FHWA moving forward with improving alt fuel infrastructure

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, July 22, 2016

In an effort to create a more economically viable infrastructure for vehicles running on alternative fuels, the Federal Highway Administration is asking for nominations from state and local officials to help designate the new corridor.

The FHWA issued a notice of the proposal in July 22 edition of the Federal Register.

As mandated in Section 1413 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the Secretary of Transportation must designate national electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors. Secretary Anthony Foxx has until Dec. 4 to fulfill that objective.

The national alt fuel corridor must “identify the near- and long-term need for, and location of,” alt fuel infrastructure at strategic locations on the highways to improve the mobility of both passenger and commercial vehicles that rely on alt fuels. The public notice seeks nominations for those corridors from government officials.

Within five years of establishing the corridors, the U.S. Department of Transportation must update and redesignate the corridors. This process must be repeated every five years.

In a 2013 report, natural gas engine engineering company Westport determined that LNG is more suitable for long-haul trucks. Conversely, CNG is a better fit for smaller commercial vehicles and more local or regional heavy-duty trucks.

Westport also projected that approximately 150 LNG stations would be needed to cover all of the major interstate trucking routes at 300-mile intervals

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 930 public CNG stations and only 80 LNG stations in the U.S. at the present time, up 113 and 10 since May 2015, respectively. There are more than 14,000 electric stations and nearly 35,000 charging outlets across the country.

The Federal Register notice is part of a package from the Obama Administration to combat climate change, increase access to clean energy technologies, and reduce oil dependency. Announced on Thursday, July 21, the initiative includes:

  • Unlocking up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees and inviting applications to support the commercial-scale deployment of innovative electric vehicle charging facilities;
  • Launching the FAST Act process to identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors, including for electric vehicle charging across the country, and making an effort to develop by the year 2020 a vision for a national network of electric vehicle fast-charging stations that will help determine where along the corridors it makes the most sense to locate the fast-charging infrastructure;
  • Announcing a call for state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the federal government to procure electric vehicle fleets at a discounted value;
  • Leveraging the power of data and hosting an ‘Electric Vehicle Hackathon’ to discover insights and develop new solutions for electric vehicle charging;
  • Publishing a guide to federal funding, financing, and technical assistance for electric vehicles and charging stations; and
  • 35 new businesses, nonprofits, universities, and utilities signing on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide electric vehicle charging access for their workforce.

Focusing on accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, the Obama Administration’s plan was created in collaboration with the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, the Air Force and the Army, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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