This year, the state of Oregon is offering 35 percent tax credits for companies building alternative fuel infrastructure.
According to Lisa Joyce of the Oregon Department of Energy, the state has $2 million to spend in the first round of tax credits for this biennium and will have around $10 million for the next biennium.
The credits are part of a larger Business Energy Incentives program – the Legislature’s rewrite of the Business Energy Tax Credit, or BETC.
And after extending the deadline to apply (for lack of applicants), the department of energy has received 10 applications – all for either electric vehicle charging or natural gas fueling stations. Altogether, the applications cover around $5 million in alternative fuel infrastructure projects.
The applicants for compressed natural gas fueling stations include Heiberg Garbage and Recycling LLC of Portland, Gresham Sanitary Service, Waste Management of Oregon, Inc., Rogue Valley Transportation District in Medford, Pride Disposal Company of Sherwood and Eugene Truck Haven, Inc. of Springfield.
Applicants for electric vehicle charging stations include Yoshida Real Estate Holdings of Portland, Powin Pacific Building LLC, Lease-it, Inc. of Portland and Gresham Automotive.
The companies are still waiting to hear whether they will get the tax credit.
Rogue Valley Transportation District and Waste Management already have their compressed natural gas fueling stations built.
Joyce said natural gas is becoming a bigger focus of alternative fuel development both because it’s cheaper than gasoline and it burns cleaner.
“The timing is right because the fuel is very favorably priced,” she said. “The vehicles perform equally as well as a regular gas car, but the fuel itself is much less expensive.”
However, the compressed natural gas fueling stations are not so cheap.
Julie Brown, general manager for Rogue Valley Transportation District, said her agency’s fueling station is one of only a few in the state. It currently services 15 of the district’s fleet of 23 buses, as well as local CNG sewer and garbage trucks.
The transportation district received a ConnectOregon III grant to upgrade the CNG fueling station it has had since 1994. Now the district is hoping to get a state alternative fuel tax credit to cover the matching money for that grant.
“A lot of people don’t do compressed natural gas because infrastructure is very expensive,” said Brown. “Part of the reason we made the decision to offer fuel to the public and private industry is because if you’re traveling from California, it’s really impossible to get natural gas. We’ve seen people come in on tow trucks because they’ve run out of fuel.”
Brown said there have been enough fuel savings from using compressed natural gas to cover the infrastructure expense.
“There’s fuel savings, of course,” she said. “But really it’s the air quality that we care about.”