Technology Assessment Division

Louisiana Moves to Alternative Motor Vehicle Fuels

 

by Alan A. Troy, P.E.

On March 29, 1993, Governor Edwards signed Executive Order No. EWE 93 - 9 directing the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to "prepare and issue Requests for Proposals (RFP's) to solicit bids for conversion of the State motor vehicle fleet to a natural gas using fleet to the maximum extent feasible." The Order marks Louisiana's first major step to convert the state's motor vehicle fleet to an alternative fuel. It also expresses the desire to be a leader in converting state vehicles to alternative fuels and proclaims Louisiana's commitment to natural gas produced within the state as the fuel of choice. The form of natural gas that seems to have the biggest following in the state and the nation is compressed natural gas (CNG). Proposals to convert 25% of the state's fleet were received by DNR. They have been evaluated, and a recommendation has been made.

 

The main impetus pushing the states to cleaner-burning vehicular fuels is the alternative fuel provisions of the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPA-92). The intent of the CAAA is to reduce air pollution and the EPA-92 to lessen dependence on foreign oil. Both acts mandate greater use of alternative fuels in certain motor vehicles and prescribe strict schedules for compliance. In 1990, the Louisiana legislature enacted Acts 927 and 924 with provisions that actually exceed the targets of the CAAA and EPA-92.

 

DNR's Energy Division is in the final stages of establishing a five year low-interest revolving loan program to assist state and local governmental entities to convert a portion of their fleets to fuels derived from natural gas. The interest rate will be 3%. Money for the loans will come from the Exxon Petroleum Violation Escrow Fund. There is presently $3.1 million available for this purpose. The program is similar to those in other states and should be in place in September of 1993.

 

During the mid 1980's ethanol was Louisiana's preferred alternative fuel in the form of gasohol (gasoline containing 10% ethanol). Encouraged by federal and state subsidies, ethanol production in Louisiana soared to a peak of 32 million gallons in 1986, but after the state subsidy ran out in January 1988, production ceased. One plant did start up again, but it closed in 1990. From 1984 through 1990, more than 112 million gallons was produced by six plants (See chart and graph on back).

 

Although ethanol is no longer produced in Louisiana, gasohol made with ethanol produced in other states is still widely used in the state. In 1992, nearly 84 million gallons of gasohol was consumed in Louisiana. This is more than double the lowest recent consumption of gasohol of about 39 million gallons in 1990, indicating gasohol is making somewhat of a comeback.

 

The above information is from DNR's June 1993 Alternative Energy in Louisiana - Motor Vehicle Fuels (A Progress Report), which is now available. Other information in the report includes a more comprehensive look at CNG as a motor vehicle fuel, current Louisiana state government initiatives pertaining to alternative motor vehicle fuels, an historical perspective on the development of the ethanol industry in Louisiana, ethanol production and gasohol consumption statistics, and recent information on the status of the state's idle ethanol plants. If you would like a copy of the complete report, please write to:

 

Alan A. Troy, P.E., Senior Energy Engineer
Technology Assessment Division
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 94396
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9396