What's Holding up AFV Traffic?

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Hyundai Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle visits Monument Square Portland Maine in 2014 photo by Kay MannWe hear much in the news about the advances being made in alternative-fueled vehicles (AFV's). Why don't we see more of them on the road yet? If you were the inspector for a new hydrogen fueling station being built in your town, would you know where to look for all of the right codes and standards to apply in issuing a permit for it? Would you tend to invoke as many codes as you could find, to err on the side of safety?

In January of 2015, the Clean Cities program and the Hydrogen Energy Center released a study they had completed over the past year and a half, entitled, "Regulatory Barriers to Development of Vehicle Alternative Fuel Infrastructure in New England – MA, ME, NH, RI & VT".

The project sought to answer the question: “What regulatory, permitting, approval and administrative policies and procedures by governments and private standards organizations are creating impediments to the implementation of fueling cars and trucks with non-petroleum “alternative” fuels, and what measures can be taken to minimize or remove these obstacles?”

The six categories of alternative fuels studied for this project were: biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, liquified natural gas (LNG), and propane (LPG).

The list of the many types of considerations that permitting authorities must engage with is considerable:

1. Local and state-level permitting, zoning and approval;
2. Permitting and regulation of gaseous fuels;
3. Permitting and regulation of electric vehicle charging;
4. Equipment and facilities codes, standards and regulations,
5. Conversion of vehicles to alternative fuels;
6. Regulations related to weights, measures and fuel quality;
7. Taxation of alternative fuels;
8. Property, equipment and casualty insurance;
9. State-level public utilities’ rules, regulations and policies;
10. Federal rules impacting state regulations on infrastructure development and
11. Incentives to facilitate adoption of alternative fueling.

Each of these issues is discussed in the report, and recommendations are given for streamlining the permitting process for each one. It's not light reading, but essential for moving the AFV marketplace out of the parking lot.

Grab a latte and start reading here.

This study was one component of a comprehensive, two-year project, “Removing Barriers, Implementing Policies and Advancing Alternative Fuel Markets in New England”, undertaken by the Clean Cities programs in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Image: A Hyundai Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle visits Monument Square Portland Maine in 2014; photo by Kay Mann.