Virginia Converting State Vehicles to Alternative Fuels

Virginia will be converting its state vehicles to alternative energy under an executive order signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday.  The ceremony  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 Commonwealth vehicles, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who is leading a coalition of 22 states to work with vehicle manufacturers to drive down costs of alternative fuel vehicles.

The event was held in conjunction with the beginning of the Governor’s Conference on Energy, being held at the Richmond Convention Center Oct. 2-4.

“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,”  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,” McDonnell said.

Legislative requirement

The 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 today 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 Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and signed by Governor McDonnell today is intended to leverage 22 states’ vehicle purchases and use to expand the market for natural gas-fueled vehicles across the country. An RFP has already been issued for natural gas vehicles for these states that is expected to drive down the cost of these vehicles.

“The MOU signed today by Governor McDonnell will help states across the nation develop automobile fleets running on cleaner, more affordable fuel,” Governor 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 Governor McDonnell for his support of this important effort to deliver more affordable and functional alternative fuel vehicles for state use.”