Green Fleet Conference: Gridlock, Obama, and What it Means for Green Fleets
October 01, 2013
The attractive price of natural gas fuel, like that used in this bi-fuel Ford F-550, could put pressure on other "green" alternatives.
Outside of Washington, Coddington pointed to market factors that will influence green fleets, particularly natural gas. Showing a map of all the "shale plays" in the U.S. where fracking is allowing access to huge natural gas resources, he said. It's hard to look at this and think it's not going to have some impact."
One of those impacts may be pressure on other alternative fuels and "green" vehicles, he said. On the power generation side, he said, natural gas is pressuring not only coal, but it's also pressuring wind, solar, etc., because natural gas for the last several years has been relatively inexpensive. "Could the same thin happen in the transportation market? Is that not going to pressure other renewable technologies that may have a hard time competing on price?"
Another trends involves Department of Energy projections that the energy consumed for all forms of transportation will be the same in 2040 as it was in 2011. With vehicles becoming more fuel-efficient and vehicle-miles traveled expected to grow moderately if at all, the question becomes, how are we going to fund our highways? The traditional per-gallon fuel tax won't work. Recent Congressional Budget Office projections, he said, show the Highway Trust Fund going into the red in 2015.
"I think you're going to see increasing trends of government wanting to impose fees on green vehicles," Coddington predicted. For instance, Virginia just started imposing a fee on hybrid vehicles designed to help make up for the fuel taxes they aren't paying.
Finally, customers and businesses themselves are driving the transportation industry toward more sustainable vehicles and fuels. "If you look at the sustainability policies that the Fortune 500 companies have, most of them have aspirational goals about greening their transportation systems," he said, citing Wal-mart as an example. "It doesn't matter what the government does."
And investors aren't waiting, either. Shareholder resolutions are increasingly demanding that publicly owned companies take environmentally friendly actions such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"Green fleets are uniquely equipped to stay ahead of these curves."