The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of $35,031,310 to projects that will accelerate the development of green fuels and technology in California. This set of awards supports a diversity of alternative fuel and vehicle types, including biodiesel production, natural gas vehicle technologies and incentives, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, and E85 fueling stations.
These awards are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118, provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of new vehicle technologies and alternative fuels to help the state fulfill its pioneering climate change policies.
The award recipients are:
CALSTART, Inc., will receive $14,469,304 to demonstrate medium- and heavy-duty vehicles using advanced technology and alternative fuels. Altogether, 29 vehicles of nine different types will be used and evaluated, ranging from all-electric battery vehicles to hybrid diesel-electric work trucks, shuttle buses, and construction equipment. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as these projects become commercial they have the potential to create more than 600 jobs by 2015.
Propel Biofuels, Inc., will receive $10.1 million as a share of the cost to install 101 new E85 (ethanol) fueling facilities at existing gas fueling stations statewide. As there are currently just 51 publicly accessible E85 fueling stations in the state, this project will greatly enlarge the network of stations that can serve the approximately 500,000 flex fuel vehicles in California.
SacPort Biofuels Corp. will receive $5 million to develop, build and test a pilot facility to demonstrate an innovative gasification process to produce renewable biomass diesel from local municipal solid waste, including green refuse, railroad ties, construction and demolition waste, and plastics that typically wind up in landfills. Because landfills are a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing their size reduces emissions. Annually, the facility is slated to eventually produce 365,000 gallons of renewable diesel fuel that will be blended with conventional diesel. The project, located at the Port of West Sacramento, is expected to create 20 permanent jobs and an additional 30 during construction.
Gas Technology Institute, a nonprofit energy research and development organization, will receive $4,562,532 for two projects: a demonstration of three plug-in hybrid trucks, in partnership with US Hybrid Corp.; and a demonstration of a natural gas version of the heavy-duty Navistar MaxxForce 13 diesel engine, in partnership with Clean Air Power.
Springboard Biodiesel, LLC, will receive $758,200 to develop and build a pilot biodiesel production facility in Chico, where Springboard is based. The facility is expected to provide low-cost biodiesel in rural Northern California, which currently lacks such fuel options. Used cooking oil and other waste material will be diverted from landfills and used to produce up to 1,000 gallons a day of biodiesel to be used locally.
Whole Energy Pacifica LLC will receive $125,274 to design, build and install a fuel-blending system at an existing biodiesel terminal in Richmond. The new system will provide accurate, uniform blending of diesel and biodiesel. The biodiesel at this facility is predominantly made from used cooking oils.
Reynolds Buick-GMC will receive a buy-down incentive of $16,000 for two natural gas-fueled medium-duty vehicles of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Such incentives are designed to help pay the difference between the cost of conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles and new ones that use propane or natural gas. To receive an incentive, purchasers must agree to register the vehicles in California and operate them in the state for three years using the designated alternative fuel at least 90% of the time.
The Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.