The Southland's air quality agency today approved financial incentives for consumers interested in driving natural gas vehicles and refueling them from the convenience of their own homes.
"Natural gas vehicles are one of the cleanest options available today," said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. "We believe the convenience of home refueling will make driving a natural gas vehicle a lot more appealing to consumers."
AQMD's Governing Board today approved $400,000 in incentives to assist consumers with the cost of purchasing or leasing a new natural gas home refueling appliance, developed by FuelMaker Corp. of Toronto.
AQMD's incentive will match funding recently approved by the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC).
"The MSRC has a long history of supporting the development of natural gas fueling stations to serve the growing fleet vehicle market," noted Gwenn Norton-Perry, chair of the MSRC. "Now, with the option of home refueling, we have the opportunity to greatly expand individual consumer interest in a clean, affordable alternative to gasoline vehicles."
The refueling appliance - marketed under the name "Phill" - is expected to cost about $3,500. Incentive funding offered by AQMD and the MSRC will total $2,000 per unit for a total of 400 units, lowering the cost of each unit to $1,500 for the consumer. Installation of a unit costs an additional $1,000 to $2,000. Driving a compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle can cut fuel costs in half. On average, fueling a CNG passenger vehicle will cost about 4 cents per mile compared with 8 cents per mile for a similar gasoline vehicle.
The refueling unit is a small, compact gas compressor capable of providing convenient overnight home refueling for CNG vehicles. The appliance is safe, lightweight, and can deliver 3,000 or 3,600 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) of natural gas.
The home appliance is available through FuelMaker and American Honda. AQMD and MSRC jointly will provide funding to FuelMaker for 100 units, available for purchase, and to American Honda for 300 units, available for lease. FuelMaker's purchasing plan targets consumers who currently drive a CNG vehicle and Honda's leasing plan targets new buyers or existing owners of a Honda Civic GX.
AQMD co-sponsored the development of the home refueling appliance through funding awarded by its Governing Board in 2001 and 2002. FuelMaker will be responsible for installation of the home refueling appliance.
Mobile sources account for more than 70 percent of the air pollution emissions in the four-county area. Natural gas vehicles are one of the cleanest vehicles available and can emit 15 times less smog-forming nitrogen oxides than a comparable gasoline vehicle. Fleet operators and some private motorists currently drive thousands of natural gas vehicles and fill them up at one the Southland's approximately 75 existing natural gas fueling stations.
For information on how to purchase the home refueling appliance, consumers can contact FuelMaker at 1-866-MY-PHILL or www.myphill.com. To lease the home refueling appliance from American Honda, consumers can visit a Honda dealership in the four-county area.
AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The MSRC, created by state law in 1990, is supported by vehicle registration fees and funds transportation projects to reduce air pollution within the AQMD's four-county jurisdiction.