NAFA Fleet Management Association wants the Department of Energy to clarify its position on the use of hybrid compliance credits. NAFA also urged the agency to proceed with a pending rulemaking covering the use of such credits.

For more than three years, fleet managers who manage certain state government and utility fleets have been unable to use hybrid vehicles to meet environmental mandates instituted by the Department of Energy regarding vehicle acquisition. Mandates currently require that 75 percent of a covered state fleet's annual light-duty acquisitions must be alternative fuel vehicles, and AFVs must comprise 90 percent of vehicle acquisitions for utility companies.

In a letter sent to Henry Kelly, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NAFA said that the inability to use hybrid vehicles to meet such mandates is in clear conflict with the intent of Congress.

Section 133 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directs the Secretary of Energy to allocate compliance credits not later than January 31, 2009 for the acquisition of a hybrid electric vehicle; a plug-in electric drive vehicle; a fuel cell electric vehicle; a neighborhood electric vehicle; or a medium- or heavy-duty electric vehicle. To date, no proposed or final regulation has been published, NAFA says.

"We understand that the agency's position is that the rulemaking 'is in progress,'" said NAFA's Executive Director, Phillip E. Russo, CAE. "Unfortunately, this is what covered fleets have been told for more than three years. During this time, covered fleets have had to incur increased compliance costs and associated burdens in order to meet their acquisition requirements.

Russo says DOE's delay is not in the spirit of the Administration's goal of having one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

"On March 31, 2011, President Obama announced that the Federal Government will lead by example in replacing older cars in the federal fleet with fuel efficient hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, reducing our dependence on foreign oil as well as cutting carbon dioxide and other pollution. State and utility company fleets will welcome the opportunity to also 'lead by example.'"

Fleet managers are under pressure to plan out their compliance strategies for the acquisition of vehicles, but are largely unable to do so without clear direction from the Department of Energy.

NAFA wants the DOE to act expeditiously on this rulemaking to avoid further delays. In the letter, NAFA requests that the rulemaking be completed in time for covered fleets to utilize hybrid credits for the 2012 model year. If for whatever reason such a commitment is not possible, NAFA asks that the DOE consider suspending enforcement of 10 C.F.R. 490 for Model Year 2012 and succeeding model years, until the required rulemaking is promulgated.