CEC Zeros In On Alternative Fuels Spending Plan

By Published On: September 5, 2008

The California Energy Commission is revising its draft $120 million annual spending plan to promote greater use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other alternative fueled cars to cut greenhouse gases and dependence on foreign oil. The plan aims to help ensure that 40 percent of the cars in the state run on electricity and hydrogen by 2050, and 30 percent on biofuels, according to Peter Ward, California Energy Commission fuels and transportation staff member. Under AB 118, Ward said spending “will by guided by a fuel cycle analysis,” which shows the carbon footprint of fuels from their production to their use, sometimes described as from well to wheels. To help achieve those goals, the commission is fashioning an “investment” plan under AB 118, which raises the $120 million a year from state motorists through small increases in a variety of fees paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles. AB 118 imposed new levies on motorists for seven years to subsidize use of alternative fuels to help achieve the state’s climate change goals. The law was enacted in 2007 to help California meet its 30 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2020 under its climate protection law, AB 32. Cutting greenhouse gases from motorists is seen as essential to an equitable sharing of the carbon reduction burden between transportation and stationary industries, such as power generators. The CEC also is seeking to carry out AB 32 against the backdrop of the California Air Resources Board efforts to develop a low carbon fuel standard and enforce greenhouse gas limits for new autos. Under the low-carbon fuel rule, qualifying fuels must produce 10 percent less carbon emissions than gasoline. There is no emissions reduction requirement under AB 118. A committee member charged with reviewing the spending plan, Jim Sweeney, warned the commission about the risk of double-counting emissions reductions ascribed to AB 118 money. Sweeney is the director of Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency. CEC plans to update the spending blueprint as more is learned about alternative fuels, including their impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the hurdles they face in the market place, he added. “We developed a year-by-year assessment for penetration of alternative fuels into the market place,” said Mike Smith, commission deputy director of fuels and transportation. The commission, he said, is going to try to target the AB 118 funds to close “holes” in the market for alternative fuels that can cut greenhouse gas emissions. These could be a lack of distribution facilities or a lack of vehicles to use various alternative fuels. In addition to the spending plan, the commission is developing rules to cover eligibility and administration of the funding. The money could be used to fund alternative fuel production and distribution facilities, advancement of vehicle technology, and purchase of alternative-fueled vehicles, among other things. CEC aims to adopt the spending plan in December and the rules governing the money in January. Editor’s Note: For a more detailed report, please see our sister publication, Energy Meets Climate Challenge, E=MC2. It can be found at www.energymeetsclimate.com

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now