Clean Fuels Ohio’s Policy Department was extremely successful in 2016. We saw several major accomplishments in areas that will directly impact the alternative fuels industry.
New $5 Million Alternative Fuel Vehicle Grant
A $5 million grant program was created through leadership of Senate President Keith Faber and others via HB 390. Eligibility will only be for vehicles 26,000 pounds and above and each applying entity will be limited to $400,000 in grant awards. Additional rules are pending but we anticipate fleets in all counties to be eligible. We do not anticipate any requirement for old engines to be scrapped. Initially the Ohio EPA had deemed local governments ineligible, but we were able to fix that in the legislature last December, clarifying that local governments are eligible to apply
The Ohio EPA is still in the rule making process but we hope the program will be up and running by February. Based on the responses we have gotten from fleets, this $5 million should go exceptionally quickly. Fleets should be at work now to develop projects for submission. Once the $5 million is allocated, we plan to come back to the legislature and ask for $15 million with broader eligibility.
Common-Sense Rules Preserved for CNG and LNG Sales
The Ohio Division of Weights and Measures is in the process of establishing a rule regarding how CNG is sold in the state of Ohio. Ohio currently does not have a rule set on how CNG should be sold. CNG can be sold either by mass (i.e. weight) or by diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). Industry and fleet stakeholders strongly prefer the gallon equivalent basis because it correlates to their experience with diesel. Nearly all states require CNG to be sold by gallon equivalent, but the Ohio Division of Weights and Measures was considering both options. Ohio would have become an outlier if they adopted a mass standard and Ohio policy would have become very “consumer unfriendly” had that method been adopted. Clean Fuels Ohio and industry stakeholders attended several meetings, commenting in favor of the gallon equivalency standard. Then we coordinated a letter to which over 30 industry and fleet stakeholders signed in favor of the gallon equivalent standard. The Division of Weights and Measures decided to defer to the National Conference of Weights and Measures.
The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) voted to approve the DGE standard last summer as a legally authorized method of sale of natural gas that is sold as motor fuel. The DGE standard allows for the ready comparison of natural gas with diesel fuel, the dominant fuel used in today’s trucks applications.
The Division of Weights and Measures is currently rewriting this section of the rules to reflect an adoption of the DGE standard for Ohio.
Costly CNG Fire Suppression Rule Expected to be Reversed
The Ohio Fire Code currently requires all unmanned, public CNG stations to have “fixed chemical suppression”. These systems are expensive and are not certified or science-based because they would be ineffective for a CNG fire. Ohio stands alone as the only state in the country that requires fire suppression systems for unmanned CNG stations. This requirement has needless added upwards of a hundred thousand dollars in unnecessary costs for new CNG stations. For close to two years, Clean Fuels Ohio has been in conversations with the Ohio State Fire Marshal (SFM) to remove the chemical suppression requirement. We’ve attended meetings, facilitated direct contact between our members and the SFM, submitted letters and testimony from experts, and conducted other activities to eliminate this rule.
Within the last month, Gary Yeates from CNG Pitstop was successful in getting approval for the first local code variance for this rule in Dover, OH. He was able to show that by installing heat detectors and an automatic shutoff system that the spirit of the basic safety requirements of that section would be met. Clean Fuels was happy to provide support to Mr. Yeates. This decision has far reaching implications for future projects. In fact, we were informed late in December by Fire Marshall staff that the next version of the fire code will not have the chemical suppression requirement.
These were three highlights of our accomplishments we had in 2016. Our members provide much of the financial and other support Clean Fuels Ohio needs to undertake work on critical state, local and federal policy issues. We appreciate our members’ support. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.