The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities program didn’t get any china or platinum for its 20th anniversary this year. Instead the program’s anniversary gift is pride; pride in the fact that over two decades, nationwide efforts have saved more than 5 billion gallons of petroleum and have averted more than 34 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equal to eliminating emissions from more than 7 million cars. The program can also look forward to many future anniversaries, as its work deploying alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, fuel economy improvements, and other local strategies to cut petroleum use in transportation, expands throughout the country.
“The key to Clean Cities’ enduring success over two decades is its proven ability to build relationships,” said Clean Cities National Director Dennis Smith. “Through the coalitions, stakeholders learn from one another’s experiences, replicate past successes, and work together on projects and events. This kind of collaboration creates economies of scale for alternative fuels and tipping points of demand for advanced vehicles, so petroleum is no longer the only game in town.”
The Massachusetts Clean Cities Coalition (MCCC) provides a perfect example of what Smith was talking about – it collaborates with over 300 local stakeholders, like government agencies, businesses, and municipalities, on a number of alternative fuel initiatives as part of the larger national program. MCCC, one of the first ten coalitions designated by DOE as part of the program’s network, has been at the forefront of the national program due to its innovative initiatives and programs and is an ongoing contributor to the Commonwealth’s leadership in clean energy.
Currently, its most notable project is the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Initiative (MEVI), a partnership with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and other public entities. The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, which supports MEVI’s objectives, provides grants of up to $7,500 per fleet vehicle to cities and towns for the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles (battery only) and plug-in hybrids (battery plus combustion engine). It also provides up to $15,000 to install Level 2 dual charging stations.
MCCC is working with the Hydrogen Coalition in Massachusetts to develop a chain of hydrogen fueling stations along a highway, so that extended range fuel cell electric vehicles can move into the Commonwealth’s market. MCCC is also working with the natural gas industry to evaluate and expand the Compressed Natural Gas infrastructure to support the growth of the heavy duty trucking industry and make use of this clean fuel’s benefits for transportation purposes.
Gulf-Cumberland Farms, one of MCCC’s stakeholders, has recently purchased 34 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered trucks for their fleets in a push to use a cleaner alternative to diesel in the Commonwealth. These trucks have been dispersed around New England and, in Massachusetts, operate out of Chelsea. Since their deployment one year ago, the new trucks have saved Gulf $1.25-$2 per gallon equivalent (the amount of LNG it takes to equal the energy from one gallon of gasoline) and the company is currently working to add more LNG trucks to its fleet. Gulf is also in the process of installing four E85 – a gasoline-ethanol blend containing 51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season − stations along the Massachusetts Turnpike, making it one of the first companies to install alternative fueling stations in the country. This LNG initiative has been an effective marketing strategy for both Gulf and the Coalition in proving the economic and environmental advantages of this alternative fuel.
The national Clean Cities program is comprised of a network of nearly 100 coalitions like Massachusetts’, uniting the public and private sectors in a national effort to cut petroleum use in transportation via local actions. By using alternative and renewable fuels, implementing idle-reduction measures and fuel economy improvements, while adopting new technologies, the program advances the nation’s environmental, economic, and energy security.
If you would like to learn more, visit the Massachusetts Clean Cities Coalition and DOE’s national initiative websites. You can also attend a Clean Cities stakeholder meeting, like the one in Pittsfield, MA on August 8, 2013 at the Berkshire regional transit facility.