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California-Backed NGV Project Kicks Off

Public and private non-transit fleet operators now can compete for more than $10 million in state funding for the purchase of natural gas vehicles (NGV) under a program funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC).

The CEC's new NGV Incentive Project (NGVIP) is being administered by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Irvine. It will be providing funding to help operators reduce the cost of new on-road NGVs. There is $10.18 million in funding from the CEC available.

In establishing NGVIP, the CEC officials have said their intent is to "expand the use of a domestically produced non-petroleum fuel that is a low-cost alternative to gasoline and diesel and has lower carbon emissions characteristics." Incentives are available "on a first-come, first-served basis and at varying levels depending on the gross vehicle weight."

Incentives range from $1,000 for the lightest NGVs to $25,000 for NGVs with weights exceeding 33,001 pounds. To be eligible, NGVs must be new, model year 2014 or later, and listed in the certification program run by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Vehicles must be registered and operate on natural gas in California at least 90% of the time for at least three years. They must be purchased after Aug. 7 and approved by the CEC.

Global package deliverer United Parcel Service (UPS), which has committed heavily to NGVs, also has a broad alternative fuel commitment, and earlier this month UPS demonstrated that by signing global agreements with Neste, Renewable Energy Group, and Solarzyme for up to 46 million gallons of renewable fuels over the next three years.

The deals make UPS one of the world's largest users of renewable diesel fuel in the world. The company has a goal of shifting more than 12% of its purchased ground fuel from conventional diesel and gasoline to alternative fuels by the end of 2017 as articulated in its latest annual sustainability report.

"Advanced alternative fuels like renewable diesel are an important part of our strategy to reduce the carbon emissions impact of our fleet," said UPS's Mark Wallace, senior vice president for global engineering and sustainability.

Elsewhere, compressed natural gas (CNG) received a boost in Colorado where refuse hauler Republic Services is adding 17 CNG solid waste collection trucks to its Denver-area fleet. These new CNG trucks replace older diesel-fueled ones and bring Republic’s total fleet of NGVs to 82 in Colorado.

One-third of the Republic fleet serving the Denver area is now powered by natural gas, Republic officials said. Republic has 158 collection trucks statewide, and now more than half are powered by CNG.

Nationally, Republic now operates more than 2,200 CNG vehicles and 38 CNG fueling stations, saving roughly 18 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. Its fleet is the eighth-largest vocational fleet in the nation.

In San Diego, CNG is being applied to a street/parking lot sweeping vehicle, the NiteHawk street sweeper, using an Isuzu-chassis vehicle outfitted with Quantum fuel tanks and a Greenkraft alternative fuel system.

The vehicle has U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and CARB certifications, with 60 gasoline gallon equivalent CNG storage cabin-mounted Type IV fuel tanks.

Separately, Quantum Fuel Systems is promoting a back-of-the-cab CNG fuel cylinder assembly as "revolutionary." It can hold 180 diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) of CNG. Configured for 160 or 180 DGE, Quantum officials said it can be all packaged in a single 30-inch diameter storage tank.

According to the company, UPS is its first customer for early production of the Q-Cab 160 series, and it recently took delivery of early-production systems for installation on Kenworth T680 series tractor trucks.

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