Transport firms offered fuel incentives
The provincial government rolled out a $104.5-million grant program Tuesday aimed at weaning the transportation industry off traditional fuels and getting them hooked on natural gas.
The greenhouse gas reduction regulation program encourages transportation fleets - such as commercial trucks, ferries and buses - to switch from gasoline and diesel engines, while also offering additional industry incentives to build natural gas fuelling stations throughout the province.
Two companies have already adopted natural gas in their Lower Mainland operations, using fuelling stations on their sites developed by Fortis B.C.
Waste Management has 20 waste-hauling trucks using natural gas while Vedder Transport Ltd. has gradually introduced 50 of the engines in its fleet.
Fuel costs alone can be reduced anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent, say industry experts. In addition, provincial carbon taxes provide additional revenue for companies.
“The grants that are going to be made available are going to provide support and assistance to transport companies to get away from traditional diesel and gasoline,” said Fred Zweep, president of Vedder Transport.
Up to $12 million of funding from the greenhouse gas reduction regulation can be used to develop compressed natural gas fuelling stations and up to $30.5 million on liquefied natural gas stations. About $62 million will be given as incentives for companies to switch vehicles and ferries to natural gas. The province is also offering grants of up to $2,500 for compressed natural gas vehicles through its clean energy vehicle program.
Energy Minister Rich Coleman used one of Vedder Transport’s big rigs as a backdrop for the announcement in front of the legislature.
The grants are “going to broaden our ability to provide natural gas vehicles across the province, particularly in the transportation sector,” he said. “We want to be a leader in the natural gas vehicle industries.”
B.C. utility companies will develop the government’s program and outline how money will be distributed, Coleman’s office said.
Fortis B.C. is working on a program and should have details in a few weeks.
Vedder Transport made the switch after being challenged by its clients to reduce gas emissions, said Zweep. Going green has its financial benefits as well.
The 50 natural gas vehicles are just a portion of the 350 trucks in his fleet, but even at this level, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by about 3,500 tonnes a year. Selling provincial carbon credits collected from the emission reductions will help the company generate additional revenue.
That money can be passed on to the client and then the consumer, or it can be reinvested in the shipping company to further reduce operating costs. Again, the clients and the consumers should benefit, Zweep said.
Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said natural gas will be a dominant fuel source for the industry, which can reduce transportation costs by half. “Natural gas is the transportation fuel choice for the future,” he said.
Fortis B.C. already has a fuelling station in the Lower Mainland and has plans to develop more throughout the province.
Just a small network of strategically located stations are needed to support the entire industry, according to Fortis.
Additional locations in areas like Kamloops, Golden, Prince George and on Vancouver Island would be enough, said Doug Stout, vice-president of energy solution and external relations at Fortis.
“It would only take a handful,” he said.