EPAct State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Newsletter: Fall 2010

The fall 2010 issue of the EPAct State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Newsletter includes the following articles:

SFP Simplifies Standard Compliance Timeline

The State and Alternative Fuel Provider (SFP) program is enhancing DOE's capacity to provide fleets with timely responses to Standard Compliance submittals through a revised process under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992). The revised process works as follows. First, as always, fleets may submit their annual reports during the relevant model year but no later than December 31 following that model year. Second, for those fleets seeking exemptions, exemption requests should be submitted no sooner than September 1 following the relevant model year and no later than January 31 following that model year. Finally, and most importantly, exemption requests may be filed only after DOE approves the fleet's annual report for the relevant model year so DOE can determine if an exemption is warranted.

Find guidance on the exemption process.

Timeline of Model Year 2011 Standard Compliance. Model year 2011 begins 9/1/2010 and ends 8/31/2011. Annual report filing begins 9/1/2010 and ends 12/31/2011. Exemption filing begins 9/1/2011 and ends 1/31/2012.

Online Tool Streamlines Exemption Requests

In September 2010, DOE announced a new tool to save fleets seeking exemptions time and effort. The tool also helps DOE give fleets decisions sooner. The Online Exemption Request Tool helps fleets applying for allowable exemptions comply with the State and Alternative Fuel Provider program Standard Compliance alternative fuel vehicle (AFV)-acquisition requirements by helping them develop complete exemption requests faster and more efficiently.

Although DOE accepts manually assembled exemption requests, DOE strongly recommends fleets pursuing exemptions use the Online Exemption Request Tool to ensure requests include required information and are easy to read. The easy-to-use tool loads pertinent information automatically from a fleet's identification and annual report records already in the database, eliminating labor-intensive steps associated with manually assembled exemption requests. Fleets using the tool only need to complete the form fields online and can attach files that support their exemption requests. The tool automatically creates an electronic copy of each fleet's request that fleets then save, print, and send to DOE.

Learn more about options to submit an exemption request and use the Online Exemption Request Tool.

EPA Proposes Guidance on Biofuel Underground Storage Tanks and Requests Comments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued draft guidance on November 17, 2010, to clarify how underground storage tank (UST) owners and operators may meet EPA's compatibility requirement1 for underground tanks that store:

  • Gasoline with more than 10% ethanol
  • Diesel with a to-be-determined amount of biodiesel.

Underwriters Laboratory (UL) has not tested the compatibility of many current UST system components except most tanks and piping. Without this third-party certification, these components may not be suitable to use with ethanol and biodiesel blends.

EPA considers three methods as effective options to demonstrate compatibility:

  • Certification or listing by an independent test laboratory
  • Equipment manufacturer approval
  • Methods determined by the implementing agency that sufficiently protect human health and the environment.

EPA requests comments by December 17, 2010. Learn more about the proposed guidance and how to submit comments in the notice of proposed guidance.2

1 40 C.F.R. Section 280.32
2 75 Fed. Reg. 70241

DOE's Authority Is Upheld

The SFP program strives to help fleets meet their EPAct requirements. While DOE has enforcement authority, it prefers to help fleets comply by acquiring AFVs and reducing petroleum consumption. In MY 2010, the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals upheld two challenges to DOE's authority to require fleets to fulfill their compliance requirements.

For more information, see Decision and Order: Commonwealth of Massachusetts (November 2009) and Decision and Order: Madison Gas and Electric Company (February 2010).

Fleets Continue Using Alternative Compliance

In MY 2009, nine fleets participating in the Alternative Compliance option exceeded their total petroleum-use reduction requirement of 1.3 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) by reducing petroleum consumption by 2.4 million GGE. MY 2009 marked the second year in which covered SFP fleets could employ the Alternative Compliance method to meet their EPAct requirements.

The nine fleets banked rollover credit by going well beyond their MY 2009 petroleum reduction goals in the following ways:

  • Using alternative fuels (46.6%)
  • Using biodiesel blends (43.9%)
  • Acquiring and using hybrid electric vehicles (1.7%)
  • Employing fuel economy measures in conventional vehicles (4.3%)
  • Reducing vehicle miles traveled (3.4%)
  • Limiting engine idling time (0.1%).

Fleets that use a good deal of alternative fuels or biodiesel blends might benefit from using Alternative Compliance to meet their EPAct requirements. Interest in the Alternative Compliance method is increasing; in MY 2010, DOE received 46 notices of intent to apply for waivers from Standard Compliance for MY 2011—19 more notices of intent than were received in MY 2009 for MY 2010 compliance.

Alternative Compliance Highlights

HEVs and Improved Fuel Economy

Petroleum reduction from hybrids or other fuel-efficient conventional vehicle technologies counts toward petroleum reduction for the model year in which efficiencies occur.

Biodiesel Blends

Fleets earn credit for biodiesel used in any blend on a GGE basis with no cap on how much biodiesel can be used to meet requirements.

Light-, Medium-, and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Fleets earn credit for alternative fuel use on a GGE basis.

DOE Considers HEVs for AFV-Acquisition Credit

DOE is developing a proposed rule1 that would allow DOE to give credits to fleets that acquire hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and other electric drive vehicles that are not already AFVs under the SFP program.

Although Congress defined AFVs to include HEVs in Section 2862 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008,2 DOE's rulemaking is necessary because Congress' AFV definition applies only to federal fleets, not covered state and alternative fuel provider fleets under the SFP program. Because they are neither dedicated nor dual-fueled vehicles, HEVs acquired by covered fleets are not eligible for AFV-acquisition credit until the final rulemaking.

1 Pursuant to Section 133 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; Pub. L. 110–140)
2 Pub. L. 110–181

Regional Workshops Connect Fleets and Build Partnerships

In 2009 and 2010, SFP collaborated with the Federal Fleet and Clean Cities programs to offer 10 regional workshops to help regu¬lated fleets, fuel providers, and Clean Cities stakeholders develop partnerships necessary to increase the availability of alternative fueling infra¬structure. The one-day EPAct workshops provided technical, regulatory, and networking support to help attendees improve regional deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure.

"The success of the workshops is apparent in the partnerships that have already resulted in new alternative fueling infrastructure projects in several areas," says Ted Sears, senior project leader for SFP at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. To build on the success of these workshops, SFP will sponsor a new series of regional EPAct workshops in 2011.

Learn more about the EPAct alternative fuel infrastructure workshops.

DOE Enforces Biodiesel Fuel Use Policy

Under Standard Compliance, fleets may satisfy up to 50% of their AFV-acquisition requirements by purchasing biodiesel fuel in blends of B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) or higher to use in their vehicles in a given model year. In most cases, fleets may use exemptions for no more than 50% of their annual acquisition requirements if they have medium-duty vehicles or heavy-duty vehicles that can access and use B20 or higher blends.

Fleets operating under Standard Compliance should maximize their biodiesel use in blends of B20 or higher to facilitate compliance. As biodiesel is increasingly more available in the United States, DOE enforces this biodiesel policy for fleets operating under Standard Compliance unless they inform DOE specifically why biodiesel is not a viable option for them.

When challenged, this biodiesel policy was upheld by the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals.1 This decision affirms that fleets must address their use of and capacity to use biodiesel in medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles when they request exemptions for more than 50% of their AFV-acquisition requirement. Fleets seeking exemptions may justify not using biodiesel only if they lack medium- or heavy-duty diesel vehicles and if they prove biodiesel fuel is not available in their area.

Fleets operating under Alternative Compliance may satisfy all of their compliance requirements using biodiesel at any blend level. Learn more about biodiesel fuel use.

1 Decision and Order: Commonwealth of Massachusetts (November 2009)

EPAct Covers State University Fleets

Many state university fleets are covered under EPAct. If these fleets are authorized by a state legislature, funded by a state budget, or on state property, they are defined as state agencies and treated as state government fleets under the SFP program. State agencies include departments, offices and divisions of state government, state colleges and universities, port authorities, and other state entities.1,2

DOE lets states decide how to report but not whether they are regulated under the SFP program. Entities, such as universities and colleges, that meet the criteria for state agencies—legislative authorization, state funding, or location on state property—must comply with EPAct if they are defined as covered fleets. Learn more about covered fleets.

1 Preamble to DOE's March 1996 final rule promulgating 10 C.F.R. Section 490.200
2 61 Fed. Reg. 10622, 10635 (Mar. 14, 1996)

Tools and Resources Help Regulated Fleets

DOE has tools to make life easier for regulated fleets. In partnership with the Clean Cities program, DOE provides more than 25 tools through the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). The AFDC tools include fuel and station locators, vehicle database searches, calculators, a petroleum reduction planning tool (PREP), and interactive maps.

SFP offers resources to help state and alternative fuel provider fleets meet compliance requirements, including the following new and updated resources this year: