On April 27, 2012, the Railroad Commission of Texas announced that it has grant funds available for public fleets. The grant money, which totals $700,000, would be used to assist school districts and cities, for example, if they purchase new low-emission natural gas vehicles for their fleets.
The grant money was initially allocated for propane-fueled vehicles, but was changed to include natural gas vehicles to “offset some or all of the incremental costs of a natural gas fuel system on a new or retrofitted vehicle. Matching funds for the purchase of the vehicles must come from non-federal sources.” Public fleets across the U.S. can apply for the grant, and the Commission states that this is “regardless of the fleet location’s air-quality classification.”
According to Chairman Barry Smitherman, “Natural gas costs about $1.50 per gallon equivalent. That means a pretty quick payback for your initial investment.” He goes on to say that fleet owners should “use the cost calculator on the Commission’s website to see if natural gas pencils out for them. The more clean-burning domestic natural gas we use, the less oil we have to import from tyrants like Hugo Chavez.”
Commissioner David Porter is also supportive of the new grant program: “I think it is excellent that we are expanding our propane grant program to natural gas.” Porter also says that encouraging consumption of the low-cost natural gas can be positive in a variety of capacities: “When you look at the price of natural gas, anything we can do to encourage consumption is going to have a positive effect not only on the industry but also the entire economy of the state. It’s a small step by the agency that we can build on to encourage not only the use of propane, but also natural gas as a transportation fuel, and I want to see the agency continue to move in that direction.”
According to Commissioner Buddy Garcia, the grant program is a considerable asset to fleet owners, enabling them to make the switch to natural gas vehicles, which they might not have been able to do previously: “You’d be surprised at how quickly a fleet needs to be turned over, and without these types of programs often fleet managers would just turn to conventional vehicles. This type of grant program really does encourage our Texas public fleets to consider the natural gas or propane component.”
For additional information about the grant, visit: www.rrc.state.tx.us/arra/outreach.php.