LCF Publishes 2019 Annual Report Data Showing Hopeful Future for Louisiana’s Air Quality

    Historically, a number of parishes in Louisiana have struggled to remain in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. When parishes are out of compliance, referred to as being in non-attainment status, their ozone levels may threaten the health of those in the area, particularly children, the elderly, or those with respiratory conditions. Ozone, a respiratory irritant, is created through reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are primarily produced by road transportation. Since 2000, Louisiana Clean Fuels has worked to transition Louisiana’s transportation sector to cleaner, alternative fuel technologies that produce less NOx and lower transportation emissions that threaten the health of Louisianians and keep the state in non-attainment status. The report below details the progress of this transition to alternative fuel technologies.

    The data we collect is used as a benchmark to gain an accurate picture of alternative fuel and vehicle usage in Louisiana, which will help both LCF and the Department of Energy understand the alternative fuels market and the progress we are making towards our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. This Annual Report allows us to track the growth of the different alternative fuel market sectors and identify which projects are most effective at reducing emissions. We also use the data we collect for the Annual Report in the consideration of recipients for the 2020 Annual Clean Fuel Leader Awards.

    After months of collecting and analyzing the data, the Annual Report is complete, and our findings are ready to be shared.

    In 2019, LCF stakeholders reduced usage of a total of 9,422,169 gallons of gasoline-equivalent (GGEs). Primarily, this was achieved through the usage of alternative fuel vehicles (66%) rather than vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel. Other methods of reduction worth mentioning are fuel economy improvements (16%) in vehicles and idle reduction measures (14%), both of which focus on decreasing fuel consumption in vehicles. Not only do our stakeholders use vehicle improvements to reduce fossil fuel consumption, but a large number of them are also diversifying their fuel options and switching to other fuels besides gasoline and diesel to power their fleets.

    • Members of LCF’s Green Fleets Certification Program used over three million gallons of alternative fuel, accounting for 34% of our stakeholders’ GGE Reductions. 
    • From 2017 to 2019, East Baton Rouge School district increased their number of propane-fueled buses from 10 to 60 with a corresponding propane fuel use increase of over 1400%. Lafourche school district also increased its usage of propane-fueled school buses, using 25% more propane in 2019 than in 2017.
    • Despite only comprising 2% of our alternative fuel usage, electric vehicles accounted for 6% of our Greenhouse Gas reductions. The majority of this usage is from SporTran’s and CATS’ electric transit buses, but we’re seeing increasing benefits from the growing number of individually owned electric vehicles on the road with public charger usage increasing by 73% in our region.

    In addition to reducing petroleum usage, LCF stakeholders also reduced 45,673 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019. Idle reduction (37%) and improvements in fuel economy (42%) were responsible for the majority of the reduction of GHG emissions. As these measures reduce overall fuel consumption for any vehicle, AFV or not, these kinds of measures have the largest impact on keeping emissions down during the transition to cleaner alternative fuels that reduce emissions even further. As investment in alternative fuel fleets continues to rise, replacing older diesel and gasoline vehicles, GHG emissions reduced by AFVs will increasingly account for a larger share of emissions reductions in Louisiana.

    This third chart shows a breakdown in the GGEs reduced and the GHG emissions reduced by fuel type. In 2019, LCF stakeholders reduced 6,413,389 GGE and 8,374 tons of GHG emissions specifically through alternative fuel usage. Louisiana is known for having a very strong natural gas industry, and this data illustrates that compressed natural gas (CNG) is indeed an incredibly popular alternative fuel for our stakeholders. CNG accounts for 70% of the GGEs reduced but only 47% of the GHG emissions reduced in 2019. Also of note in GGE reduction is propane, which accounted for 19% of the 6.4 million total for 2019. Biodiesel (25%) and renewable natural gas (RNG) (12%) played a notable role in our stakeholders’ reduction of GHG emissions in 2019, despite accounting for only 1.6% and 3.7% respectively of the petroleum reductions by our stakeholders, showing the dramatic effectiveness of biodiesel and RNG at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Compared to 2018, total levels of GHG and GGE reduced remain relatively the same. The amount of CNG reported used by stakeholders in 2019 dropped by 15% from the previous year, which accounts for a drop in GHG and GGE reduced. In addition to a nearly twenty-fold increase in biodiesel usage from 2018, GGE reduced from Propane and RNG usage increased by 50% and 30%, respectively, offsetting most of the drop in GGE reduced from CNG. While decreases in CNG usage are noteworthy, the respective increases in Propane and RNG, in particular, are representative of an increasingly diverse alternative fuel usage among LCF stakeholders.

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    East Baton Rouge Parish School System Still Making Progress in Transitioning to Cleaner School Buses

    By Olivia Montgomery, LCF Intern | Originally posted to Fuels Fix | Original Article

    After the August 2016 floods wiped out about 110 school buses in East Baton Rouge Parish, the school system seized the opportunity to transition its fleet to cleaner fuel options, becoming the recipient of Louisiana Clean Fuels’s Rising Star Award in 2017. Thanks to the availability of Volkswagen Settlement funding, a number of other school systems in Louisiana are now making the transition too, including in the parishes of Ascension, Lafayette, Winn, Rapides, St. John the Baptist, Beauregard, Bossier, Plaquemines, St. Helena, Union, Vernon, and Tangipahoa. 

    Nearly four years later, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) continues its efforts to reduce its fleet’s emissions. In 2016, the school system received nearly $773,000 in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding to purchase 30 buses. DERA grants fund 25% of the total cost of new buses. EBRPSS has since received two more DERA grants, in addition to receiving a portion of the civil settlement from automaker Volkswagen, who settled claims with US authorities after violating emissions laws by installing a “defeat device” in thousands of vehicles. Ultimately, these four grants total $4,485,894.50 and, in conjunction with EBRPSS funds, will purchase 130 propane school buses over time. 

    EBRPSS’s shift to propane school buses showcases an important trend across the country and offers benefits including reduced operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Propane buses are shown to reduce fuel costs significantly. Roush CleanTech, manufacturer of the propane autogas system installed in Blue Bird Vision school buses, estimates fleets can lower their fuel costs by 40% by switching to propane, in addition to lower costs of maintenance over time. Case studies support this estimate, with Mesa Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona reporting having saved $2.91 per gallon on fuel compared to diesel. Mesa expects to save $4.43 million on fuel costs over five years, and they expect each bus will have a longer lifespan than conventional diesel buses, with about five additional years on the road for each bus. EBRPSS reports spending $1,970,173 on fuel from July 2015 to June 2016. If the school district saves 40% per year, as Roush CleanTech estimates is possible, the savings would total an annual $788,069.20 reduction in fuel costs.

    Reducing emissions in school bus fleets is another direct benefit to children in the school system. Children are more susceptible to harmful side effects of exhaust due to their developing respiratory systems and faster rates of breathing. With school buses able to seat about 70 children per bus, reducing diesel exhaust and improving air quality is a top priority of school systems making the switch to propane. EBRPSS alone serves 42,000 children. A comprehensive study by the Propane Education and Research Council shows propane school buses emit up to 96% less NOx and 13% less carbon dioxide than diesel buses. 

    The future looks bright in regard to EBRPSS’s ability to procure more propane buses. The school system plans to apply for additional DERA grants in the years to come, and many states are adopting more programs to aid school systems in their transition to cleaner school bus fleets. For example, West Virginia counties using compressed natural gas or propane autogas in their school bus fleets may be eligible for a 10% reimbursement to offset the maintenance and costs of those buses. In Nevada, penalties assessed for air pollution violations are deposited into the account of the school district where they occurred and may be used for the purchase of school buses that operate on alternative fuels. At this time, EBRPSS will incrementally acquire buses through the referenced grants, and hopefully, new funding sources become available to continue the school system’s transition to cleaner fuels after all 130 new propane buses have arrived.

    Read the original Fuels Fix Article

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    Notice of Intent to Issue a Vehicle Technologies Funding Opportunity

    Originally posted by the DOE EERE

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office has published a notice of intent to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled "Fiscal Year 2020 Advanced Vehicle Technologies Research FOA." The FOA will support a broad portfolio of advanced vehicle technologies that can strengthen national security, enable future economic growth, support American energy dominance, and increase transportation affordability for all Americans. This FOA may include the following topics:

    • Lithium-Ion Batteries using Silicon-Based Anode
    • Low Cost Electric Traction Drive Systems Using No Heavy Rare Earth Materials
    • Utility Managed Smart Charging
    • Platinum Group Metals Content Reduction to Enable Cost-Effective Aftertreatment for Gasoline and Diesel Engines
    • Improved Efficiency of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Natural Gas and Propane (LPG) Engines
    • Energy-Efficient Off-Road Technologies Directly Applicable to Agriculture Sector and/or Other Off-Road Vehicles
    • Lightweight and High-Performance Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites for Vehicle Applications
    • Energy Efficient Mobility Systems
    • Technology Integration
    • Transportation and Energy Analysis

    The Vehicle Technologies’ portfolio includes advanced batteries, electric drive systems; smart charging technologies; energy efficient mobility technologies and systems; advanced combustion engines and fuels; materials for vehicle light-weighting; technology integration, which includes work with the national network of Clean Cities coalitions; and transportation and energy analysis.

    View the Notice of Intent

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