Vol. 27 Iss. 24 - August 01, 2011




Moving Toward Alternative Fuel Solutions for State-Owned Vehicles

Importance of the Issue

The Commonwealth of Virginia owns thousands of vehicles powered primarily by gasoline or diesel fuels blended from foreign oil. In addition to contributing to our nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil, they also release emissions into our environment.

Today, there are vehicles on the market, and others in design and testing for entry into the market in the near future, that can operate on fuels other than gasoline and diesel fuel. These alternative fuel vehicles can and should be used by the Commonwealth to reduce the Commonwealth's dependence on foreign oil and increase reliance on domestic fuel sources with reduced emissions.

Although alternative fuel vehicles, such as natural gas, propane, electric, biodiesel, and ethanol, are available and operating on our roads today, the available refueling infrastructure for these vehicles is limited. Without sufficient infrastructure to provide adequate refueling options to alternative fuel vehicle owners, our ability to make a meaningful difference in our consumption of foreign oil is similarly limited.

In order to support expansion of alternative fuel vehicle markets and to reduce Virginia's dependence on foreign oil, I proposed legislation to the 2011 session of the General Assembly that passed unanimously to require a plan for moving the state's vehicles to alternative fuels. The plan must be completed for my review and approval on or before January 1, 2012, must address alternative fuel infrastructure, and set out a path for reducing the Commonwealth's reliance on foreign oil.

An effective strategy for achieving the goals set by the plan should include participation by industry and businesses that are leading the research and innovation in alternative fuel technology, infrastructure, and vehicle manufacturing. A Commonwealth-wide alternative fuel solution will not only benefit state and local public entities but, if positioned properly, will also benefit citizens and visitors to the Commonwealth that own alternative fuel vehicles and would like to use them as they travel throughout our beautiful state. We may also be able to partner in support of Virginia businesses that would like to make a similar transition to alternative fuel vehicles.

Plan for Moving Toward a Statewide Alternative Fuel Solution

In April 2011, I directed the Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) to develop a survey document to collect data on state-owned vehicles, including information on the types, locations, uses and fueling habits of those vehicles. I asked that they work closely with the Virginia Municipal League (VML) and the Virginia Association of Counties (VaCO), to survey local governments to gather similar information concerning local government fleets across the Commonwealth. At my request, DGS and DMME also investigated fuel infrastructure availability around the Commonwealth, types and costs of alternative fuel vehicles available in the marketplace, the availability and cost efficiency of alternative fuels (natural gas, propane, electricity, biodiesel, ethanol, and hydrogen), and interest from private sector alternative fuel providers, infrastructure vendors, vehicle manufacturers, commercial fleet operators and other industry experts in investing in alternative fuels solutions.

Specific Directives

As a result of this investigation and analysis, in fulfillment of the obligation created by HB2282's amendment of Virginia Code § 2.2-1176 B, and by this Executive Order, I hereby direct release of a Public-Private Partnership solicitation, in accordance with the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA) of 2002 (§ 56.575.1), no later than July 22, 2011. At a minimum the PPEA solicitation should set out:

· the Commonwealth's interest in partnerships with and among alternative fuel source providers, infrastructure developers, vehicle manufacturers, and other industry leaders to expand alternative fuels refueling infrastructure, and provision of alternative fuel vehicles to support the Commonwealth's vehicle pools and fleets;

· the need for short- (within next 2 years), mid- (between 2 and 5 years), and long- term (5 to 10 years) alternative fuel solutions;

· that state-owned vehicles and other state resources may be available as part of a public-private partnership aimed at expansion of alternative fuel solutions;

· that private sector teams may provide any variety of project elements, including planned conversion or purchase of vehicles, addressing specific vehicle fleets and uses, at individual, several or all locations across the Commonwealth;

· that proposals must include a plan for maintenance of infrastructure equipment, fuel sources, and vehicles or means to guarantee proposed solutions will remain in operational state for at least the time period of the alternative fuel proposal;

· the need for training and certification opportunities for personnel working with alternative fuel technologies;

· a request for strategies that will be used to rollout proposed solutions to targeted fleets including an implementation timeline;

· that proposals should provide a plan for fueling for the life of the vehicles and if a bi-fuel system is proposed, a strategy should be included to compel use of cleaner, cheaper domestic fuels over imported fuels when financially viable;

· that local public entities and other fleets such as federal government and business fleets might be included in a partnership to enhance the effectiveness and benefits of any proposal;

· how citizens of the Commonwealth and visitors passing though the Commonwealth that operate alternative fuel vehicles might benefit from alternative fuel solutions proposal;

· the need to address the environmental advantages and disadvantages of the proposed solution;

· that each proposal must provide detailed operational and cost feasibility analysis of implementing the proposed partnership; and

· a description of the data gathered about current state and local vehicle inventories and uses, and available infrastructure, together with directions for accessing that data to support the development of proposals.

I am also directing the Department of General Services and the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to brief my Secretary of Administration, Senior Advisor on Energy and the Secretary of Finance monthly on the progress of this initiative, beginning in August 2011 and to make a recommendation(s), pursuant to the PPEA process, no later than the end of May 2012, on the best available path ahead for moving state vehicles to alternative fuels and whether the goal should be accomplished through a formal PPEA agreement.

If it is determined that implementation of a proposed PPEA solution is practicable and financially viable, considering available infrastructure, the location and use of vehicles, capital and operating costs, and potential for fuel savings, negotiations towards a PPEA agreement(s) will commence with a target completion date of July 2012.

Finally, I direct all agencies, institutions and offices of the Commonwealth to cooperate in every way possible with this effort, contribute their ideas and lend their support and resources as we move forward with this ground breaking initiative.

This is an opportunity for the Commonwealth's public and private sectors, industry leaders and innovators to work collaboratively to move state government away from vehicles fueled by gasoline and diesel fuel and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Virginia has an opportunity to lead the nation as the first state fully committed to making a substantial contribution to our nation's energy independence from foreign oil.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall become effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect until January 31, 2014, unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 12th day of July, 2011.

/s/ Robert F. McDonnell