DEP Rolls Out CNG Vehicle Grant Program
DEP has rolled out a grant program to help companies convert their fleets to natural gas fueled vehicles. This program will put more CNG vehicles on the road, reducing emissions and making things much more affordable at the pump. The program is currently open for applications.
Incorporating natural gas powered vehicles into our daily lives has been a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” situation. It’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station if there are no natural gas fueled vehicles to fuel. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has decided to take the first step to make this switch over to a cleaner burning fuel possible on a larger scale through a vehicle grant program made possible through Pennsylvania’s Act 13.
What is CNG?
CNG is a relatively new fuel source with respect to transportation. The expanding natural gas industry here in America and the prolific amounts of this resource under our feet offer us the ability to move towards a clean and economical source of transportation fuel.
Natural gas is a very clean burning fuel. It has an octane rating of 130, which effectively cleans your engine every time you use it. This significantly lowers the amount of maintenance required to keep your car operating safely on the road, costs about 50% less and involves roughly 90% fewer emissions. And American interest in CNG is rising.
Here’s what DEP said about the new program:
As unconventional gas development continues across Pennsylvania, Act 13 of 2012 enacts stronger environmental standards, authorizes local governments to adopt an impact fee and builds upon the state’s ongoing efforts to move toward energy independence. Act 13, through the impact fee, creates a new three-year Natural Gas Energy Development Program to be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Over the next three years, this new program will make $20 million in grant funds available on a competitive basis to purchase or convert eligible vehicles to natural gas. – Pennsylvania DEP
This project will serve to jump start the shift to CNG vehicles, starting first with company fleets. The more companies use CNG, the more this will begin to illustrate the benefits of CNG fueled vehicles not just for companies, but also for residents in these areas.
- Up to $20 Million over 3 years
- $10 million in FY ‘12-’13 ($5 million to local transportation organizations)
- $7.5 million in ’13-’14 (50% to local transportation organizations)
- $2.5 million in ‘14-’15
- Grants may be awarded ONLY to pay for the Incremental Purchase Costs, including the cost to retrofit eligible vehicles.
- Grants are capped at 50 percent of the incremental purchase and retrofit costs.
- Grants are capped at $25,000 per eligible vehicle.
- Grants under this program cannot be used to pay for project development costs, fueling stations or other fueling infrastructure.
- Eligible Applicants – Commonwealth or municipal authorities, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, nonprofit entities, for-profit companies, local transportation organizations and state-owned or state-related universities.
- Eligible Vehicles include dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), or bi-fuel vehicles that weigh at least 14,000 pounds.
- Bi-Fuel Vehicle – Motor vehicle equipped to be propelled in part by CNG and in part by diesel or gasoline fuel
- Dedicated CNG Vehicle – Motor vehicle that operates on 100 percent CNG fuel
- Dedicated LNG Vehicle – Motor vehicle that operates on 90 percent or more LNG and 10 percent or less gasoline or diesel fuel
- Incremental Purchase Cost – Excess cost of a CNG, LNG or bi-fuel vehicle over the price of a gasoline or diesel fuel motor vehicle of a similar model, or the cost to retrofit such a vehicle
- Local Transportation Organization – Political subdivision, public transportation, port or redevelop-ment authority, nonprofit entities providing public transportation
According to DEP, eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Plan to convert five or more eligible vehicles that will be financially viable within four years
- Construct a natural gas fueling station in Pennsylvania or use an existing station
- Calculate the projected use of natural gas
- Estimate project costs
- Identify the source and amount of any matching funds
- Intend to maintain operations in the commonwealth for no fewer than six years
- Register all purchased vehicles in Pennsylvania
- Utilize federal funds where available
- Explain whether the project includes the utilization of a natural gas fueling facility accessible to the public
- Grant recipients must comply with federal/state safety rules, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.
Those who don’t fit the criteria to participate in DEP’s program and are still interested in CNG vehicles can still reap the benefits of a cheaper, cleaner, American fuel. Before making the switch to CNG, first make sure you have a fueling station where you can fill up. As more stations continue to come online more people will have the options to switch over. If you are lucky enough to have a fueling station close to you, the next step is to acquire a vehicle that can run on CNG. More and more come on the market every year and as these dual fuel vehicles become common, natural gas is likely to become the fuel of choice which will lead to more CNG stations as the cycle repeats for the good of American skies, the good of American pocketbooks and American energy independence.
Numerous manufacturers offer factory-built natural gas trucks, step-vans, transit buses and school buses, there are fewer options for consumers who need light-duty cars, vans and pickup trucks — but the market is starting to turn. Honda Civic Natural Gas. Not surprisingly, the Civic is in high demand. It has been joined in the market by CNG versions of the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 2500 CNG and Ford F-250 pickups, as well as Chevy Savana vans and Ford Transit and Transit Connect vans. More options are coming soon. – CNGNow.Com
These manufacturers give you the option to buy a vehicle ready to run CNG and with more companies realizing the benefits of CNG more are added on a regular basis.
If you are looking to convert a vehicle you already own to CNG that is also a viable option. I have seen conversion kits range in price from $3,500 to $8,000. Price appears to be based on the vehicle and tank size you install.
As more fueling stations pop up across the United States converting to CNG is slowly becoming a more viable fueling option. Given programs like the DEP’s, we can expect to see more CNG powered vehicles on our roads.