In anticipation of a $20 million program designed to help defray the up-front cost of natural gas vehicle (NGV) purchases and retrofits, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says it has rolled out web-based resources and other technical assistance for transportation professionals interested in fleet conversions.
‘As we found with our recent forum on alternative fuel vehicles, people are eager to explore the role of natural gas vehicles in Pennsylvania,’ Robert Powelson, chairman of the state's utility commission, said in a press release. ‘Municipalities and employers have many questions about costs and benefits. This website will go a long way toward providing answers and allowing DEP to design a program that will best meet their needs.’
Pennsylvania's Act 13 of 2012 resulted in the state's new Natural Gas Energy Development Program, which will disburse up to $20 million in grants over the next three fiscal years, beginning with 2012-2013. The funds are aimed at subsidizing the incremental purchase and conversion costs of natural gas-powered fleet vehicles, capped at 50%/$25,000 per vehicle.
During the program's first year, $10 million in grants will be awarded, followed by $7.5 million in 2013-2014. Half of each year's allotted funds will go specifically to local transportation agencies. The final year of the program, 2014-2015, will see another $2.5 million in investment that is open to all applicants.
The DEP notes that eligible vehicles include dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles that weigh at least 14,000 pounds, and bi-fuel CNG/LNG fleet vehicles of any weight class. Eligible applicants, the DEP tells NGT News, include not only municipal, commonwealth and nonprofit fleets, but also commercial entities.
The department's web page gives public fleet managers access to DEP staff, who can review fleets' NGV conversion plans and guide applicants through the process. The also contains links to resources such as NGV cost-savings calculators and natural gas refueling station maps.
Additionally, fleet managers can register on the site to receive important updates related to the program, such as where and when workshops will be held and when the grant application process begins.