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Renewable NatGas Benefits From California Low Carbon Fuels Standard

California officials are encouraging alternative fuel fleets, including those switching to renewable natural gas (RNG), to take advantage of the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and cap-and-trade program created under the state's 2006 climate change law (AB 32).

A state greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction fund administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has $230 million available for low carbon transportation. The money comes from proceeds of CARB cap-and-trade auctions selling emission credits.

The program funds zero- and near-zero emission passenger vehicles rebates, heavy duty trucks/buses, freight demonstration projects and pilot programs in car sharing, financing, etc., according to state officials. Funds are also available for high-speed rail and public transit systems.

With the LCFS and its trading component, oil companies or refineries can purchase credits from clean fuel suppliers. The credits, in turn, provide alternative fuel suppliers with the opportunity to keep the price of their fuels competitive with traditional gasoline and diesel products.

Fleets already operating natural gas vehicles (NGV) can switch to RNG and meet state sustainability targets without added fleet vehicle investments.

Officials at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, predict that commercial-scale production of advanced alternative fuels, such as RNG and renewable diesel, will likely increase under the state LCFS and federal renewable fuel standard programs.

Ryder Systems Inc. recently announced that it is partnering with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to provide its Redeem RNG product at two Southern California fueling stations (see Daily GPINov. 18).

LCFS credits have been more cost competitive and stable, but they are scrutinized carefully by oil and energy companies, along with alternative fuel producers, according to a recent report in Fleets & Fuels newsletter.

Separately, the California Energy Commission earlier this month approved $2.7 million in alternative/renewable fuel and vehicle technology grants to seven school districts and cities to fund projects establishing or expanding NGV infrastructure. Seeking to demonstrate the viability of advanced fuels technologies, the projects will deal with the storage, distribution and dispensing of compressed natural gas (CNG).

As part of a recent acquisition of inboard fuel storage assemblies maker Trilogy Engineered Solutions by Worthington Industries, the companies said four U.S. patents related to CNG fuel systems were acquired in the deal -- patents Nos. D697,195 (manifold design), 8,915,322 (methods/systems for CNG), 8,807,256 (methods/systems), and 9,086,187 (methods/systems).

Worthington product manager Wayne Powers said the addition of Trilogy creates a "full-line supplier" to heavy duty truck manufacturers, adding that Trilogy has some "unique and robust designs" for NGV fueling systems.

CNG fueling continued to expand on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border with new fueling stations opening in the Washington, DC, and Quebec areas this month.

The station in Quebec is that city’s first public access CNG fueling facility, launched Nov. 13 for the Canadian American Transportation (CAT) fleet. U.S. Venture Gain Fuel Canada and Gaz Metro are the station developer/operator and fuel supplier, respectively.

The U.S. Venture company is part of U.S. Oil's Canadian division, which last year signed a deal with CAT to develop five Gain Clean Fuel CNG stations to support the company's 100-truck NGV fleet. The station is in Coteau-du-Lac, PQ, and is the second of the five stations. The first opened in Mississauga, ON, in October. The other three stations are planned for Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Elsewhere, Trillium CNG opened a station in Forestville, MD, this month in conjunction with utility Washington Gas Light. Trillium will operate and maintain the station. The opening follows another recent CNG station opening in nearby Frederick, MD. A third is planned by the utility in Washington, DC.

"The Forestville station is a key step in expanding the availability of CNG to both private vehicles and commercial fleets," said Lou Hutchinson, chief revenue officer for utility holding company WGL Holdings.

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