Forecasting Our Future: Louisville program pays you to use ‘cleaner’ lawn care equipment

It’s springtime and that means for many, it’s yard work season, too. But for many who are environmentally conscious, this time of the year may have them questioning the tools they are using. That’s because gas-powered lawn equipment produces hazardous emissions.

According to Bradley Coomes of the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, one hour of gas mowing is equivalent to running 11 new cars for an hour.

These emissions contribute significantly to ground-level air pollution and are especially harmful to sensitive groups, such as children and older people.

The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has a program called “Lawn Care for Cleaner Air” which can give you rebates for trading in your gas-guzzling lawn tools for electric ones.

Here is more information from the city of Louisville:

The Lawn Care for Cleaner Air rebate program is open only to residents of Metro Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky. You must provide a copy of your proof of residency (i.e. your driver’s license) to the participating dealer when purchasing new equipment or to APCD when submitting your mail-in rebate request. Failure to do so will result in not receiving a rebate.

Two Ways to Get a Rebate
  1. Purchase your equipment, then use this Rebate Request Form to request a Bonus or Standard Rebate. If your rebate request meets all the requirements, you should receive your rebate within 60 days.
  2. Through a participating dealer. Participating dealers give the rebates upfront, as dollars off of the purchase price. This is the fastest way to get a lawn care rebate.

Hurdle to Broad Adoption of E.V.s: The Misperception They’re Unsafe

Electric vehicles, lots of them, are coming whether we’re ready or not. The looming Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and the need for manufacturers to standardize production have made a switch to electric inevitable. But while the E.V. fleet is accelerating rapidly into our future, there are bumps in the road, including, most notably, a lack of ready buyers.

Price is one obstacle to consumer acceptance of E.V.s, but that is likely to become less of a concern as increased production leads to economies of scale and as advancing technology reduces costs. Another obstacle that may not be easily overcome is perceived vehicle safety.

E.V.s have not benefited from good press. In March, a Tesla caught fire and burned for hours after running off a road near Fillmore, Calif. And last year, General Motors had to warn Bolt buyers that they couldn’t park their cars indoors after some vehicles caught fire while charging.

Though these fires generated headlines, E.V. angst appears to be unwarranted. AutoInsuranceEZ studied the frequency of fires — from all causes, including collisions — in automobiles in 2021. It found that hybrid vehicles, which have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, had the most fires per 100,000 vehicles (3,475), while vehicles with just an internal combustion engine placed second (1,530 per 100,000). Fully electric vehicles had the fewest: 25 per 100,000. These findings were based on data from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Ohio communities get help switching fleets to alternative fuels

Ohio is one of eight states part of a new project to bring alternative fuels to rural communities.

Drive Clean Rural USA is a U.S. Department of Energy grant funded pilot project aimed at helping county governments analyze how best they can incorporate alternative fuels into their fleets.

The project is a collaborative effort between nonprofits Clean Fuels Ohio and Transportation Energy Partners, and industry partners like Bowman Consulting Group Ltd., a multi-disciplinary engineering firm.

“This project is all about overcoming barriers that rural communities face in transitioning to cleaner fuels and vehicles,” said Transportation Energy Partners Executive Director Ken Brown, in a statement.


School Districts Doing Their Homework on Alternative Fuels Turn to Propane Autogas

Each year, the number of school districts that are prioritizing student health and environmental impact by transitioning to alternative fuel school buses is growing. In many instances, districts that decide to move away from dirty diesel buses come down to a decision between propane autogas and electric. And time and again, districts that do their homework are coming to the same solution.

Most recently, at a Wilson School District board meeting in Pennsylvania, district officials voted to purchase seven new propane autogas buses. During the meeting, one member of the board discussed the possibility of purchasing electric buses instead. While the school board member had good intentions in mind, the district had already kicked the tires on many fuel options and came to the same conclusion: propane autogas.

Most notably, district superintendent Richard Faidley said that while there are some benefits to electric, there are also major drawbacks, especially in the northeast. He said electric buses “failed miserably” in colder climates not only on range, but on charge time, too. He also noted that battery replacements every six years would cost taxpayers an additional $100,000 per bus. And since electric buses can cost three times as much as propane buses, the costs outweigh the benefits.

Plug Power Snags Walmart Fuel Deal As Green Hydrogen Revs Up Amid Oil Price Spike

There’s been a flurry of plans from big manufacturers and startups to build next-generation commercial vehicles powered by “green” hydrogen made from renewable energy in recent years. Now fuel cell maker Plug Power says it may have the biggest U.S. deal to date to supply that carbon-free fuel to Walmart–coming as Russia’s Ukraine invasion keeps oil prices high and international researchers call for faster action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the agreement Latham, New York-based Plug will supply up to 20 tons of hydrogen per day to the retail giant, enough fuel being to power as many as 25,000 forklifts for Walmart. Plug will deliver liquid hydrogen to Walmart distribution facilities in specialized tanker trucks. The companies aren’t providing financial terms of the deal, among Plug’s first to supply green hydrogen, or saying how quickly it can ramp up to that 20-ton target.

The retailer “has been an early adopter of innovative hydrogen and fuel cell technology for over a decade,” Plug CEO Andy Marsh said in a statement. “Now our green hydrogen solutions will provide Walmart with the ability to achieve significant carbon reduction.”

Renewable natural gas company to build on 40-acre site in Bullitt County

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A renewable natural gas company hopes to help the bourbon boom in Kentucky.

Synthica Energy announced it has entered the permit phase for a new anaerobic digestion facility in Lebanon Junction in Bullitt County. The company said it will process approximately 200,000 tons of bourbon distillery waste and food waste from manufacturers and turn it into a renewable natural gas.

The Bullitt County facility is being developed on a 40-acre industrial site just northeast of the intersection of South Preston Highway and Interstate 65.  The company said this will be the largest anaerobic digestion facility in the state and will help allow for faster growth and more bourbon production.

Those who live near the proposed site have concerns about what the plant might bring.

“The smell is a concern because we don’t want the stuff coming in from – in a distillery you’ve got the distillery residue going on houses and stuff,” said Lebanon Junction resident Charles Welch.

“Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky have ambitious growth goals, with over $5 billion in expansion currently underway,” Sam Schutte, CEO of Synthica, said in a news release. “However, existing outlets for distillery byproducts – which are sometimes produced at a 20-to-1 ratio to bourbon output – are inconvenient, seasonal, and face competition from the growth in ethanol, biodiesel, and other animal feed-generating industries. Without large-scale, affordable outlets for these byproducts, the growth of Kentucky distilleries will be stunted. As the largest AD facility in the state of Kentucky, Synthica’s facility will help relieve this pressure and allow for faster growth and more bourbon production. As fans of bourbon, we can all agree this is a good thing.”

Scutte says the smell will not be an issue.

Private fleets charge ahead with electrification

One of the largest private fleets in North America still is one that is showing the way for any fleet interested in the painstaking process of electrifying their freight-hauling operations.

Emily Conway, PepsiCo’s fleet sustainability manager, joined a recent webinar, “Transitioning to a Truly Sustainable Fleet,” to provide carriers some guideposts on easing EVs and the necessary charging infrastructure into their operations.

The company has delved into fleet electrification since earlier in the 2000s—perhaps most prominently with its North American snack-food subsidiary, Frito-Lay—and the webinar was another entry point that FleetOwner used in recent weeks to eavesdrop on the important discussions taking place in the industry over what any fleet operator needs to know before deploying, routing, and maintaining EVs.

New software could help diesel engines run on alternative fuels

An Associate Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology has developed a clever computer model that could allow diesel engines to run on alternative fuels. To take advantage of this, diesel-engined vehicles would only need to upgrade their suite of software, where applicable.

The Associate Professor, Carrie Hall, utilized a combination of machine learning (ML) and computer modeling to achieve the feat. This development is a welcome one in order to accelerate our transition away from heavily polluting fuels like diesel.

It is hoped that this development will greatly improve the sustainability of larger diesel-engined vehicles, like trucks, that are heavily reliant on diesel due to the large distances they need to regularly travel. For now, complete electrification of freight vehicle fleets is not really practicable.

REG, J.B. Hunt Discuss Renewable Diesel, Biodiesel Strategies

Cleaner-burning and lower-emission fuels, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel, are helping transportation industries, including trucking and rail, meet their sustainability targets, explained Cynthia Warner, president and CEO of Renewable Energy Group, in a March 30 webinar.

“With advances in policy and increasing consumer awareness and demand for carbon reduction, fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel and other renewable fuels are an important element of business strategy for every fuel-dependent entity,” Warner said, adding that a recent study revealed that 91% of fleet leaders feel significant pressure to set and meet aggressive sustainability goals.

The webinar, titled “Fueling a Sustainable Future,” featured speakers from various industries and was presented in conjunction with the launch of REG’s new EnDura Fuels line of five bio-based diesel fuels. These include PuriD, a next-generation biodiesel that REG said exceeds industry quality standards and enables customers to blend PuriD into renewable diesel at virtually any level and use higher biodiesel blends with petroleum diesel year-round.