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Study: Natural Gas Vehicle Incentives Cut Fleet Emissions

July 07, 2009

BAYPORT, NY --- Regional and local governments and private fleets operating in the New York metropolitan area are facing mounting pressures to address harmful air contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions, especially those from mobile sources such as diesel-powered trucks, transit buses, utility/contractor and delivery vehicles. 

But progress toward reducing emissions by switching to clean-burning natural gas vehicles (NGVs) is gaining strength, according to a new research report published by Emisstar LLC. The study authors attribute much of the progress achieved to NGV financial incentive programs adopted by municipal planning or air quality agencies. 

"Our aim with this study was to analyze existing incentive-based emissions reduction approaches nationwide, and to recommend how a regional NGV financial incentive program could be developed and implemented in the New York area," said Emisstar Principal Glenn Goldstein. 

The Emisstar report was commissioned by NGV America, a national organization that promotes the market development of vehicles powered by natural gas or hydrogen. 

Remarking on the study, NGV America President Rich Kolodziej said: "Municipalities and agencies throughout the New York region are working hard to comply with evolving emissions reduction mandates, and are actively seeking ways to cost-effectively replace their aging diesel vehicle fleets with alternative-fueled models." 

Kolodziej cited the New York townships of Smithtown and Brookhaven as examples of local municipalities that have implemented a 100-percent natural gas fuel standard for their contracted refuse hauling fleets, in cooperation with project partners Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and National Grid. "In both cases, financial grants, subsidies and rebates for natural gas vehicle purchases were major factors in the success of the towns' fleet emission reduction efforts," Kolodziej said. 

In the New York region, Emisstar reported that there is a large, currently unsatisfied demand for alternative-fueled vehicles. "Addressing this $90 million backlog by replacing diesel vehicles with NGVs would dramatically curtail harmful emissions. With this approach, we estimate that total reduction of air contaminants would approach 6,000 tons annually." 

The Emisstar report suggests a specific framework for a regional natural gas program that would offer incentives for the replacement of Class 6 through Class 8 diesel-fueled vehicles with new vehicles powered by natural gas. The report provides detailed recommendations regarding administrative processes and program criteria, including vehicle eligibility, scrapping requirements, funding sources and thresholds based on emissions reduced. 

The recommendations were based upon extensive interviews of stakeholders in the public and private sector, as well as an analysis of existing emission-reduction incentive programs, including the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and California's Carl Moyer Air Quality Standards Attainment Program. 

"The study results demonstrate the feasibility of implementing a voluntary natural gas vehicle incentive program that is attractive to business and public interest alike," Goldstein concluded. 

The Emisstar Natural Gas Vehicle Incentive Program Report is available for downloading at no charge at Emisstar LLC is an independent consulting practice that focuses on energy and mobile emissions policy, technology and implementation for the low carbon economy. 

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