California on Wednesday outlined an expanded investment plan for up to $100 million to boost green and alternative fuel transportation for the 2013-2014 fiscal year and separately approved nearly $5 million in additional grants, including the further development of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation.

The action by the California Energy Commission (CEC) set funding priorities of up to $100 million for the statewide Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicles Technology Program designated in a state climate change law (AB 118) passed a few years ago, under which more than $390 million has been spent to date on 220 projects.

Separately, the five-member CEC approved nine grants totaling $4.97 million, eight of which are for natural gas vehicle (NGV) or propane transportation programs. Investments made through the CEC program’s competitive solicitation process provide what a CEC spokesperson called “a crucial jump-start” in funding to overcome market barriers for new fuels and technology, while leveraging additional investment from federal agencies, research institutions, private investors and other stakeholders.

“We provide needed funding to cutting edge technologies,” said CEC Chair Robert Weisenmiller. “Using public money to supplement private sector investments and hedge financial risk is critical to getting new technology cars, trucks and fuels into our California markets.” “This [overall 2013-14] investment plan provides a solid foundation for the continued transformation of California’s transportation sector,” Weisenmiller said.

“The plan will guide the Commission in supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, increase fuel diversity to reduce reliance on petroleum, and help create jobs. These efforts benefit all Californians by protecting the environment and public health, and ensuring the state continues to be a leader in green technology.”

Funding priorities through the alternative fuels program support fuel and vehicle development to help attain the state’s climate change policies “The AB 118 program is supporting a wide range of clean-energy transportation projects across the state,” said CEC Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “The awards the commission made today will provide more fast-charge stations for electric vehicles, natural gas fueling upgrades, and buy-downs to put more propane school buses in use.”

For the current fiscal year, the Commission will invest approximately $90 million to encourage the development and use of new technologies, and alternative and renewable fuels, to help the state meet its climate change goals. In California, transportation currently accounts for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emission, and 95% of the transportation fuel is petroleum based.

Overall, CEC officials emphasized the economic and environmental benefits they contend flow from the program, such as:

For the latest nine grants, three are going to the Cities of Sacramento ($600,000), Santa Clarita ($300,000) and Anaheim ($292,760) for LNG fueling, CNG self-serve fueling, and upgrading an existing CNG station, respectively. Other grants went to Santa Clara County ($300,000) for a small CNG fueling facility; two school districts and a school bus supplier for CNG fueling facilities in the districts and a buy-down incentive for the bus supplier; and Waste Management Inc. ($300,000) for a CNG fueling station in the Moreno Valley in Southern California. In total, more than $2 million in matching funds were contributed by the organizations winning the grants.

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