Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) has filed a bill (SB 12) intended to encourage state agencies to convert their vehicle fleets to run on alternative fuels, preferably natural gas.
If enacted, the legislation would use existing funds in the Texas Emissions Reduction Program to create a grant for which state agencies would be required to apply. Grant money could be used to convert existing vehicles to natural gas or purchase new ones built to use the fuel. It would also provide incentives to build alternative energy fueling stations that are open to the public.
As filed, the bill targets fleets of 15 or more vehicles. Acceptable alternative fuels are listed as compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and electricity (fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models).
Natural gas vehicles that use CNG or LNG would be favored "...to the extent feasible..." according to the legislation.
When agencies get ready to replace vehicles with new ones, Uresti said his program would supply funds to cover the difference between buying a natural gas-burning vehicle and a gasoline-burning one. The program would cover such costs for an estimated 1,125 vehicles per year.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he supports the measure.
According to a study released last month by the University of Texas, San Antonio, three state grant programs focused on the Texas Triangle of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin to promote natural gas use in transportation resulted in $128 million in economic stimulus between 2012 and 2014 (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24).