NGT News: Utah Rep Triumphs with Two New Alt-Fuel Laws

Utah State Rep. Stephen G. Handy, R-Layton, kicked off the 2015 legislative session determined to pass several bills to help boost the use of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) in the state. Last Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert ceremoniously signed two such bills, H.B.15 and H.B.406, into law.Technically, the governor approved both pieces of legislation earlier this year, but Herbert, Handy and other officials used the event last week to help highlight the state’s efforts to support cleaner fuel and, thus, cleaner air. The ceremony took place at a Questar Fueling compressed natural gas (CNG) station in West Valley City.

 

NGT News spoke with Handy about his ambitions back in January, and now that the 2015 general session is over in Utah, the representative explains his two passed bills and discusses the road ahead.

In January, Handy emphasized that his ongoing push for more alternative fuel vehicles is a clean air initiative.

As he pointed out, “We have serious air-quality problems along our populous Wasatch Front, where more than 1 million individuals reside. If we can get more traditional-gas vehicles to convert, perhaps our air can be cleaner.”

According to Handy, H.B.15 extends Utah’s current AFV tax credit program. The state offers a tax credit of up to $1,500 per vehicle for the purchase of, or conversion to, AFVs. Applicable alternative fuels include CNG, liquefied natural gas (LNG), propane autogas and electricity.

However, Handy says his main goal of the legislation was the establishment of the Conversion to Alternative Fuel Grant Program. Rather than offering a tax credit, the program will provide a grant of up to $2,500 for each alternative fuel conversion. He says the company that installs the conversion equipment will apply for the state grant as a form of rebate, with the savings being passed on to consumers.

“My thinking is that the tax credit process is cumbersome and not that much of an incentive because of the time lag from the time of the conversion until the time of the next year’s tax filing,” he states. “What I wanted was to accelerate the incentive by having it take place at the point of sale.”

Handy hopes the grant program will stimulate more conversions and make the process easier for consumers.

“Say I want to convert my gasoline vehicle to CNG,” explains Handy. “I find my qualified provider and make a deal for $5,000. I would pay $2,500, but the provider shop would then apply to Utah’s Division of Air Quality for the additional $2,500.

“This way, a person’s out-of-pocket expense will be less,” he continues. “The provider shop has to do a little more work to ensure that the rebate or grant is approved before proceeding, but once it submits the paperwork online, it should just take 30 days or less to receive the check from the state.” See the full article here.