State Aims for $100B Alternative Fuels Investment

By Published On: October 12, 2007

California energy and air quality leaders are putting the finishing touches on a plan aimed at cutting dependence on petroleum transportation fuels by 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030 under a $100 – $200 million a year state incentive program. It would run for 15 years. The state incentives are aimed at stimulating $100 billion of investment in alternative fuels infrastructure through 2050. “No single action” can achieve those goals, said Tim Olson, California Energy Commission international and local programs unit supervisor, in introducing the draft plan October 9. Instead, he said, it will take “a series of things.” Ultimately, the plan is likely to be subsumed under the state’s low carbon fuel standard, said Bob Fletcher, California Air Resources Board stationary source division chief, at the joint agency workshop on the alternative fuel blueprint. The two agencies are required to develop the plan under AB 1007, enacted in 2005. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger subsequently ordered regulators to develop a low carbon fuel standard as a way to cut greenhouse gases from motor fuels at least 10 percent by 2020 to help carry out California’s climate protection law, AB 32. The draft plan seeks to promote a wide range of new fuels and vehicle technologies. They include plug-in hybrid vehicles that run strictly on batteries charged from the power grid for the average commute and use on onboard gasoline engines for longer trips, and also ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells. The report incorporates life-cycle analyses for the fuels, which outline the environmental impacts of their production, distribution, and consumption in vehicles. Money may soon be available to help carry out the plan. AB 118, authored by Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), would provide more than $100 million a year in funds for alternative fuels through a series of small increases in fees paid by state motorists. The bill is on the governor’s desk. However, many criticized the draft plan saying it lacks specific steps for achieving its goals while giving short shrift to air quality standards and favoring some fuels over others. Editors’ note: For a more detailed version of the $100 billion investment story, please see our sister publication E=MC2 – Energy Meets Climate Challenge. You can find it at www.energymeetsclimate.com.

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