The Massachusetts legislature is moving forward with legislation (Senate Bill No. 2176) that sets out a wide-ranging program to accelerate the adoption of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles by private citizens and by state and local entities.
The bill offers a number of incentives, including tax breaks for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle purchases; mandatory alternative fuel use by state fleets; alternative fuel funding support for cities, towns and school districts; and the establishment of an Alternative Fuels Institute at the University of Massachusetts.
The bill defines alternative fuels vehicles as those running on biodiesel, electricity, ethanol (E85), hydrogen, low-sulfur diesel, methanol (M85), natural gas (CNG and LNG), and propane (LPG).
Specific provisions of the bill include:
Mandating that a minimum 50% of the state fleet consists of hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles by 2010.
Beginning on or after January 1, 2006, a tax break of $2,000 for individuals who purchase a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle. This stays in effect through 2010.
Free Fast Lane toll transponders for owners of hybrid and alternative fuel cars and open HOV lane access.
Permitting municipalities, by local by-law or ordinance, to grant municipal parking at a reduced rate or without charge to qualified vehicles.
An excise tax credit for any Massachusetts corporation which maintains a motor vehicle fleet of 50 or more vehicles, and which purchases, leases or performs an aftermarket conversion of a conventional fuel vehicle to an alternative fuel. The credit will equal 50% of the difference between the amount of the purchase price or aftermarket conversion of the alternative fuel vehicle and the listed purchase price of a gasoline-powered vehicle of like qualities during the taxable year of the purchase. To be eligible, corporations must maintain at least 10% of its fleet as alternative fuel vehicles.
A similar excise tax credit awarded for purchases or conversions to common carriers with fleets of 25 or more vehicles and a minimum 10% alternative fuel component.
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is to provide alternative fuels at each fueling facility/service station on the massachusetts Turnpike by 2012.
The establishment of the Energy Independence Grant fund, supported by up to $10 million in new bond issues, for the purpose of encouraging the purchase, lease, aftermarket conversion and the use of hybrid and alternative energy vehicles, including heavy, medium and light duty vehicles, that utilize either a single fuel or dual fuel, by cities and towns in the Commonwealth, School Districts and Regional Transit Authorities (RTA).
The establishment of the Commonwealth Alternative Fuels Institute at U Mass for the purpose of R & D into hybrids and alternative fuels, and any related technology and componentry involved in the production, conversion, operation and maintenance of such alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids. The primary goal of the institute is the development and commercialization of the vehicles, fuels, equipment and technology.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is to develop a pilot program to utilize wind energy technology to power on-site electrolytic production of hydrogen and to develop a hydrogen fuel cell powered tug boat.
The bill, which was approved by the Transportation Committee on Monday, may come up for a Senate vote as soon as Thursday.
Massachusetts Senate Bill No. 2176