This Week’s Top 10: More than $22 million available in clean transportation funding, Making the business case for renewable natural gas

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market 

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Clean transportation funding from MSRCSCAQMD announces funding: South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) has released three new solicitations for clean transportation funding with more than $22 million available for projects. The 2015 Local Government Match Program provides matching funds to cities and counties for qualifying projects in the district. Categories include alternative-fuel infrastructure, fleet maintenance facility upgrades, electric vehicle charging stations, medium- and heavy-duty alternative fuel vehicles, active transportation, electric riding lawnmowers, and street sweeping operations in the Coachella Valley. The deadline for submission is Sept. 4, 2015. Major Event Center Transportation programs for the past four years where destinations located in the district are targets for this funding opportunity and include sports arenas, fairgrounds, stadiums, race tracks, speedways, and Convention Centers, etc. Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Funding Opportunities categories include funding for construction of new or expanded alternative fuel fueling stations and incentives for the modification of fleet maintenance facilities in the district. The funding opportunity includes public and private site owners, fleet owners, infrastructure providers, fuel providers and school districts. Funding is available for the construction or expansion of alternative fuel refueling stations; incentives to fleets to upgrade their existing vehicle maintenance facilities; and support fleets purchasing alternative fuel vehicles. The deadline for submission for the major event center and alternative fuel infrastructure programs is July 29, 2016.
  2. Making the business case for renewable natural gas: Kudos go out to Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision, for her commentary in Denver Post on solutions renewable natural gas (RNG) bring to Colorado’s economy and environment. As the Piceance Basin gas reserve declines, natural gas production is shrinking, which will likely mean job loss and slower economic growth. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s fracking task force may be seeing confrontation between the gas industry and parties opposing the fracking. Underwood makes the case that the polarizing debate could be resolved by tapping into the state’s organic waste stream to make RNG. You can also view Energy Vision’s revamped new website here.
  3. Tesla goes to Maryland: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill allowing Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers. It takes effect Oct. 1, and allows Tesla to operate as many as four locations. That follows soon after Georgia allowing Tesla to operate five locations in the state and in March, New Jersey allowed Tesla to open four locations while also having one service center open for Tesla owners. In other Tesla news, Consumer Reports had a bad experience test driving the Tesla Model S P85 D when the driver-side door handle failed to let the driver in. The magazine’s car reliability survey has shown that doors, locks, and latches are the biggest trouble areas for Tesla, and that the Model S has far higher than average rates of these types of problems.
  4. ConocoPhillips adopting propane autogas: ConocoPhillips said it will convert 30 trucks to propane autogas this year and replace more than 300 more trucks over the next five years with vehicles powered by propane fuel technology. That follows thousands of miles on road tests in New Mexico and Colorado since 2011 working with ROUSH CleanTech propane vehicles. For the ConocoPhillips fleet, propane autogas reduces greenhouse gases by up to 25%, carbon monoxide by up to 60%, and nitrogen oxide by 20% compared to gasoline. Other benefits include safety of the fuel, size of the fuel tanks, performance, reduced fuel costs, extended maintenance intervals, and drivability.
  5. Cleaning up freight operations: Kellogg’s, Walmart, Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Adidas, General Mills, H&M, Lowes, CVS, and Hershey are working hard at improving efficiency and environmental management, according to Jason Mathers, senior manager on supply chain logistics at Environmental Defense Fund. Companies are tracking logistics emissions, setting performance goal benchmarks, and are seeking to shape external factors as a leadership practice.
  6. Fiat Chrysler chief goes on field trip: FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has been rejected for an office visit with General Motors and Ford, but did get a greenlight from Tesla Motors and Apple. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook were willing to meet with him. No news yet on whether Chrysler models will be powered by Tesla motors and battery packs, but Marchionne did have a good time. “I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done,” he said about Musk, according to Reuters. Tim Cook talked about Apple’s “intervention in the car,” Marchionne said.
  7. How to reduce air pollution: Older or badly tuned vehicles produce the vast majority of harmful emissions in Toronto. University of Toronto researchers measured exhaust from 100,000 vehicles driving past air sampling probes set up on one of Toronto’s busiest roads. The researchers found that 25% of the cars emitted 95% of the total particulates and 93% of the carbon monoxide. “How you drive, hard acceleration, age of the vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution,” according to author Greg Evans.
  8. EV forecast: The US is expected to be the largest EV market throughout the forecast period in a new Navigant Research study, with annual EV sales in 2024 exceeding 860,000 in the conservative scenario and 1.2 million in the aggressive. Annual sales in Canada, which is about one year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, are expected to reach over 74,000 PEVs in the conservative scenario and over 91,000 in the aggressive by 2024.
  9. Cheap oil won’t beat all biofuels: When oil prices hit $50 a barrel, as they’ve done lately, alternative fuels feel the squeeze. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers and found some biofuels companies prepared for the price drop. Renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil, according to the Lux Research report.
  10. Trillium CNG takes Frito-Lay award: Trillium CNG was named Supplier of the Year by the fleet division of Frito-Lay North America; the award was given for superior customer service and operational excellence in supporting Frito-Lay’s network of one private and nine public access compressed natural gas (CNG) stations. Trillium CNG dispensed more than 2.2 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) to Frito-Lay last year.

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