Florida’s House of Representatives passed HB 579, which promotes the use of natural gas fuels in Florida, with a 116 – 2 vote on May 2, 2013. The bill passed the Florida Senate two days before with a 39 – 0 vote. Through this bill, the Office of Energy at the Florida Department of Agriculture will supply grants to commercial fleets.

According to the Florida Chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association, the bill includes a number of provisions designed to promote the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. To start, the bill creates a rebate program, administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which will be funded at $6 million for five years.

Companies interested in using natural gas vehicles in their fleets can apply for rebates up $25,000 per vehicle, up to a maximum of $250,000 per year. The bill defines incorporating a natural gas fleet vehicle as the “conversion, purchase, or lease lasting at least five years and applies to any such vehicle placed into service on or after July 1, 2013.”

The bill also provides tax-related benefits, including a 35-percent tax refund for vehicles with power take-off functions and a break on the use of natural gas, saying there will be no taxes on this fuel for five years. Starting in 2019, the bill would create a tax structure for natural gas used as a transportation fuel.

The bill is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.