Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Achieves EPAct Compliance Championing Fuel Diversity and Other Petroleum-Reduction Strategies

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority) has far-reaching stewardship responsibilities in the transportation sector, making it an ideal candidate for a sizable alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) fleet. The Port Authority builds, maintains, and operates every port, bridge, and air terminal in the New York City region with the help of its 80% "green" vehicle fleet. Using alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, the agency successfully reduces its annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 2,000 metric tons, an amount equal to the emissions of 425 conventional gasoline passenger vehicles.

To meet its Energy Policy Act (EPAct) requirements under the State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Program and to reduce its overall carbon footprint, the Port Authority has tried numerous alternative fuels and plans to continue finding ways to cut petroleum use. Seeking a compliance option that best suits its bottom line has led the fleet to try both Standard Compliance and Alternative Compliance under the program. Because of its innovation and ability to test new fuels and technologies, the Port Authority is a fleet to watch in the alternative fuels arena.

photo of an ethanol fueling station

The Port Authority uses flexible fuel vehicles that run on ethanol as one of its many strategies to cut petroleum use.

Reaching Success With Standard Compliance

With over 2,000 light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in its on-road fleet, all operating in and around the New York City region, the Port Authority has been subject to the program's AFV-acquisition requirements since the program began in 1996. The Port Authority had a jump-start on compliance because it started building its alternative fuel portfolio before then. With an already-robust AFV fleet, the Port Authority met its requirements using Standard Compliance through 2007 by acquiring natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). In 2003, the fleet started earning credits by purchasing 20% biodiesel blends (B20) for use in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

With 100% of its diesel fleet fueled by B20, the Port Authority began to consider EPAct compliance options that would allow it to capitalize further on the fleet's biodiesel use. Additionally, because the fleet was operating under Standard Compliance, its other petroleum-reduction practices were not helping meet its compliance requirements—in particular, increased fuel efficiency stemming from the Port Authority's deployment of approximately 300 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).1

Exceeding Requirements With Alternative Compliance

In 2008, the Port Authority opted into the program's inaugural year of Alternative Compliance, which allows covered fleets to obtain a waiver from the AFV-acquisition requirements of Standard Compliance by implementing a plan to reduce petroleum consumption in lieu of acquiring AFVs. A fleet's Alternative Compliance plan may include strategies such as deploying alternative fuel or fuel-efficient technologies in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles; using biodiesel (with no limitation on the amount used for which it may receive credit and no minimum biodiesel blend); and reducing idling and vehicle miles traveled. In that first year and in subsequent years of Alternative Compliance, the Port Authority easily exceeded its requirements and rolled over its excess petroleum reductions for use in subsequent years, as needed. As of January 2014, the Port Authority operates 100 bi-fuel and dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, 500 FFVs, and 600 biodiesel-fueled vehicles, among other fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.

Money is tight, and we're always looking for chances to experiment. We love to be guinea pigs. If someone invents a new fuel tomorrow, we'll try it.
Jim Reinish, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Future Plans for Using Alternative Fuels

The Port Authority's verve for alternative fuels has allowed it to exceed compliance. According to Jim Reinish, Central Automotive Division Manager at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, "As a regional leader in almost every form of transportation, we have stewardship responsibilities. We can use EPAct compliance as justification to try out new fuels and vehicles that will reduce the fleet's carbon footprint, but it is just a starting point for a much more significant effort to deploy green vehicles."

Even with its large fleet, the Port Authority's long-term goal is systematic replacement of all its on-road conventional vehicles with alternative fuel options. "There is no excuse for any new vehicles to be powered by petroleum," explains Reinish. To achieve this goal, the Port Authority is not ruling out any fuel. In 2010, the fleet entered into a test program with Toyota, deploying 12 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) at John F. Kennedy International Airport for four years. In conjunction with this effort, Toyota, Shell, and General Motors combined resources and built a hydrogen fueling station at the airport, which is now operated by United Hydrogen, to support the vehicles. Experiencing positive driver feedback and enthusiasm for the new technology, the Port Authority hopes to incorporate additional FCVs in its fleet once commercial models become more available. One hundred additional FFV police vehicles also will be added to the fleet in 2014, increasing the existing number of FFVs in its overall fleet to 600.

Collaborating With Clean Cities Coalitions

The Port Authority has continued to increase the NGV component of its fleet and has participated in several natural gas user group forums facilitated through the Empire Clean Cities coalition. While the Port Authority has proven that alternative fuels can reduce costs and vehicle emissions, and improve economic development in the region through new fueling station development and other means, it also has encountered a few road blocks along the way. Specifically, the fleet faced a lack of natural gas fueling infrastructure and vehicle model options. The fleet is overcoming infrastructure issues by installing additional CNG fueling stations on Port Authority sites. With announcements from several original equipment manufacturers about additional NGV models, the Port Authority is planning to acquire additional NGVs in the near future.

The Port Authority experienced early growing pains with biodiesel, but after 14 years of experience deploying the fuel, it has worked out the kinks through the use of high-quality soybean-based fuel. According to Reinish, "Fleets can't be afraid to try biodiesel. We had the potential to be affected by all the challenges associated with the fuel—cold weather gelling, idle vehicles—and we've figured it all out."

Achievements in Innovative Fuels

As a result of the Port Authority's superior alternative fuels program, it has earned a collection of awards and commendations from industry organizations. The fleet received the National Biodiesel Board "Eye on Biodiesel" Award for Influence in 2012 and earned a #3 Government Green Fleet ranking in 2013. The National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) Fleet Management Association also recognized the fleet's management team for Excellence in Public Fleet Sustainability, as did Green Fleet Magazine, which presented the team its Sustainability All-Star Award. The Port Authority is a supporter of the New Jersey Clean Cities coalition, a Silver Member of Empire Clean Cities, and is working toward certification under the Empire Green Fleets program.

More Information

To learn more about the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and how it uses alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, contact Jim Reinish at jreinish@panynj.gov. For more information about alternative fuels, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). To learn more about EPAct requirements and the Standard Compliance and Alternative Compliance options, read about compliance methods.

1 In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy released a proposed rule to allow one-half credit for the acquisition of HEVs under EPAct Standard Compliance. As of January 2014, a final rule was pending.