $3 million increase over last year;
    • includes $87 million for the EPA Diesel Emission Reduction grants; and
    • requires the Federal Highway Administration to approve all clean vehicle projects submitted prior to April 17, 2018, using the previous criteria (final assembly in the United States) and it directs the agency to review and respond to Buy America waiver requests within 60 days of submission.

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