Virginia state fleet moving to alternative fuels (with related video)
Gov. Bob McDonnell has started the move to convert the state’s vehicle fleet to alternative fuels. The Republican governor has announced contractual agreements with two private fuel companies, and signed a multi-state memorandum of understanding (MOU) and an executive directive advancing the conversion effort.
The ceremony where the initiatives were announced featured representatives from Clean Energy and Blossman Gas, private firms selected from 14 responders to a solicitation for a public-private partnership to provide alternative fuel infrastructure and vehicle conversions for Virginia state vehicles. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who is leading a coalition of 22 states to work with vehicle manufacturers to drive down costs of alternative fuel vehicles, was also in attendance.
The event was held in conjunction with the Governor’s Conference on Energy, held earlier this month at the Richmond Convention Center. “Virginia has an opportunity to lead the nation by fully committing to making a substantial contribution to our nation’s energy independence from foreign oil. The Commonwealth of Virginia owns thousands of vehicles powered primarily by gasoline or diesel fuels blended from foreign oil,” Gov. McDonnell said. “In addition to reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil, a transition to natural gas and propane vehicles will also reduce emissions. Although these alternative fuel vehicles are available and operating on our roads today, available refueling infrastructure for these vehicles is limited. The agreements signed today will bring new refueling stations to Virginia at no cost, and they will be available to state agencies, local governments, and private citizens and businesses. These alternative fuel vehicles can and should be used by the Commonwealth to reduce the Commonwealth’s dependence on foreign oil and expand markets for domestic fuels.
“Not only is this good for the government and the environment, but ultimately it will be good for consumers and the economy as well. The infrastructure created through this effort will be available to fuel passenger vehicles and other commercial fleets. Through this innovative public-private partnership we enter into today, the Commonwealth, industry leaders and innovators can work collaboratively to move state government and private industry away from vehicles fueled by gasoline and diesel fuel and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
These actions respond to legislation passed unanimously by the 2011 General Assembly and an executive order issued in July 2011 that required the state to pursue an arrangement under Virginia’s Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 to explore building the infrastructure and strategically converting the Commonwealth’s vehicle fleet to use alternative fuels. Under the agreement, Virginia will partner with Clean Energy to build at least six new natural gas filling stations around the state, and with Blossman Gas to develop at least seven propane stations. The contracts may also be used by municipalities and transit authorities across the state to convert their fleets and it is anticipated that commercial partners will want to work with the Commonwealth to consolidate demand for infrastructure as well. Additional refueling stations will be constructed based on increasing demand.
The executive directive issued with the governor’s announcement sets out the steps state agencies must take to use these contracts and begin converting state vehicles to alternative fuels wherever practical. The multistate MOU developed by Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and signed by Gov. McDonnell is intended to leverage 22 states’ vehicle purchases and use to expand the market for natural gas-fueled vehicles across the country. An RFP that has been issued for natural gas vehicles for the 22 states is expected to drive down the cost of these vehicles.
“The MOU signed by Gov. McDonnell will help states across the nation develop automobile fleets running on cleaner, more affordable fuel,” Gov. Fallin said. “Not only will that save taxpayer dollars, it will support the production and use of American-made energy that will lead to American jobs. My thanks go out to Gov. McDonnell for his support of this important effort to deliver more affordable and functional alternative fuel vehicles for state use.”
Alliance AutoGas and ROUSH CleanTech will handle the propane autogas conversions in Virginia’s new initiatives. The two companies will also provide OEM autogas vehicles for the state of Virginia. In addition, Alliance AutoGas will provide fueling infrastructure for state fleets transitioning to autogas.
Other states are beginning to take notice of Virginia’s commitment to alternative fuels. West Virginia, a member of the 22-state MOU to incorporate compressed natural gas vehicles to their state fleets, has already amended their regulations to include propane autogas as an acceptable alternative fuel for their school buses.
In this video, Gov. McDonnell signs alternative fuel legislation.