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Message: California dedicates $30 million to biofuels expansion

The California Energy Commission has approved the state’s third-year funding plan for the commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, allocating $100 million toward the expansion of various alternative fuels and vehicles throughout the state. In 2007, the state assembly authorized the CEC to provide approximately $100 million annually over seven years to encourage new fuels and technologies. Funding for the program is sourced from vehicle and vessel registrations, identification plates and smog abatement fees.

Biofuels will benefit from more than one-quarter of the $100 million allocated for the upcoming fiscal year. The CEC dedicated $24 million to developing and producing a variety of biofuels, including drop-in gasoline and diesel alternatives and renewable natural gas. “California possesses a significant volume of waste suitable for creating low-carbon fuels – from ethanol and biodiesel to biomethane made from anaerobically digested biomass,” the CEC stated in a news release. The commission also approved $5 million to expand E85 infrastructure within the state.

Natural gas- and propane-powered vehicles, and the fueling stations to support them, are targeted to receive $24 million in funds, while $8 million will be spent on expanding charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and another $8.5 million will be provided to support hydrogen fueling stations and to demonstrate fuel cell technology. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up a small portion of the state’s transportation mix, but consume 16 percent of California’s petroleum, so the CEC has dedicated $8 million toward the development of efficiency improvements for those vehicles as well.

In an effort to create jobs and increase tax revenue, the CEC approved $10 million to fund projects that will establish alternative fuel vehicle and components manufacturing plants to the state. Approximately $9 million will be used to create training programs to provide those facilities with a skilled workforce. Training programs will also be established for alternative fuels production, building fueling infrastructure and other applicable areas. Some of the funds allocated for training will be spent on public education efforts, technical assistance programs, and sustainability research, according to the CEC. Additionally, $3 million is being allocated toward the development of advanced fuels, including biofuels from algae, and innovative technologies including engine efficiency improvements.

“This innovative transportation program is unique in the country,” James Boyd, CEC vice chairman, said. “The funding plan for fiscal year 2011-’12 builds on two earlier versions, fine-tuning California’s seven-year program to increase alternative and renewable fuels and to test innovative vehicle technologies. This investment will also create California jobs, improve the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan is one of the most aggressive in the nation, calling for emissions to be reduced to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Petroleum fuel use is to be reduced to 15 percent below 2003 levels by 2020, and alternative fuel use is required to increase to 20 percent of the state’s fuel mix by 2020.


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