State Wants to Help Get a Few CNG-Powered Vehicles on Road

BPU program looks to get 10 or more trucks or buses running on compressed natural gas out in traffic, replacing diesel-fueled vehicles

Richard Mroz, president of the state Board of Public Utilities
The state is launching a small program to fund trucks and buses to run on compressed natural gas.

In a meeting Friday, the Board of Public Utilities approved a $200,000 grant program to fund a portion of the incremental cost of having a heavy-duty truck or bus run on gas instead of the more polluting diesel fuel.

The program, the latest effort to finance and promote alternative-fuel vehicles by the agency, is expected to result in at least 10 CNG powered trucks and buses replacing similar vehicles using diesel fuel. The vehicles will only operate on CNG to qualify for the grant program.

With the transportation sector the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions, the state is stepping up its efforts to explore the use of alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric cars. Last month, the state agency began a proceeding to figure out ways to promote greater use of electric vehicles in New Jersey.

“This is yet another positive step in implementing the state Energy Master Plan policies that supports alternative fuel vehicles comprehensively and are accelerating the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, including electric and CNG vehicles,’’ said Richard Mroz, president of the BPU. “In making these grants we can gauge interest in cleaner and quieter-running CNG trucks and buses.’’

Previously, the agency has approved pilot programs to allow utilities to build CNG refueling stations around the state.

Awards will be capped at $20,000 per vehicle and $40,000 per applicant and will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

Eligibility is limited to Class 5 through 8 trucks and buses registered in the seven counties that the Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Index classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. They are Camden, Mercer, Middlesex, Bergen, Gloucester, Hudson, and Ocean counties.

Those groups eligible to participate include municipalities, incorporated nonprofit entities, corporations, and limited liability companies or partnerships doing business in New Jersey.

The application window opens at noon on November 20, and closes noon December 20, 2017.