Pa. awards grants for alternative fuel vehicles

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Corbett Administration recently awarded more than $3 million in Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants to 33 companies, counties and organizations making the switch to compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, or propane for medium to light-weight fleet vehicles.

“This funding makes it possible for many commercial, county and non-profit groups to convert their lighter-weight vehicles to natural gas or other alternative fuels,” Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo said.

“The 33 AFIG grants announced today — along with the next round of Act 13 grants — allow us to make the most of our abundant natural gas resources, edging us closer to energy independence while helping to improve our air quality,” Abruzzo said.

Abruzzo was joined by Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) and representatives of Cabot Oil, at Scranton’s Johnson College, a leader in natural gas job training.

Paying for conversions

The AFIG grants will help pay for the conversion or purchase of 351 natural gas vehicles and 337 propane vehicles weighing less than 14,000 pounds. An estimated 15 new fueling stations and 30 existing stations will be supported by these vehicles.

AFIG grants are an annual solicitation, providing financial incentive for a variety of transportation projects with the result of reducing air emissions in Pennsylvania. This year, AFIG grants focused on medium to light-weight vehicles.

DEP will announce the focus of the next round of grants when it opens, which is expected in early 2014. Abruzzo also announced that the second round of Act 13 Natural Gas Vehicle grants will open  Nov. 9, providing an estimated $11 million to help pay for the incremental purchase and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas fleet vehicles weighing more than 14,000 pounds.

Eligible applicants

The Act 13 Natural Gas Vehicle grants are financed by impact fees paid by natural gas operators. Fifty percent of this funding is allocated exclusively for local transportation organizations, including nonprofit agencies providing public transportation services and public transportation, port and redevelopment authorities, as well as school bus projects.

Others eligible to apply include incorporated non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, state-owned or state-related universities, commonwealth or municipal authorities, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Grant requests can be no more than 50 percent of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle, with a maximum of $25,000 per vehicle.

Applications are due by 4 p.m., Jan. 10, and will be awarded in the spring. Applicants are encouraged to participate in a related webinar, scheduled for Nov. 20 from 2 to 3 p.m. To register for the webinar, or learn more about the Act 13 and AFIG grant programs, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the “Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program” button.

Grantees

Western Pa. grantees include:

• Allegheny McCandless Township Sanitary Authority, conversion of five vehicles to operate on propane bi-fuel as an investigative demonstrative program to determine if propane can be a viable alternative to gasoline for use in municipal government fleets across Pennsylvania ($21,374).

• U.S. Steel Corporation, conversion of eight vehicles to CNG to be fueled by natural gas supplied from U.S. Steel’s Irvin Plant CNG fueling station ($52,618).

• Armstrong CWM Environmental, conversion of 10 vehicles to CNG bi-fuel utilizing EPA certified Auto Gas America kits ($50,975).

• Butler Air Star Transportation, conversion of 35 vehicles to propane bi-fuel. Five of the vehicles are propane ADA-compliant wheelchair lift vans ($111,500).

For a complete list of grants awarded, visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

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