Connecticut Prepared To Accommodate Big Spike In NGVs And Other Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Last week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy outlined his state's ‘comprehensive energy strategy’ through 2050, which includes a number of prospective measures tied to advanced, clean transportation.

Malloy's draft plan – which was conceived in concert with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as a direct response to energy legislation the governor signed into law in July 2011 – seeks to boost the state's portfolio of sustainable transportation strategies mainly through new initiatives related to alternative fuel vehicles and the related fueling infrastructure.

Today, fewer than 1,700 vehicles registered in Connecticut run on alternative fuels. And overall, 95% of the transportation energy consumed in the state – whether for light-duty passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks, or marine and rail applications – comes from diesel or gasoline.

But natural gas, both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG), figures prominently in the governor's new plan. For instance, Malloy has expressed the need for a ‘core set’ of LNG stations sited at truck stops, specifically to accommodate the growing number of long-haul fleets that are shifting to natural gas.

The plan also attends to corporate and municipal fleets' needs, ranging from taxis and delivery vehicles to refuse trucks and public works vehicles. Part of the state's support will come from incentives for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) themselves, but also in the form of funding for CNG refueling stations.

Right now, there are only a handful of CNG refueling facilities in Connecticut, mainly around Hartford and along the Interstate 95 corridor on the shoreline. LNG refueling is almost non-existent.

‘I applaud Governor Malloy for [introducing] an energy strategy that is designed to accelerate the expansion of natural gas in Connecticut,’ Andrew J. Littlefair, CEO of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., said in a statement. ‘At a time of $4 a gallon gasoline and diesel, consumers deserve leadership from their elected officials to chart a course that will increase access to alternative transportation fuels.’

Malloy is also eyeing more infrastructure for electric vehicle charging – a total of approximately 100 charging points throughout the state, including 10 Level 3 DC fast chargers, by 2014 – as well as stations that supply propane autogas, hydrogen, E-85 ethanol and biodiesel.

Specific funding levels have not been specified, nor have individual programs related to alternative fuel vehicles. Rather, the governor's draft plan has been released in order to initiate wide discourse about potential solutions.

‘We are opening a two-month long public dialogue about our energy needs,’ Malloy said during a speech on Friday. ‘We will be hosting a series of public meetings and technical hearings on various aspects of the draft strategy. We invite everyone to participate in this critical discussion.’

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