Rules Sent To Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review For Approval
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) announced last week that they have filed proposed rules with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCAR) that will implement the Alternative Fuel Vehicle
Conversion Grant program. The purpose of rule-making is to create the framework to award grants for converting or replacing diesel-powered and gasoline-powered large vehicles to run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane autogas.
By statute, grants will be aimed at vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or more designed to operate on CNG or propane. There is a cap of $400,000 per entity. The per vehicle cap is the lesser of $25,000 or 50% of the incremental cost between the alternative fuel vehicle compared with diesel or gasoline. Private and government fleets from every county in Ohio are eligible. The program will be administered by the Ohio EPA on a first come, first served basis for applicants that meet the established criteria.
“This has been an extremely long process but we are confident this will help fleets interested in transitioning towards alternative fuels,” said Sam Spofforth, Executive Director for Clean Fuels Ohio. “One of the main things a fleet will look at is the return on the investment (ROI) and this grant program will improve that ROI for all eligible fleets. Ohio is the only state among the top 10 producers of natural gas that has not had specific incentives for these vehicle and fuel types.”
The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Grant program was created as part of the state budget bill passed in June 2016. It is not unusual for the rule making process to take some time, especially for a new program. Once the rules are approved by the committee, the EPA can issue an Request for Proposal (RFP). Grants are expected to start being awarded in early 2018.
“We appreciate the job that the Ohio EPA has done by being so thorough because the last thing we want to see are rules that would make this program difficult to use,” Spofforth commented. “We have heard from fleets all over the state that have an immediate need for this funding. We are eager for grant awards to begin.”
The public comment period will run until October 26, 2017. A public hearing on this proposed rulemaking will be held in accordance with Section 119.03 of the Ohio Revised Code. This hearing will be held at Ohio EPA, 50 W. Town St., Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215, Conference Room A, on October 26, 2017 at 10:30am.