EPAct State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Newsletter: Fall 2016

The fall 2016 issue of the EPAct State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Newsletter includes the following articles:

Annual Reporting Is Here: Schedule and Reminders

All covered fleets under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Program (Program) must submit an annual report by December 31 after each model year. Thus, annual reports for Model Year (MY) 2016, which ended on August 31, 2016, are due to DOE by December 31, 2016. Correspondingly, MY 2017 started on September 1, 2016. For fleets that participate under Standard Compliance, DOE's Compliance Reporting Tool enables electronic reporting, and all fleets are encouraged to use the tool.

Working on your MY 2016 annual report or looking ahead to MY 2017? Keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Newly covered fleets and alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) credits. Covered state and alternative fuel provider fleets that are new to the Program as of MY 2017 may earn and bank AFV credits for any (light-, medium-, or heavy-duty) AFVs they acquired during the model year prior to their becoming covered under the Program. So, fleets that became covered as of MY 2017 may bank credits for any AFV acquisitions they made during MY 2016 (i.e., September 1, 2015–August 31, 2016). DOE allocates one credit for each AFV acquired in the model year before the first model year of a fleet's coverage under the Program. To earn and bank credits for any early AFV acquisitions, newly covered fleets for MY 2017 are encouraged to voluntarily file a MY 2016 annual report. For assistance in doing this, contact the Program's reporting hotline at 844-561-2211 or epact.sfp.fleets@nrel.gov. Note that new fleets that opt not to submit a MY 2016 report will still be able to earn credits for their early AFV acquisitions if they include those early acquisitions in their required MY 2017 annual report.

  • Alternative fuel provider fleets and determining AFV-acquisition requirements. Covered alternative fuel provider fleets that participate under Standard Compliance are reminded that for purposes of determining their annual AFV-acquisition requirements, they must report all of their nationwide non-excluded light-duty vehicle (LDV) acquisitions, not just those non-excluded LDVs that are acquired and located/operated in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or Consolidated MSA (CMSA). For example, if an alternative fuel provider has offices, facilities, or operations in several states, it must include in its annual report all of the annual non-excluded LDV acquisitions in those states, regardless of whether any of the acquired LDVs are located or operated within or outside an MSA or CMSA. Covered state fleets, however, need only count the acquired LDVs that are located or operated within an MSA or CMSA.

  • State fleets and how to report. States are reminded that they may comply with and report their annual AFV-acquisition requirements as a single aggregated entity (i.e., on a statewide basis), on an individual agency-specific basis, or through a combination of these two options. States that comply as one large fleet count the total number of non-excluded LDVs acquired by all individual agency (and state university) fleets and submit to DOE one aggregate annual report. The Program prefers this reporting approach, but does not require it. A third option is a combination of the previous two, with several state fleets reporting in an aggregate manner while others report separately on a fleet-specific basis. States and their governmental fleets are free to choose whichever reporting option works best.

Other questions about Program requirements and annual reporting? Visit the State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleets Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Regulatory Information Line at 202-586-9171 or regulatory.info@nrel.gov.

State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleet Program Website Updates: Improving the User Experience

Program information and reporting is now more accessible than ever with the recently redesigned Energy Policy Act (EPAct) State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleets website and compliance reporting tool, both now located at epact.energy.gov. Improvements to the Program website include an interactive interface with new website navigation, streamlined and updated content, and new features, such as compliance reporting timelines and an online fleet welcome packet. The website's mobile-friendly design will help fleets review compliance requirements, check the credit bulletin board, or refer to resources on any device. In addition, the Program updated the annual reporting tool with improved "Help" features and a new biodiesel calculator. Stay tuned for an upcoming webinar to provide an overview of all the new features.

A screenshot shows the State and Alternative Fuel Provider Fleets website home page.

E85 Request for Information

DOE and the Program soon expect to issue a Request for Information (RFI) pertaining to E85 fuel. Through the RFI, DOE hopes to improve its understanding of the E85 and ethanol fuel blends now available on the market. In particular, DOE is interested in receiving from fleets and other stakeholders (e.g., ethanol fuel blenders and suppliers and owners/operators of retail fueling stations) written comments and data on the denatured ethanol content of those ethanol fuel blends. Once the RFI has been signed, DOE will post it on the Program website and notify fleets via email. The RFI will also be published in the Federal Register, and will include a 60-day public comment period. DOE encourages fleets to submit comments and relevant information, and to disseminate the RFI widely, including to ethanol fuel blenders and suppliers.

EPAct Workshops: New, Improved, and Looking for Hosts

Since 2009, DOE has hosted a series of 16 workshops to bring fleets regulated under EPAct 1992 together with Clean Cities stakeholders and alternative fuel providers to form and strengthen regional partnerships and initiate projects that will deploy more alternative fuel infrastructure. These efforts help fleets meet their AFV-acquisition requirements while replacing greater amounts of petroleum use with alternative fuels.

With several successes along the way, the Program is now refocusing the workshops. The goal remains the same—to foster collaboration in an effort to increase the volume of alternative fueling sites and use of existing infrastructure—but the process will change. Specifically, the workshops will now focus on one or two alternative fuels of interest in the workshop locale. In addition, DOE is looking for host fleets that are interested in serving as "anchors" for additional alternative fueling infrastructure in their area. These host fleets, along with their local Clean Cities coalition, will be involved in the planning and preparation for the workshop.

What makes a particular fleet a good candidate to be a host fleet?

  • Interest in and support for expanding the use of one or two alternative fuels in your fleet
  • Ability to partner and collaborate with other organizations on infrastructure use or development
  • Time and willingness to actively engage with partners to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities associated with alternative fuel use in your area.

Fleets interested in hosting a workshop should contact Ted Sears of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at ted.sears@nrel.gov or 202-488-2221.

Making Plug-In Electric Vehicles Affordable for Fleets

EV Smart Fleets is leveraging the purchasing volume of state and local fleets across the country to reduce plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) and charging infrastructure costs, improve contract terms, provide access to a wider range of PEV models, and expand access to charging infrastructure. This initiative, funded by DOE's Clean Cities and the California Department of General Services, aims to accelerate PEV adoption in public fleets. EV Smart Fleets will be managed by the National Association of State Procurement Officials through its ValuePoint Program. State government officials can use an online survey to express interest in PEVs and describe their PEV procurement experience.

Fleet Tool: StateDASH

Designed based on the Federal Energy Management Program's Fleet Sustainability Dashboard (FleetDASH), StateDASH is an interactive tool that tracks state fleets' fuel consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and vehicle inventories throughout the year.

In addition to summaries on alternative fuel and petroleum consumption on the fleet and individual vehicle level, the dashboard's interactive graphs show instances where alternative fuel is well utilized and opportunities for improvement. Specifically, Missed Opportunities to use alternative fuel and reduce petroleum consumption are highlighted throughout the tool. Missed Opportunities are instances where conventional fuel was purchased by an AFV at a location where alternative fuel could have been purchased within a certain distance at a publicly accessible alternative fueling station.

A screenshot of the Fuel Use tab on the StateDASH website shows a Fuel Used by Type pie chart, which displays the portions of total fuel used that are petroleum or alternative fuels, and the Comparison to Prior Fiscal Year bar chart, which shows total fuel use this fiscal year compared to the same time last fiscal year.

The State of Colorado fleet recently completed a successful pilot using StateDASH in which it tracked and identified fueling opportunities for compressed natural gas (CNG). The fleet has integrated the tool into its normal operations.

StateDASH is not publically available, but other state fleets interested in piloting the tool should contact Ted Sears of NREL at ted.sears@nrel.gov or 202-488-2221.

Fleet Tip: Diesel Fuel Tank Maintenance: Minimizing Corrosion Risks

In July 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a notice informing the public about the risk of corrosion in underground storage tanks (UST) containing diesel fuel. The notice was prompted by a 2016 EPA study that found more than 80% of USTs have moderate to severe corrosion. Corrosion can lead to equipment failure and result in the release of diesel (including biodiesel or renewable diesel) fuel from the tank. EPA estimates that 100,000 regulated USTs are at risk, plus similarly sized aboveground storage tanks and smaller unregulated USTs. EPA is continuing its research efforts to address these challenges by working with stakeholders. Learn more about EPA's Investigation of Corrosion-Influencing Factors in USTs.

EPA recommends that owners of UST systems take the following preventive measures:

  • Check tank interiors for corrosion, even if you do not notice any symptoms. Signs of corrosion include sludge or particles.
  • Regularly check for and remove any water inside tanks.
  • Regularly take fuel samples from the dispenser nozzle to check for haze or particulates.

If you discover corrosion in your UST system:

  • Contact your local UST servicing company to evaluate the extent of corrosion.
  • Replace or repair your tank as soon as possible to avoid any risk of fuel leakage.
  • Test the functionality of equipment, such as leak detection equipment and overflow prevention equipment.

Refer to the Coordinating Research Council's Preventive Maintenance Guide for Diesel Storage and Dispensing Systems for more detailed maintenance information.

Featured Fleet Management Tools: Guides and Handbooks

Looking for guidance on implementing and managing your fleet? The Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) Publications has a number of helpful handbooks that are easily accessible online. In particular:

Hard copies of these publications (and many more) can also be ordered online for free using the DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) Publication and Product Library.

Featured Fleet Management Tools: Alternative Fueling Station Locator, Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool, and Petroleum Reduction and Planning Tool

DOE hosts a variety of tools that can help with both day-to-day and long-term fleet management planning. From finding an alternative fueling station to drawing up an emissions-reduction strategy, DOE has a tool for you. In particular:

  • The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator is DOE's comprehensive and regularly updated database of alternative fueling stations across the country. Fleets can use this database to identify nearby fueling stations by location, fuel type (e.g., E85, CNG), and payment type (including specific fleet cards). The Station Locator also includes search fields specific to each fuel type, such as whether a propane fueling station has dedicated equipment to fuel a vehicle. There is also an iPhone mobile application available to use on the go (drivers should always pull over and put the vehicle in park before using a mobile device).

  • Argonne National Laboratory's Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool is available for fleets interested in identifying the environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles. By entering fleet-specific data about their light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicles, fleets can estimate petroleum use, GHG emissions, air pollutant emissions, and cost of ownership. For information about and instructions for using AFLEET, refer to Argonne's AFLEET User Guide.

  • The AFDC's Petroleum Reduction Planning (PREP) Tool allows fleets to create a petroleum-use reduction plan. Users set a petroleum reduction goal and PREP identifies the portfolio of available fuels and technologies to help them meet this goal. Fleets can use the PREP tool to identify potential future fleet purchases and develop strategies that best suit their budget and emissions goals.