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NatGas, Electric Vehicles on Fast Track with DOE Funding

The Department of Energy (DOE) will provide nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for 25 projects aimed at the development of alternative fuel vehicles, with a significant portion of the funding going towards compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Wednesday.

The projects, selected through DOE's Clean Cities program, will put more than 9,000 alternative fuel light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles on the road and establish 542 refueling locations for them across the country, Chu said.

The largest award, $15 million, will go to a state of Wisconsin project to deploy 502 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in 119 public and private fleets in the state. The program includes plans to install 10 alternative fuel refueling sites, including two B-20 (a mixture of 20% of biodiesel and 80% diesel), one electric and seven CNG facilities.

The Kansas City, MO-based Metropolitan Energy Information Center will receive nearly $15 million to help build 27 alternative fuel stations, including 16 CNG, seven B-20/E-85 (a fuel containing a mixture of 85% ethanol and gasoline), one B-20 and three electric stations and deployment of 373 alternative fuel vehicles.

The Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition was awarded nearly $15 million for a project to deploy five CNG stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York, while the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition will use its nearly $15 million award to help pay for four new CNG fueling stations in the Garden State. The City of Chicago will receive nearly $15 million to for its plans to deploy 554 alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles and install 153 alternative fueling and electric vehicle charging stations around the city.

Other projects selected by DOE will help expand the use of alternative fuel vehicles to create a regional sustainable market for renewable alternative fuels in the Puget Sound area of Washington, complete a long-planned regional liquefied natural gas LNG fueling corridor across the southwestern U.S., and deploy 262 heavy-duty LNG trucks and construct two LNG refueling stations in Southern California.

DOE's decision to fund the projects was applauded by the American Clean Skies Foundation (ACSF).

"As the DOE has recognized, American-produced clean-burning natural gas has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions as well as our unsafe dependence upon foreign oil," ACSF said."This funding will support development of natural gas vehicles and natural gas refueling stations, thereby leading to increased usage of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the coming years.

A report released last week by the Center for American Progress concluded that increased use of natural gas as a heavy-duty transportation fuel and as a substitute for coal in electricity generation is a key to breaking the United States' dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (see related story).

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