Bills Aim to Equalize LNG Fuel Tax
The LNG Excise Tax Equalization Act of 2013 introduced in the U.S. Senate seeks to equitably tax liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transportation fuel. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Both bills seek to modify the way LNG is taxed as a transportation fuel. Currently, the federal highway excise tax on both diesel and LNG is set at 24.3 cents per gallon. However, it takes about 1.7 gallons of LNG to equal the energy content of 1 gallon of diesel, resulting in a tax rate that is 70 percent higher than diesel on an energy equivalent basis.
The proposed legislation changes the way LNG is taxed from a volume (gallon) to an energy content (diesel gallon equivalent) basis. This effort by Congress mirrors bills in six states where legislatures have adjusted the state tax on LNG so it is based on an energy equivalent basis.
CALSTART to Test Advanced Battery Technology in Commercial Trucks
Tests to integrate military starter batteries in commercial trucks could yield more efficient, cost-effective power for both military and commercial applications. For that reason, the U.S. Army has awarded CALSTART a contract to test 12-volt lithium-ion batteries in commercial trucks. The evaluations of three different lithium-ion chemistries will assess if the batteries can deliver performance and reliability in commercial trucks.
“Lithium-ion battery technologies promise to hold out better in the field,” said CALSTART president and CEO John Boesel. “In its own testing, the military has found that lithium batteries last longer, resulting in fewer replacements and less need for inventory. If these field tests prove successful, the commercial trucking industry may make the switch to lithium starter batteries.”
The three battery companies participating in the test are Navitas Systems (www.navitassys.com), EaglePicher Technologies (www.eaglepicher.com) and Saft (www.saftbatteries.com). Visit www.calstart.org.
PG&E Displays Green Fleet
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which operates more than 3,400 electric or alternative fuel vehicles, showcased its range of Green Fleet vehicles on San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza during the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative Conference. On display were:
• Altec bucket truck and material handler that utilizes a plug-in battery-powered system called the Electric Worksite Idle Management System to power auxiliary features at job sites, including lights, hydraulic lifts and tools.
• VIA Motors extended-range electric pickup truck developed in partnership with the manufacturer. The pickup features an electric-only range of 40 miles and exportable power, which can be used to provide power during outages or to power tools used by crews in the field.
• Smith all-electric service truck, an all-electric-powered medium-duty flatbed truck developed in partnership with the manufacturer and American Truck & Trailer Body Co.
• Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-MAX Energi and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars.
Also on display was a mobile command vehicle designed to support up to 15 people for long-term deployments during emergency situations. The vehicle is outfitted with a generator, workstations, laptops, satellite phones, radios and a radio controller that permits integrated communication with other emergency agencies.
Odyne Systems Wins Contract for Deployment of Plug-In Hybrid Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks
A U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop and deploy plug-in hybrid systems for trucks has been awarded to Odyne Systems. The contract granted to Odyne by the Electric Power Research Institute directs funding from the Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Initiative, the South Coast Air Quality Management District of California, and other parties for the development and supply of advanced plug-in hybrid and smart grid/smart charging technology for trucks over 14,000 pounds GVW.
It is anticipated that more than 120 Odyne plug-in hybrid systems will be installed on vehicles for partners in the program, including investor-owned utilities and municipal electric companies. Odyne’s plug-in hybrid technology combines electric power conversion, power control and energy management systems with Allison Transmission commercial vehicle transmissions. The system features a Remy HVH250 series electric motor and Johnson Controls’ modular lithium-ion battery systems.
“This contract is very significant and will put the advantages of hybrid systems for large trucks to work in communities throughout the country,” said Joe Dalum, president of Odyne Systems.
Visit www.odyne.com, www.allisontransmission.com and www.epri.com.
PG&E, Allison Transmission and Peterbilt Motors Showcase Hybrid Material Handler
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Allison Transmission and Peterbilt Motors premiered the first utility material-handler truck equipped with the new Allison hybrid H 3000 system for commercial trucks at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference.
The H 3000 features parallel hybrid architecture that supplies blended power from a conventional diesel engine with an Allison automatic transmission, an electric motor with a regenerative braking kinetic energy recovery system and stored energy from batteries.
Fuel savings from the propulsion package are projected to be up to 25 percent depending on vocation and duty cycle. PG&E operates 412 material handlers, and with an anticipated fuel savings of 25 percent, the company would save 139,279 gallons per year with this technology. Visit www.allisontransmission.com and www.peterbilt.com.
Inventev Reaches National Cleantech Open Semifinals
Participating in the Cleantech Open national business competition, Inventev has been named a semifinalist from the Midwest region. The company is the developer of a plug-in hybrid electric truck propulsion system that provides power on job sites and for disaster response with mobile temporary power generation.
“We plan to integrate neighborhood generating capacity onto fleets of hybrid electric trucks, saving fuel while also having standby generating capability when needed,” said Inventev CEO Dave Stenson. “By using the same motor that will electrically drive the truck to generate utility-grade power when stationary, the Inventev system becomes very capital-efficient versus trailer-mounted generators.”
Inventev has been working with NextEnergy, a Detroit nonprofit with expertise in accelerating advanced energy-based technologies. The Cleantech Open competition will conclude regionally in October with finalists competing for national awards in November in San Jose, Calif. Visit www.inventev.com and www.cleantechopen.org.
Cowlitz PUD Gives High Marks to the Terex HyPower Hybrid System
Terex recently followed up with Cowlitz PUD to get feedback on the utility’s experience using its HyPower hybrid system, which was retrofitted onto one of the company’s existing work trucks.
“It’s quiet and we can talk to each other without yelling above the noise of the truck engine,” said Jim Cantrell, Cowlitz PUD substation wireman.
As long as the HyPower system’s rechargeable batteries are properly charged the night before, the crew can typically work a whole day on the job site without running the truck’s engine. “This is ideal for substation work where we are parked in one position all day,” Cantrell noted.
Cowlitz PUD substation wireman Todd Richardson said he’s impressed with the smooth operation of the bucket. According to Terex, the operation is not at all affected when choosing to run in regular or hybrid mode. The power is the same, the speed is the same, and when transitioning from engine on to hybrid mode while operating the boom, the transition is seamless.
“We chose the hybrid system HyPower retrofit because we had the standard manlift already, but wanted to take advantage of the benefits of a HyPower retrofit,” Cowlitz PUD said. “Benefits for us are a better work environment for employees, less need for managing the regenerative system on the truck and less carbon emissions into the atmosphere.” Visit www.terexhypower.com.
Greenkraft Earns EPA-CARB Certification
A manufacturer and distributor of alternative fuel commercial vehicle products, Greenkraft has received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certification for its Ford 6.8-liter V-10 three-valve engine. The completely tested CNG fuel delivery system, according to Frank Ziegler, director of sales at Greenkraft, adds the fewest number of components to the Ford 6.8-liter three-valve engine.
Greenkraft is also offering CNG Type 4, 32.5-GGE tanks or CNG Type 4, 65-GGE packages that can be side-frame or behind-the-cabin mounted. The company is also in the process of certifying several Ford engine families and offers CNG fuel delivery systems on GM 4.8-liter and 6-liter engines. Visit www.greenkraftinc.com.
DIRECTV to Increase Propane Autogas Fleet
Plans to expand its propane autogas-fueled fleet of 77 ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-250 vans over the next year have been announced by DIRECTV, a provider of digital television entertainment services. After comparing alternative fuel options, DIRECTV chose propane autogas due to its low cost and accessibility of fuel, return on investment and domestic fuel source.
“The addition of more propane autogas-fueled vehicles to the DIRECTV fleet strengthens our commitment to reducing the company’s overall gasoline usage,” said Brandon Morris, director of fleet services for DIRECTV. “We have learned a lot from analyzing our current propane fleet, and are seeing benefits from using propane as an alternative to gasoline. Since November 2011, we have reduced gasoline consumption by 75,000 gallons and saved nearly 50 percent on a cost-per-gallon basis compared to gasoline.”
ROUSH CleanTech designs, engineers, manufactures, and installs propane autogas fuel system technology for light- and medium-duty Ford commercial vehicles, and Type A and Type C Blue Bird school buses. Visit www.roushcleantech.com.
Virginia Clean Cities Reaches 1,000 Vehicle Conversions to Propane
The largest propane deployment project in the U.S. involving a government partnership, Virginia Clean Cities has now converted 1,000 vehicles through the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program. The program is supported by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program.
Alliance AutoGas Installs 600th Propane Refueling Station
As of June, Alliance AutoGas had installed its 600th propane autogas refueling station at a fleet facility. The company usually supplies its refueling technology at no upfront cost and then provides customers with autogas, vehicle conversions, and ongoing training and technical support. For fleets interested in new propane autogas-powered vehicles, Alliance provides vehicles from U.S. manufacturers, and is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Prins autogas systems. Visit www.allianceautogas.com.
Quantum Develops Lightweight Carbon Composite CNG Fuel Tanks
Utilizing selective fiber placement that leads to a reduction in weight, Quantum, under sponsorship by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy, has developed lightweight composite shells for natural gas storage tanks. Under a patent filing, the company has demonstrated more than a 20 percent reduction in material needed for its lightweight carbon composite compressed natural gas fuel tanks.
“This is a significant patent in that it provides a solution to reduce both weight and cost of fuel tanks, enabling more widespread commercialization of natural gas vehicles,” said Brian Olson, president and CEO of Quantum. “We are in the process of refining this technology for phased introduction into commercial products.” Visit www.qtww.com.
Energy Xtreme partners with City of Austin Public Works Department
Field data on Energy Xtreme’s Independence Package (IP) Utility Service Vehicle Series smart power management systems is revealing savings for the City of Austin. The public works department has utilized 31 IP4 models of the auxiliary power unit in its fleet for the past three years.
The Austin Public Works Department used the IP4 four hours per day to eliminate four hours of idling and realized an estimated savings of 4.8 gallons of gasoline per day, elimination of an estimated 140 idling miles per day and a reduction in costs for battery replacement.
The IP4, with a 4,000-Whr capacity, provides AC power for tools and has a built-in inverter allowing for shore power to operate a utility truck’s full electrical load – including beacon lights, camera, radio, computer and power tools – without engaging the engine. Visit www.energyxtreme.net.
Stockton to Deploy Battery-Electric Transit Buses
In a program managed by CALSTART, the California Energy Commission is providing funding for two electric buses operated by the San Joaquin Regional Transit District. Built by Proterra, the battery-electric transit buses, which have all the functionality of a conventional transit bus, will operate throughout an entire daily cycle, recharging using a fully automated rapid charging system for 10 minutes every two hours. When the bus approaches the charge station, the station recognizes the bus, guides the bus into position and charges the vehicle without driver interaction. Visit www.calstart.org.
Boulder Electric Vehicle and Coritech Services Showcase Fast-Charge Solution
A bidirectional DC fast-charging system using vehicle-to-grid technology has been demonstrated by Boulder Electric Vehicle and Coritech Services. The turnkey solution utilizes Boulder Electric Vehicle’s all-electric truck equipped with a lithium 72-kWh battery pack and a Coritech 60-kW DC fast-charger system. Boulder Electric Vehicle offers a range of electric vehicles. Coritech Services offers DC fast chargers capable of bidirectional charging and discharging. Visit www.boulderev.com.
HTUF 2013 National Meeting