Clean fuel advocates in the utility and merchant energy sectors Tuesday lauded California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for signing a new law to help implement the state’s low-carbon fuel standard (AB 118), authored by his political ally in the state legislature, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) a day earlier helped honor the Mineta San Jose (CA) International Airport for its four-year effort to save more than $2.6 million and reduce vehicle emissions at the airport by more than 70 tons annually through the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) shuttle buses.

Nunez’s bill, which the governor signed last weekend, will provide an estimated $210 million annually in new energy subsidies and clean air programs to “research, develop and deploy” innovative technologies and alternative fuels to improve the state’s air quality. The program is slated to start next year, according to one of the potential beneficiaries, Clean Energy, a Seal Beach, CA-based provider of CNG and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation.

Clean Energy CEO Andrew Littlefair said the new law should enable California “to move rapidly to meet its new lower greenhouse gas emissions objectives.” Ultimately, the state’s work should benefit the nation as a whole, Littlefair said. “Clean Energy will work to support these goals within the important vehicle markets it serves in the transit, refuse, airport and port sectors.”

Littlefair noted that natural gas (CNG or LNG) used in transportation already exceeds the state’s low-carbon standard goals.

PG&E said the National Natural Gas Vehicle Achievement Award from the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation and NGV America was given to the San Jose airport for its efforts to “significantly improve air quality and reduce fuel costs” in its ground transportation operations, providing environmental benefits that will help the City of San Jose overall achieve what it calls its Green Vision.

The San Francisco-based utility that serves San Jose has been working with the city and airport for the past decade on clean transportation issues and other alternative energy/environmental programs, according to Jill Egbert, PG&E’s clean air transportation manager.

San Jose aviation director Bill Sherry said the partnership with PG&E has been “critical” in helping the city meet its strong environmental commitments in Silicon Valley, and the utility’s “cooperation and technical assistance” have been a key to launching a successful alternative fuel program at the airport.

PG&E said it has advocated alternative transportation technologies for nearly two decades, resulting in its having more than 1,300 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet, and helping more than 300 fleet operators adapt their fleets. PG&E operates 36 natural gas fueling stations through Northern and central California, 27 of which are open to the public.

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