Alternative Fuels Push in Pennsylvania

Alternative fuels and cars got a boost in Pennsylvania with $1 million in incentive grants. Environmental Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty awarded the Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants, which leveraged more than $4.2 million in private funds to purchase hybrid vehicles, install a propane refueling station for vehicles and anti-idling equipment for heavy-duty trucks, support the development of a low-speed hydrogen fuel cell utility vehicle, and finance the demonstration of compressed natural gas and blended fuel in transit buses and vans.

“As fuel costs rise and remain high, the importance of investing in the development and use of alternative fuel technologies increases,” McGinty said. “Embracing alternative fuels not only has an economic advantage in making our state a leader in the development and deployment of new products, but it also has measurable impacts on pollution reduction, energy independence and energy security.” Alternative fuels eligible for grants include: compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquid propane gas, ethanol, methanol, hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels and fuels derived from biological materials. Governor Edward Rendell signed legislation to improve the AFIG program by eliminating restrictions on the percentage of grant funds that can support alternative fuel projects. Pennsylvania’s AFIG program currently reimburses up to 20 percent of the applicant’s eligible costs of an alternative fuel project. The new law, which was sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, will allow the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to fund projects at higher percentages, and to offer a rebate instead of a grant to Commonwealth residents who purchase hybrid electric and alternative fuel vehicles. Hybrid vehicle purchasers can apply for rebates throughout the year, and will be eligible for the rebate as long as funding is available and DEP receives the required information within six months of the purchase. Grants will also be available to fund the construction of alternative refueling stations and advanced technology vehicle research and development. The law also expands the AFIG program to help school districts, transit authorities, local government agencies and nonprofit organizations buy down the added cost to use biodiesel fuel.