State advocates for cleaner fuel
Pennsylvania state government is a prosperous partner in natural gas fuel development, doling out millions of dollars to get vehicles running in the emerging market.
The Department of Environmental Protection has two grant programs to help local governments and companies convert their vehicle fleets to run off natural gas: the Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant and the Act 13 Natural Gas Vehicle Program, which started last year. Combined, they've issued more than 60 grants worth $15.6 million since 2009, said Lynda Rebarchak, a spokeswoman for the DEP.
“We're looking to help companies diversify their vehicle fleet, and expanding the use of natural gas that's produced right here in Pennsylvania,” she said. “It's a cleaner burning fuel, and it helps people be able to have an alternative other than using oil from overseas.”
This year, the Act 13 program will offer up to $11 million worth of grants next year for companies that want to buy natural gas vehicles or convert their fleets, with a focus on “heavy duty” vehicles. Eligible companies and governmental authorities could apply to receive up to 50 percent of the cost to purchase or retrofit vehicles, with a maximum of $25,000 per vehicle.
“Between the heavy duty and the lightweight vehicles, we're really trying to open this up to anyone who is interested,” Rebarchak said.
The state's diverting resources toward building corridors of fueling stations for these vehicles to keep their tanks full. In 2013, the Commonwealth Financing Authority gave out more than $7 million to 14 fuel station projects as part of the Alternative and Clean Energy Program. Last January, the CFA began expanding the grant program's regulations to allow natural gas fuel projects.
“The CFA recognized that increasing the number of natural gas filling stations in the state will grow the industry, creating jobs, boosting our economy and resulting in a cleaner environment,” said Lyndsay Frank, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
As of December, Pennsylvania had 27 fueling stations for compressed natural gas, better known as CNG, according to the Department of Energy.
Rick Price, executive director of Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, advocates for alternative fuel infrastructure and educates companies on the grant process. He said CNG makes economic sense for businesses converting their fleets. A gallon equivalent of CNG costs less than $2, compared to about $3.54 for a gallon of gasoline.
It's a win for the stations, too, Price said — the profit margin on selling CNG is about 40 cents per gallon equivalent, compared with about a nickel per gallon on petroleum-based fuel.
“There's all kinds of technology out there, but natural gas is the best economically right now, not to include the environmental benefits,” he said.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Philadelphia man pleads guilty to strangling wife, says he snapped during fight over his texts to another woman
- Nonprofits in Pa. barely break even, survey finds
- Families use children’s obituary notices to shine light on drug addiction
- Bee crisis deepens; Pa. keepers turn to making honey over pollination
- Reduced waiting period in unclaimed property cases to garner millions for Pa.